Tips from a Cast Member: How to Get the Best Character Interactions

As parents, there is often a lot of pressure to make every moment on our Disney trips PERFECT! That means we accidentally mess up a lot. I know I’m guilty of forcing things that my family just didn’t feel. However, learn from experience that the best experiences are those that just flow naturally.

The photos below for example: Totally random and unplanned. We visited Port Orleans French Quarter and ducked in to escape the rain. Who should appear if not the Queen of the Bayou herself! My son was excited and exclaimed, “TIANA!” My instinct was to tell him to ahh because we were inside waiting our turn to see her. Tiana had other ideas. She approached him and asked if he wanted to go for a walk. They strolled through the lobby and watched the rain together and had a nice chat. My insistence on doing things “right” would have missed all of that.

Photo credit: Jill Bivins

With that in mind, here are some tips for the best possible character interactions from Sarah Daniels, a former cast member who is “friends” with an impressive number of Disney celebrities, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Alice, Ariel and young Elsa!

Let your kids take the lead

Daniels: If you send your kids up to meet a character, let them go up. Let them have that interaction. Don’t blurt out and interrupt. Let them take their time and become friends with the character. Don’t overdo the interaction because you want them to say certain things. Let the kids take control of the interaction because the characters will do the work. You don’t have to do the work.

It’s okay if they’re scared

Daniels: If your child is scared, don’t push them towards the characters. If they cry and scream, don’t make them hug them or say anything or do anything. Just let her be scared. Attach them to the outside of the photo. Perhaps stand next to the character and then outward, but don’t push them forward. It’s terrible. It’s traumatic for the kids.

Capture honest moments

Daniels: When it comes to taking pictures of the kids, don’t just take pictures of the smiling, posing ones. Take photos of the children looking at and (and) interacting with the characters. There is always a PhotoPass photographer with characters. listen to them They know how to take the best shots (and) how to get the best moments.

Interactions with Disney Characters

Photo credit: Jill Bivins

Don’t focus so much on autographs

Daniels: That’s one thing that drives people crazy as characters. Kids just walk up to her and hold the book in front of her face, and that immediately slows down the interaction. Of course, have your books ready. Maybe a parent or sibling can have the books, but make sure you get that interaction so they can actually have a moment and the character can tell the story. You can bring them into your world instead of just signing a piece of paper and saying, “OK, bye.”

Bring a clickable Sharpie

Daniels: When getting character autographs, always bring a clickable Sharpie. Clickable Sharpies are the best. Characters will try harder signing your books. Period. For example, if you bring a small mini-golf pen or a small felt-tip pen, they will be pissed. The autograph will look terrible. They wear huge gloves. you bring in [big] Sharpie, and I’ll say, “All right, let’s go.” I’ll give you the best autograph you’ve ever seen.

Ask for consent

Daniels: Always make sure to ask for approval before doing things. Don’t just kiss a character on the cheek. That’s weird. These are germs. Don’t just go straight into a hug. If they stretch out their arms, yes, of course, but if you’re an older adult and want a hug, it’s nice to just ask.

Drop clues when you see the same character again

Daniels: If you met Belle yesterday and you meet Belle again, it’s nice to say, “Hi Belle. It’s nice to see you. We only saw you yesterday at breakfast, remember?” And then Belle can say, “Yeah, sure. It totally happened.” It’s probably a different person, but it’s good that they can connect those experiences.

Basic manners go a long way

Daniels: Please and Thank You goes a long way with characters. All of my best interactions have come from people who have been kind. I can remember (the) names of kids I met 15 years ago because they were literally nice.

Basic hygiene also counts

Daniels: If you’re at a restaurant or even just outside at the park, always clean your kids before sending them to the princesses. Children will have chocolate on their hands or chocolate on their face and they will come and put their head on you and then you will be covered in chocolate and then you will have to change your clothes and then you will get in trouble even though you haven’t done anything

Don’t destroy the magic

Daniels: I think people don’t realize that the people in the costumes want to be there. You are really happy to be there. A lot of people will come and say, “Oh, it must be hot in there,” and just (make) stupid comments. You don’t have to say that. Just have the interaction, (and) have a good time.

There you have it, straight from the source. For your next Walt Disney World trip, try these tips for the best character interactions!

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