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Being A Looney Tune All Summer Is, In Fact, All Fun and Games

Setting aside the heat, working for the Entertainment Department at Six Flags was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Photo by Angela Farson

Alongside her pals, Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the cat, Madelyn Shotton found fun in escorting the gang just as much as being the character for the day. As an escort, Shotton answered guests’ questions about the park, took family photos and made sure the Tunes followed their daily schedule.  

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When I heard the 10-minute warning, I knew it was time to get dressed as a Looney Tune.

I’ve always told myself I want to cross things off my bucket list, and working at an amusement park was one of those things.

In February 2018, I auditioned in the Entertainment Department at Six Flags St. Louis.

After auditioning for multiple roles, I was offered a part as a “fuzzy,” aka, a Looney Tunes mascot. I decided to take the offer and told myself it would be a good experience and something to look back on when I was older.

I’ll be real for a second, it’s kind of a goofy job, but it is fun and I honestly learned a lot from it.

The coolest part of the job is that any time someone is in full costume, they become their character. They answer to their character’s name, have their personality and interact with the other Looney Tunes as if they were following a script from Warner Bros.

As the group of two or three characters exit the backstage area, along with their radioed escorts, it’s time to cater 100 percent to the guests.

“Bugs! Daffy! Tweety!”

Children, and even parents, go crazy when their favorite Looney Tune suddenly appears in the park. Simple things like hi-fives, hugs and pats on the head often make a child’s day at Six Flags.

We typically stay on our outing for 30 minutes. However, if the temperature reaches a certain heat index, we will adjust our time accordingly – per the Six Flags standard.

Our outings consist of dance parties, taking photos, riding around the park in a golf cart (which we call the character cab) and doing anything we can to make guests laugh or pay attention to us.

The auditioning process happens in the winter and first consists of seeing which costumes you fit into.

When in costume, your height, body type and motions must look exactly like the character does on TV. If your body doesn’t match one costume, you try on others until they find one that fits. But if none of them fit you, they will explain their reasonings and try to find you another position at the park.

For example, a 5-foot-3-inch woman could not play the role of Bugs Bunny, she is simply too short and has a feminine figure that would not look right in a male bunny costume.

Lola Bunny could not be played by a male and an extremely short and thin person could not play Foghorn Leghorn. While in the costumes, the body and shape of the character would not “look the part,” which is a big “no no” from Warner Bros.

It’s important to watch videos of your character so you can learn to perfectly imitate how they act on TV. The characters are there to tell a story and put on a show for the guests, and they are treated like real “people” at all times.

Your acting skills are often judged in the audition process and could ultimately determine if you’re offered the job.

After our 30-minute outing is over, it’s time to “walk and wave,” which simply means the escorts will take the character by one hand and head to the backstage areas, while waving with the other hand.

This prevents guests from stopping characters in their path to say hi or take more photos. When it’s time to go inside due to the heat, the characters must get inside quickly, for safety.  

The No. 1 reaction I get from people when I tell them what I did last summer at Six Flags is, “I bet that’s hot.”

Yes, of course it’s hot. I’m wearing practically a snowsuit in the middle of July, but Entertainment staffers are paid a higher wage than employees in other Six Flags departments, which is nice. Big bucks.

Setting aside the fact that you’re hot is actually easy once your body becomes used to it, plus you’re sweating so much it becomes a free workout.

There are many more details and “how-to’s” to the job. Looney Tunes has a copyright with Six Flags St. Louis, and Warner Bros. is always carefully watching to make sure all rules are followed.

This is what makes the job cool to me. I’m able to go behind the scenes of the Entertainment portion of the theme park. It’s interesting to learn about the licensing with Warner Bros., how the costumes are washed and put together and the history of the characters within the park. 

As characters, we are not allowed to hold children, talk or make noise of any kind, touch food or ice cream or get wet from the rain.

I once went to work with a bad cold, I didn’t want to call in sick, so I decided to tough it out. When entering the Front Mall, I sneezed inside the head of the costume. I tried to hold it in, but I couldn’t. By this point I was laughing at myself and trying to be as quiet as possible.

I motioned for my escort to come closer, I had to explain what happened. They thought it was funny but told me they were glad it wasn’t very loud and we weren’t around any guests.

In an emergency, we have special signals to motion to our escort if we feel unsafe, sick, can’t see, are overheated or need to go inside for any reason. The walk and wave usually comes into play in these situations, too.

Rarely does a character feel unsafe in a costume, but if they do it’s usually if they feel a guest is harassing them. This may be saying things that are insulting or threatening, touching the character inappropriately, trying to get them to do something that is not allowed under licensing or prohibited in the park, trying to physically pick them up or push them down.

The characters’ safety is the top priority with the Entertainment sector of the park, and it is the escorts’ job to keep their eyes on the character and guests at all times to prevent any harm from happening.

Now the cleaning process, it’s pretty slim.

Under the costumes we are required to wear a black or white T-shirt and spandex or shorts and an elastic hair cap; this way, we’re wearing a light amount of clothes to sustain the heat, while also protecting both our skin and the costume from our sweat.

The head, hands, feet and stuffing inserts are almost never washed, we just spray them out with Clorox after each shift and then pray the odor and sweat are gone by tomorrow.

The fur-suits themselves are washed in a machine and hung to dry after almost every use. We have multiple costumes of each character, so it depends on who works the rest of the week as to when the costume needs to be washed.

As a character on a hot summer day, all you dream of is an ice cream from First Cone.

However, if you’re in costume and a guest wants to take a picture with you while holding their ice cream cone, escorts will say, “Bugs, he has ice cream!” to warn you so you don’t accidentally touch it.

These costumes cost anywhere from $6,000-$10,000 each and when ice cream or a popsicle drips on the fur, the character is taken inside immediately for a spot treatment.

If you’ve ever been to Six Flags, or even Eureka itself, you know it is a very hilly area. We were in Palace Gardens, when I was in character one day, and it started to downpour. I happened to be in my least favorite costume. Of my three characters, this particular costume was the most difficult to walk in.

We had to walk from Palace Gardens all the way to Empire Theatre. My escort was practically dragging me because I was so slow and despite the umbrella over me, I was still getting wet.

I felt like I was running a marathon. I was out of breath by the time we finally got inside, and my costume was drenched.

Other than harassing guests and riding rides, there aren’t many things you can’t do as a character.

I’ve climbed the rope ladder as a character, kicked over a sign, ridden in a golf cart, tried on hats at the gift shop, chased after groups of teenagers, and attempted to push my escort into the water fountain in Front Mall.

Entertainment is the best department to work for at Six Flags. We act in these ways to best play the character and to make people laugh, to keep them entertained.

Sure, you sweat a lot in these costumes and you don’t make a huge amount of money, but at the end of the day you’re able to create your own humor and see smiles on guests’ faces.

This experience gave me many new friends and allowed me to meet so many different types of people. They taught me about the park itself, shared their experiences and made my summer one to remember.

Though I’m too young to have grown up watching them, seeing the classic Looney Tune characters brought to life is seeing a whole other world. Some little kids don’t know who the characters are and it’s so cool to see their parents explain to them who Daffy or Sylvester are.

Could I work at Six Flags long-term? Maybe, if I held a higher position of course. It’s definitely been a resume builder and an experience that I now can say I’ve checked off my bucket list.

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Madelyn Shotton

Madelyn Shotton

Madelyn Shotton is a staff journalist and news anchor for MBU Timeline. Majoring in journalism and minoring in broadcast media, Shotton is also on the Spartan Line Dance Team. In addition, she works in Student Activities and is a student ambassador for Admissions. Shotton hopes to pursue a career in broadcast or professional events.

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