I Tried Being A Disney Ice Princess, Which Is Harder Than It Looks
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Look, being a Disney princess isn’t for everyone, but someone’s gotta take one for the team, and recently this writer bit the bullet and volunteered. No, no, don’t thank me. I tried to be a Disney ice princess for a day, and, well… it’s everything it’s cracked up to be, TBH. Brush off your mermaid tails and sparkly tiaras, everyone, because I’m here to really tell you what goes into being a Disney princess. Y’know, if you want to do it right.
In August 2018, I hopped a flight down to Feld Entertainment Studios in Florida, home of Disney on Ice productions and my own Disney dreams. At the studio — which is massive and totally palace-sized, by the way — I learned all the tricks and magic that goes into being part of the show. Spoiler: it’s not easy.
Step One: That Princess ~Lewk~
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a makeup girl. The more time you spend putting it on is the more time you spend taking it off, and both of those add up to more time you’re spending awake instead of in bed with a face mask on as nature intended. But if you’re going to be a Disney princess under the spotlight, you’d better look the part. So my first stop is the makeup counter, where Diana Gerosa, aka Snow White, puts me together from top to bottom. Since the makeup —which highlights the performers’ expressions — needs to be seen from far away, it’s pretty heavy. She tells me that behind the scenes, the performers help each other get ready, touching up each other’s makeup and getting their look together. I’m honestly a little surprised when she tells me it takes only about 20 minutes for the stars to do their makeup, but from her amazing contouring game, I'm assuming that's just because she's a pro. She does me up with a slightly smoky eye, using a beige-brown shadow with gold highlights, dark eyeliner, and a bright pink blush.
The final look is definitely princess-y, and I would not be ashamed to roll up to a castle with this look. I admit to being slightly disappointed that I didn’t get a bold lip to go with all this, but that’s more of a Disney villain thing, and I’ve got enough going on anyway. Slide to check out the before and after.
Step Two: It's All About The Gowns, Baby
Forget the prince — the best part of being Disney royalty is the clothes. For every Halloween as a kid when you threw on a Kmart-sale Cinderella gown, there was a piece of you crying inside, saying, "When I grow up, I'll have a real gown." Well, Disney on Ice has all the real gowns and they're pretty awesome. At Feld Entertainment Studios in Florida, where Disney On Ice is put together, the costume warehouse is like a fantasy version of The Closet from The Devil Wears Prada, with rows of fantasy garments arrayed by color and style.
And do I try some on? Oh, you better believe it. While the gowns (sadly) aren't available — even Disney princesses need to do laundry every now and then — I get to live out my best villainous daydreams with a cape. TBH, I think someone should bring these back into style on a permanent basis. They're just too fun.
Step Three: Feeling The Magic
While Disney On Ice is, in fact, an ice show, Disney magic doesn't limit itself to two dimensions. One of the wild things about this show is that a major chunk of it actually takes place mid-air, with the skaters doing a series of aerial stunts (including Ariel's stunts).
My first challenge is the silks, which are used to hoist the performers high above the ice to form the chandelier in the Beauty and the Beast "Be Our Guest" number in the show. And I *love* Beauty and the Beast, so despite my crippling fear of heights, I had to try them. If you've ever seen aerial yoga, you'll know dangling from multicolored silks looks graceful and relaxing. Well, it's not.
With the silks looped around my torso and under my arms, the first thing I had to remember was to keep my arms down — otherwise the silks would slip off me and I would fall, which you don't want to do when you're almost 30 feet above a hard ice skating rink. What I didn't expect was that putting your entire body weight on your armpits hurts. While I didn't have the guts to go more than a foot (OK, a few inches) off the ground, I can only imagine the effort it takes the performers to use the silks to propel themselves through the air and then land on the thin blades of their ice skates.
Here are the performers:
And here's me:
So graceful. Swanlike, even.
But the silks aren't all there is to the three-dimensional drama. Even more impressive are the straps, which the the performers use for some of the more wild acrobatic stunts. In case you need an example of how intense it can be, the skaters who perform Eric and Ariel from The Little Mermaid have a moment in their performance of "Kiss The Girl" where Ariel — aka Alex Goncharuk, 25 — balances in a mid-air backbend, held aloft only by the tops of the feet of Eric, aka her husband Artem Kazakov, 27. Oh, and all this happens while spinning in a dramatic circle 28 feet in the air. So, you know, it's impressive.
I, however, am not that athletic. But after they demonstrate how the straps work — you wrap them around your wrists and hold yourself up by your forearms — I'm game to try my best. The effect is.... not quite the same.
Here are Goncharuk and Kazakov:
And here's me:
Hey, at least I made it a little higher off the ground this time. I'll be ready for opening night any moment now.
My final takeaway? There's a lot more that goes into being a Disney on Ice princess than just trucking around in ice skates and wearing a gorgeous gown (or cape). And while it's clearly worth the effort, I think overall, I'll stick to watching them with my face mask on rather than making the effort to be one. That, I'll leave to the professionals.