Dream come true for pint-sized performer
A Palmerston North performer has fulfilled the stuff of little boys' and girls' dreams - donning a pair of Mickey Mouse ears to spend a year at Disney World.
Renee Pink, at 25, says she drew puzzled stares walking around Palmerston North in a Donald Duck T-shirt.
The musical theatre performer and budding student teacher has returned from a year accustomed to a Disney disguise that, from the look of her house, she hasn't quite shaken.
Disney-mad Miss Pink has a house full of cartoon memorabilia - her iPhone has Mickey Mouse ears, her kitchen is Disney-fied right down to the last tea towel - and she concedes her name even fits the bill.
She had applied on a whim after coming across a Disney job advertisement aimed at students in September 2011 and a month later, was interviewed in Wellington by Disney representatives who had travelled all the way to New Zealand to meet the candidates.
While 300 Australians and New Zealanders scored a job at Florida's Walt Disney World Resort, Miss Pink was the only Kiwi to be chosen for a character role.
Standing at just a little over five feet tall, she was judged too short to be a Disney Princess, to her amusement, but they found another purpose in a "huge" warehouse full of costumes.
"I got measured at five foot so they put me in the ‘mouse' height range for the short people. My friend who is six feet tall got told he was the Goofy height range," she said. "But that's OK, I got to be Minnie Mouse and she's a princess."
Miss Pink embodied dozens of classic characters - with gender no barrier as she was costumed head to toe - from Minnie and Mickey Mouse, to Aristocrats characters, all in summer heat that peaked at more than 40 degrees Celsius. She sometimes began work at 4.30am, and she was not allowed to speak in the costume to preserve the "magic" of the Disney tales that the children visiting the theme park treasured.
She learned to make exaggerated gestures as part of a mime to keep guests entertained.
Her family had visited Disney World once before in 2008 but Miss Pink had not imagined the capacity in which she would return.
"I never thought in a million years I would be doing that four years later. It all looked so familiar and I remember thinking, how did I get here, how did this happen? From Palmerston North to Orlando and here I am dressed as a Disney character. It's a little girl's dream."