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I Dream of Disney: Phoenix McKay

HerCanberra Team

Disney devotee Phoenix McKay feels like her dreams have come true.

The second year ANU School of Art student, who is majoring in Textiles, has earned a place in the International Disney College Program working in costuming operations.

“I think I laughed for ten minutes. I couldn’t believe it,” she remembers.

The silver Peter Pan rings on Phoenix’s left hand gleam as she gesticulates.

“The minute I read that I got into the costuming role, I was like, ‘That is absolutely a dream come true!’

Phoenix says that she fell in love with Disney when she went to Disney World aged 12.

“I walked into the parks and I was amazed. I realised that Disney wasn’t just these movies – it was physically a whole world.”

The experience inspired Phoenix to become an imagineer – a person who designs Disney parks. After she went to London and took the Harry Potter studio tour, however, she decided that costuming was her calling.

“I had this moment where I went, I can do that,” Phoenix says.

“There’s actually a career choice where I can create these characters and show off who they are in so many more detailed levels than what they say.”

Phoenix learned to sew before she was 10. She took textiles and fashion classes in school, and her interest blossomed.

“That’s when I started applying more art instead of fashion. I started realising that that’s what costume is.”

From work experience with Cirque du Soleil to Fashfest and local school productions, Phoenix has already begun building an impressive CV. When she gets to Disney World, she’ll learn exactly what she’ll be doing during her placement.

“I could be in cast costuming – all the cast at Disney, no matter where you’re working, are costumed. And all the parks are different, they have different themes so the costumes can vary everywhere,” Phoenix says.

“I could be doing character costuming, which is the characters at Disney. So princesses, and Mickey Mouse and things like that.

“If I’m really lucky I could be placed on a production – because they do small productions in the parks – like Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo.”

She adds that her duties could include washing, dressing and mending: “but that’s basic costuming anywhere in the world.”

Phoenix doesn’t think that working behind the scenes will spoil the magic of Disney for her.

“As someone who’s worked backstage on productions and sees a lot of productions, it’s never ruined the magic once,” she says.

“I think it’ll kind of enhance it. It’ll be fun to walk around and be like, ‘Oh, I know how that happens now’.”

Phoenix will begin her placement at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, on 23 January.


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