ST. GEORGE — Walt Disney World is known for being the happiest place on Earth. People from all over the world apply to work there, and the competition is tough.
Most people may only dream about what it would be like to take part in the magical world of Disney on a daily basis, but one 20-year-old Hurricane City resident knows exactly what it’s like to make her dream of working at the Magic Kingdom a reality.
It just so happens, she received her own fairytale ending, or beginning one could say, when she met a real-life Prince Charming along the way to spend life with … happily ever after.
Miss Washington County 2014, Aubree Christensen, knew what it felt like to be a princess.
With her engaging personality and desire to make people happy, Christensen moved to Florida in August 2015 to help girls from around the world have an opportunity to feel for themselves what it’s like to be a princess.
Walt Disney famously said:
You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.
As such, Disney maintains an exceptionally high level of standards when choosing the right people for the remarkable experience of being a part of its team.
While Disney refers to its visitors as “guests,” employees are always known as “cast members” because they are there to create magic and be part of a show. Cast Members have a “role,” not a job title; and they’re never at work, but rather “onstage” or “offstage.”
“Everything within the company is so precise and very organized,” Christensen said. “It’s incredible how everything just moves like clockwork. They have specifics on how your costumes must be layered, hair color, makeup, how you talk to kids, even how to point. There’s a Disney way for everything.”
Unleashing the magic
Christensen was accepted into the Disney College Program in a paid internship position to perform all duties in character of “fairy godmother-in-training” at Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – it is considered by many one of the best jobs at the theme park.
As a fairy godmother-in-training, Christensen transformed girls into their favorite princess by styling their hair with a variety of techniques – braiding, teasing, shaping, finger curls and twists – applying face makeup and painting nails or applying press-on nails.
During the transformation, the princesses were faced away from the mirror so when their transformation was revealed, they were genuinely surprised.
“I remember one little girl in particular who – when she saw herself, she squealed and turned to her mom and exclaimed, ‘You were right! I AM beautiful!'” Christensen said. “The mom couldn’t hold back her tears, and the princess jumped into my arms with the biggest hug and abundant, ‘Thank you Fairy Godmother.'”
Every so often, Christensen would get to work her magic on a little knight. For their process, Christensen would spike their hair with dragon slime and scales (colored hair paint), and complete their transformation with a sword and a shield for them to keep.
“They even had to say an oath reminding them the swords are for dragons only,” Christensen said. “The oath ended with a triumphant ‘I am brave! I am strong! I am kind! I am a royal knight of Walt Disney World!'”
Christensen recalled a time when one of the knights argued that she couldn’t be a real fairy godmother because her eyes are brown.
“Everybody know’s that fairies have sparkle eyes,” he told her. “He then snapped his fingers and said ‘Mom, let’s roll.'”
A sprinkle of pixie dust
Just like any other character in the park, Christensen had a story line to uphold.
Christensen, a 190-year-old fairy godmother-in-training, was to become a real fairy godmother just like Cinderella’s, who happened to be her teacher. She was handpicked by the fairy godmother herself to come from the “Kingdom of Utah” to help her, Christensen said, because there are so many princesses, the fairy godmother couldn’t transform them all. Now, every princess can be ready for the ball.
“We live in Cinderella’s castle during our 1,000 years of training it takes to earn our wings,” Christensen said, “and once we’re graduated, we get a very own princess of our own.”
Students who are accepted into the nine-month college program actually live in fully furnished deluxe apartments just outside the park. The living arrangement creates a multicultural experience as it brings more than 70,000 cast members together from all different areas of life.
When they’re “offstage,” cast members receive unlimited access to the Disney theme parks and, based on how many hours they work, earn complimentary tickets to the parks to give to their friends and family.
As it turned out, theme park tickets would be a mere part of the rewards Christensen received.
“Every day I learned about these incredible little princesses and, for an hour, was able to tell them how beautiful, smart and talented they are,” Christensen said. “Being able to have that positive influence and remind them how special they are was so rewarding.”
With a wave of her magic wand
“She believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them,” Walt Disney said of Cinderella. “When Prince Charming didn’t come along, she went over to the palace and got him.”
Perhaps the most surprising, rewarding and life-changing moment during Christensen’s time transforming girls into princesses came when her own prince waltzed into her life.
Just as Cinderella met Prince Charming at the ball, Christensen met Jonathan Harper at a dance in Orlando, Florida.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘Wait! Where are you going?’ as he chased me out from leaving early,” she said. “We danced and planned to go to lunch the next week and just completely clicked.”
After falling in love and meeting each other’s families, Harper invited Christensen to take pictures together at her favorite red rocks in St. George.
“After filtering through poses, he said that he knew a good one, got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him,” Christensen said. “Of course, I said, ‘yes!'”
In a post to her Facebook page, Christensen wrote:
I didn’t fall under a sleeping curse, lose a shoe, run away from home, or kiss a frog, but I did go to a ball and found myself the most incredible prince charming. Thank you for making every day magic, chasing after me, laughing with me, spending every day with me. My new dream is with you and I count my blessing every day. Wishes really do come true.
Harper and Christensen have both recently moved to Hurricane. The two plan to tie the knot in October.
Today, Christensen performs at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts, runs the Snokaps shaved ice shop in Hurricane and is going to Dixie State University studying theater education.
She would love to return to Disney World as a character performer, Christensen said; and she has big dreams of playing Dory in “Finding Nemo – The Musical.”
“I’m not sure what adventures are in my future,” she said, “but I know that wherever I go, pixie dust will follow.”
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About the series “What’s in a job”
Labor Day invites us to give “tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” according to the Labor Department.
St. George News brings this “What’s in a job” series of stories over Labor Day weekend to recognize workers whose contributions may go unnoticed, who may be less visible to the general public than others and to unpack some of what goes into everyday jobs performed by everyday people in our communities. Work is a good thing. We honor it and those who do it.
Other stories in the series:
- What’s in a job: Crossing guard learns the secret to safer streets
- What’s in a job: Jazzy crew’s secret ingredient to the hotspot
- What’s in a job: 1 man keeps 21 radio stations on the air for you
- What’s in a job: Farmer at heart keeps the fruit rolling in
- What’s in a job: The house that Ray built
- What’s in a job: Cornfields, murder and big business define 1 deputy’s patrol
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