In all my years of traveling to Disney World, there has been one activity that I have not actively and openly participated in. Character meet and greets have always been something that I experienced at dining locations only, but never went out of my way to find them in the parks. My focus has always been on the rides and attractions.
So, what made my recent trip different for me? Well, I asked my husband if we should bring autograph books this time (we hadn’t done so for the first 3 trips with my first son). His response was a simple one. He said, “if we don’t do it now, then there will come a day he won’t want to do it, so let’s do it before he doesn’t want to anymore and we miss out on those memories”. You can’t argue with that logic, right?
With that, I bought autograph books and we proceeded to get 32 character signatures and pictures to enjoy throughout the trip. It was great to see other characters than we would have normally met at the restaurants and the interaction with them was wonderful.
All the character dining I have ever done has been with non-face characters. This time, we met a lot of face characters and my fear of not knowing what to say to them to make small talk was instantly gone after our first meeting. They were amazing!! They held conversations with my 5 year old and my 2 year old sons and truly engaged them where I thought it would be awkward silence. Although my son was not overly excited about meeting Disney princesses, afterward, he said he had a great time.
My favorite was Aladdin and my oldest son’s interaction. My son JUST woke up from a nap after waiting in the hot sun in line for 45 minutes. Needless to say, he is not the brightest of spirits after being awoke from any slumber. When it was our turn, Aladdin tried to engage with him, but with no luck. My son walked away with a scowl and crossed arms. As my husband, 2 year old and I talked with Jasmine, Aladdin had a private conversation with my oldest who proceeded to tell him he did not want to meet any princesses. Aladdin was as cool as ever. He promised my son a “boys” pic only. He got my two year old and him together for the picture and as as the photographer took the picture, Aladdin secretly motioned for Jasmine to get in the picture and sure enough we have BOTH of them in the picture. Any parent with a cranky sleepy child knows that type of interaction is worth its weight in gold.
I never doubted the ability or fun the Disney Characters would bring to my day, but I never made it “my thing” on our Disney trips. Since this was a trip of trying new things for us, I was so happy to be pleasantly surprised on how much the character interactions added to my day and my memories.
There is one thing I would have changed to make the character meet and greets interactions a little better. I would have made the advance purchase of the Memory Maker. I am a mom that takes a lot of pictures with my own camera and so I never saw the added value to having the picture package (especially since in the past the character meet and greets were not on my list of must dos). Mid-trip, I realized how much easier and less work the character meet and greets would have been had I not had to worry about having the autograph books ready, getting the camera ready, and ensuring I got every shot that I wanted…the memory maker would have let me fully enjoy the interaction from start to finish with no hassle in between….just pure smiles, conversation, and a couple of autographs.
I am so happy I opened myself up to a new fun aspect of the Disney experience. Meet and greets were definitely fun and I realize that they are NOT just for smaller kids and that they can really enhance your day overall! So definitely consider adding this to your touring plan if you have not already done so and strongly consider the value that can come out of having the memory maker that will enhance your experience with the characters. Remember, those memory maker photographers are not only at character meet and greets, but are throughout the park for you to take family photos to capture your memories!