There are several ways in which to get the most out of your “meet and greet” with your favorite Disney Characters. As a performer at Walt Disney World, I can tell you that I’ve seen and experienced it all – the good, the bad, and everything in between. I have therefore compiled some tips and information for you in order to help make this experience the best for your family. This blog post is created to help you better your experience and maximize your “meet and greet” time with the characters.
Lesson 1: Be Prepared
There are a couple of things you can do to be prepared before you ever meet the character.
1. Have your autograph books and cameras ready. This will give you more time to play and interact with the characters versus trying to get your book out or camera ready. This also helps the line go quicker.
2. Take off jackets, bags and/or ponchos. Doing this makes for better-looking pictures. Waiting until you get up to the character takes away from your time to interact with them.
3. Put down any food or drinks. The characters will not take pictures with them in the picture.
Lesson 2: The Approach
When you approach the Disney character, don’t shove your book into their hands.
1. They want to say hi first with a hug or a high five. They want to know you are there for more than just a signature.
2. Make sure the character sees you approaching. They don’t have the best eyesight, and at times they don’t even realize there is a young child by their legs.
3. Please do not jump up on them.
4. Be careful when touching their heads – it’s actually preferred that you don’t touch their heads at all.
5. Everyone must be wearing shoes unless they are being held.
6. They cannot hold your baby.
7. Don’t be rough with the characters. They can be hurt!
Lesson 3: Helping Unsure Kids
I’ve seen hundreds of families that wait in long lines to see the characters only to get up to them and find that their child no longer wants to see them or is crying. These tips will help you get those pictures without the big hassle or need for convincing.
1. Let them watch the character interact with the other families and talk to them about all the fun the other families are having.
2. Holding the child or getting down to the child’s level helps the child feel safe and protected.
3. Hold the child’s hand while walking up to the character.
4. Ask someone to take the picture for you so you can stay with your child. I usually ask the family behind me to do it just in case there isn’t someone at the front of the line to do it. Always check the photo before moving on, as not everyone knows how to use a camera correctly.
5. When taking a picture with your child, put them on the outside shoulder away from the character. By doing this you will help keep them from looking at the camera instead of at the character and/or help them stop crying.
6. If the opposite shoulder strategy doesn’t work, take several steps in front of the character, get their attention to look at the camera, and take the picture. This helps because the child is far enough away that they feel a bit safer and you still get a picture with the character.
Lesson 4: Writing Material for Autographs
By having the right kind of writing utensils it will help you get the best signature possible.
1. Even before you hand the character the autograph books, make sure you use the words “Please” and “Thank You”. These words are often forgotten, but greatly appreciated!
1 – 2-inch pens are hard for anyone to write with, and with a paw it is even harder.
2. Light ink pens or coloring utensils make it hard for the characters to see what they are signing. Use dark ink or colors for signing. When the character can see what they are signing you will get a great signature.
3. Larger-than-life pens are also not the easiest to write with for the characters. The thickness of the pen does make it a bit hard to get a good grip for a great signature.
4. Disney characters’ favorite type of writing utensil is a regular-sized SHARPIE. The inks are thick and they are extremely easy to hold.
5. Characters love it when you use different colors – For example: Tigger loves using Orange colors, whereas The Green Army Man loves using Green to write.
6. The characters also love writing with the fun different Disney pens. They love tickling your faces with the ones with the fuzz on the ends or twirling the character on the end of the pen. They especially love pens with themselves on them.
7. 2-inch size papers or loose papers without something hard behind them are hard to sign on. If you are going to have the papers loose, then use a small clip board. Doing this will help you get the best quality of signatures possible.
Lesson 5: What Characters Can Write On
Disney characters love to sign their name on things, but there are a few things they cannot sign.
1. They cannot sign currency, checks, receipts, other important documents, or things with inappropriate materials on them.
2. They can sign shirts, hats, toys, blankets, and things like that
3. They can’t sign anything while it is being worn. You can take the item off only if it doesn’t reveal skin or undergarments.
4. They can sign the cast of a broken arm or leg – this is the only exception to the previous rule. (Signing casts at the Walt Disney World parks is allowed but NOT at Disneyland parks)
Lesson 6: Creating a Little Bit of Extra Magic
1. The characters love holding, signing, and playing with things that have them on it. Buzz Lightyear loves pretending to fly with his action figure… Or should I say, “Falling with style.”
2. They love giving hugs and high fives
3. Be creative with your pictures. Don’t just stand there; strike a pose! They take thousands of pictures a day with guests posing the same way and they are eager to do something different. Go with the flow – If they want you to pose a certain way, do it. They do some great poses. You can even ask them, “What pose should we make today?” and they will respond with some great ideas. If you have some ideas, they will also join in, as long as it is appropriate.
4. Use more than just your phone camera – you will get better pictures using a real camera.
5. Take a “Selfie” with the characters.
6. Share with the characters why you love them and are there to see them.
Lesson 7: Leaving
When you leave, make sure you thank the Disney characters and the character attendants for letting you come and see them. It’s not easy standing out in the heat all day, but it’s worth it when they feel appreciated and loved. Give last minute high fives and hugs!
If you are planning a trip to one of Disney’s theme parks or a Disney Cruise, please contact me for more information.
– Cody Woodbrey
Guests often ask me, “What benefits are there to staying on Disney property and do guests really save money?” or “We don’t spend a lot of time in our resort, will it make a difference in our trip experience?” The answer is, “YES!” and here is why.
1. Free Transportation – No need to rent a car or pay for any toll-road fees when staying on Disney Property. Guests can enjoy free transfers to and from the Orlando International airport with Disney’s Magical Express. Included with this service is luggage pick up. Disney will pick up your luggage from baggage claim and deliver straight to your hotel. This will you time and a hassle of getting your own bags. On your return home, Disney will check your bags for your flight home right from your hotel. So you don’t have to drag them with you to the airport. To top it off, transfers to and from your resort to the various Disney theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs are also included with your package.
2. Free Parking at All Disney Theme Parks – It doesn’t matter if you choose to rent a car or take your own vehicle, Disney resort guests will not have to pay the daily parking fee to park at the various theme parks or water parks. The parking fee right now starts at about $20 per vehicle.
3. Proximity to the Parks – One of the main reasons for staying on property is the ability to get to the parks easily and quickly. Taking a quick break in the afternoon to get away from the crowds and heat has never been easier. There is nothing like enjoying a dip in the pool a hot summers day. Also, many of the resorts have multiple forms of transportation options to the parks like the taking the monorail or a boat. Some resorts are even so close you can walk from your resort to the park.
4. Free Magic Bands – Disney Resort guests will receive free Magic Bands for each person traveling. Which is a savings of about $22 per person. The Magic Bands connect your room key, park tickets, meal plan, Memory Maker, FastPasses and you can even make purchases for merchandise, food and more. Who really wants to carry all those extra cards around anyway?
5. Extra Magic Hours – One of the other benefits for staying on property are the extra park hours reserved exclusively for resort guests. Guests can enjoy extra time in the parks either an hour before the park opens or two hours after the parks close.
6. FastPass “+” Those staying with Disney have the chance to pre-pick Fastpasses up to 60 days before checking into their hotel. Giving them a 30 day head start over those not staying at a Disney Resort. The extra time allows the guest the opportunity of getting the desired attractions and times they want verses taking what’s left over.
7. Disney Atmosphere – From the moment you step on to Disney Magical Express to the time you arrive back to the airport you are immersed in that fun and exciting Disney Magic. Disney Resorts provide guests with a unique experience you can only get staying on property. From hidden Mickey’s in sheets to larger than life figures around your resort you will not get a grander and more Magical experience staying on property. Each resort has multiple pools with fun and exciting themes. Plus, there are great and unique photo opportunities at each of the resorts – Say “Cheese”!
8. Dine in the Magic – As we all know eating in the parks can be quite expensive and stressful. Well, Disney has come up with a delicious way in lowering this cost. Resorts guests can add one of the Disney meal plans prior to their trips and save about 25% of the cost of their meals. There is No reason for guests to choose the cheapest options of the menu or go hungry any more!
9. Package Delivery – When you buy merchandise in the parks you have the option for Disney to send it straight to your hotel so you don’t have to carry it around the park or carry it with you back to your hotel room.
10. Memory Maker Sharing – Let Disney’s professional photographers document your trip for you! Disney has photographers throughout each of the theme park ready to take your pictures. Enjoy an unlimited array of photos taken by Disney photographers which include pictures taken in the parks, at select dining experiences, attractions and videos from select attractions. You don’t have to purchase each photo individually any more, because you get digital copies of each picture taken. When traveling with a larger group you still only have to buy one Memory Maker for the whole family. Talk about savings!
11. Magical Extras – Each package will receive four vouchers to both Disney’s onsite miniature golf courses, four vouchers to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, plus additional discounts at Disney Springs for savings of 10-20% off various goods.
12. 24-Hour services – Disney Cast members are available 24 hours – Which means you have less things to stress about and more time to relax and have fun!