Steve Martin, Michelle Pfieffer, Barrett Figueroa. All these actors got their start working at amusement parks. While Martin and Pfieffer have gone on to have distinguished careers, Figueroa is just getting started.
Since May of 2017, Figueroa has worked as a character performer in the Entertainment Department at Knott’s Berry Farm. While employees aren’t allowed to share what characters they play, Figueroa has been “friends” with members of the Peanuts gang like Snoopy, Sally, Schroeder, Franklin, and Peppermint Patty.
The decision to audition for Knott’s was easy for Figueroa.
“I’m 16. (At) Disney you can only be 18 or a graduating senior, while you only have to be 16 to work at Knott’s,” Figueroa said.
When it became clear that Knott’s was his destiny, he filled out an online application and was called about three weeks later when a position opened up.
Figueroa remembers the audition well, especially how cut-throat the staff was.
“It was a cattle call but you can only do four people at a time at those auditions. One girl was late so they didn’t let her in, so it was just me,” Figueroa said.
After making it past the first cut, Figueroa was taught a dance. After that cut, he was brought into a dressing room, where he took Linus out to play. Next, Figueroa was presented to the boss and the two leads, where he was instructed to act out his favorite Disney movie. He did not hold back.
“I acted out Snow White of course. I bit the apple, I acted like the witch, I died, I came back to life, it was quite iconic, and then I did the dance for them. It was really easy,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa, however, did make one mistake. During the auditions there is one important rule: no talking once you’re “on stage.”
Unfortunately, during the audition the casting directors did hear a “peep” from Linus. Though Figueroa was afraid about breaking this important rule, he made it to the final round, was interviewed, and eventually got the job on the spot.
Since that fateful audition day, Figueroa has made many unforgettable memories as a performer at Knott’s, including at a Make-a-Wish meet and greet.
“She was four years old, really young, and they sectioned off the line and it was five characters, and I was with Schroeder that day, and we had a 10 minute meet and greet with her. I held her hand and walked her out to the gate when it was over and it was really cool,” Figueroa said.
One day at work was a little less heartwarming and a little more traumatic for Figueroa.
“A few weeks ago I was with Snoopy and these kids were leaning on Snoopy, and he fell on the ground on his back and it was really loud, and no one helped Snoopy up. It was rough,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa handled the situation, but not without some cuts and bruises.
“Snoopy picked himself up from the ground, and although the children were frightened, he blew them kisses and gave them hugs. He walked away and his ankle hurt,” he said.
Of course, it is always special when Figueroa’s school friends come and see him do what he does best. Fellow Musical Theatre student Katherine Cotter was very impressed during her visit to Knott’s.
“Barrett does a really good job transforming into the character. I was so proud of him,” Cotter said.
Ultimately, Figueroa has had a very positive experience in his few months at Knott’s Berry Farm, learning important lessons about having a job.
“I’ve learned how to be responsible. In order to get things you want you have to talk and not be scared of your boss because otherwise you’re not going to get anything,” he said.
Figueroa’s classmates have also noticed a change in him since he booked his first big gig.
“He’s learned how to be so responsible, and he’s made so many friends at Knott’s. He really loves his job, I think,” junior Brandon Calderon said.
In the future, Figueroa would love to be a part of Knott’s stage shows, but not until he’s 18 of course. While this job may not last long after high school, especially if he grows taller than the height maximum, Figueroa knows how lucky he has been because, unlike most people he loves what he does.
“I enjoy going to work,” he proudly exclaimed.