Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

`Disney on Ice` images by Feld Entertainment/courtesy of PinckneyHugoGroup.
"Disney on Ice" images by Feld Entertainment/courtesy of PinckneyHugoGroup.

PHOTOS: 'Disney on Ice' skater reflects on a lifetime of dreams and stories

Fri, Jan 27th 2023 09:00 am

By Alice Gerard

Mario Castro has been an athlete, a soldier, and an actor in his native Brazil. And, for the past 27 years, he has performed as a skater with “Disney on Ice.”

Castro said he has always followed his dreams, which have shifted like the sands.

“One of my dreams was to be a professional actor, working in a TV station in a soap opera. I love those. For us, in Brazil, soap operas are major entertainment. At 7 p.m., you’re having dinner with the family, and you’re watching the soap opera,” Castro said.

When Castro joined the Brazilian Army, his dreams changed: “I never thought that I could be in the Army. I ended up by staying there for six years. I became a sergeant.”

In the Army, Castro was part of a competition team.

“I was in sports for a long time in my life,” he said. “When I left the Army (at the age of 28), I was looking for a different sport.”

It was then that he discovered ice skating.

“I started, just for fun, but we didn’t have any coaches to teach us some moves. Basically, we were watching competitions with Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning. You’re looking at them on TV. How are the moves? Using VHS, you go slowly to see the moves frame by frame by frame,” Castro said.

In the early 1990s, Castro decided to spend a year learning English in the U.S.

“When I was there, I saw ‘Disney on Ice,’ ” he said. “The first show that I saw (in 1992) was ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I was so in love. I asked for an audition, and, two days later, I had an audition.”

He related that the auditioners at “Disney on Ice” enjoyed Castro’s artistic presentation. He was an experienced actor, having performed in movies and a few television shows.

“But I didn’t have the technique,” he said. “They told me to come back in two years. I don’t think so. Two years is a long time. They advised me, ‘Please get a coach and come back. Learn all the basic stuff for skating.’ That’s what I did.”

Living in Miami, Castro worked with a coach, and, when “Disney on Ice” returned the following year with a presentation of "Aladdin on Ice," he said he was ready for his second audition: “Two months later, they called me. I started in 1994. Actually, my first show was ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ ”

Mario Castro


Castro has been with “Disney on Ice” ever since. Nothing, not even lockdowns and COVID-19, has stopped him from achieving his dream to perform, as a skater and as an actor.

“In May, it’s going to be 27 years (with ‘Disney on Ice’), except for two years, when I went back home. It was when we stopped the show,” he said. “Actually, the show, during COVID time, was stopped for 10 months. I was unable to come back to the States for my original show. At that time, I was living in a city called Gramado. It is one of the most interesting cities in Brazil, next to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. There are so many places there that will give (a person) a chance to be an actor. I was able to be in a winter park, and I had an experience as a character there.”

Castro found one of his best opportunities to perform at a pizza place in Gramado.

“Every night, we have a show with the characters,” he said. “I was able to be one of the characters in the show. I created and directed some of the shows in the pizza place. I never stopped working.”

During the lockdown, Castro related, he taught classes online. Afterward, he taught at different venues: “I taught a character class for skaters at the park and at different places. It was interesting.

“I did some extra work in some movies in Brazil. Then I was with some local TV shows, like games. Conduct the games and everything. The other thing that was helping me a lot was, because being a professional actor, I was able to direct and create some stuff. It was really good, because it was a part of my growing up as an artist, as an actor.”

Castro returned to the U.S. after travel restrictions were lifted, and he threw himself into performing with “Disney on Ice” again, starting with “Disney on Ice Presents Let’s Celebrate” in January 2022.

This year’s production is titled “Disney On Ice Presents Into The Magic.”

“It’s my second show after coming back from the COVID time,” Castro related.

The performance features a variety of Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Maui from “Moana,” Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” as well as Rapunzel, Flynn (from “Tangled”) and Cinderella, who experience drama and adventure in a colorful seascape.

“It’s an amazing story,” Castro related. “It’s exciting because we’ve had some parts of the show that we’ve done before. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a part of the show. ‘Cinderella’ is a classic. And then you have a modern movie, ‘Moana.’ It’s so special for me.”

He said the shows bring families together: “The spirit of ‘Disney on Ice’ is incredible, because it’s a time that you can see the families together. It’s important for me when I go there on the ice. That is the kind of power that the show can bring to your family. Everyone has an ‘Oh, I love that character! I’ll remember the characters, even if I have to boo (them)!’ The magic is coming. That’s one thing I really love about the show. There are six different stories” that span generations.

“Disney on Ice” images by Feld Entertainment/courtesy of PinckneyHugoGroup.


Castro said performing with Disney has offered him a chance to experience magic, both on and off the ice. He said that he has traveled to 83 countries and all 50 states.

“Each show has something unique for us,” Castro said.

“In Egypt, I had the chance to perform for the CBS special, ‘Ice Skating with Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi.” That was in 1995. The production that he was part of was “Aladdin.”

“I was able to tell (Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi) that I learned skating by watching them on a video,” Castro related.

“When I started traveling with ‘Disney on Ice,’ I never thought that I could be in so many countries in my life. My first time in Europe, I took a few days off to go to different countries. When I was in Portugal, I was shocked because the architecture there is the same as in Rio de Janeiro. The Portuguese conquered Brazil, and they brought their culture to Brazil. Also, I was able to go to India. That was a shocking experience. That is when you appreciate what you have in your life. You see the different cultures, how people live, their religion. And then, we went to Japan. Technology. Oh, my God. Everything is technology.”

Two weeks ago, Castro was in New York City, getting ready to perform there.

“I was walking on the Brooklyn Bridge,” he said. “I looked all around, and I thought, ‘I love to do this.’ New York has a different skyline. The Brooklyn Bridge is something different right now than it was 10 or 20 years ago. I go back to places and see how the world has changed. You can bring this to your life.

“Disney on Ice” images by Feld Entertainment/courtesy of PinckneyHugoGroup.


“When I travel, I see the change that I have in my life. And then, I bring this to the ice. When you’re there for 6,000 people, you don’t know how far they’ve come to see you. When I’m on the ice, I give them 200%. Along the way, I’ve met so many different people: skaters, skaters’ families. I meet some former friends from the skating shows. They tell me, ‘Mario, you’re still working this. You’re still loving to travel’ That’s a part of my life.”

Castro, reflecting on his skating career, said, “I started skating at 28, and it’s 33 years later. ‘You’re 60 now, Mario.’ I have such a wonderful job. The kids come up and tell me it’s their first time here. You give a little gift to them, and then, one really good thing for me, every time I’m on the ice, I’m smiling, bringing happiness. It's contagious, you know? That’s the spirit that you have to bring to the company. If you have such a happiness everywhere, in your home, with your friends, you can be contagious. They can look at life in a different way.”

When Castro isn’t rehearsing or performing, he enjoys learning languages. He said he now speaks Portuguese, English and Spanish, and that he is learning Russian. He also enjoys making music.

“I always wanted to have a beautiful piano in my home,” Castro said. “I got a piano, and I learned how to sing and how to play the piano. When you go to school, everything that you need to learn is in a book. And now, everything you want to learn is on the internet.

“That’s what I did. I wanted to learn how to play the piano. I was able to buy my first book. Today, I have 1,000 piano books at home. I have a beautiful grand piano at home, and I play. Maybe I will do something else in the future. I keep studying.”

Castro said that, along his journey, he has learned many things, including afro dancing and the samba in Brazil. In “Disney on Ice,” he learned how to dance the waltz with a partner.

Castro said he likes to encourage others to follow their dreams and to create magic for themselves: “I always say never give up on your dreams. You can be a reporter, you can be an actor, you can be a doctor. You can be anything, but you need to have your dream and work toward your dream. That’s what I tell the people. Work hard for your dreams and they can come true. Never give up. Follow your dreams, because nothing comes from the sky. You have to go for it.”

Over time, however, dreams change.

“Yes, you can dream of being a skater. And you’re a skater. And then, you can dream of being a director. ‘Oh, I can be company manager.’ That’s the good thing about ‘Disney on Ice’ and Feld Entertainment. They offer so many opportunities for you to grow up in the company,” Castro said. “As you said before, dreams change. So, I’ve reached the dream. What is the next goal?”

Castro said he is happy to share his story and to relate his dreams and hopes.

“I want to tell my story,” he said. “Use my story to inspire people. It’s not just to say that there’s this skater from Brazil but how it started. I want to encourage people. Follow your dreams. This is a part of your life. Your dreams are going to change, but keep following your dreams, working hard. Never ever stop learning. Every day, there are chances for you to learn something else. We have 24 hours every single day to bring happiness, to inspire people with everything that makes you happy. That’s what I ask every reporter. Use my story as inspiration for anyone who wants to succeed in their life. It doesn't matter what the job.”

“Disney on Ice Presents Into the Magic” is being performed at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

To purchase tickets, go to www.DisneyOnIce.com.

“Disney on Ice” images by Feld Entertainment/courtesy of PinckneyHugoGroup.


About Feld Entertainment

Feld Entertainment is a worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that bring people together and uplift the human spirit. Properties include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, “Disney on Ice,” “Marvel Universe LIVE!,” “Sesame Street Live!” and “Jurassic World Live Tour.” Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit feldentertainment.com for more information.

Hometown News

View All News