Ever wonder what it is like to be on the Disney on Ice cast? Check out my exclusive interview with a veteran of the incredible ice shows, Michael Helgren!
What is it like to be on the Disney on Ice Cast?
If you have been around here, you know that we are longtime Disney on Ice fans and we also grew up owning a roller skating rink, so I was always curious about what it was like to be on the Disney on Ice cast. I had the honor of interviewing a longtime cast member, Michael Helgren who performs as Prince Eric with the Dream Big cast!
I honestly was super nervous about this interview. I have never missed a show and I had so many questions. I also mentioned this interview to my classes and some of my students came up with some great questions to ask as well. Read on to see what it is like to be on the 47 member Disney on Ice cast.
What motivated you to become a Disney On Ice skater?
I grew up watching and adoring the Disney films. I had never seen a Disney on Ice show until I started skating in a show. I had a lot of friends that skated with Disney and as a skater myself, I followed in their footsteps and I love it.
What is it like being a Disney on Ice Cast member?
Cast members on on tour for 8-10 months out of a year. We perform in a different city every week and it is a fast moving lifestyle that many skaters feed off and really enjoy. I have personally been on tour for 13 years with Disney on Ice. Overall, cast members feel like a family and are very connected as a group.
Is Disney specific about which characters to play?
Yes, Disney is very specific about the characters. They cast based on height, look, appearance and technical ability. Ideally they want the cast member to look as close to the character as possible. In terms of Disney on Ice, there is a bit more flexibility as there are a limited number of advanced skaters available. Skaters each have their own roles but they can understudy as needed.
Are the costumes comfortable?
Yes and no. Costumes are adapted for the skaters so that they can do what they need to do for technicality. Many skaters have multiple layers of costumes on for quick changes, but Disney does their best to make sure they can stretch where they need to stretch.
How much do you Practice?
Prior to the first performances, skaters practice for weeks in their costumes. Skaters have 3 weeks to learn the entire show, learn the lifts, review tricks, motions and get in peak shape. Everyone casted in the show comes to Disney on Ice with the skills and tricks that they need to perform, it is just a matter of learning the choreography. Once the show is on tour, it takes 2 days to load in and set up everything and then the entire cast does edge exercises and guiding to make sure they are ready for opening night. The ice size changes every week depending on the arena and principal skaters do get individual ice time to practice their lifts and jumps to fit the arena space.
Can you do a backflip?
No. I learned in a gymnastics gym, however, after practicing with a spotting belt on the ice, I decided it wasn’t for me.
How many characters do you play?
Prince Eric is my main role. I am also in the ensemble for some parts so I play a guard in the Aladdin section and a skeleton in Coco.
What is your favorite character you have played?
Prince Eric. My favorite movie as a child was The Little Mermaid.
What do you do on your days off?
We bus to each city if it is under 500 miles and we are able to explore the city and spend time with friends and families located in those cities. We also go to the gym and cook in our rooms.
What is your favorite city you have performed in?
Cape Town, South Africa. I have been to over 47 countries as a Disney on Ice cast member. I never thought I would go to Africa, but I feel so fortunate to enjoy the countries and cultures and to build those connections with the audience. All audiences are different and with South Africa being so far away from any other Disney experience that they are going to get. It is very special to bring Disney to them.
Dream Big with Disney On Ice
Michael is currently touring with the Dream Big tour. He describes this show as super special because there is something for everyone. Princesses, fire breathing dragons, and of course Olaf!
The show just left Denver and is headed to a city near you. Make sure to check out the Disney on Ice website to get your tickets to this fantastic show and sign up to be a Disney on Ice Preferred Customer to get exclusive access to presale tickets, codes and more!