*Photo Credit: @butpeterhowdowegettoneverland on Tumblr
When planning your day at the parks, you might consider character interactions an “if we have time” activity. You might plan to line up for that one princess your little one is dying to see, but not plan to see anyone else. In all honesty, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make!
From my experience, Character Meet and Greets are some of the most memorable experiences Disney has to offer. It’s not just taking a photo with someone, the character might start a conversation with you, ask you to dance, play a game with you, anything could happen! No matter how old you are, an interaction with a character or two could make your entire day, the photos and autographs are just a bonus.
(Some of my favorite character interactions I’ve had at the parks)
So how do you meet characters? The first option is to locate a character and wait in line to meet them. Most characters have a designated Meet and Greet area that can be easily located on a park map or the MyDisneyExperience app. However this way includes waiting in lines, and depending on the character these lines can be painfully long. If anyone in your party isn’t good with lines (young or old) then you might want to look at your second option – Character Dining.
Character Dining can be found in all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and at select hotels (Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Resort, Fort Wilderness Resort, and more). These restaurants offer family-friendly meals, often in the form of a buffet. As you settle down to eat, the characters will pass by your table so you can say hello and snap a picture or two with them. Every character sent out into the restaurant will come to every table, and if your family gets up to get food and you miss someone, the cast members will make sure to send the characters back around to come see you.
So now you know how to meet characters, so what do you do when you meet one? A lot of people are unsure of what to do when meeting a character and it might take you a while to get used to them, no matter how old you are. So, I’ve provided a list of do’s and don’ts to help get you started!
Do: Start by saying “hi” to the characters. As I mentioned before, characters are not just for taking photos with; they’re not statues, they’re alive and will all be happy to see you. So, say hi or even just wave like you would in any normal conversation
Do: Have a conversation with the characters. One idea is to have some questions ready for the characters like, “How is (character’s significant other/sidekick)?”, or “How are things now in (Kingdom movie is set in)?”. Or, you could even just tell them, “I like your dress”. If you talk to the characters, they will continue to talk to you. These conversations are usually very funny and can sometimes lead to extra time with the characters. That being said, try not to prolong the experience too much, there are plenty of other guests waiting behind you for a chance to meet the character.
Do: Wear Something that has the character on it. If you happen to be wearing anything that has to do with a character, whether it’s a t-shirt or an entire costume, definitely go see that character! The characters love it when you’re wearing something that has to do with them.
Do: Do a fun pose with the character. If you would like to just stand next to the character, that’s absolutely fine too. However, it creates some really memorable photos if you match the character’s pose or just ask to do something silly.
Do: Ask for an autograph. Disney sells autograph books in all gift shops and outside most character meet-and-greet locations. If you present the character with an autograph book, they will always be happy to sign their name. If you would not like to purchase an autograph book, the characters will sign anything that you bring them, whether it’s a poster, a notebook, a backpack, you name it.
Please keep in mind that none of these actions are obligatory, and that they are merely tips and suggestions. However, the rules that will appear below are kind of important and will be enforced by the Cast Members.
Don’t: Ask characters who they really are. This is a common mistake with character meet and greets, you’ll have tons of people going up to the characters and trying to get them to say their “real names”. Nothing will happen to you (unless you start pushing, then your time will be cut short), however the characters will not acknowledge your question and change the subject.
Don’t: Force your child to meet a character. Some children will be afraid to meet the characters, especially the Mascot-type characters like Mickey or Winnie the Pooh. Many of the characters are often much bigger than they appear in the movies, especially to little ones, so it can be intimidating. Ask your child if they would like to meet a character first, perhaps show them what the character will look like, and then see how they feel.
Don’t: Ask a character for requests that are not/no longer allowed. For an example, the characters are not allowed to hold babies or very young children, no matter how cute the picture might come out. Another example might be the viral “Andy’s Coming!” trick. This used to be a photo opportunity with the Toy Story gang (Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear) where if you told them “Andy’s Coming!” (in reference to the movie) they would respond by all falling on the floor. This is no longer allowed due to safety concerns and the massive number of people making the request.
Thanks for reading! Today’s further reading is not an article, but the Character Guide on our website. Here you can find a comprehensive guide to where you can find characters around the four parks, along with what they look like in the parks as compared to their screen counterparts.