The Disney parks have this beautiful thing called character meet-and-greets.
(aka the incredible opportunity to visit with your favorite characters).
How COOL is that??
After performing in the parks, I not only gained a deep appreciation for the characters, but I also learned that there is a very specific layout of meet-and-greets.
The typical layout of a meet-and-greet is:
Character meet-and-greets include the princesses, Pixar characters, and more.
Each meet-and-greet has a character or two, a character attendant (basically a body guard for the character), and a Photopass photographer who takes photos of the fun interaction.
While the characters are spread out all over the four main Disney parks, most meet-and-greets are approximately 60 seconds (sometimes less, sometimes more).
Even if you have been coming to the parks for years, you may not know that there are definitely ways in which to make your meet-and-greet a more memorable, special, and positive experience for both you and the character.
Here are 10 tips for how to properly experience meet-and-greets at the Disney parks (and to avoid characters from secretly hating you):
1. Be Prepared
There are a lot of blog posts out there on ways to sneak in a few more seconds with the characters (e.g. taking your sweet time searching for your camera, having them sign a million autograph books…) It’s not cute or smart, and the characters know exactly what you are doing.
Please – for the love of Walt Disney – have your autograph books ready by turning it to a blank page. Keep your camera out and ready to kindly hand to the character attendant or Photopass photographer. The more prepared you are, the better interaction you will have and the happier the character and the attendants will be.
2. They’re Watching… Always Watching
While standing in line (patiently) waiting your turn, you may think that a character is busy with a meet-and-greet with another guest and therefore won’t see you rolling your eyes, pouting, arguing with the attendant, yelling at your children, etc. Don’t be fooled. They are able to see a lot more than you think.
If you are being rude to a guest or cast member, the character may be less inclined to have a special interaction with you. If you are polite to those around you and stand there smiling and excited, the character will notice and appreciate it. And he or she may even go above and beyond to create a magical moment for you.
3. Be Aware of Timing
You want to enjoy visiting your favorite character without feeling rushed but be aware of others waiting their turn. While standing in line, figure out who in your travel party would like individual pictures/autographs. This helps cause less confusion and frustration for everyone. The characters don’t mind taking “individual” photos, but be respectful of everyone’s time.
4. Be Respectful
Never just shove an autograph book in the character’s face. Nicely ask if he or she would sign your book. Even if the character does not speak, treat him or her as you would the Queen of England or Julie Andrews or your sweet old grandmother. This also includes being respectful to the Photopass photographer and character attendant.
5. Make it Meaningful
Characters love gifts. While I don’t recommend bringing them anything $$$, a drawing or a sweet card is highly appreciated. I once saw a little girl give Pluto dog treats, and he was a happy pup. Minnie Mouse once told me she loves trading pins and key chains. When you make the interaction unique and meaningful, the characters will remember it and hold on to the special presents.
6. Ask A Question
I don’t know why, but I always get super awkward during meet-and-greets. I never know what to say, and most times I feel like the characters are just talking TO my face. They speak with hundreds of guests each day, so they get a flow of what to say to quiet/shy/star-struck quests.
Characters love when you make a personal connection with them by asking questions, sharing a little bit about your fun day at the parks, explaining why he or she is your favorite character, etc. Just don’t make the questions or comments super personal or creepy.
7. Don’t Be Creepy
There are creepy people everywhere – even (sometimes especially) at Walt Disney World. It is not uncommon for a guests to make sexual or suggestive comments to the innocent, lovable characters which always makes the interaction cringe-worthy for everyone. Don’t make the characters feel awkward by hitting on them, flirting with them, or asking them if they will go home with you. Totally inappropriate and so not cool.
8. Watch Your Children
For whatever stupid, horrible reason, some kids LOVE to beat the crap out of the characters. Even some adults like to mess with the characters – pulling on Tigger’s tail, punching Goofy in the gut, grabbing Mickey’s nose. I’ve seen it all. Tell your children or even adults in your travel party to be kind or leave the characters alone.
9. Don’t Complain about the Wait
We get it. The line to meet Anna and Elsa is ridiculous. (Seriously… 400 minutes? WHY). But even if it takes HOURS, don’t complain to the character (or the attendant for that matter) about how long you waited in line. It isn’t their fault, and the complaints don’t help anyone. If you do have a concern, kindly talk to a character attendant or a cast member in guest relations.
10. Be a part of the magic! ❤
Being a mouse, duck, chipmunk, princess, bear, dog, pixie, etc. isn’t always easy, and just because they all live at Disney doesn’t mean they don’t have bad days too. Guests can also create magical moments for the characters by simply being positive, kind, and excited to see them. Enjoy the time you visit with your favorite character (and don’t forget to spread pixie dust wherever you go!)
If you have a favorite character meet-and-greet story or have anything you’d like to add to this list, don’t forget to share in the comments below!