When I got asked to review this book, I could not have been more excited. If you follow my life, even a little, you know that I am a huge Disney nerd. My husband and I went on our first trip together during our honeymoon to Disney World. Ever since then, we have been unable to shake off the Disney bug. We are now Passholders and get the privilege of seeing the magic every few months.
Of Mouse And Men follows one man’s journey as a costume character at the happiest place on earth. So did working at this popular vacation spot make him happy? While he doesn’t necessarily answer this outright, I would say mostly yes, with a side of no.
Nicklaus Hopkins was surprised to find that he was accepted to be a character after his audition. This consisted of a dance and role-playing movement exercise. While he doesn’t consider himself the best dancer, he managed to nab a spot. So, who was his first character? Goofy! This is especially fun because this was my husband and I’s favorite meet and greet on our honeymoon.
Make no mistake, his character range didn’t stop at Goofy. Throughout his career at Disney, the author got to play Woody, an Army Man, Sully, Br’er Bear, Beast, Baloo, Mr. Incredible and Hook.
He takes us through his process of getting fitted for costumes, going through vigorous autograph training, and finally his first day of work at Epcot.
I do want to add that this is not a book for children. I was surprised when I saw the first cuss word, but eventually that shock faded away. Also included are hook ups between characters, a potty mouthed Donald Duck, and a guest propositioning a character attendant(yes, really). There are no boring stories, and I found it fun to read this while drinking a glass of red wine to unwind.
He is honest about his friction with coworkers and vents his frustrations. I will say that more times than not, he was justified in his annoyance. Sure, we might want to pretend Disney is above the drama but no job is perfect. He does a great job of adding a sort of cynical comedy to the narrative. I laughed out loud numerous times and often paused my reading to tell my husband some of the crazy stories I was reading. The author has a way of writing that makes you feel like he is a friend sharing stories in your living room, which made for an easy read. In fact, I read the entire book in just 3 days!
I appreciated all of the little insider information that I didn’t know before(and I thought I knew a good amount about Disney).
A few fun things I learned:
- Characters place one hand on their eye and the other in the air if they have an emergency in costume. This alerts their character attendant that they need assistance.
- It is a requirement to learn numerous character signatures. Signing autographs often leads to “Character Gloves” which is when the black marker rubs off on the white gloves.
- The performers are given “basics” to wear under the suits. This consists of a black shirt and black shorts. Every piece of clothing has a barcode on it for inventory purposes (see the book cover).
This is only a few of the insider facts you will learn from the book.
While his humor is a bit sarcastic, I liked that you could still tell that he genuinely loved Disney. He made it clear that despite all of the craziness, he appreciated his time with the company. It was a full circle moment for him to put on the costume for the first time, considering he donned a Goofy hat for years as a kid. He still frequents the park and enjoys watching the characters bring joy to the guests. He writes this about his time in the white gloves:
If you have an interest in learning more about how the magic at Disney is created, this is a must read.
I can’t wait to hear what ya’ll think of this quirky little book!