When we were preparing for our first trip to Disney, I began researching character greets. In all my previous trips to Disney, I’d never actually done any character greets. (Gasp! I know.) I had no idea how they worked or what to expect. So, here’s what you should know about character greets before you go.
1. There are two types of characters: fur characters and face characters. When you think about it, it makes sense. Fur characters are characters with fur – and those big furry costume heads. There are some characters (Woody, Jessie, and Buzz, for instance) that are considered fur characters even though they don’t actually have fur because they wear big costume heads. Face characters wear costumes that do not hide their face, thus the reason they’re referred to as face characters. These are characters like the princesses, Peter Pan, Alice, and Tinkerbell. The biggest distinction, besides the costume, is that the fur characters do not speak.
2. The characters have special Cast Member friends called Character Handlers. They wear blue shirts, and help keep the greet area organized and the line moving. The Character Handlers can provide some valuable information, especially if there’s a long line. They can usually tell you how long you can expect to wait at a certain place in line. And if you’re extra nice, they might give you a special tip for your greet – something to ask/say to the character, or a certain action – high five, etc. When we were meeting Russell and Dug, the Character Handler suggested that Honor pat Dug’s belly. She also told him he was a “good dog,” and that made him really excited!
3. They are professionals. One thing I learned in my research is that the Cast Members in these costumes go through extensive training in order to be able to greet your family and the other Disney guests. They are experts at posing your child for photos as well as helping reluctant little guests open up. My kids were a little hesitant with the face characters at first because they weren’t really sure what to do. The characters were great with them – asking questions, encouraging them, and drawing the kids into the fairytale world. The Cast Members have also been trained in their character’s signature – each Pluto must sign the autograph the exact same way. These are not just kids in a costume. And it shows. Which leads me to…
4. They don’t break character. Ever. You can ask Rapunzel about Eugene and Paschal, and she’ll tell you all about them. The day we were there, Maximus and Eugene were out with Prince Philip (Princess Aurora’s Prince), and Rapunzel told us all about it. But she doesn’t know who Mr. Incredible is. Why? He’s not part of her fairytale world. But when we met Ariel, she saw Cinderella’s autograph in our book and asked how her friend Cindy was doing.
5. Don’t forget your autograph books!
6. Characters will play along! Kenny the Pirate is a great source for all things Disney character, and I absolutely love this list of character interaction suggestions. Just because the fur characters don’t speak, doesn’t mean they can’t play with your kids. Honor quickly realized fur characters made a kissing sound, and she began offering her cheek for a kiss. Every. Single. Time. We also had a blast with Lady Tremaine and the Step Sisters. They were our most fun character interaction all week. We offered Caedmon as a suitor for Anastasia and Drizella, which got them all flustered. And when we got ready to leave, Honor pitched a major fit (proud parenting moment). The Step Sisters stopped what they were doing, turned to her, and applauded her tantrum skills, even calling her by name. Of course, I would not normally appreciate anyone encouraging my child’s tantrum, but coming from the Step Sisters, all I could do was laugh. It also lightened a stressful moment for me.
7. Plan to see characters…or don’t. You can include stops to see characters in your daily touring plan or you can do what Lindsey did, and just stop to see characters if/when it is convenient. Decide what works for you, and go for it! Kenny the Pirate has great character touring plans, and I found his information invaluable in working up our individual touring plan. One thing to keep in mind – if you arrive at a character greet line and the Character Handler says the character is going for a break and will be back in three minutes, do not despair. They really will be back in three minutes. Or less. Disney is precise like that.
How does your family do character greets? Who do you most want to meet?