I may be an adult but I love meeting the characters in the Disney Parks. My brain knows it’s a cast member in a sweaty overused costume but my heart is screaming “OH MY GOODNESS IT’S MINNIE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!”
There have been times at character breakfasts where I am almost too excited to eat. Those breakfasts are expensive and I ignore my husband, and my food to give all my attention to Mary Poppins. After all, it’s freaking Mary Poppins.
I hear so many adults say they feel silly meeting the characters. I obviously don’t have this issue anymore but I thought I would pass on some tips that helped me feel for comfortable meeting our childhood heroes.
Winnie-the-Pooh is out there right now waiting to give you a great big hug.
Start with non-face characters
Okay I get it. Sometimes thinking of what to say to characters is awkward. You might not feel comfortable carrying on a conversation with one of the princesses. You might have all the Disney knowledge in your head but have trouble retrieving it when Belle asks you who your favorite person in town is.
Characters like Piglet, Donald Duck, and Chip and Dale are awesome because basically you are giving them a high five, and maybe a hug. You don’t have to worry about making conversation, because there isn’t any.
Plus those characters have to get through a lot of guests in a short amount of time. So most likely it’s click the picture and move on. Tiger has a lot of bouncing to get too.
Let them lead
It’s easy to think that the characters are just there for you, but the reality is they see a lot of people. They have had every conversation possible and are prepared with some stock topics to talk about. Just let them lead.
Disney trains the characters to handle any type of situation and that includes your shyness. They will quickly understand you just want a picture and want to move on. My bet is they are perfectly happy with that since they probably have a quota to get through.
With that being said, let them help you have fun. Feed off of what they are saying and ignore everyone around you. It may only be 60 seconds, but those are your 60 seconds you probably waited a crazy amount of time for.
You might want to avoid…
Earlier I mentioned there are some characters that don’t talk and are a great place to start. It’s the perfect way to ease you into the obsession of meeting characters. Well with any spectrum there are opposite ends of the chart. If there are some that don’t talk, there will be some that talk a lot.
I encourage you to see as many as you can. Especially if you are someone who visits the parks often, try to see someone different every time. If you really feel super awkward then you should probably know about a few characters.
Gaston is a talker and not just a click and go type meet and greet. Of course you always have the option of just flashing your muscles and moving on but he is going to try to get your to talk, push up, strut… something. It’s super fun but be aware that a lot of people stand around watching to see what he will do. Do not let that deter you but I just wanted to warm you.
There is only one meet-and-greet that I find awkward. The talking Mickey Mouse in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. If you have never meet the king here know it’s a different experience. It’s in a small room and they only allow a few people in at a time. Picture the regular Mickey Mouse but in here, his eyes move and he responds. Kids love this. I have noticed people interact with him in an awkward manner. He is responding to your questions but only with stock answers, so unless you ask the exact right question, you will get a kind of relevant answer or a blank stare. He also does magic tricks. Which are super fun if you want to interact and a little awkward if you don't. I encourage you to go with it and have fun.
Your experience can be so much smoother and fun if you just take a moment to think about what you are going to say before you step up to them. Ask Belle what the grey stuff tastes like. Ask Cinderella what size shoe she wears.
A great tool I have found is youtube. There are tons of ex-cast members who “were friends with” certain characters over the years. They will tell you what they loved when guests did and what they hated. Um… I mean what their friends loved and hated. One girl made me laugh when she said she never understood why guests were nervous to meet her. She was after all the 20 something in a princess dress.
Don’t be afraid to bring props either. Ok let me be more specific. Don’t be afraid to bring appropriate props. My husband and I have a large white Vinylmation that we have all the characters sign. He isn’t quite as excited as I am about meeting characters. Sometimes I come on a little strong with my loving, but getting the characters to sign the vinylmation gives him a way of interacting without really talking. It doesn’t have to be a toy to sign either. I see lots of people get hats signed or picture frames. It also makes for a super cool souvenir.
Who Cares ?!?
I know I’ve given a bunch of tips but do you know what the most important one is? Who the beeping cares if you look silly getting excited to see Anna and Elsa? Honestly geek out and go nuts. Color a picture of summer time and give it to OLAF! Do it all and don’t worry if people are looking. People are always going to look. That’s just what people do. They will be the ones standing off to the side, and you will be the one hugging your childhood Idol.
Now go out there and have fun. Those characters are there to meet you. They can’t wait to bounce with you, dance with you or kiss your hand. Take advantage of all the meet and greets you can because those characters are a part of why you are there in the first place.
You fell in love with Disney through them. Go tell them that. Say hi to them for me please.