JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Tales from the Princess Trail…

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Some of you may know that I have been working some gigs as a Disney princess for children’s parties.  I kind of stumbled into the job – one of the new singers I hired for my caroling group last year brought an ad to my attention in (of all places) Craig’s List.  (Yes, there are legit ads on Craig’s List people!  Haha!)  There was a company looking for princess-look-a-likes for parties.  I sent in my performance resume, head shot, some candid pics, and Voila!  I got the job!

Most of the gigs are birthday parties for little girls ages 3-8.   They want their favorite princesses to come to their birthday parties.  (The company also provides super-heros, sports team mascots, and other characters for parties and events.)

The job is really interesting, and the more I’ve done it, the easier it gets.  But in the beginning, it was a bit overwhelming.  Put it this way – imagine you are baby-sitting a group of young children for an hour while every child’s parent is also there watching you to see if you make the grade.  And you have to be in the character of a Disney princess that whole time.  No dropping character!  Entertain those kids!  No pressure!  But like I said, the more I’ve done it and found my routine, the easier it’s become.  My gigs are an hour long, and that gets filled up with face-painting, teaching the kids a princess dance, sing-a-long time, scavenger hunt, and photos with all the kids.

I’ve played quite the myriad of princesses: Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Jasmine, and Tinkerbell.  (I can also play Aurora – aka Sleeping Beauty – but no one has requested her yet.)  I’d say my favorite so far is Tinkerbell – that costume is my own personal costume – not the agency’s – and it was custom-made specifically for me.  And when I’m Tinkerbell, I don’t have to wear a full wig, which is GREAT for outdoor summer parties.  (Wearing a full wig is like wearing a heavy wool blanket on your head – in the summer.)

As you can imagine, I’ve had some interesting experiences while playing a real-life princess…

First, you have to truly be someone who is not easily embarrassed.  Fortunately, I’ve got that part covered – almost nothing embarrasses me.  Since you must arrive at the gigs already in full costume, hair, and make-up, it means driving to the gig (usually an hour away on average) in full costume, hair, and make-up.  Stopping at red lights get you some interesting looks from the drivers around you – or the rare times you have to pull up to a McDonald’s drive through while in costume.  Or your car’s gas light comes on and you absolutely need to stop and get gas – even though you are totally dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

Speaking of playing Ariel… one of my gigs where I was Ariel for a 5 year old’s birthday party was down near Philly – at a house right on a busy corner against the street.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes for a client to answer the door, as they are often letting the birthday girl get the door, so that she can see that her favorite princess has come to her party – surprise!  (An important photo moment.)  Standing at the door for three minutes felt like ten minutes as every car had to yell out to me as I stood there waiting.  “Ariel! Ariel!” *honk honk*  “Hey there sexy – turn around!”  (Seriously, dude in the random Jeep???)  “Wooowooooo” *hooooonk*

Or the time I was playing Tinkerbell, and two of the adult men at the party (looking to be in their mid thirties) decided to come sit at my table as I painted the children’s faces.  That was the time that the one guy had to have his “serious talk” with his buddy about how he couldn’t find true love, how he was looking for the right girl, blah-blah-blah, etc, etc, etc… and his friend was consoling him – “don’t worry, it will happen”  blah-blah-blah….  Really?  You are having this conversation randomly here?  Sitting next to me at this little girl’s party?  Uh huh… sure… methinks someone was trying to pick up a princess.  Sorry dude, this princess already has a prince.

Some of the questions the little kids ask are really interesting too.  Back in May, I got a mole removed from my arm, so I was wearing a band aid – so that the kids didn’t see the incision mark.  Well, for a couple of parties there, I got questions such as – “Cinderella!  What happened to your arm?”  The children would ask with such concern – it was so sweet and cute.  I simply told them that I got a boo boo, and asked them if THEY ever got a boo boo.  And then I got to hear stories of boo boo incidents involving falls, pets, and even bug bites.

Double gig days are always interesting.  They never end up being for the same princess.  So once I finish the first party, I have to find a BIG empty parking lot to pull my car into so that I can change costumes in my car without drawing any attention to myself.  And it’s not just changing my dress – it always involves a wig change too.  Fortunately all those times back in high school when I needed to change between my marching band and cheerleader uniforms at football games, I learned how to change clothes strategically without flashing any of the merchandise, so to speak.  Not exactly glamorous, but there you have it.  And as a result of all those ever changing princess dresses, my car is now covered in glitter.  For eternity.   Because every single princess dress is coated in glitter.  (haha!  😉 )

Most of the time, the children want to know how I got there – did I fly there with magic?  Did I take a carriage or an airplane?  Did I walk all the way there from my castle at Disney World?  (Most kids just assume I live in Disney World.)  Or they want to know what the other princesses are like.  Or they tell me how pretty my dress is.  Or we compliment each other’s shoes.  In the beginning, I didn’t know if what I was doing actually meant anything to the kids.  Would they remember this experience?  Was I making it special enough?  Was I being a good enough princess so that the parents believed it to be worth the money?

But when I hear little girls say that they are having the best birthday party ever – or they need to say good-bye to me several times before I leave because they will miss me – then I know I’m doing something really great.  And you can see it with the parents too – it gives them such joy to do this for their kids.  I’m glad to be doing something that makes people so happy.  Like I always say – put good out into the world, and good will come back to you!

Playing one of my favorites - Tinkerbell!

Playing one of my favorites – Tinkerbell!

Snow White!

Snow White!

Waiting in the car before an Ariel gig...

Waiting in the car before an Ariel gig…

Posing with one of the birthday girls at a Belle party.

Posing with one of the birthday girls at a Belle party.

Rapunzel costume with the super-long-braid wig...

Rapunzel costume with the super-long-braid wig…

Cinderella stuck at a long traffic light...

Cinderella stuck at a long traffic light…

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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