My job gave me these puffy pants - how to navigate costuming

Yes, every costuming place is about this big. (Source:
One place that will be vital do doing your job properly is costuming, where you'll have to pick up the clothes you're required to wear for your role in the parks, resorts or Downtown Disney.  Unlike most workplaces, Disney provides you with pretty much everything for your costume (although you will usually have to provide your own shoes).  However, being able to get all of it can be tricky - costuming locations can be quite large, and not all costumes are available at all locations even if they're global.  For example, as Photopass on my last program I would pretty much need the same costume no matter what park I worked in (except for Main Street in Magic Kingdom), but not all parks had a costuming department that carried the DPI costume.  The worst part is that you're not told by costuming who has what costume as not all cast members there know about costuming outside of the park they oversee.

However, don't let this scare you!  Today I'll talk a bit about how costuming works, how to find the correct costume in your size, how to check pieces out and how to turn them back in.  Keep in mind that each location may work slightly differently - I'm going off of the Animal Kingdom location in particular because that was where my costume was carried.

So Many Racks, Not Enough Time

When you get your paperwork telling you about your first few days of training you'll most likely get a page with photos detailing what costume pieces you need.  It's important that you follow this list very carefully, as there may similar clothing items to yours that aren't what you need (for example, needing a black fabric belt instead of a brown belt or a leather belt).  You won't have to worry about searching for your costume for very long, however - at the end of each rack there should be a hanger with every piece of the costume on it.  This is the rack that contains your costume, though some racks share with different roles so make sure that what you grab is what your costume requires.

Depending on your costume, the rack may be further divided into male and female clothing.  Pick out whichever is appropriate (keep in mind, though, that if you have a role where men wear pants but women wear skirts you might be forced to choose whatever the option is for your gender).  They'll also have markers for sizes.  Here's where I talk about a few things that are important to know when picking out an outfit:
  1. Disney sizes are not the same as regular US sizes.  For example, in street clothes I wear anything from a 6 to an 8, but in Disney costuming sizes I can't wear anything smaller than a 12.  In addition, if you're from a country that uses different measurements from the US you might be even more lost.  A good rule of thumb is double the number of the US size you are in street clothes.
  2. Always try everything on beforehand.  The sizes listed can be misleading - a costume piece that has been washed a bunch before may be more shrunken than a newer piece of the same size.  You also have to keep an eye out for wear, stretched fastenings and things of that nature.  The Costuming CMs are usually pretty good at catching that kind of stuff but sometimes pieces fall through the cracks.
  3. You cannot have more than the allowed number of costumes.  For example, if you have a costume with shorts and a shirt you won't be able to get more than five of each.  Any extra pieces will net you a charge on every paycheck until you give it back.
  4. You cannot check out costume items that are not needed for your role.  If you work custodial, for example, you can't check out a Haunted Mansion costume.  If you pick up a PAC shift, however, you're welcome to check out one of those.  You can also try on the costumes for fun if you wish - just don't take away costume pieces from a CM that needs them and don't annoy Costuming.  And try not to take any photos.
  5. Don't rely on Costuming to direct you to pieces you need.  Costumes for certain roles are constantly changing and the CMs have to keep up with at least a dozen different costumes, not including stuff like rain gear and accessories.  On my last program I nearly walked out with the wrong coat because two Costuming CMs thought that that was the one I needed.  If you have questions, ask your managers - they are a lot more knowledgeable about your specific costume.

Checkin' Out The Costume

For checking out clothing you have two options - getting someone from Costuming to do it and checking yourself out.  There are a few situations where you can't check things out yourself, depending on what the costume consists of - if this is the case, you'll have to get Costuming to do it.  If someone isn't standing at the check-out desk there will be a bell that you can ring to call them up.  Give them a few minutes - they could be among any of the racks taking care of the costumes.  You'll need your employee ID for them to scan in order to open up your outfit.

If you're checking your own stuff out, you'll walk up to the opposite side of the desk from where the CM is.  Don't worry, everything is clearly labeled and you can always ask someone if you don't understand how to use the station.  However, be careful if you're wearing your costume while checking pieces out - the scanner can pick up on the sensors on the clothes you're wearing which can confuse it.  The good news is that you won't have to worry about finding a barcode to scan as you would in the grocery store - just wave the piece under the scanner until it pops up on the screen.  Rinse and repeat until you've checked out everything you need.  Make sure to close your account if needed.

Checkin' In The Costume (AKA "Please Do My Laundry")

You can check in costume pieces at any time to get new ones as long as you never exceed the maximum allowed number.  Basically, you have to check things in before you can check new things out.  The good news is that checking things in is super easy!  All you have to do is throw them into the return slot that every costuming location will have towards the front.  The slots are equipped with sensors that pick up on the sensors in your clothes so they'll instantly pick up on anything you push through.

There's also no limit on how often you check things in or out.  I knew some CMs who claimed that they never did laundry because they always took their dirty costume pieces back to costuming!  However, be careful doing this if you struggle to find pieces in your size, because there's never any guarantee that they will be clean pieces that you can wear.  Also, as with the check-out scanner you need to be careful about the slot picking up on the sensors on the costume pieces you're wearing if you're wearing any.

I Need...

In addition to supplying costumes, Costuming also supplies name tags.  Though you're given one when you go through Traditions, if you lose it or want a new one you'll have to come in and request it.  If you've lost your tag and need a placeholder (AKA Chris from Orlando) until you can get another one printed for you Costuming also handles that.  The fee for a new tag is about $5.  If you want to change the name on your tag the CM will probably require that it be a reasonable request - as in it will have to either be part of your legal name or a nickname that isn't too weird.  If you want to change the location it will have to either be your registered hometown or a place you've lived in for quite a while.  However, it's always possible to find a CM who is willing to put whatever you want on the tag.

That about wraps it up for costuming today!  I hope this post will help you successfully navigate the different areas of Costuming so you won't be too lost when it comes to checking out your costume pieces.  If you have any questions over this or anything else you are always welcome to contact me here or on Twitter.  Until then, have a great day!

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