The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Guests Maim Loveable Disney Characters: Foot Injuries in The Magic Kingdom

Posted by on Friday, January 4th, 2013


Everyone loves Disney World: the exhilarating rides, the fried foods, the fireworks, and the loveable Disney characters. But the life of a Disney mascot isn’t all fun and games (full disclosure: that’s not really Mickey Mouse, it’s a guy in a suit… sorry to ruin Christmas). Being a mascot means standing for hours in the heat, buried under pounds of fabric and foam. Most mascot costumes weigh from 15-30 pounds, up to 50 pounds if they get wet (which, after a long day in the Florida sun, they probably will). All on it’s own, that’s a recipe for foot pain. But Disney is a place where people tend to get over-excited. Teenagers want to show off in front of their girlfriends, pretending to beat up Mickey for a few laughs. Little kids get annoyed that they have to wait in line, stomping on Goofy’s giant foot amidst a tantrum. Oblivious dads back up to pose for pictures, stepping on Daffy’s webbed feet in the process. Those giant mascot feet are just hanging out there, asking to be abused. And under the brightly colored fabric, there are real human feet, suffering.



No matter what happens, Disney characters must stay in costume. So, if Minnie Mouse sprains an ankle, she has to stand around looking cute until she can make a quiet exit through Disney’s mysterious utility corridors (a network of secret passages I learned about on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour). Considering how busy Disney World is, that can take hours. Meanwhile, her injury is swelling up, her bruises are blossoming, and her level of pain is steadily increasing. Waiting to treat a sprained ankle (or any other acute foot injury) can seriously complicate the problem, resulting in chronic pain, chronic joint instability, even early-onset arthritis.



Consider also that Disney World mascots are only paid $8.75 an hour (Disney Land is slightly better, at $10.00 an hour). These workers don’t have health insurance or the money to seek expensive treatments out-of-pocket. And they can’t afford to miss too many days of work. I suspect many of Disney’s mascots are performing with foot and ankle pain, risking larger, more damaging injuries down the road.



So what can a poor injured mascot do to protect her feet?

  • One good thing about mascot costumes: your shoes are hidden under those cartoon-sized plush feet. This means you can wear supportive, rugged shoes with steel toes. The steel will protect your toes from stomps, kicks, and stubs while lateral support keeps ankles from turning. Look for shoes with excellent grip too: no slipping on spilled soda for this Donald Duck!
  • Take sit breaks whenever you can. These may be few and far between at Disney, but if you’re clever you may be able to work them into your routine. Sit down coyly next to a family on a bench. Take a seat at a table and pretend to steal some French fries. You’ll delight the tourists while you give your feet a much-needed breather.
  • Don’t ignore your pain. Getting early treatment will likely save you money in the long run. Giving yourself a few days to heal in the short-term may also save you weeks of missed work down the line. Call The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) for a consult.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.