(ABC4) –Should Cinderella have to run home before midnight when Disney On Ice takes the stage at Vivint Arena next week, she won’t have to go very far.
Allison Merges, who plays the iconic princess in the ice skating extravaganza, is a native of Salt Lake City. And even though the traveling show has taken her all over the world as a part of the Disney magic on steel and frozen water, coming home to skate in front of family and friends is always one of her favorite tour stops.
“I like to share what I love to do with them and have them come to the performances,” she tells ABC4.com from her current tour stop in Sacramento, Calif. “And even though I’ve been all over, there’s always something new in your home city. It’s still fun to explore Salt Lake.”
Growing up in Brighton, Merges got her start in skating at age 7 by frequenting nearby rinks, the Steiner Rinks at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, and the sheet at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center. A few years after moving to Denver at 15, she auditioned for a role on Feld Entertainment’s production of the Disney On Ice tours, remembering it as a stressful moment in the life of a teenager.
“I was still in high school, so I had that extra pressure of ‘What are you going to do after?’” she recalls. “It was very nerve-wracking, but it was a ton of fun. And then shortly after, I got a callback.”
Now 22-years-old, Merges has known the grind of life as a professional touring ice skater for four years. It can be a demanding schedule being on contract from September to May each season. She is usually unable to be home for the holidays — for example, this year her show, “Let’s Celebrate” will be starting a leg in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. While she’s back near family next week while the show is in town from Nov. 4-7, they’ll gather together to give her a compacted and off-schedule holiday experience as a family.
Then it’s back on the road, traveling all over the country and even at times, the world.
Merges doesn’t consider it to be an overwhelming hustle however — she loves the experience. She has performed as a classic Disney character in places like China, Austria, South Korea, and Ukraine throughout her career. Her favorite place so far has been Italy, due to all the history and authentic cuisine.
The best part of her job, she says, is the magic she and her castmates bring to life.
“The job is very rewarding,” she explains. “It doesn’t feel draining because my role is to put smiles on kids’ faces so there’s not a point in my job where I feel drained. It’s really nice.”
Getting to know her fellow princesses, princes, magical talking mice, and other members of the crew have also been fulfilling and comforting while spending time away from her kingdom in Utah. While the eyes of the audience are on her and Prince Charming during their skate together, she credits the crew behind the curtain for making the dreams come true.
“Everyone on our team, from the crew to our staff members, put in a lot of work into making the show what it is,” Merges boasts. “And so, I think just remembering that the show’s entirety is what will make the performance so great.”
A few years into life as a professional ice skater, Merges is sure she wants to keep skating as a part of her happily ever after. She works on her college degree online while the show is on the road, but sees skating as a permanent role in her career.
“I’m just finishing out my bachelor’s degree so whatever comes next, but I would like to always have a part in the skating community,” she says.
Of course, there are the occasional bumps in the road that can turn a beautiful horse-drawn carriage of a skate into a figurative pumpkin. As can happen at any level of ice skating, very rarely, Cinderella hits the ice in a fall, despite the fact that Merges says the iconic ball gown is very “skateable.”
“I have taken some tumbles but you got to get up fast and keep going,” she admits.
And if a glass slipper gets left behind, well, that’s just a part of the story.