If you’re an avid TikTok watcher, you may have stumbled on @TheMostDapperFella while scrolling through Disney Tok. Maybe you’ve seen his lovely singing videos by coincidence or you started following him from the beginning of his TikTok journey. That Dapper Fella is Terry M. Pendleton, a Dapper Dan, who was one of the thousands of cast members who were laid off from Walt Disney World due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was an entire like eight weeks where I wasn’t sure if I was going to get laid off [or not,] Pendleton wrote. “It was really challenging to just sit around and wait. it was so heartbreaking seeing all of my friends who put in so much hard work over the years to get to where they were have their dreams and career stripped from them. It was especially hard for me since [my] dream had just been fulfilled a little over a year ago.”
Pendleton’s Disney dreams came true in June 2019 when he was hired on as a performer. It had been his dream since he was a 16-year-old musical theater performer and he realized he could do what he loved professionally for Disney. And, even though his dream got cut short this year, Pendleton hasn’t given up the ghost, so the Haunted Mansion will have to wait.
In fact, whenever he can go back to work, he intends to. Being a Dapper filled his life with so many magical memories he couldn’t name just one favorite, so he named a few:
“So during the rehearsal process for the Dapper Dans, we had an overnight rehearsal where we had to be at Magic Kingdom at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Pendleton wrote. “It was incredible getting to see Magic Kingdom so peaceful and so quiet. We also got to see the sun rise over Cinderella castle, which is something I will never forget.
“Another one of my favorite moments is [from] one of my first days on Main Street,” he continued. “I had some friends come in from home and they got to see me perform three shows, which was super special. It was incredible having the support of friends while also getting to entertain them. And for them, they said it was awesome getting to see me live out my dream. They filmed a lot of stuff for me that day and took pictures so I’ll have those memories for a long time as well.
“And one of my absolute favorites was getting to perform on Christmas Eve,” Pendleton added. “Christmastime at Disney is so special, and when people think Christmas at Disney, they think Magic Kingdom. So, getting to perform for a whole bunch of people who are really excited to be a magic kingdom and really excited to take in the entertainment offerings was incredibly special. The energy level of our crowds [was] insane, and with it being my first holiday season at Disney I was living my best life. ALL of these memories include some form of Disney magic that you can’t get anywhere else. Whether it was magic being made for me, or Magic I was creating for guests. So I guess it all boils down to being a magic maker.”
Pendleton’s social media fans know all too well how much performing means to him. It’s clear from the first moment you see him sing a note or tell a story that he was born to tread the cobblestone through the middle of Main Street U.S.A. He said he never expected to gain the kind of following he’s gotten on TikTok (at 41,000+ followers as of Nov. 18, 2020) but he is grateful for every single one.
No matter what he’s posting on social, Pendleton tries to stay optimistic and cheerful in his posts because joy is what the world needs today. Particularly in 2020, he wants to help spread that positivity to keep the world going despite any gloomy days along the way.
“All of the cast members who have lost their jobs truly miss making that magic for you all,” Pendleton wrote. “For a lot of us, it’s more than just a job. It’s a place we’ve found family, long-lasting friendships, and some of the most wonderful memories. And some quick words of advice: don’t let your circumstances dictate your feelings. [Like] ‘2020 may have stolen my job, but it will not steal my joy,’ [is] something that I try to live by now that I have been laid off. [Also,] all these situations are temporary. Continue to work toward something that is meaningful for you, and I’m sure good things will come from it. You just have to keep believing that the dreams you wish will come true.”
Pendleton adds that there are a few ways Disney fans can help support laid off cast members: