Q&A: Disney mom creates cast member-inspired costumes for her kids
When visiting the Disney Parks, kids can transform through their imaginations into princesses, Jedi, super heroes, and more. But for one mom and her children, they want to emulate those who make the magic—cast members.
Ginny Phillips is the mom of a Disney-loving family hailing from Nashville, Tenn. She teams up with her kids’ “Fairy Godmother” to create incredibly accurate cast member-inspired costumes that her children wear when they visit the parks throughout the year, and documents it all on her Instagram. We got the chance to chat with her about her whimsical creations:
How did you get started in costume-making? Is this something you’ve been doing for a long time?
So, our Fairy Godmother makes a lot of the costumes for us—I design the fabric in Photoshop and have it printed and sent to her, and she turns them into our shirts! Obviously, you can’t find the [cast member] fabric anywhere to purchase, so Fairy Godmother and I tag-team and do the fabric and she does the sewing. I do make the show costumes and some of the more elaborate and painted [outfits].
What inspired you to create these cast member costumes for your children?
We just absolutely adore cast members and love making their day brighter! We have met so many [cast member] friends in the parks who have turned into real-life friends—some of them have even been in our home or come and [spend time] with us in the parks on their off days.
That’s the magic right there. We love loving on them. We make gifts for them leading up to the trips and pass them out to spread some magic. It’s a fun way for our family to get ready for each trip and participate in spreading joy together while there.
I love that my kids learn that the magic is in the thousands of people who work hard to make Walt Disney World what it is. Most kids dress like the characters, but we just adore the [cast members’] reactions when we show up looking like them. There have been lots of special memories because of these costumes; I just love our time with them and the people we have met.
Seeing as many of the costumes you’ve made are mini-replicas of cast member costumes, how else have cast members made an impact on your Disney experience? What made you and your kids want to emulate them?
I just feel like sometimes, being a cast member must be difficult—sometimes people get upset about FastPasses or bus waits, and it’s just important for them to feel loved and appreciated, too.
My kids love pin trading and handing out our homemade gifts we make for them, and the interactions are priceless! I get such joy seeing them together and letting them know we care about them. They are Walt Disney World! Their dedication is incredible and we love giving just a little bit of magic back to them. They’ve given us so many magical moments.
Do you have a favorite costume that you’ve created? Which one has been the most difficult to craft? How long does it usually take to create a costume from scratch?
As far as fabric goes, it usually takes hours to make each one in Photoshop before printing. My favorite is the flags fabric from the Epcot festivals, and my kids love wearing that one! Fairy Godmother can usually whip out a costume quickly because she is so talented and experienced.
Show costumes are very elaborate and take a long time to do—sometimes a couple of weeks here and there, or at least a few days. I usually have to paint and dye them first and then start with the embellishments. “The Festival of the Lion King” or “Finding Nemo: The Musical” costumes are so fun to make, but take the most time usually!
My favorite I’ve made, though, is our oldest daughter’s Kevin costume from “Up” that we made for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was floor-length and had almost a thousand feathers, I think! It was so heavy that we had to pin it all around to her shirt, but she loved wearing it—and Kevin loved it too.
Do you have any plans for future cast member costumes when the parks reopen?
Oh man, I feel like I always have plans for more costumes! It’s exciting when new costumes come out around the parks, too; it’s always fun to see what they will look like.
This may sound silly, but I think I’d love to dress them as Custodial Services next. We adore them and I would love to chat with them again in future trips. I expect Epcot will have some new ones soon, too. One of my favorite costumes are those from Pinocchio Village Haus, so I may have to put those on my radar!
You can check out Phillips and her family’s Disney adventures and costumes via her Instagram, @zooboo27.