For some people, the highlight of visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland is meeting the characters. Whether it’s character meals or standing on line for an autograph, little kids almost certainly believe they’re meeting “the real deal,” and even some adults will consider these meet and greets almost like meeting a celebrity.
Live Disney characters have huge reputations to upkeep, so those who are chosen to perform in those roles get extra training. This is even moreso for those who perform as a “face character” (read: a character with a human face, who you can talk to. Think Princess Tiana, Gaston, etc.).
Vox recently interviewed a woman who worked as a character at Walt Disney World for a few years. For Disney fans who are interested in “all things Disney” and the “backstage/behind-the-scenes” of Disney, it could be kind of fascinating. Take a look:
I’ll tell ya – I worked at The Disney Store back in the mid-1990s, and the training there was pretty intense. Besides all of the regular stuff you need to know for working in a retail atmosphere, there were all of the “Disney rules” we had to learn. I also took a class at a Disney convention that was, essentially, a “light” version of what they teach their cast members when they first start with the company (it’s called “Traditions”) and again, it was a LOT. So I commend this woman, and every other character out there, for everything she had to learn.
Since Joe and I live in Orlando, we know, either casually or as friends, a lot of people who either are or have been “friends with” certain characters at WDW. We’re talking Mary Poppins, the Fairy Godmother, Chip/Dale, Peter Pan, Donald Duck, the Ugly Stepsisters, Aladdin, Prince Naveen (shhh! Same person!), Winnie the Pooh, several princesses, etc. We asked some of them what guests can do to make their interaction with the characters the best it can be for all involved – here’s what they had to say:
- There’s a times guide available so you can know which characters will make an appearance where, and at what time. If the guide or attendant says a character will be back at 1pm, strongly consider being there at 12:50pm to make sure you get to meet with them.
- If a character attendant asks you to do something, it’s not because we’re trying to make your life miserable; its almost always to make your interaction easier or better.
- When it’s your turn to meet with a character, please have your autograph books open to the page you want to be signed, make sure your pen works, and that your camera is ready.
- If you collect autographs: For characters who have big, puffy hands (think Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, etc.), Sharpies or larger pens work best. If it’s a character wear regular gloves or no gloves at all, thin point Sharpies or regular sharpies are the best and make the prettiest signatures. Long-handled wand-looking pens are not the best for character autographs.
- Please don’t try to ‘stump the princess’ with some barely known bit of trivia. But if there’s a legitimate question (Cinderella, do you have a favorite mouse friend? Belle, is Beast a good dancer?) then PLEASE feel free to ask! We always want to talk about more than what pretty shoes you’re wearing.
- Dads and Grandpas, don’t be creepy. Especially with Ariel/Jasmine (they usually have the least amount of clothes on), who are supposed to be 16-year-old girls! EWW! And Moms/Grandmas–DON’T ENCOURAGE IT! GROSS!
- DO ask for a photograph and how to stand appropriately–I had a grandpa BOW to me once and it was the most adorable thing. I then had him waltz with me, and it was delightful.
- Trust the performer and Disney photographer to be working together to get “the money shot.” It may not be perfectly posed, smiling at the camera shot. Still, both the photographer and the performer know how to work to position themselves/children to have a fantastic interaction–and the most magical photographs tend to be hugs/conversations, not big cheesy grins.
- The more you play along and are happy to be there, the better the interaction you will always have.
- Grovel to the Tremaines (the Ugly Stepsisters). Always. Trust me. You’ll have way more fun than if you try to tell them they’re ugly and mean. Everyone does that (Note from Sharon: When the CM told me that, I literally LOLed).
*** Feature photo (cropped): Loren Javier/Flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary