I had an amazing interview with the fantastic Ali Williams former theme park princess and owner of Los Angeles’ Princess & Me Parties. We sat down for an hour and a half for an extremely candid discussion about her experience working for the parks.
Ali worked in total for both coasts for a grand total of 3.5 years and she has a great “how I was hired story” After many (7) auditions she got a job as a park photographer, she was able to watch a learn from the girls doing the job day in and day out. Eventually she made it through to the fittings stage.
Here they put you in the retired dresses and wigs (beat up and past their prime) and have you read. She started to practice reading and was immediately stopped and went in and read for the casting directors. At this point she was simply waiting for the call, which never came.
This didn’t stop her, the next call she went in and made it to the end for a brand new character at which the casting director told her she would be perfect for the character she never got the call for. Within 5 days she received her offer and began her magical journey.
Slowly but surely the magic started to unravel, regularly you were told how special and amazing you are and of course the flip side of there are thousands of girls all waiting to take your job. The manipulation to be quiet, conform and never be a “problem” is oh so real! Ali dyed her hair red, a natural red but not her blonde she was hired with and this was taken to mean that she was being defiant. You read that right, deciding to change her hair color within the rules was being defiant. And from here they made her life hell.
Cosmetology decided too much of her hair was showing and told her they would either shave 3 inches off the underside of her hair right there in the room with everyone or she could go home and never return. So in front of the entire room of girls getting ready they shaved her hair off. Management became relentless about how her hair color was her being a “problem”, force extending became a very real issue.
Managers can decide that you must stay beyond your scheduled time and there isn’t much you can do about it. After a full 10 hour shift she was asked to force extend, she declined, I mean 10 hours is long enough lets be real, and was asked to “rethink her answer” and they would be back to check on her. Once again she declined and they force extended her, pulling her from her princess shift and sending her to the other end of the park to do a fur set.
After arriving at her location and prepping to go out on set her greeter realized that there was a parade going by at that exact time with that exact character they insisted that she go out as. They were setting her up to kill the magic with “double exposure.”
One of the worst pieces of manipulation she ever witnessed was watching girls get disapproved in their characters on the spot, pulled right off set and are forced to greet for their replacement watching someone else play the role they never could again. The promises never ended, “try again” “next time its yours” and that next time never comes. The time may come if you are super quiet, and never questioned anything ever and let them abuse you.
After a less than ideal with a party company after “getting out” Ali opened her own princess party company. With a ton of sweat equity, guerrilla marketing and tons of research she now owns one of the top 5 companies in the LA area. Her obsession with character integrity she learned from the parks sets her company high above the competition and has been a huge part of her success.
I asked Ali in one word how it was being a true girl boss her answer? “Liberating”
Life isn’t always the fairytale we think its gonna be.
Love and Light
P.S. Wanna find out more about Ali?