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Entries in Characters (6)

Wednesday
Sep012010

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

 

Wednesday
Mar102010

Disney Characters...Maybe We Should Rethink a Few Things

Characters characters and more characters.
By Lilly.


Youʼre ready for a Day at Walt Disney World with your two little girls and youʼve got every minute planned out with reservations and everything. You canʼt wait for the rides, but youʼre most excited to see your most beloved characters.

You start right before the park even opens with breakfast at Cinderellaʼs Royal Table in Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom, where your two little girls meet all the princesses including their favorite, Belle.  Because Belle is their favorite, you rush over to catch the first Storytime with Belle show right outside the castle, with the same Belle you saw at breakfast? Nope.

Your two little girls havenʼt had their fill of princesses just yet, so you pop over to Mickeyʼs Toon Town Fair and meet Belle again–yes a different Belle from both the Belles youʼve already seen. Then you camp out to get a good spot for Magic Kingdom's mid day parade “Celebrate a Dream Come True” where your daughters wave to yet a different Belle.

Now itʼs time to take the monorail over to EPCOT where you have dinner reservations for the Princess Storybook Dinner at Norway's Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. But youʼre a little early, so you mosey around France and meet....Belle. And who do you meet at dinner? You guessed it, Belle again.

How is it possible that you can come home with pictures of six different Belles in one day? It comes from the same silly mentality that flows throughout all the parks. More is better. I would like to propose the concept that more is not better. Walt Disney proved it time and time again. Quality is more important than quantity especially when it comes to Disney Characters.

Evidence of this is very clear when you observe the performance of these characters. Clearly auditions have not been selective enough nor has training been very specific. I have seen more hyper Plutos and snippy Snow Whites than I ever thought possible. Have these characters ever seen their original animation? More importantly, have the casting directors, trainers, and managers seen them? Clearly real talent isnʼt drawn to the job because it doesnʼt pay well enough.

My suggestion: less characters with higher pay.

 

Wednesday
Sep162009

Originality in Theme Park Design

A few tips to follow when developing your ideas.

Be original
I know this sounds obvious but so often people see a Disney movie and say, “they should make a ride out of that.” If one of your ideas is based on an existing movie, think of unique ways of presenting that story.  Toy Story Mania is an example of an existing creative work presented in a new and original way. Often people say, “they should put this ride from this park in to that other park.”  This can be a worthwhile effort but if you are going to call it your idea, make sure it’s not a simple carbon copy of something that already exists.

Better yet, develop ideas that are not based on someone else’s existing creative efforts.  A large number of Disney attractions are not based on films.  One of the best recent examples of this is Expedition Everest.  Some classic examples include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Carousel of Progress, and Space Mountain.

Make it timeless
The best attractions, dining experiences, hotels, etc. are ones that won’t feel dated two years after they open.  The Matterhorn today looks and feels just as cool to today’s children and adults as it did to those of 1959 when it opened.

Avoid pop-culture references.  An attraction featuring The Jonas Brothers might exciting for (some) guests today, but what happens when the brothers are washed-up and some other group of manufactured Disney Chanel teenage siblings take center stage?

Avoid character cross-overs
This is where a character from one film and one time period hangs out with another character from an unrelated film and completely different time period.  It has been done successfully and tastefully a few times in the past, yes.  A very classic example is The Mickey Mouse Review (the predecessor of Mickey’s Philharmagic)- a musical review at The Magic Kingdom starring Mickey as the conductor of a orchestra made up of dozens of characters, all animatronic.  But now-a-days character cross-overs are in far too many places.  Every parade, every night-time spectacular, and we see it way too much in Disney merchandise.  It’s a sign of a lack of originality.  Why does this happen?  I feel that it happens often because it’s easy to throw 20 popular characters together, each with their famous one-line phrase, and call it “new.”  I suggest staying away from this altogether. 

Make it fun for all ages
Providing entertainment that everyone could enjoy was the name of Walt Disney’s game.  Granted, some of the little tykes have to patiently await the day they reach a certain height to experience the more intense attraction, but once they grow a little more, everything is fare game.

Evoke emotion
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when developing a concept.  How can cement, rebar, and paint put together in the right way have such an emotional impact on millions of people from all the corners of the earth?  Few words can describe the emotion I feel when I walk through the tunnels under the Disneyland Railroad track and come out on the side in Town Square.   The sights, the sounds, the smell of popcorn, the childhood memories.  Always keep in mind the following question: “How does my concept reach the inner soul of it’s guests- whether it be through laughter, motion, color, sound, music, smell, touch, light, darkness, size, sadness, innovation, nostalgia, shear amazement, or a combination of a few or all of these things?” 

 

 

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