Caroline Coplen creates 'magic' as costume buyer for Disney



Caroline Coplen, a costume buyer for Disney and alumna of the College of Agriculture, received the Walt Disney Legacy Award.Photo provided by Caroline Coplen

Caroline Coplen’s office isn’t in Cinderella’s Castle, but she thinks her role at Disney is pretty magical.
Coplen, a New Orleans native and 2011 alumna of the LSU College of Agriculture, is a costume buyer for Walt Disney World, where she helps source costumes for individuals working in operational roles for Disney’s domestic parks, resorts and cruise line.
“These are considered uniforms, but they are not your typical polos and khakis. It’s much more complicated than that,” Coplen said. “I am dressing cast members who, for example, work in the Haunted Mansion, so they must look the part.”
While studying textiles, apparel and merchandising at LSU, Coplen did a six-month internship with Disney’s costume buying team.
“It’s not getting coffee. Our interns work as buyers, write purchase agreements, conduct quality checks.”
Coplen said she loved the work and the environment at Disney so much that she wanted to make a career out of it. She returned to Orlando immediately after graduation, she said.
Coplen concentrated on merchandising while in school and received a minor in business administration. She said having that background helped her land the job. She also credits faculty members in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising with her success.
During her time at LSU, Coplen also interned with the millinery team at Colonial Williamsburg, studied abroad at Manchester Metropolitan University in England and visited China with a group of faculty members and students from the College of Agriculture.
“All of these experiences set me on the path I am on today,” she said.
At Disney, every employee is considered a cast member, and Coplen said in her role, she works closely with designers and vendors from around the world to get costumes that meet Disney’s standards and specifications.
“The purchasing process is similar whether you are buying Styrofoam cups for a grocery store or costumes for Disney, but with Disney I am essentially creating happiness for our guests,” Coplen said.  
Coplen Name TagCoplen recently received the Walt Disney Legacy Award, an honor bestowed on only one percent of Disney Cast Members. Coplen said recipients are recognized for inspiring others. Guests can distinguish award winners by their blue name tags.
“It is such an honor,” Coplen said. “I keep looking down to make sure my name tag hasn’t turned white again.” 
Coplen said she feels very lucky to work for Disney.
“We’re creating this immersive experience that you can’t do anywhere else. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of,” she said.
Caroline Coplen is an employee of the Walt Disney Company but any views expressed in this article are her own and do not reflect the views of the Company.