Some children wait months, if not years to meet their favorite characters in person on a Disney vacation. The anticipation builds as the weeks pass and after watching the same Disney movies over and over again, the moment finally arrives to meet Winnie the Pooh. You have waited in line at the park for over 30 minutes for your meet and greet and now it’s your turn. As you walk up to Pooh with your camera in hand… your child runs behind you and hides.
Planning for that first meet and greet can help prepare your little ones for the experience, so the memories will be magic rather than tragic.
“My, what big eyes you have!”
Disney characters look tiny on television and seeing them in person can be quite intimidating. Many of the characters tower over kids and may be an unexpected and frightening surprise. Providing the perfect setting can ensure an easy first introduction that is relaxed and happy.
Consider a character meal for your first meet and greet since the meetings take place while guests are seated. 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hollywood and Vine’s Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine and several other restaurants within the resort offer character dining. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 180 days in advance of your scheduled vacation.
Stage shows are an opportunity to get a peek at the characters and give a visual of what to expect during a meet and greet. Disney Junior- Live on Stage at Hollywood Studios stars Doc McStuffins, Jake, Princess Sofia and the cast of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The Magic Kingdom morning rope drop ceremony features Mickey and his pals and also makes a great introductory option because you see the characters from afar.
Camera-ready tips for first time meetings:
- If you can, plan your meet and greets in the morning before the temperature rises. This will allow your family to feel more comfortable and happy for their meeting.
- Planning around nap time and meals is also key for big smiles. Waits can be lengthy on busy park days, so eating prior to your meet and greet will help keep everyone in their laughing place.
- If your child is hesitant, Mom or Dad can go up to the character first, take a photo or two and then encourage the participation of their little one. Disney cast members work with shy guests quite often and have some great techniques to bring out the smiles.
- If you have a long wait in line, take the opportunity to talk about the things that your child will say and do when he or she meets their Disney favorite. “Are you going to hug them?” “Do you want their autograph?” Setting the tone and rehearsing can help to prevent stage fright.
Have your camera ready, because these are some memories that you are not going to want to forget! There is nothing like a first time meet and greet.
Do you have a special technique to encourage smiles during meet and greets? Please share your experiences in the comments section.