Making Memorable Character Interactions

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Interacting with all of the great Disney characters is one of the most memorable experiences guests can have at a Disney park. On all of the planning DVDs, TV specials, and commercials, kids joyously run into the open arms of Mickey and adults engaged in light-hearted sword-play with pirates. But the reality is often children cowering behind their parents and adults awkwardly posing next characters, treating them more as props or marginally liked relatives, rather than the wickedly cool physical personification of the great icons that they are. So, how do you overcome character fear and lackluster photos? Let’s explore some ways to break the ice.

Spice up your character interactions and get great photos!
Spice up your character interactions and get great photos!

First, there are two types of characters in the Disney parks, face characters and fur characters. Face characters are characters where you can see their face and they speak with you. Most princess (Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, etc) fall into this category. Fur characters are characters that cannot speak with guests, Chip and Dale, Goofy, and Mr. Incredible are “fur” characters. But don’t be fooled, just because they don’t talk, doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say!

Character Conversations

Sometimes, it’s easier for kids to talk to characters they meet; the genuine innocence of getting to meet the real Peter Pan is an experience that cannot be replicated. Adults may require a bit more pixie dust to get in the mood of chatting with our favorite mouse or princess. The internet is full of fun conversation starters to have on hand when you get to meet your favorite Disney character.

I encourage you do to do some research, re-watch some of those Disney classics before your next trip, and even make a game of it with your family to see what you’d like to ask your favorite characters. Characters are more dynamic and energetic than ever before, so don’t be shy and try to get to know them even better!

Here are some ideas for some conversations starters:

Ariel: Ask her if she knows Marlin and Dory and if she’s ever raced Dory or bounced on a jelly fish.

Alice/Mad Hatter: Mention that it’s your Unbirthday

Chip/Dale: Joke with them about being squirrels or other rodents, give one of them a bag of peanuts

Rapunzel: Ask her to show you how to fight with a frying pan

Woody: Ask him for a showdown or how to lasso

If you know what characters you want to meet, or have a planned character dining experience, be sure to brush up on the details from their movie and ask them questions about their friends in the movie and what they’ve been up to since “living happily ever after”.

One of the best character interactions I had was with Baloo and King Louie in Animal Kingdom. I asked King Louie if he had learned to make fire yet and offered to teach him. King Louie was ecstatic and Baloo was terrified and this resulted in about a ten minute interaction with everyone in line waiting to meet them also laughing hysterically.

Baloo was terrified that I'd teach King Louie how to make fire
Baloo was terrified that I’d teach King Louie how to make fire
Having a few comments in mind really made this a fun interaction!
Having a few comments in mind really made this a fun interaction!

Character Pictures

With Photopass photographers being so readily available at almost every character meet and greet location, you can really get some amazing pictures with your new Disney friends. The Photopass photographers will take posed and candid pictures of your interaction. And you can ask them to take pictures with your camera as well, if you haven’t purchased the Memory Maker package.

When interacting with a character, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Often family pictures can all look the same, same position, same pose, same smiles, and it can get routine and stagnate. By all means, take one “nice” regular picture, but also try to incorporate in the personality of the character into the picture poses so all your pictures don’t look the same.

Here are some picture ideas:

Ariel: Make a fish face with her

Alice/Mad Hatter: Have everyone curtsey, like the Queen of Hearts demands

Chip/Dale: Link arms and do can-can kicks

Rapunzel: Pose in frying pan attack position

Woody: Pose with “finger guns”

The main idea is to keep it fresh and try to channel the fun of that interaction into the photo memories.

Disney Bounding

Disney bounding is becoming more and more popular as guest come to the parks ready to show off their Disney side. This isn’t wearing full-blown character costumes, but creating an outfit inspired by a character. For example, if Ariel is one of your favorites, you can wear green shorts and a purple top, maybe some seashell accessories to show off your affection for this charming mermaid.

Disney bounding can be a great ice breaker, too. If you’re outfit isn’t obvious, don’t be afraid to mention that you wore that particular shirt/jacket/whatever because you thought they’d like it. The characters love to be honored in this way and will often make a big deal of it and make the conversation a little easier.

Wearing my Wilderness Explorer t-shirt helped me get a great interaction with Dug and Russell in Animal Kingdom and I got some fantastic pictures as a result.

After reciting the Wilderness Explorer creed, I was part of a Russell/Dug sandwich!
After reciting the Wilderness Explorer creed, I was part of a Russell/Dug sandwich!
Disney Bounding helps break the ice for a great interaction!
Disney Bounding helps break the ice for a great interaction!

I encourage you to think outside of the box and really have fun with your character interactions in the Disney parks!

What have been some of your most memorable character interactions? Any conversations starters you suggest or fun picture ideas? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below!

Lisa Gilmore

My passion for Disney runs deep; I've got pixie dust in my veins. Everyone loves the famous Mickey Mouse, but Disney vacations host a wealth of sophisticated experiences, too. On my bucket list is to seek out and enjoy every last one of them!

10 thoughts on “Making Memorable Character Interactions

  • August 26, 2015 at 10:15 am
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    Regarding your great suggestions for character pictures. We just returned from a week at WDW and one of the best pictures we have is of my husband (who is 52) posed on the ground in an orangutan-like stance with Baloo and Louie. We could tell that Baloo and Louie really got a kick out of his willingness to engage in some silliness to make the picture experience more fun for everyone.

  • August 26, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Those are awesome pictures! Where in the world did you find that Wilderness Explorer shirt??

    • August 26, 2015 at 10:50 am
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      I have the same shirt…got it on Redbubble.

  • August 26, 2015 at 12:01 pm
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    As my children have gotten older, the character meetings have become more about me, they still go along with me, but I have to make the interaction. They are “over it.” I’m a huge Toy Story dork. When I met Buzz & Woody last time I was gushing all over them how much I loved them and would Bo Peep be okay with me giving Woody a kiss. The PP got a great picture of it and as we were leaving, Woody stomped his foot. I turned around and he put his hand up to his ear and mimed, “Call me.” My kids about fell on the ground laughing. I promised I definitely would. It’s always fun when you are ready to have some fun.

  • August 26, 2015 at 5:21 pm
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    Great article thanks! But now I have to order 2 wilderness explorers tops for me and DH – we already have them for the kids!

  • August 26, 2015 at 9:03 pm
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    Nice post, my husband and I are going to WDW in October and neither of us have really done any character meet and greets in the past, but this trip we plan on doing the all the things like this that we don’t normally do. I’m more introverted and quiet, so I am more nervous about interacting with characters, so this really helps gives me ideas of conversation starters I can have in my head beforehand. Thanks!

  • August 26, 2015 at 10:13 pm
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    Great article, I’ve always wondered if there was a list of conversation starters someplace that I could use when I meet the characters. Looks like I can do some research for my next trip so I can take these meet & greets to the next level, so thanks for this story…great stuff!

  • August 26, 2015 at 11:34 pm
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    I heard that Dale is allergic to peanuts; it’s very tragic.

  • August 27, 2015 at 1:48 am
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    The first time I got an ADR for Be Our Guest I bounded as Beast (white ruffled blouse, yellow vest, big brooch, blue jacket) while my friend bounded as Belle (yellow dress). We got on the end of the queue after dinner waiting for The Master to enter his library. So many CM’s commented on what I was wearing, but that was nothing compared to The Beast’s reaction. I have never seen a fur get so animated! His gestures read as “OMG YOU DID ME! OH HOLY CRAP SOMEBODY DID ME!” 😀 His handler almost had to pull him away to get to the front of the line of people waiting. When we finally got to our turn for photos he did the normal shots with my friend but with me he kept pulling me back to take more pictures together; took me over to his chair, multiple different poses, etc.

    Every time I’ve Bounded (Ursula w/Ariel, Fairy Godmother w/FG, Dr Doof w/Phineas & Ferb, Go-Go w/Baymax & Hiro) I’ve had great interactions & gotten a bunch of extra shots that others in queue weren’t getting. But the Beast wins hands down for most gobsmacked performer. (Or “Friend of Character” as Disney makes them say, since they aren’t allowed to say “I play this character” while they are employed in that job.)

  • August 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm
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    My teen daughter had a necklace that looked like a tiny bottle of black sand. She had the most amazing interaction with Jasmine and Aladdin in Epcot asking her if she got it from Jafar and if she knew what was in it and to be so careful and never open it. She had another conversation at 1900 Park Fare with one of the step sisters about what was in the necklace. It was great! Who knew a necklace would prompt such conversations!

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