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A World of Characters A World of Characters
A World of Characters A World of Characters
Article - Tips and Advice for Meeting Your Favourite Disney Pals
DisneyDan  Tuesday, August 3, 2010 11:43:04 AM

This is the second in a series of articles I am writing about the Character Meet and Greet Experience. The first can be read here.

Along with being asked how we get to meet such a vast amount of characters, the next biggest thing we get asked by anybody is how do we get such fun pictures with them? Why does it look like we're really having a blast? Well, usually, we are! Your experience doesn't have to be just standing for a picture with them.

This article is aimed at getting you the most out of your character meeting experience. Ultimately it comes down to how interested you are in actually interacting with the characters. You may just want your photo and be done, which is fine, but for those of you like Jon and I, you will probably find this article very useful. Tips for actual photography of characters will be my next article.

The biggest tip I can ever give is know the character. Do not line for up character in the hope they will know YOU! Be sure to know who they are before you say hi. Even if you have a child who wants to meet them anyway, ask someone, check your programme guide or look at the sign at the line entrance. The biggest insult to any character is calling them the wrong name. I once heard a woman in Paris refer to Aladdin as Sinbad. Boy did I cringe.

Once you have established who it is you're waiting for, be prepared. Be prepared with you cameras, know which party member is having their picture first, and have autograph books ready. There are normally a lot of other people waiting, and people who take too long do get moved along by the attending cast member if it means others guests are being held up. So many times we have been in line and the people before us get to the character, and then suddenly realise they want to take a picture of their daughter with Mickey. It really does hold everything else up.

Next, regarding those pictures. I plea with you, please, please do NOT use your mobile phone. That has to be the most frustrating I see at the parks. You surely cannot capture the magic of your loved ones meeting the Disney stars on your phone. What is more, they are slow to load, and slow to take the picture, therefore once again holding the process up.

So, when it comes to your turn, be sure to greet the character with a friendly hi, hello, or how are you, and smile like you are so happy to see them. Their interaction with you will immediately leap, and you find that they will welcome you with open arms. 

Of course, full blown conversations are not always convenient, but friendly chit chat will improve your experience by a lot.

Knowing a little about the characters before you arrive is probably the second biggest tip if you are looking for the fully interactive experience. Before your trip maybe look up some info on the Internet. Who is Scrooge McDuck exactly? How is he related to Donald? Which chipmunk is Chip? How can you tell? Who is Goofy's son?

Knowing a bit more about a character means that you can pose questions to them, and invoke a response.

It is amazing how much your experience with the character can improve if you have shown that you can recall on the spot knowledge about them.

If you are a real die hard Disney fan you probably have a multitude if Disney clothing items, pins and lanyards, and maybe hats or other accessories too. In our experience a character really loves it when a guest approaches them who have something to do with that character on them. Chip and Dale for example love looking at pins and trying to find themselves. Stitch spots anyone wearing a t-shirt with him on instantly, and usually precedes to hugs you or ruffle your hair (and even on one occasion we had, pick your nose!!). Don't think that the characters won't notice these things, because trust me, they do, and you will find it makes the world of difference. Autograph books are another good one - characters love to look through to see if they can spot their friends signatures, or indeed themselves on the front cover.

Regarding autographs, it is worth noting that not all characters sign all the time. For example, King Louie does not sign due to his cumbersome hands, but if Baloo is with him he may sometimes do it for Louie. Buzz does not sign but rather uses a stamp where available, as do the Incredibles normally (though we have known them to randomly sign). If you ever meet any random characters that may be in training, they often do not sign either. Just ask the attendant if you're unsure and they will direct you as to whether you need to bother getting your books ready.

A last point on autographs, try to have a larger than normal pen or pencil as the characters hands are often larger or more awkward than normal, and some of them find it hard to grip. Always hand the character your book open to the correct page and with the pen lid off.

On a more serious note, and a very important one, be careful what you actually say. Trust me when I say a character that you meet is as real as anybody else. They are performers through and through, and do not take kindly to awkward questions or situations. The characters you meet are 100% genuine, and suggesting anything less will likely damage your meeting experience rather than you thinking you are smart or funny.

At the non-US parks sometimes the language barrier may put you off from wanting to meet the characters. Please don't let this deter you as most of the time the characters can at least understand what you are saying even if they cannot form a proper response. The best advice here is, if you're visiting a park that is not in your native language zone maybe learn a phrase or two. Hello, goodbye, and even how are you will just enhance your meet that bit more.

My last piece of advice is for those if you who may use a wheelchair, or hold a disability pass. If the line is very long, or involves an awkward setting such as stairs, you may request that the characters come to you. You usually don't have to wait long and the attendants and characters are normally very obliging.

I hope that you find these tips useful and they really do improve your character meeting experiences.

My next article will be about photographing your favourite Disney Pals. After that, I will be writing a series of articles where I will be going into more depth at how to meet characters at specific parks around the world, as these can differ a lot too.

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