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What Disney Characters Love

Article by Lilly

Ten things to consider when meeting characters in the parks. 

Okay so my co-writers are rolling their eyes at me for writing this post, and I realize this post takes on a much different energy than the rest of our blog, but I don’t care, I really feel that there are many out there that would really appreciate this post (so what if most of them have fur).

Having spent some time with our fuzzy friends at the Disney Parks, I picked up on some things that really make them smile. Okay so they’re always smiling, but you know what I mean. So, here are some tips when visiting your favorite Disney characters.

1.  Disney characters will not accept money or food, but they CAN accept small gifts, drawings, and letters. Want to make a Disney character remember why they love to hug your kids everyday? Have them write a letter to their favorite character or draw a picture (drawing it is way cuter than a coloring book picture) and bring it to the park to give to the character. It’s adorable and will probably end up hung up behind the scenes or permanently placed in a scrapbook.

2. Consider the limitations of characters. If you had really big hands would you want someone to hand you a tiny pencil? Characters can spend less time signing and more time hugging your kids if you just hand them a nice big empty page and a large uncapped pen. If you really want to impress them, give them a retractable Sharpie like this.  

That way even if your kid clicks it, the character can easily click it back. They also write really well and last a long time. Characters also love it when kids make their own books. Homemade books are so cute and you can put more pages in them than the overpriced books you buy in the parks. Just make sure you put something solid behind it. It’s really hard to write on a flimsy piece of paper especially if you have big fuzzy hands.

3. Having characters sign clothing is fine, but here’s a few tips. First, characters won’t sign anything while you are wearing it. So, if you want your shirt signed, bring it don’t wear it. Also, it’s really hard to sign material. You kind of have to stretch it out which is hard to do while you are trying to sign. What is really nice is those people who have the part they want signed already stretched out and stuck in one of those cross stitching hoops. Something to think about.

4. If your kid has something contagious like chicken pox or pink eye, think about that before letting them hug characters that will be hugging hundreds more children that day.

5. Babies. I am sorry to tell you this but characters don’t want to hold your baby. Someone had to tell you and it might as well be me. They are little fragile things and it’s just more responsibility then they want. They also have a tendency to get all kinds of fluids on fur and lovely princess dresses. So don’t throw your babies on characters if you want to get on their good side.

6. Along the same lines is crying and/or terrified children. I know you waited for 20 minutes in a long hot line to see Donald, but if your kid gets to the front of the line, takes one look at Donald and starts screaming, please don’t take the next 7 minutes trying to get your child to take a picture with him. You’re wasting so much time that Donald could be spending with other kids and it isn’t going to be a good picture anyway.

7. Don’t ask them to do stuff that is out of their character. Pinocchio doesn’t want hold up a piece sign for your picture. Snow White doesn’t want to say “holla back girl” for your video. Don’t ask.

8. Even though characters shrug their shoulders and shake their heads whenever you ask them the silly question of “are they are hot in there,” they are standing in a 40 lb. costume in Florida in the dead of August, you do the math. So don’t whine and complain when the character attendant lets you know that Pooh needs to get some honey and he’ll be right back. Just calm down, he really will be right back. Character attendants are usually really good about closing the line when the character is going for good, but just know all characters–furry or not–will not likely be outside longer than 20-40 minutes depending on how hot it is. And don’t pull the “I have to catch a plane in an hour and Belle’s my favorite princess and I didn’t get to see her” stuff, because it will never work.

9. Ask them questions. They are ready to answer them whether they can talk or not. Characters love to know that you have actually seen their film/cartoon/attraction. Ask Mary Poppins how Uncle Albert is doing. Ask Cruella if she still works with Horace and Jasper. Ask Friar Tuck how Skippy, Sis, and Lady Cluck are doing and if he still parties behind the waterfall. Most people don’t even know who Friar Tuck is when they see him. Believe me. Have your kids get their questions ready before they get their turn with the character and I guarantee you’ll get more one on one time with characters while everyone else gets the “love and shove” treatment.

10. Last but not least, stop suing Tigger. Seriously, he just has a lot of energy. Give him a break.



Related Posts:

Disney Characters: Maybe We Should Rethink A Few Things

Originality In Theme Park Design


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Reader Comments (21)

Thankyou for writing this post. I actually really enjoyed this one. Especially since I am a mommy. :) Seriously, this should be posted on the Disney Website under the Pre-Arrival Planning Tips section.

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdisney obsessor

One more common mistake parents make with small children who are unfamiliar with Disney's fur-bearin' critters...

They'll be holding a small child in their arms as they approach a character, then they'll put the child down thinking that they will immediately run over and happily hug the character. BUT think about this from the child's perspective:

They're securely and comfortably in their parents' arms and the character is at eye level. Then Daddy puts them down on the ground and suddenly this huge brightly colored manic-looking monster is towering above them as their folks are calling, "Go hug Mickey!" Is it any wonder a child would cry, scream or cower behind Daddy?

Instead, keep the child in your arms as you approach the character. Allow the child to relate to him at eye level. Then either take your picture that way, or - if the child is obviously comfortable - then you can think about putting him down on his own.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRon Schneider

Thanks Ron, that's a great tip!

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

Great post! And I agree, it should be posted somewhere on Disney property, in the guides/maps, on signs where the characters hang out, etc. I have to wonder about Number 5. Is there a policy against them holding babies? It would seem like there should be. I don't know that I would be comfortable with them holding my infant, and I don't blame them for not wanting to either. If the baby were to slip out of their hands, there would certainly be a law suit, and we all know how that goes.

I might add one more. When the characters are in transit, walking to/from their breaks, don't try to stop them for a picture or anything else. As pointed out, those suits are heavy and hot, and they really REALLY need their breaks, or else...

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrumpyFan

Regarding #2. Yes, characters like signing home made books. We purchased a Disneyland autograph book for each of our daughters. I spent hours before each park visit drawing (X 3!), numerous characters. The ones normally seen in the park & their special favourites. Most trips, I needed to draw more each night in the hotel room. They were a huge hit. The characters even stopped the autograph lines to run & show nearby characters / cast members (with ou3 daughters in tow) what was in the book. One particular trip, we had a great conversation with Donald Duck about his page. Some characters added their own artwork. I may be able to doodle, but it is a real talent watching Pooh, pen in paw, draw a hunny pot & a bee!!

How's this for an eleventh item that Disney Characters Love......... "POLITE" Children!!!. Something that seems to have been forgotten by too many.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersb-illustrations

I love that in the 50s the Disney company was very open about the fact that these were humans in costumes and now they are so serious about keeping it a big secret. Not a bad thing, just funny.

Then again those characters looked like humans in costumes (creepy ones at that).

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTL98H8R

The very best pictures of small children with the characters are not the ones where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling!!

Try to capture the look on your kid's face as they relate to the character face to face. Move around to the side, shoot over the character's shoulder or get the kid's reaction as they watch the character from a distance, even as they're relating to another family.

SO OFTEN parents with a myopic, preconceived notion of what constitutes a vacation picture will interrupt a magic moment between Mickey and their own kid with demands that everyone stop what they're doing and look at the camera.

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRon Schneider

Ron- I couldn't agree with you more. In general, parents have TERRIBLE photography skills and almost every picture they take has the same people looking straight at the camera in the most boring pose possible with no sense of composition to say the least.

A related mistake I've seen for decades is that people take pictures of the kids in the parks in front of a tree or wherever they happened to be standing. These make for some boring pics. Look around, move around, find interesting backdrops at interesting angles.

September 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterFritz

i will respectfully disagree with the questions.... it can get often quite questionable the things asked and be reasonable about whats being asked. Heres the best tip you only need one pen and please keep it out of your childs mouth and the hand you wish the character to shake there is nothing groser than having a parent take a childs hand out of their mouth then telling you to shake it or handing you a pen covered in druel! NASTY!!!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertipster

I think you meant to write peace instead of peice sign.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Outstanding. It's always nice to know what makes cast members lives easier, considering what they are put through daily. Unfortunately, the guests who could most use these tips have no idea what the word means...advise or monetary wise.

October 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWDWFanBoyBrett

Characters also don't like it when you try to get them to admit they're just humans in costumes. For example-

My brother asked Beast (Beauty and the Beast) why he was still a beast (he changed into a human in the movie) Beast just shooked his head (full costumed characters can't talk.)

Believe it or not, Belle came to his rescue and just pretended like they had no idea what he was talking about, then said they just wanted to get out of the castle for a bit. -_-

January 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJewels

LOL at the last one! So true! But seriously, I love the ideas here!

July 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Oriotis

I am SO HAPPY to see someone has posted this much needed human behavioral guide to characters. I was close friends with the mouse and his pals for many years (anyone who is a cast member will know what I mean). I will tell you that everything in this post is incredibly accurate, except one little thing. The truth of the matter is, the characters desperately want to hold and cuddle your babies. They don't even mind the slobber or spit up so much (you would be amazed at the amount of bodily fluids they encounter through out the day). However, there is a strict policy against it. Disney's number one rule is - safety, as far as the guest is concerned. I used to tell the story about the monster Sulley from Monsters Inc. Sully is a particularly large monster, his costume is built in a way where he has arm extenders. Where the cast member's actual arm ends, he is grabbing on to almost stilt-like extenders. One day a mom carelessly handed Sulley her very young baby and it tumbled in his arm extenders. It did almost a whole rotation before the Character host who was paying attention realized what was going on and caught the baby. Both host and character were terrified and had to take a few minutes to recover back stage. what the mom didn't realize is that Sulley had ZERO control of his hands, he could have dropped the baby and quite frankly, the baby could have died. Could you imagine encountering a situation like this in your everyday job? The mom walked away from that situation never even realizing the danger she had put her child in. Ugh...we always used to say that someone out there must have been selling tickets for brains because when they walked through that gate, they had none.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramyjanelle

Ron Schneider- Yeah! I totally agree with you! Whenever I went to the park as a child, my dad would take as many pics as he could. Either the character and I staring strait into the camera, signing autograph books or just goofing around. One time I was with Goofy and Max, and while Max was signing, Goofy got me lifting up my braids the way he sometimes lifts his ears. It is the best pic with characters I have ever gotten!

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Oriotis

These tips are helpful for anyone for those who are going to meet Disney Characters. This photo of cartoon characters is looking beautiful.

best cartoon characters

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbest cartoon characters

Thank you for this, in the age of rude behavior and pushy children/ parents. I thank you. I have a friend who was quite a 'character' ( you know who you are! ), and told some of the most horrible stories. ie: pushing and tripping characters to get a laugh, pushy parents who 'made sure' their child got in the photo.....

So this is needed, and thank you. !

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracey Pera

One more thing to add!

DO NOT ... and I repeat ... DO NOT ever roll your eyes, sigh, mutter under your breath, and grumble if a Special Needs/Make a Wish or someone with an obvious disability is let into line before you.

If such a meet is happening in a random place, such as a character roaming about with an attendant and he stops to meet and greet with them, DO NOT elbow your way into their meet and greet.
I had seen a random mother push her way though a crowd and place her toddler on the LAP of a child in a wheelchair who could barely control his limb motions as a furry friend was interacting with him.

Stand back and let that person and their family have that time with the character, do not crowd around them hoping they will take their focus off them to meet with you.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Cricket

True that the characters love polite children, but what they love even more than that is ***POLITE PARENTS***!

A Character and a Character Host are much more likely to do special favors for you if you go out of your way to be polite, let others who are having trouble go before you, don't push scared children, and have everything ready to go when it's your turn.

I've actually seen a character who was supposed to be leaving turn around and see just one more family who had been super kind and polite and had remained positive when the line closed before they could get there.

Complaining, saying rude things, and pushing your way through will usually result in a "love and shove" type meet with the character at best. At worst the character will refuse to see you at all.

Keep this in mind and your experience will be a good one!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGen

Haha LOVE this one! We have five kids and when the autograph craze started, we stopped trying o see characters. The autograph requests and the subsequent photo simply takes too long. Add the screamers and fit throwers, and seeing a character becomes painful. Rude pushy parents are about 60% of the problem. Kids get twitchy, characters get tired. Who thought of autographs anyway?! It works in restaurants to some degree better than outside in the parks but overall, it's a painful waste of time. Our favorite character moments happen late at night when the 3 year olds have passed out & a quick photo can be had. Takes 5 seconds versus 10 minutes. My kids have always said "thanks for the picture!" to all characters. Only once did my son get carried away and race his three year old self headlong into Cinderella exclaiming, "I love your moooovie!" she seemed startled for a moment when she realized her dress was damp where he hugged her but recovered nicely & gave him a big lipstick print kiss on his cheek. The kiss came AFTER I explained the 'wet' was from him playing in a water fountain and nothing more harmful... She was grateful for the info. My son looked around and asked, "Where's your dog? And your mice? I love them." those princesses are great. He was equally excited to see Hook so I guess our Disney fans start early.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterL montin

sometimes it's hard to keep a civil tongue, particularly after the 5th time in two days when you get close to-or at-the front of the line and are told "oh, they're going in"-do your best. when i was there a few years ago, i accidentally let one slip-although it was pretty quiet-when Alice and the White Rabbit went in. i apologized to the attendant who may or may not have heard-just to be safe-they accepted my apology and understood. unfortunately, i didn't have a chance to go back and see them.

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTony

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