by Pat McSparin // Spring 2010
Douglas Enderle
Douglas Enderle

Douglas Enderle

Alumnus of the Year

To create Disney magic, performers at the “happiest place on earth” must always look the part, and for 28 years, Douglas Enderle (M.F.A. ’81) has been integral to making sure they do. A senior costume designer at Walt Disney Entertainment, Enderle’s designs are all over the Magic Kingdom—from its theme parks in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, California and Florida to tours and television. For his innovative costume creations, Enderle has received many honors, including an Emmy in 1992 for his costumes in ABC’s “Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade.”

Enderle’s career in costume design was thrust upon him as a William Jewell undergraduate, working under professor and former Kansas City Rep scenic designer Howard Jones. “Halfway through that first semester the costume designer dropped out of school and there was no one to replace her,” Enderle says. “Howard told me I would be the costume designer from there on out. He set up the sewing machine and challenged me to learn.”

Because designing came naturally for Enderle, Jones suggested he study under Vincent Scasselatti, costume designer for UMKC and the Rep. After earning his M.F.A., Enderle went on to co-design with Scasselatti for a winter season at the Rep before accepting a teaching assignment with the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Enderle eventually took his passion for costume design to Disney, and today, his team is responsible for designing and creating the costumes for the domestic Disney theme parks, the Disney Cruise Line and Disney’s touring shows in the United States. But costume design for Disney goes far beyond sewing. “I work with new technology firms in the development of costumes made to incorporate deep water life preservation capabilities, as well as those that will allow characters to pilot ultra-light aircraft,” Enderle says. “My occupation allows me to design everything from a single pianist on Coke Corner in the Magic Kingdom to more than 20,000 individuals for the opening ceremonies for the Pan American Games.”

Scenic Designer Jason Coale worked with Enderle on the 2008 Themed Entertainment Charrette in Orlando. “He lives as an example of where training and dedication can get you,” Coale says of Enderle, “and his eagerness to help others share in that joy puts him at the top of the list.” Enderle, who has been at Disney since 1982, says his favorite design is “the next one that’s due,” and his favorite part of costume design is the research that goes into it. But what is the most rewarding part of his career and personal life? “All of those times when I have been able to find the correct balance between my relationship with my career and with my home,” he says. For his achievements, Enderle was honored as the 2010 UMKC Alumnus of the Year.

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