Meeting characters in Disney Parks and Resorts can be a very stressful experience! Figuring out what to say and do with a mouse—let alone a princess—is often less than magical, but it doesn’t have to be! Follow our guide to meeting characters to learn how to turn such nerve-wracking encounters into magical memories. We’ll walk you through how to prepare to meet Disney characters, how to converse with them when you do and tips to personalize the experience. Check out the video to see many of your favorite characters along with our guide or read it in full below.
Meeting characters in the Disney parks is a nerve-wracking experience for many. Even those who love it have stories of super awkward or disappointing encounters.
That’s why we’re here to help spare you from lack luster character interactions by walking you through how to prepare to meet characters in Disney parks and resorts, how to converse with them when you do and, most importantly, how to make magical memories in the process.
Then, stay tuned to our site and YouTube channel because we’re about to start an exclusive series highlighting our most memorable and entertaining interactions with Disney characters. We’ll be sharing dozens of these videos with you over the coming months, and we can’t wait for you to see them!
The series will be called, “Will You Sign My…” fill-in the blank for each character, and, trust us, there are no autograph books involved! So please be certain to subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already and submit your email address on our site to be notified when we post so you don’t miss a thing!
While we’re of course sharing our experiences for your viewing pleasure, we’re also hoping the videos serve as an inspiration for you to make your own unique, magical memories. We’ll post different character interactions regularly in December to help get you through the stress of the holidays; then, we’ll continue the series weekly in the new year and return with a follow-up to today’s video on how to interact with characters.
Part two of this video will cover the logistical side of meeting characters, the dos and don’ts and tips and tricks—including everything from basic rules like characters can’t sign an article of clothing if you’re still wearing it to the more advanced strategies like the optimal times to make dining reservations at characters meals.
So let’s get to how to even do it first!
How to Prepare to Meet Disney Characters
First, we must let you in on a little secret to help you better prepare to meet Disney characters. You see, character interactions are not all treated equally. Sure, there’s a general structure to each including basic time constraints, but it’s not set in stone. Like any great guest experience, big and small things are customized so an interaction can range from a hug, basic greeting and a picture to a mini celebration of a couple’s anniversary to an impromptu song and dance number.
Doing a “meet and greet” with a character—what Disney calls the interaction between characters and guests—is not meant to be a sterile experience. It’s supposed to be fun and welcoming! They want you—guests of all ages—to feel like you’re meeting someone you already know…because really, when you’ve seen Frozen 692 times from your daughter wanting to watch it daily for two years straight…you really do know Elsa and Anna pretty well.
Moreover, meeting a Disney character doesn’t need to be like going to a book signing. Sure, it can be—they’re happy to sign autograph books or even children’s books, but it doesn’t have to be just that, a quick hug or a handshake (as is the case with most book signings) and a photo.
The characters are striving to make the experience much more memorable for every guest, and it’s far likelier to happen if you meet them at least halfway.
So, what do we mean when we say meet them halfway…? We’ve found, through our extensive, painstaking vacationing…I mean, research—that it’s best to give the characters an “in” so to speak or a hook they can latch on to in order to drive the interaction. Think about it, Mickey meets hundreds and hundreds of guests a day, and he wants every interaction to be unforgettable…but unlike you to him, he knows nothing about you. So as soon as he sees you, he’s scanning for something he can respond to, play with or ask about.
Maybe you’re wearing a shirt with a different Disney character on it, and he impersonates that character. Maybe your son is sporting an “I’m celebrating” button, and he enquires about that or maybe he responds to your Indiana Jones hat by pretending you’re a pirate seeking treasure and having you all “Arrr” together. Whatever it is, he’s trying to connect with you as you certainly want to with him.
The simplest rule to follow to elevate your character interactions is to provide a hook like these examples that will elicit a reaction.
Going in with an obvious hook like these generally takes minimal preparation and commitment, but please note—this is our baseline tip. There are numerous other ways to further enhance your character experiences and even make them truly unforgettable, one-of-a-kind memories you’ll cherish for many years to come.
Sometimes you need to be the one planting the seeds for these experiences, and sometimes they happen on their own. At times, Disney cast members and characters alike will single you or your family out for a magical moment that turns into a life-long memory. Whether you instigate it by asking your favorite Disney couple to record a personal message for your loved one, or your little girl forgets the lesson of “Let It Go” when she hugs Elsa for an adorably long time or your daughter is chosen to walk with her favorite character through a brand-new land and explore all that it has to offer…these are priceless celebrations of Disney magic that are in many ways out of your control but aren’t necessarily out of your sphere of influence.
How to Interact with Disney Characters
Your best bet to make unique, magical memories with characters is to plan for it. Maybe you’ve wanted to meet Donald Duck for as long as you can remember, or your son is obsessed with the idea of hugging Baymax, whatever it may be, it’s best to be prepared when you have the opportunity to meet said character. Know what you want to say—at least the gist of it—and know what you want to accomplish during the interaction.
First decide if you want the character to interact with a physical prop or sign something. If your granddaughter sleeps with a stuffed Boo every night, you could get a super sweet photo of her holding Boo with Mike and Sully. If you watched your VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast so many times growing up that you wore the tape thin in parts, you should bring it to the park and have Belle sign it. Whatever approach you choose, taking time to personalize your photo and/or autograph opportunities is a great way to enrich the experience.
If you’re stumped on how to customize the experience for you and your family, we’ll provide a slew of original ideas that are usually pretty comical, frequently sentimental and occasionally even downright practical in our upcoming “Will You Sign My …” series. Also, we’ll address the guidelines for what works and what doesn’t with Disney characters regarding props and autographs in part two of this video. In the meantime, we’re happy to answer any questions you have while you get inspired and brainstorm ideas for your next meet and greets. For now, let’s move on to how to converse with Disney characters.
How to Talk to Disney Characters
The “how to” on this needs to be broken down between the furries and the faces. That’s Disney lingo for the different types of characters. The faces are human characters with human skin on their faces such as Tiana, Gaston, Flynn Rider or the Evil Queen. Meanwhile the furries—or fur characters—are those that do not have human skin such as Donald and Daisy Duck or the toys in Andy’s Backyard like Woody and Buzz or Kevin from Up! Even if the character is technically furless—like Dopey and Grumpy are—they’re lumped in with the fur characters when they lack human flesh. Another distinguishing characteristic of these categories is that the faces can all speak, but, presently, none of the furries speak.
There was a talking Mickey Mouse doing meet and greets in the Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom until May 2018, but he’s silent now. I really want the talking Mickey back! We loved listening to the main mouse himself, but oh well—he’s still one of the hottest meet and greets around.
Mickey and his pals may be voiceless, but they can still communicate with guests. It’s entirely possible to carry on a full interchange with them—they’re responses will just be gestures without speech. If you ask Dale what he did today, he’ll mimic climbing a tree and eating or rocking out to music. If you ask Mickey and Minnie if they’ve ever run a marathon—Mickey will show you how he did it while Minnie will explain that she has only hosted them because she prefers heeled footwear. Whatever the characters cannot express through pantomime, the cast member character attendants are happy to fill in with speech.
If you or your child are uncomfortable with this concept or you’re worried your children will freeze up when they meet their favorite characters, it can help to make a game out of it before you travel to a Disney park. Pretend to be a favorite furry, and have them ask you questions; then, reverse the rolls so they can have some fun acting out the responses too. This can also be useful to decide what one wants to say, share or learn from the characters.
If you’re at a loss what to say, the easiest approach is to ask a question about another character in their story. You could ask Goofy what Max is up to or ask Grumpy how’s Sleepy. The more basic questions work well with the furries as their response options are limited, but they’re sometimes less memorable. After all, are you going to be surprised to learn that Sleepy is Sleepy? Probably not.
Another tactic that makes it more personal is to ask them about something instead of someone, share a story of your own or ask them to show you something. You could ask Pluto whether he prefers bones or sticks or check in with Tigger on his favorite rides in Magic Kingdom. Your son could tell Doc McStuffins how he learned to heal his stuffed animals from her, or your daughter could ask Olaf to do his, “In Summer” dance. All of these are quick ways to connect with the fur characters verbally.
Face characters are obviously easier to talk to, but they’re no less intimidating for many. How often in your day-to-day life do you come face-to-face with a princess?
One of our favorite things about face characters is their ability to answer your more involved and pressing questions. Like asking Belle to explain the convoluted story behind how the Beast is still the Beast in his castle greeting guests, but Belle is just next door at Enchanted Tales with Belle telling their complete love story while somehow Gaston is outside his tavern showing off his muscles. I’ve wondered about this for years, so I finally asked Belle. Spoiler alert…turns out, there’s still some magic in that old enchanted rose that makes it all possible. Good old Disney magic.
Yep—so have fun with it! Ask Jasmine what her wishes would be if she had her very own magic Genie lamp or inquire why Flynn Rider still goes by that name instead of Eugene Fitzherbert. One thing though, this is not the time to play stump the character! Star Wars fans out there—I’m looking at you. Stick to the official, popular cannon and keep it a little lighter if possible. That’s not to say you can’t pull for the dark side, but you know what I mean.
Making Magical Memories
When you and your family are preparing what to do and say in various character meet and greets, consider what elements of the interaction are must dos for you. Is it critical that you get an autograph, do you want to make certain you talk to Pluto about how you named your dog after him and show him a picture of the little pup or is it super important to you that you get a picture of each couple in your multi-generational party with the character—whatever it may be, make certain the must dos are clearly established with your whole party.
The few short minutes you spend conversing with each character goes by so quickly, and you can come out the other side wondering if it was really worth waiting in line for it if you’re not prepared and know what you want to experience. To optimize your meet and greet time, it’s best to be over prepared. You might end up responding to questions the character asks you or having a surprise interaction that you never could have anticipated, and that’s great. It’s good to be flexible, but one can be flexible and present in the moment while still getting that must get element for you.
The general order of operations is the greeting, followed by the desired interaction and photos so be certain you’re ready with whatever items you choose for the interaction and your cell phone or camera are easily accessible before it’s your turn.
We’re confident that having a basic plan of what you want to say, ask, see or do and maybe even practicing a little will help you and your family maximize your character experiences and create magical memories to last a lifetime!
Remember to subscribe to our channel so you can come back for part two of this video covering the logistical side of character meet and greets and to catch our fun, new, “Will You Sign My …” series! Also, please give this video a like if you found it helpful and leave us a comment below with your questions or if you would like more information about character interactions.
We’re always happy to help you plan the magical Disney vacation of your dreams, and meeting a mouse, princess or even a duck can and should be a part of that for guests of all ages. One is never too old to meet heroes of your youth. Let alone heroes of your life now.
Thanks again for taking the time to visit our site and remember to hug your loved ones, cherish the memories and always continue Seeking the Magical.