Dressing up Disney

Matthew Davidson, one of two costume directors at Disney , “Dresses up” characters that are decades old or fresh from the story board.


Matthew Davidson never suspected that he would be one of the two costume directors for Walt Disney World as a child. He never even knew it was his passion until he was already employed. Costuming had never crossed his mind, but Disney was always where he had wanted to be. First, he was aspiring to be an animator, but he was worried about the risk of being stuck doing the “in-betweening” for the rest of his life. For an animator, the “in-betweening” is where an animator will move the character very slowly through scenes. This was a tiresome job Davidson did not want to be in. So he switched his course in college for an apprenticeship at I and M (Industrial Light and Magic), but just as he was about to send his apprentice application, they stopped the program. Crestfallen, Davidson tried at Disney again. He sent them loads of different artwork, but time and time again he got no response. Davidson, though, didn’t give up on his dream of Disney. He got a job in the parks as a gangster on the beloved The Great Movie Ride. Six months later, Davidson found his opening. Disney was seeking out a creative costuming sketch artist, which played to all Davidson’s strengths. According to Davidson he, “Got in there showed the my artwork, and ninety days later” he made it.




The JournalismX team alongside Matthew Davidson with his artwork.




Davidson now works with talented people all over the globe in all of Disney’s parks. Most of the time, a show director will tell him the over arching theme of a parade, or the style of a show. All of it he tells us, “will be motivated by the story or the characters.”

For parades that feature some of Disney’s most iconic characters, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Davidson must make them shine, and stand out from the rest. Divulging into a character’s spirit and style is one of Davison’s favorite things about his job, but sometimes these characters are fresh off the storyboard, and it’s Davidson’s job to create their style. For example: In a show for Hong Kong he was told to develop clothes for “Story Book Warriors”. He threw around some ideas of fierce fighters with quills as spears, but the idea was tossed because weapons weren’t allowed in the show. Davidson then decided to make their clothes out of old worn story book pages in their ancient fonts. The idea was used and the warriors looked like true defenders of the stories they wore.

Davidson’s advice to young artists who want to enter the business is to study life drawing, which is especially useful when attempting to get a costume idea across. He also says to study draping and fabrics, something that is not Davidson’s main strength. Other than that the only thing that can get you to your dream job, is to do what he did with Disney, never give up.


Story by:


Tatum Cempella

Age 12