Towards the top of every must do list for a Walt Disney vacation is meeting the characters. I worked closely with Chip and Dale back when I participated in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World and I learned a lot about making the most of the experience. So, here are a few tips I picked up along the way and some from traveling with my own children.
Be prepared. Always have the page ready where you want the character to sign and your pen out and open (or popped). The big pens they sell on property are the best for our furry friends.
Communicate. Most characters can't speak to you but there are many other ways to communicate with them. You can have a conversation with a face character but remember they are only familiar with the world they are from so bringing up modern conveniences can be funny! Be creative and come up with a great line such as confuse Chip with Dale, mention Mickey Mouse to Donald, compliment their attire, or ask Elsa where Olaf is etc.
Bring gifts. Feel free to give pictures or cards your children draw to characters. They treasure those forever!
Reserve a character meal. You can save time by eating and waiting to meet characters at the same time. Then use that time in the parks for shows and attractions. Plus the food is great!
Check the app. Use your My Disney Experience app to find characters and check wait times. A lot of characters do not have Fast Passes available and are not listed as an attraction so you have to be on the lookout.
Follow your child's lead. Young children generally have one of two responses, joy or terror so it's good to be prepared for both if this is their first time. If they are scared just back them away, the characters can tell when someone is not comfortable and won't push the interaction. Some will go to their eye level and try to be silly and make the child laugh. Everyone wants it to be a positive experience, so set the example by speaking with the character and giving them a hug etc.
Never grow up! Adults can have fun too! On our honeymoon Minnie saw my 'Just Married' button and pointed to my ring. We got a picture of the two of us and her holding our hands showing off our rings.
Show off your fandom! Try to wear clothing with that character on it or from the story they hail from. My son visited Buzz Lightyear in his Buzz costume when he was 3, the kids in line were asking for their picture with him and Buzz loved it!
Have your camera and video cameras ready. I regret not recording the conversations Gaston had with us and the other guests in line. He proposed to a young Belle and told another gentleman in line that the 'Pleasure was all yours' after meeting. Some of the best photos are of the unplanned interactions (like my youngest trying to eat Minnie's nose!). The Photo Pass photographers are great at capturing those moments.
and, most of all...
Just have fun! Embrace that characters personality and play along, you'll never forget those moments.
Melissa Lenox is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. She enjoys traveling with her family and planning trips for her clients!