With the return of character meet and greets to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, once again there will be another layer of magic returning to the Disney Parks. These interactions can be some of the most magical moments and create memories that will last a lifetime.
It is important to remember that these types of interactions haven’t been happening for over 2 years. Throughout that time, everyone has been through a lot. Everyone’s experience was unique. With the return of the character meet and greets, remember that the impacts of the last two years are different for different people. This is true for both guests and also cast members. With that in mind, here are a few tips for having a magical character experience.
This should go without saying but it also can never be said enough. There will be different levels of comfort for both guests and cast members with the return of these interactions. Be kind and meet people where they are at. Recognize that some people will be excited about the return of hugs, photos, and autograph books and others will not. Show patience and kindness wherever people are at. Be a part of the solution and go the extra mile to give an extra smile, be extra patient, and be extra compassionate. Paying guests have the choice to interact with characters and cast members, those who are working are doing a job to make a living. This might be pushing people out of their comfort zone, so help make their day a little bit easier during interactions. It never ceases to amaze me how far a little kindness can go.
Follow the Leader
Each character interaction is different. Some of them are very structured, others aren’t. In one way or another, there is a system surrounding each character interaction. This could be walking with Mickey Mouse through Town Square and someone grabbing an action shot during this magical moment. Or it could be waiting in line to meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow. Whatever the system is, do your best to follow it.
There are generally hosts around that will help guide the interactions. Sometimes the character will also indicate what is to happen. Whatever their guidance is, put on a smile and hop in line or follow whatever direction is being given. It’ll make everything go smoother and make for a more positive and magical character experience.
Play the Game
In general, character interactions are fun! They also can be very different. Some interactions might involve a conversation with a princess. Others can be a quick photoshoot with Mickey Mouse with different poses for each shot. Or maybe the meet and greet is getting an autograph of a young (or young at heart) one’s favorite Disney character. Whatever the interaction is, play along in the game of whatever is happening. It will make everything that much more magical. This can be done by asking characters questions relevant to their story or location. It can also be done by simply reacting to what characters are doing or saying. Remember, the characters are leading the game so don’t push your own agenda (i.e. trying to get them to do something they may not want or be able to do that you think is funny for a photo or video). Let the characters and hosts create the magic and play along.
Disney characters and hosts are people with feelings just like everyone else. Observe proper boundaries with them just like you would anyone else. Let them offer a hug if they feel comfortable with it. If there are young ones in your party, protect them from grabbing or hitting hands. While it is easy to think “oh, they are just a toddler, it’s cute,” the character may not think or feel the same. In fact, it could actually hurt them. Be courteous and careful during the moment and generally the character and host will show where the boundaries are.
A day at Disney is supposed to be a day full of smiles! What you focus on will grow, so focus on the fun! Will everything go perfectly? Absolutely not. Just like we can’t control the weather, we also can’t control what other people will do or say. So choose to control your own thoughts and emotions and make it a fun day at the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort. This is particularly true for character meet and greets. As things have returned to the parks they have all gone through changes. Meet and greets haven’t happened for two years! Things have changed and things will change as Disney sees what works and what doesn’t work. There will be bumps. Some things will go wonderfully, others will need some time to analyze and adjust.
As things return and get figured out, chalk it all up to a grand adventure and have fun with it. This may not always be easy but, attempt to find the fun during these times. Make some memories. Focus on the good things and not the bad. Walk away from your interaction with Mickey Mouse and friends looking for the best in them all. This may seem like a simple and dumb thing but it is amazing how much this mindset can impact a day in the parks.
The return of character meet and greets will be different for everyone. It is a big step forward in the reopening of the parks and a return to normalcy. When meeting Disney characters, remember that they are still people with feelings and emotions. Remember that we are all different and react to things differently. Go into each character interaction with a positive mindset and compassionate heart. Show kindness, have some fun, and make some magical memories that will last a lifetime!
What character are you most looking forward to meeting with the return of Disney character interactions? Do you have a favorite magical moment with a character in the Disney Parks? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!