Last year, I was fortunate enough to spend 9 months living practically next door to Walt Disney World (through the Disney College Program) and visited the parks often while there. However, my first stops weren’t always the exciting rollercoasters or the amazing original attractions (although they were sometimes); instead, I often found myself lining up to meet Pluto or Captain Jack Sparrow, excited to talk to my favorite characters once again. During these numerous character interactions, I learned some tips and tricks that helped me make the most of my time with the characters, even when visiting the parks by myself. This post will cover those tips and tricks, ranging from what to do before jumping in line to how to have a great Disney character interaction that extends beyond the simple hug, photograph, and autograph signing.
Ask a Question or Make a Comment about the Character’s Story
One of the best ways to start a Disney character interaction is to ask them a question or make a comment about their story. These can lead to fun stories and conversations that will be much more memorable than the photograph.
For example, when talking to Anastasia and Drizzela a few years ago, they asked if I would clean their house for them. When I asked, “Isn’t that Cinderella’s job?” they screeched, “No, she moved out like 60 years ago!”
The accuracy was astonishing.
Although there are a ton of lists online that give examples of questions and talking points for your character interactions (although you shouldn’t be afraid to think of some on your own!), here are some of my favorites to get you started:
- Ask Winnie the Pooh and Tigger if they’ve seen any heffalumps
- When addressing Captain Jack Sparrow, leave out the “Captain”
- Tell Peter Pan that you’ve lost your shadow
- When talking to Anastasia and Drizella, ask which one has the best dress
- Ask Doug if he’s seen any squirrels
- Ask Russell what is favorite Wilderness Explorer patch is
- If you’re Disneybounding as Donald Duck, tell Donald Duck that you dressed up just for him!
Dress Up or “Disneybound”
When visiting Disney, I never miss an opportunity to dress up. In fact, I have an entire collection of tulle skirts ready for my next trip. However, you don’t need to be dressed up fancy to enjoy a good day of meeting characters; instead, try Disneybounding with a simplified version of a character’s outfit (such as yellow shorts and a red shirt for Winnie the Pooh) or have your outfit coordinate with similar colors and styles.
Although I have certainly gone all out when Disneybounding before, your outfit doesn’t have to be too complicated, either. I once wore a purple skirt, black shirt, and seashell necklace (Disneybounding as Ursula) to meet Sorcerer Mickey before Fantasmic!. We had an entire conversation about how I had accidentally stolen his voice and how I would need to get it back to him before the show.
If you’re wanting to visit the parks in a simple pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt but still want to get in on the fun, consider coordinating shirts with a friend or family member. My sisters and I have done shirts that say “I’m the oldest, I make the rules,” “I’m the middle, I’m the reason we had rules,” and “I’m the youngest, the rules don’t apply to me. Cast members and characters alike got a great laugh out of it throughout the day.
Another idea is to do “Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust” shirts. However, when we did this, Tinkerbell was quite quick to point out that we missed the most important ingredient…a happy thought!
Bring the Characters a Gift
There’s nothing better than thanking a character with a small gift. These gifts can range from something handmade that you customize for every character (such as a drawing) to something store-bought, such as a box of chocolates. To get the best Disney character interaction, however, make sure that the gift is either customized to the character or goes along with their storyline (such as bringing Anna chocolates or Captain Jack Sparrow some treasure pieces!).
Have Your Autograph Book Ready
Character attendants are often there to help remind you about having your autograph book ready, but if you’re visiting Disneyland (which often has walkaround characters) then this might not be the case.
After all, nothing says awkward like trying to have a conversation with a character while trying to dig through your backpack to find your autograph book, which has somehow dropped into the deepest section of your backpack. Instead, get your autograph book out and ready at least a few minutes before it’s your turn to meet the character. Even better, turn to the page you’d like the character to sign to make the process even faster and easier for them.
(Don’t let your backpack stress you out during your Disney trip. Check out my post on How to Choose and Pack the Perfect Disney Backpack!)
Use a Clickable Sharpie (and have Different Color Options for Them to Choose From!)
After visiting the Disney parks so many times throughout my life, I always praise the existence of clickable Sharpie markers when meeting Disney characters. Clickable Sharpies make the autograph process so much simpler, especially when the characters don’t have to worry about taking off/putting on the cap.
Ready to step up your game? Consider bringing Sharpie markers in a variety of colors for characters to choose from. (Yes, they come in clickable versions, too!) It’s so much fun to see which color each character will choose to sign their autograph in and is a great talking point during your Disney character interaction.
Create a Story About an Ongoing Event/Event Outfit (if applicable)
The Disney Parks hold a variety of festivals and special events throughout the year, including the Food & Wine Festival, the Flower & Garden Festival, and the Halloween parties. During these events, characters will often wear special outfits or there may even be rare characters that don’t appear at any other time of the year, such as Cruella de Ville.
If you happen to attend one of these events, don’t be afraid to “make up a story” that goes along with the event when talking to the character. For example, when Daisy meets in her baker costume during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, you may want to talk to her about her baking skills, favorite recipes, and maybe even challenge her to a baking contest.
Also, don’t be afraid to go into an elaborate conversation, even if the character can’t talk back directly (they do have to save their voice for their many shows, you know); the character attendant can help translate if you have a hard time understanding their gestures!
Use the “Set” and Props to Your Advantage
Some Disney characters will meet on a “set” that is specifically designed for their character meet-and-greets, such as Olaf’s beach in Hollywood Studios. Don’t be afraid to use the set and its props to your advantage during your Disney character interaction.
For example, Olaf’s set features plenty of beach gear, including sunscreen, a beach ball, some sunglasses, and lemonade! You could ask Olaf plenty of questions around these props, such as if he’s been putting on enough sunscreen or if he’ll be challenging Elsa and Anna to a game of beach volleyball later.
If the character isn’t meeting on a set, don’t be afraid to use your own “props” as talking points. A common one is the free “I’m Celebrating” buttons that can be customized to your celebration.
Pre-Plan Your Pose with the Character
Thanks to the above tips, you’re sure to have a great character interaction, but don’t forget to snap a photo before leaving! Planning a pose with the character can offer some amazing photo memories, such as a “fish face” with Ariel or pretending to faint at the sight of Gaston. The characters will be happy to help plan the perfect pose with you, which is so much more fun than just the simple “smile at the camera” photo!
Final Thoughts on Disney Character Interactions
Interacting with Disney characters is a ton of fun, especially since you there’s a completely different interaction every time! By following these tips, you’re sure to get a ton of great interactions during your Disney vacation, plus plenty of stories to tell friends and family back home.
Have a great Disney character interaction story you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!