'Disney on Ice Roadtrip Adventures' glides into Minneapolis: Q&A with local skater Jessie Santee

Join Mickey, Minnie and all of your favorites as "Disney On Ice Road Trip Adventures" glides into town. Eight high-energy, innovative shows kick-off Thursday March 12 through Sunday March 15 at Target Center in Minneapolis. 

According to 19-year-old Jessie Santee of Rochester, Minnesota, this is the most unique Disney On Ice production with lots of chances for the audience to participate in all of the adventures with their favorite characters including Moana, Mary Poppins, Elsa, Anna and more. 

Jessie comes from a very talented family of skaters. Her parents James and Jamie-Lynn met while on tour with Disney On Ice in the 80s. Her brother, Ryan and sister, Sarah are currently on tour with other Disney On Ice shows as well. We had a chance to talk to Jessie about her upcoming visit to Minneapolis. 

Skating is clearly in your blood with your parents, siblings, even grandma and uncle having history on the ice different ways. How did you get started?

I started skating when I was 3-years-old. I skated all throughout elementary, middle and high school. I definitely was following in my brother and sister’s footsteps for a long time but around 13 years old, I started to realize that I was very passionate about it. There were bumps in the road of course but my goal was to do something in performance. 

In 2018 I auditioned in Sun Valley, Idaho, where they held a live audition and a few months later I put together a highlight tape. When the Disney On Ice show came to Target Center last year they called me to come in for a live audition and offered me a position in Road Trip Adventures. 

I’m originally from Park Ridge, Illinois but in 2006 my dad got a job with PSA (Professional Skaters Association) and the headquarters is in Rochester so we moved to Minnesota. I graduated high school in May 2019 and in July I went to Florida to start training for my current role with DOI. 

Note: Jessie’s dad James “Jimmie” Santee is a former competitive figure skater. In 1981 he was the Golden Spin of Zagreb champion; in 1982 he was the Ennia Challenge Cup silver medalist; in 1983 he was awarded a silver medal in the Prague Skate. He skated with DOI for 11 years where he met his wife Jamie-Lynn who was the principal skater for DOI from 1983-95. Since 2006, he has served as the executive director of the PSA. His mother served as a judge for the U.S. Figure Skating and his elder brother, David Santee, competed internationally in figure skating. 

What has your experience been like so far? 

It’s been amazing. It’s such a different way of life and definitely something you have to get used to. Of course living on the road and not having an actual home space, you have to make it every week for yourself. It takes some getting used to but I wouldn’t change it. You get to explore the world and doing what I love is all that matters to me. 

What advice would you give to young skaters today?

Do what makes you happy. If you’re really passionate about something, work hard for it. Do it for you, don’t do it for other people. 

What was it like having parents and siblings part of the Disney On Ice family?

It helped with having an idea of what the whole tour life would be like. I’m very fortunate to have had a head start before getting here myself. They’ve all been so helpful preparing me and getting me in the right head space to get here. I’m very lucky. 

My mom was on tour for 13 years and dad was on tour for 11 years. 

My brother was born on tour in 1995 and went along with them for six months before they settled down in one spot. 

What is so unique about this opportunity with Disney On Ice? 

Everybody loves Disney, everyone grows up watching it. "Roadtrip Adventures" is the most interactive show yet, you really get a completely different experience with our show. We have a magic mobile, which actually goes on the ice and some of the audience members get to come out on the ice as well and experience it from a different viewpoint. It’s so cool to get to interact and have personal connections with the audience. It’s absolutely amazing! 

What are you looking forward to most while being home for even a short period of time?

Honestly I’m excited to explore new places because I haven’t gotten to explore much in Minneapolis. The classic Mall of America and other than that I’m not really sure yet. 

What is your favorite part of the show, one you know will definitely bring a smile to both kids and adults faces?

That’s hard. One of my favorites is our opening number "Mary Poppins Returns." It’s amazing. There’s BMX bikes and aerialists on Chinese poles. It's very interactive and very cool for the audience. 

I’m honored to portray the role of Princess Merida and a few other parts all over the ice so you’ll just have to come to the show and see if you can find me.  

Who is your favorite childhood or current Disney character?

My favorite, not even growing up, recently is "Tangled." As a kid, I always loved and connected with Cinderella and wanted to be her for Halloween every year. 

You graduated from John Marshall High School less than a year ago. Is this where you imagined you would be in 2020? 

Before coming here I was training every day so my body was used to this lifestyle but this really is a physically demanding job. Luckily we have many people here to help us with the physical aspect of training and taking care of our bodies. 

You mentioned the opportunity to travel this world on this tour. What is your favorite city or country? 

We’re currently in Montreal. I think this might be one of my favorite places. My mom is from here so I’ve been here before but this is fun to explore the city a bit more. New York was really cool too. It’s very different from what I’m used to. 

What can the audience expect at your upcoming show?

Our show carries a lot of different Disney movies. We have "Mary Poppins Returns," "Toy Story 4," Aladdin," lots of princesses, even "The Incredibles." It’s very interactive. There’s so much going on, all the time. Pay attention so you don’t "miss anything! 

Who was your mentor/role model?

My parents because they both have very similar views in life but also very different and I think that I’ve grabbed a little bit of both. They’re for sure my role models still to this day. 

As Jessie said, this unique action-packed show has a little something for Disney fans of all ages. Tickets for this exciting Disney On Ice production are still available