“I went to the Nick and Judy meet and greet at California Adventure and meeting Nick made me like him even more. When I was next in line to meet them, I was going in for a hug but Nick instead grabbed my hand and kissed it and gave me many more kisses after that. He honestly made my day. I ain’t no furry but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a giddy school girl.”
As a Character Attendant, I’ve seen my fair share of awful meet-and-greets, as well as a ton of “Magical Moments.” But Alice can’t ride the Teacups with EVERY family, so how are you supposed to guarantee those special memories on your Disney vacation? Well, there’s not foolproof way to do it, but if you follow these suggestions, you’ll find that your interactions with characters becomes a lot more memorable and fun for you and the character!
1. Have a Conversation Piece
I can not tell you how many times I have had to watch a character interaction between a princess and a little girl where the little girl does not say a word. That leaves the princess with very few options when it comes to conversation starting. Most of the time, it revolves around what the little girl is wearing: Florals? Punzie can TALK about flowers. Tiara? Cindy will ask the girl who her fairy godmother is. Ice queen dress? “Queen Elsa! I wasn’t expecting you today!” It is magical for the little girls, but to the princesses, the story is stale. So this is where you spice it up.
a. Wear something loud
It may be a band t-shirt, a character t-shirt, a flower crown, or just your favorite outfit. If you’re rocking it, they’ll likely turn it into a conversation piece. Jasmine may ask you a few questions about this One Direction that these five four boys are headed in, or Buzz Lightyear may have some deep hidden love for the Ninja Turtles (true story). If you look like the Tremaines or Sleeping Beauty’s Fairies, then the characters are going to say something about it. It gives them a chance to talk about new things, and often times, they have fun with it.
b. Bring something to give them
This usually works better with little kids, but I’ve seen it done with older kids too. Bringing a drawing you did or a small gift is a fun way for the characters to gush about YOUR skill or YOUR taste. It’s also really fun for the characters to have something to look forward to eating/enjoying/putting on their wall when they head back to Neverland, Wonderland, Arendelle, or the Enchanted Forest.
I once was with Cinderella in the castle and this little girl gave Cindy a music box. Cindy opened the music box an found a smooth, blue stone. She took it out and said, “Oh how lovely!” Then looks at the little girl and says, “Is this a magical wishing rock?” Confused, the little girl looks at Cindy and says, “No. It’s just a rock.” Cindy was still laughing about it all the way up to her room. The characters love gifts.
Ideas include drawings, letters, fake flowers, pins, stones, small merch, candy, etc. Just remember, if it’s worth more than $10 they have to deny it 3 times before excepting the gift.
c. Bring something to show them
This is my personal favorite. I have a book of Grimm’s Fairytales with pages that I’ve painted. Each painted page corresponds with a different princess. I love showing characters my art and then having them sign it. They talk about how talented I am (which is laughable, but I digress), and love flipping through the rest of the book for the pages that aren’t theirs. I’ve seen people do similar things with THEIR art and every time, the characters get really excited. Some will even try to commission you to paint portraits for them. I’m supposed to be painting a giant mural on the side of the castle for the Tremaines in May. We’ll see.
Another great thing I’ve seen is props. My friend once brought Yorick, the skull of the jester from Hamlet, around to meet all the princesses. It was an absolute riot and she got some great pictures. I’ve seen people do similar things with stuffed animals, tsum-tsums, dolls. I’ve seen people bring Flounder to Ariel, Pascal to Rapunzel, and Olaf to Anna and Elsa. It’s fun for the characters to interact with other friends from their stories. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing a girl who brought a frying pan with her to see Rapunzel. I have never heard Punzie squeal so loud.
d. Actually start a conversation
They may be princesses and pirates, but they’re people too. Tell them a funny thing that happened to you today. Talk to them about your favorite rides in the park. Let them know you’re planning on taking over their kingdom. They’ll have fun with any story you want to tell them.
2. “Yes, and…”
This simple rule of improv helps you get the most out of your meet and greet. You take the characters story, and add to it. I once went to see Rapunzel with my St. Patrick’s Day shirt on and we talked about her plans to go down to the Snuggly Duckling and have a St. Patty’s Day celebration with the Ruffians. I suggested green leprechaun party hats, she suggested green streamers, I told her our family tradition of dying the toilet water green and telling my sister the leprechauns had forgotten to flush, and pretty soon, we had planned the whole party.
The “Yes, And..” Rule can get you some pretty crazy pictures, too. Don’t ask me how these pictures happened. I don’t even know.
3. Get a good pose
There are three ways to do this: have one in mind, ask your attendant, or ask a character. Tell your Photopass Photographer if you want more than one pose and/or how many individuals you want. This lets them know that you’re not done after the first picture.
When thinking up your own pose, ask yourself a few questions. Is this appropriate? No lewd gestures. No gang signs. No sexually suggestive body placement. Can the character do this? Characters can’t make sorority or frat signs. They can’t pick up children (or anyone for that matter). Would the character be willing to do this? They aren’t going to lay on the ground in most cases (and Andy is not coming. Neither is Bonnie.) Some characters aren’t comfortable with kissing poses. And for Pete’s sake, Pan, Wendy, and Alice are 12. Jasmine is 15. Ariel is 16.
I went to see Woody and Buzz in Hollywood Studios the other day and my friend and I told the boys that we worked at a magical kingdom down the road and we were used to working with princesses all day. We asked them if they wouldn’t mind posing like princesses with us. The result was hilarious. Buzz channeled Rapunzel, I had a mean Aurora, my friend made a great Snow, and Woody had Cindy down pat.
Asking your characters or attendants for poses can be pretty fun. Minnie has posed my friend like a poodle, Daisy and I have gone full diva. Often the characters will have you copy their pose or have you take their arm. They know what looks good and they’ll let you know where to stand for the best pictures. just ask.
4. Go with the Flow
There is a rhythm and a flow to every meet-and-greet… and it’s no accident. Disney has a thing called Pass Show Flow and everyone tries to stick to it. The flow is typically a greeting, an activity or story, signing, and finishing with the picture. It’s really frustrating for attendants when a family spends a long time taking pictures and THEN the family takes out 8 autograph books. Photos are the last part of your meet-and-greet, so get the paperwork out of the way before hand.
And boom. Memories.
I actually had a blast looking through all these pictures, finding the ones I wanted to use for this post. It brought up a lot of memories from the last few months that I wouldn’t have had without using these tips. The most fun meet and greets I‘ve had were with friends (clearly), but I’ve had my most memorable by myself (usually with Fairy Godmother, but I’m biased). I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful in some way. or maybe you just got a kick out of my silly photos. Either way, I hope you can use these tips to make the most out of your time meeting characters at Disney.
“Dr. Facilier is my favorite villain ever and I had the opportunity to meet him twice but the rest of my party didn’t want to wait. He never meets and I thought my shot was over until I went to Disneyland in February. We were walking by the Mark Twain and it isn’t sailing because of the Star Wars Land expansion but you can still walk on it and there he was, Dr. Facilier. Nobody was there so I got to spend six minutes with him and it was the best character meet and greet I’ve ever had.”