Soon, people faster than Fire in the Hole, more powerful than a pyrotechnic show, able to leap Branson’s Ferris wheel in one leap will be roaming the streets as princesses, superheroes and more others will travel to the Branson area.
In 2013, As You Wish Princess Parties started in Branson. The company disbanded in 2018, but a former character actress, Jaylene Pucker Martin, was passed on by founder Renee Michaels to revive and rebuild the character entertainment business for the region.
“I started with As You Wish after being spotted at Halloween at The Landing in 2013, where I was dressed as Jasmine. I was hired and started working for Renee in March 2014. Most appearances what we did were volunteers, but I got so much experience just doing that,” Martin told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “My last appearance was the Christmas Parade in 2017. And I found out I was pregnant a few days after the show actually. So obviously, I couldn’t play the role of a princess during my pregnancy. Then shortly after in 2018, Renee announced the dissolution of the company. She was stepping back to pursue other creative outlets.
Martin said she was sad when the business shut down but was focused on her pregnancy and then after the birth of her daughter, Claire, she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for the first year.
“I didn’t work for his first year of life,” Martin said. “And then I was like, ‘You know what? I really, really missed that job. I was like, ‘man, I miss being a princess and entertaining kids so much. And so I started a nonprofit called Magical Memories in 2019. Then I reached out to Renee to get her blessing to do the As You Wish Princess Parties again. I only really started trying to pursue anything right before COVID happened. And then COVID came along and you know, there was a quarantine and everything was shut down. So I haven’t really done much in 2020.
“Last year I was going to start doing stuff with it but I ran into some health issues. I actually had two surgeries last year when they were on my face. So you know it really puts a damper on being a princess I was worried because of the surgery I had in November 2021. There was a 30% chance they hit a nerve and I don’t I wasn’t going to be able to move the left side of my face. So obviously I wasn’t trying to move anything. If I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to move my face.
Martin said her surgery was a success and she returned to focusing on As You Wish and Magical Memories. She renamed As You Wish to be more expansive and changed the name from As You Wish Princess Parties to As You Wish Character Entertainment.
“Renee was going to sign the LLC on my behalf, but you know, we both talked and we both decided that entertaining the characters was a more appropriate way to go,” Martin said. “It’s much broader and involves more than girls. It will appeal to parents of boys and girls and we will offer more than just princesses. So I changed the name when I registered the new LLC. And I already have the domain. I have the Facebook page, which used to be the As You Wish Princess Parties page and I’m changing it to Character Entertainment. We will be setting up the website for people to reserve characters for parties and events. Magical Memories will also be part of it for the non-profit side of things.
Martin said she had a cast for the summer season and the comeback.
“I actually have a pretty good cast now, which is exciting and nerve-wracking. Because now I’m in charge of other people. It’s exciting, but I also think I’m also very nervous,” said Martin: “It’s different being a non-profit organization rather than a business. I launched magical memories as a non-profit organization because it was never about money for me, even when I was with Renee. I love the reactions you get from kids when they see you and think you’re their favorite princess or character. You just can’t put an amount dollars on it. It’s magic. It really is.”
She also said she’s always on the lookout for more artists to add to the ranks, even if it’s just for the non-profit side of things.
“So for charity events that want to reach out to us to see if we can bring in characters to help support their event or their cause, that’s the Magical Memories side of it,” Martin said. “We like to support good causes and they can set it up so that we’re just there for them. I’m always interested in involving more people to make charity events bigger and better, from my side. So if anyone is a local cosplayer and wants to help us out and help create memories for people, I’d love that.
Martin shared a story that explains the magic of being a character artist.
“I remember when we were doing the princesses and pirates cruise with the showboat. My parents, who live in Arizona came to visit me and were able to come see me in character. It was a big deal for me,” Martin said. “They brought my son on the boat to see me on the show and everything. They went up to the second floor of the deck to see everything with my son to help me keep the character, which is the most important thing. other princesses and I were at the wheels, where guests could have their picture taken. My parents watched because there was this girl I saw who got on board and whose eyes lit up when she told me At that time, the new Aladdin hadn’t come out, so no one knew who this Jasmine was, did they?
“It was very rare for the kids to actually know who Jasmine was when I was around, say, Elsa and Anna. But there was this girl, who must have been between 10 and 12 years old and she was in a wheelchair and she was so happy to see me. Her face lit up and she was almost speechless as she approached me as Jasmine. I often say that when you’re in character, you reflect the enthusiasm that children exude. So this girl and Jasmine talked a bit so as not to delay the line.
“Once everyone was on board, I went to my parents and my dad was like, ‘Do you know that girl in the wheelchair?’ and I was like, “No, I have no idea who she is. He said, ‘I would have thought you were like best friends. Because you were related to her. He told me that it almost made her cry just watching that interaction. I told her that she said that I, Jasmine, was her favorite princess, so it was like she was meeting someone that she already knew and loved.
“And I mean, it’s times like that that are magical and why I love doing it. You know, as a 29-year-old woman, I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disney World. I think about the fact that you don’t know how many of those kids in the area won’t go to those places either.It allows them to enjoy the magic without having to travel to California or Florida.
Martin said there’s nothing quite like seeing children’s faces and talking to them while being in character.
“I was volunteering with Jesus Was Homeless, now Elevate [Branson], for a short time before COVID to deliver meals and visit children who live in extended-stay motels in Branson,” Martin said. “I went through this kind of situation not as a child, but as an adult. It was always a bit depressing, you know, and I can only imagine what it’s like for a child to be in that situation. So I would volunteer and visit them in character to deliver meals. Every week we would go there and I think they were looking forward to seeing a princess take the time to talk with them. C is the magic of what I want to do.
Martin said she was working on several different packages for birthdays, events and even something for weddings.
“I want to put together a wedding package, unlike anything I’ve seen offered. Because I feel like a lot of couples don’t want the kids coming to their receptions because they’re a distraction. And kids are usually bored anyway. There are only so many bubbles and coloring pages to hold them. I have a feeling a lot of families are going to miss the wedding. Instead of having to go through the hassle of trying to find a babysitter, especially if it’s a destination wedding in Branson. I’m working on trying to put together a reasonable wedding package to entertain the kids. So people can safely enjoy the wedding, you know, without having to worry about what the kids are doing. And so it’s still in its infancy, but I really hope to make it a reality because I feel like it would be beneficial for the wedding guests. It would be a super fun themed party for the kids while the adults enjoyed the reception.
Martin said she would have reservations available the first week of June. She’s also partnered with a newly opened inflatable business in the area called Flippin’ Frogs to offer special packages.
“April 3 is when the inflatable company, Flippin Frog, has its launch, and they’re going to have the launch party in their neighborhood in Branson,” Martin said. “So I’ll be there and I’m going to have a few other cast members there for that too.”
For more information on available characters, pricing, and to book a party, contact As You Wish Character Entertainment on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AsYouWishParties or email Martin at [email protected]