Disney has its own celebrities such as Mickey and Minnie, and we’ll get to them…
…But first we’re going to tell you more about Steve Martin’s time at Disney and some other famous people who either worked there or just visited.
No particularly useful advice offered here today (…well, maybe a little). So don’t get high hopes of expecting useful tips like avoiding long lines or where to get Walt Disney World freebees…
…But just (mostly) some fun stuff about the famous.
Did you know that many of them worked at Disney?
Start with Steve Martin.
Not in Orlando but in Disneyland in California.
Martin’s very first job was working at the Main Street Magic Shop at Disneyland.
Steve Martin’s first job
He was there in the early 1950s where he actually helped learn to be a magician. He worked in the Fantasyland Magic Shop.
His famous banjo playing seen and heard on Saturday Night Live and movies was influenced by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen, who was also there working as a musician.
Martin is said to have learned the banjo from McEuen.
Martin also sold guide books for two cents a copy.
Martin recalled of that experience:
“In nineteen fifty-five, when I was ten, our family moved to Garden Grove California, only two miles from the nascent Disneyland, a place that seemed to me like a distant Shangri-la. I had seen films of it on TV being built and I had seen photos in the newspapers of Walt Disney shoveling up the first bucketful of dirt.”
Dressed up with a striped shirt and bow tie with arm garters, he stood outside Disney gates and sold theme park newspapers.
Or tried to.
The truly lonely guy
He was then a distinct failure.
He never sold a single item in several months.
Finally, he graduated to a new job: selling guide books.
He began earning real money: up to four dollars in a weekend.
This allowed him to wander freely around the park to his heart’s content, (a situation that would later be tempting to other buyers of year-round passes).
To show you have times have changed, consider what Martin said of those days.
He recalled wandering around the park and scrounging free tickets from others this way:
“I would spend these coupons like a miser, carefully deciding whether to go on the Moon Rocket or Tom Sawyer’s Island with my valuable E ticket, or whether to use my economically sad A ticket on the horse drawn trolley or the motor car up Main Street, U.S.A.”
Tigger: A really hot character
Certainly lesser known but closer to Orlando was comedian Wayne Brady. He played Tigger at Walt Disney World in Florida before going on to host talk and game shows.
Brady worked there when he was 16 years old. He once passed out from the heat of the costume.
“Inside that costume it was about 90,000 degrees,” he later recalled. “I should have paced myself. But I fell flat on my face. They carried me off with my recorded voice still going, ‘Ooh-hoo-hoo!”
Brady, who hosted the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” later returned to Walt Disney Resort with his daughter Maile. They rode together on the Mad Tea Party.
When he was asked about his favorite character, it was Tigger…of course…despite the warm costume.
“Easy question! It was Tigger because I loved his energy. I mean, who gets around by hopping on a springing tail? I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world as a young kid. And it wound up being a full-circle experience for me because when I turned 16 one of my first jobs ever was at Walt Disney World playing characters, and the first character I ever did was Tigger. So, I love me some Tigger!”
Guests range from golfers to actors
Brady also spent time hosting various events at Lake Buena Vista, where his guests included a host of famous names: TV show hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, actor John O’Hurley (“Dancing with the Stars,” “Seinfeld”), singer/actress Vanessa Williams, country music group Lonestar, Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol”), golfer Tiger Woods and actress Julie Andrews.
Another famous person once found at Orlando’s Walt Disney World who once worked there: Katherine Harris.
She was known for the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida when as a state of Florida official, she got involved in the election. Rumor had it she played Snow White as a teenager. A Washington Post reporter confirmed that she a hostess at the park in the early 1970s.
Famous musicians, too
Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson also was a character actor in Orlando. He was Aladdin, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Prince Eric in the Little Mermaid show.
Other later stars that worked in California included Michelle Pfeiffer in the mid-70s, who played Alice in Wonderland in the Main Street Electrical Parade.
Kevin Costner worked there as a tour guide and met Cindy Silva, who was working as Snow White. Cindy was busy signing autographs and posing for pictures as Snow White while Kevin told jokes on the Jungle Cruise.
When a reporter once asked him where he found the guts to ask Snow White for a date, he replied, “Easy – I was her Prince Charming.” They later married but were divorced in 1994.
That ended the Prince Charming story.
Richard Carpenter of The Carpenters also worked at Disney as a piano player on Main Street in California.
Remember Richard Nixon?
And going way back, disgraced US President Richard Nixon’s White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler worked as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland.
Back to Orlando
Among the hundreds of actors, comedians and entertainers who’ve appeared at Hollywood Studios in Orlando: Charlton Heston, Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Warren Beatty, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Hanks, Liza Minnelli, Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Michael J. Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Lou Gossett Jr., Drew Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Susan Lucci.
Recent visitors to the Orlando park included actress Melissa Joan Hart and her family.
They were spotted at the Magic Kingdom posting with Buzz Lightyear. Each were adorned with their own set of Mickey Mouse ears. Their t-shirts were Monster’s Inc inspired, but part of the birthday celebration was for 3-year old Tucker Wilkerson. Son of Hart and her husband Mark Wilkerson.
Bruce Willis has a quiet dinner
In the past, celebrities seen in Orlando included actors Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Bruce Willis. The later was having a quiet dinner at the Coral Reef (with children, minus former wife Demi Moore).
It’s no wonder or surprise that celebrities pop up at Walt Disney World. Films are often shot here.
For only one example:
The HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon”, a 13-part drama, was in production in two soundstages throughout 1997.
Films shot at the studios include: “Marvin’s Room,” “Passenger 57,” “Oscar,” “Quick Change,” “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “Splash Too,” “Separate But Equal” (Emmy-winning TV mini-series, starring Burt Lancaster) and “Instinct.”
Some of the many television shows which have taped at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include: “ER,” “Full House,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “ESPN College Football Awards,” “Talk Soup,” “Step By Step,” “Barbara Walters Special,” and “Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee.” Superheros also flew here
“Superhero” Anthony Mackie celebrated the opening box office success of his latest film by taking his family to Walt Disney World Resort. A photo was taken of him flying high on the Astro Orbiter attraction at the Magic Kingdom.
He is among some celebrities who are said to love vacationing at the World Disney World Resort.
Child actor Ty Simpkins is also among that group.
OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Bryan Willett are also said to love the thrill attractions. The rock duo were seen during a slowdown of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Musicians spin different tunes here
R&B singer Monica Brown also surprised her kids with a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort to reward their good behavior over the summer.
She and her family were pictured at the Tricera Top Spin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
And in another moment captured on film:
“Dancing with the Stars” siblings Julianne and Derek Hough also showed off their mad dance skills with Princess Aurora and Prince Philip at Cinderella Castle.
This most likely place to find celebrities is Hollywood Studios.
These visits are not always announced.
But many well-known celebrities have placed their hands in cement for posterity in front of the Chinese Theatre, including a recent appearance by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Among the stars whose handprints are captured in cement in the courtyard of the Chinese Theater:
Stars in cement
Sylvester Stallone, Carol Burnett, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Charlie Sheen, the late Jim Varney, and George Lucas,
Celebrities often give autographs or sign photos.
You can’t count on it, but some celebrity appearances can be found by checking with guest relations or Cast Members (call 407-WDISNEY) to to ask about a schedule.
But Christmas is also a great time to find them. And there’s still time to see them as the Disney Parks Unforgettable Christmas Celebration goes on this year through Dec.30.
The event runs nightly from November to Dec. 30 at the America Gardens at Epcot. It is presented three times per night – 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Narrators there include or have already featured Gary Sinise, Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Joe Morton, Meredith Vieira. America Ferrera, Blair Underwood and Edward James Olmos.
Guests can purchase dining packages that include an appetizer, entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage along with guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional.
To make dining reservations, call 407-939-3463.
Characters are also famous
Other famous people at Disney are just as popular though they are not real. They are easier to spot, however.
Disney has 1200 character actors.
The best way to meet them is to ante up for a character meal.
But other than that, they can be found everywhere. Meet and Greet locations are easily found at the park.
Some of the best places to spot them include Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has many opportunities for everyone: the Streets of America area; Team McQueen Headquarters; Pixar Place; near Mama Melrose’s; the Animation Courtyard.
Consult the Disney Times Guide for times and locations.
One celebrity you will miss no matter when you go is Bill Cosby.
The comedian’s statue at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios was removed earlier this year.
The move came after yet another woman publicly testified the family-famous comedian gave her Quaaludes to assault her while under the drug’s influence.
She joined dozens of others.
Cosby’s bust was one of dozens at Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza.
Good luck with finding other celebrities but don’t expect to see Cosby there. Not anymore.