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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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!