by Pin Trading Diva
Stepping onto Disney property has the ability to take you away from reality. Your inner kid comes out letting you literally walk with your favorite mouse down Main Street and then have dinner with a princess later that day! A huge part of capturing that Magic is having one on one interactions with Disney’s long list of character royalty. With a little creativity and some simple planning, you can make the most of any Character Meet and Greet. Here’s just a few tips on taking an ordinary character interaction and turning it into a real magical moment!
- Timing is EVERYTHING!: Its happened more than once in my lifetime where a character like Donald (my favorite) spontaneously appears across the way. I get so excited and have to get my picture with him! – but so does every other person around me and before you know it there is a 30 minute line for Donald. A Cast Member comes by and cuts off the line and I am too late to meet the Big Duck. What are you to do in these situations? Especially if you have a kid obsessed with Donald tugging at your sleeve every five minutes.
Well, it took me quite a while to realize that every character is on a schedule, and if I can be ahead of that schedule, I might actually have a decent chance to meet a character! Almost every Cast Member around has a slip of paper that tells them when some characters come out for Meet and Greets. One of my tips is to find that Cast Member! Find them and ask them for the time that your desired character will come out, then stick around during that particular time. You can also rely on the new Disneyland App available for smart phone users. They have a map filtered with the time and place certain characters come out, so planning ahead is just a click away. This way when Donald comes out you can follow him to his picture spot and be one of the first in line!
Fastpasses are another helpful tool in planning ahead. Unlike scheduling Fastpasses for things online like in Walt Disney World, the only real Fastpass you need for a character in Disneyland / Disney California Adventure is Anna and Elsa. Working just like a paper Fastpass for a ride, you pick them up (the earlier the better) and come back during the ticketed time in order to stand in a shorter line to meet the girls.
- Be Prepared: We all know that sometimes waiting in line to meet a Disney character takes patience. A line of 15 people may take 25 minutes to get through, all because guests did not come prepared. To make for a shorter wait, make sure you have your camera or phone ready to go BEFORE you get to the front of the line. This way you and the photographer don’t have to fumble with your device while guests *patiently* wait behind you. The same goes for autograph books. Have you or your child’s book open to a blank page early. And don’t forget about pens / markers! Characters do NOT like to take the caps off of pens and sharpies (especially Characters with gloves like Mickey) because it can be hard to handle. If you have your book and pen ready for signage by the time you are first in line you can use up the time you would have spent getting everything ready on quality time being with the character – making for some extra magical experiences! Plus everyone behind you in line will be happy to wait a little less for their time with the characters as well – so be prepared!
- Get to Know the Photographer: Most of the time a Disney character will be followed around by 2 people: a
character wrangler (helping maintain lines and keeping the character safe) and a photographer. A great tip is to get to know these Cast Members! They have experience in working with the characters and making magic for guests so use them to your advantage! If you are celebrating something – let them know! They can pass it on to the character or make sure to get a special picture for the occasion. I’ve seen plenty a Photographer make heart shapes with guests and characters together to celebrate anniversaries. A Character Wrangler even suggested that Mickey and I make a “21” with our hands in honor of my 21st birthday. Their expertise is your advantage! Next time you’re in line, chat it up with the Cast Members and see what they can do to make your Character Meet and Greet extra special!
- Use Different Devices: Many guests get the Memory Maker or Photopass on their vacation to capture all the photos during their trip. While this is a great option, it does come at a price. What a lot of guests don’t realize however, is that Cast Members and Photographers can take the same pictures of you and your family for free – using your own devices! Photographers are not limited to just their camera in situations. If you hand them a camera or phone of your own, they will gladly snap that shot of you and Mickey with those too. This is especially helpful to frequent visitors and annual passholders who bypass Photopass or Memory Maker since they come so often. But this tip reigns true for everyone. If you want to capture the magic for a lower price bring your own device!
- Speak Up: One of the best things about meeting a Disney Character is that you can talk with them! I’m sure everyone has something to say to a Character and a Meet and Greet is the place to do just that. Little kids are known for their one on ones with Face Characters – I’ve seen many a young boy propose to a princess! But talking to a character isn’t just for kids – adults can join in on the fun too!
Disney Characters are very well trained on their persona and are prepared to answer almost any question asked to them. Does Rapunzel know if Maximus likes caramel apples? Of course he does! (although Flynn Rider has to floss his teeth afterwards due to the sticky caramel) Is Ariel a vegetarian? She sure likes a lot of things that are wrapped in sea weed – so she says. Anything you can think up to ask they will surely respond to. (be sure to be appropriate!) And don’t be shy! Just being curious can lead to a magical moment. While signing a postcard for me, I asked Snow White how many times she signs her name in a day. We started talking about signing with the wrist and then waving with the wrist and before you knew it we were teaching each other how to properly wave! (This made for a great photo!) If you can’t think of anything to say, let the Character take over! Belle always wants to know what book you are reading and the nefarious Cruella De Vil is dying to know all about your pet puppies at home! Magical moments with Characters happen all the time, you may just have to speak up to experience it!
- Let Out Your Creativity: I’ve seen a thousand photos of my family and I smiling and standing with a character in my lifetime. They were great photos, but they soon started to all look the same to me. So I thought, why don’t we switch things up and try some creative poses instead! This idea snowballed into one of the most interesting photo albums my family has ever done! My mom and I decided to do a different pose with every character we met. From girly glamour shots with Daisy, kisses with Olaf, Sven antlers with Anna and Elsa, and more we challenged the traditional Character photo experience and you can too! Try coming up with your own poses while in line or ask the Photographer for any creative ideas. You can even start making an album of specific photos of each character – like just selfies or only pictures of their shoes. The possibilities are endless! Also try taking pictures of just the character by themselves for some unique shots. Characters love this and will be sure to pose in exciting ways. Oswald shook his bunny tail at us, Goofy was well goofy, and Cruella just took over the camera like she was at a fashion shoot! My mom and I have had more memories with Characters once we got our creative juices flowing – and we treasure the pictures that came with it. So get out there and make your own unique memories!
- Be a Fan: Being at Disney encourages you to be a kid no matter the age. Whether you are Disney Bounding or simply wearing your favorite pair of ears, you are showing everyone that you are a fan – and Characters LOVE this! They go nuts when you have a hat, pin, shirt, well anything inspired by them and they will be sure to let you know it. So show that you love them! Winnie the Pooh was so excited to see my Hundred Acre Wood themed pin lanyard that he literally jumped up and down! A neat thing to try is bring a drawing you did from Animation Academy and have that Character sign a drawing of themselves. If you bring a plush or Tsum Tsum even of that character it goes over well too. Way back when, Phineas and Ferb delighted in my plushies of them and they passed them around gleefully to the Fireside Girls and we all took a special photo. I’ve even seen Donald balance Tsum Tsums of the Three Caballeros on his beak for a funny shot! So if you are excited about meeting a Character, they will be excited too. If you look the part, or just look happy to see them – they will notice and reciprocate the love. So be a fan!
Any guest can do a Character Meet and Greet. But with a little knowledge, preparation, and LOTS of creativity you can turn a simple Meet and Greet into a lifelong magical memory to be cherished forever! So now that you know how to make the most of these moments, get out there and enjoy the magic! We’d love to see your family with the Characters so share the magic with us too!
We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles, and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and sharing our love of Disney!