Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Here Comes Andy!" Character Interactions

You've been waiting in line for 30 minutes, the castmember has been polite the while you wait in at the rope. 

"Where are you from?"

You state your hometown, and how you long it took you to drive or fly. And notice that they have a pin you have been looking for and offer to trade that furry thing a 6 year old traded you for for your Star Wars pin. The castmember agrees. 

Another castmember walks up to the one you are talking to and says 2 more. 

The friendly castmember drops the rope and tells you to meet another castmember, who opens the door for you. You walk into a line of about 10 people in a cozy room with some travel trunks, a make table and little odds and ends. Then you see him, the mouse himself, Mickey. 

Even though he can only talk a little bit now, the enjoyment you get from the interaction is memorable. You ask him to sign your book, and he spells his name out aloud as he writes. After posing for pictures you walk out the door, feeling on top of the world since you just met a celebrity. 

I love visiting the characters at the different parks. Bethany loves visiting the princesses, Cinderella is her favorite, while I love Sorcerer Mickey. And as adults we know that these are just actors, but they put on an amazing show. 

Over our trips, we have only had a few bad experiences with characters, and they are not even worth mentioning. And as our trips have become more frequent, we have noticed the interactions getting better. 

While I am no expert in character meet and greets, and will never claim to be, I would like to give a few pointers on how to make your experiences memorable. 

Always expect the unexpected and just roll with it
You never know how a character will act. We told Tigger that it was Beth's sister birthday and he went to the exit with us so he could get cake. Sorcerer Mickey, who is just a little taller than me in some cases, started to kneel down a little when I said that he was taller. Beth had struck up a conversation about how to capture Tinkerbell in Town Square with Aurora. We didn't expect any of this, but it sure does add to our experience, and these will be things that we always remember. 

Face Characters (non costume) know their stuff, test them.  
These characters have studied their books and movies to make sure they give the best to their guests. Ask them odd ball questions, and they will have an answer for it. It might not be the same answer every time, but they will have an answer. 

They will always stay in character. 
You can take this as a challenge, or not but they will roll with anything you do, or the crowd does. Meeting Gaston there was a baby crying, being that everything is about Gaston when you meet him, he told the baby to be quit or else. Princess Tiana asked me to join the picture with her and Beth, and asked Beth if she was a good cook, so I ask Princess Tiana if she was calling me fat, and while laughing never broke character. 

Don't feel rushed. 
Yes, Disney does like you to get in and out to move the lines along, and while you may wait in line for 20 minutes for a 5 minute interaction, it should feel natural. The face characters will always listen to what you have to say, and guide the conversation to the picture moment. 

Always record the interactions. 
You never know what a character might say or do while you or your family is interacting with a character.  You might have the next big viral video. Pooh and Tigger tried to paint the background, put signs ups, and made faces at the camera for our interaction, and it was amazing. I caught it all on video to share with family and friends. 

Have Fun
This is the most important part. Beth will always have a question to ask the characters, but 90% of the time she will forget them because of the excitement that she has to see the character we are in line to see.  If you have kids, this is the best part, they finally get to meet their hero. We love to see the faces on the children in front of us seeing that character for the first time. 

A thing to remember, not all characters are out all the time. I have constantly missed Peter and Wendy, Pinocchio, Fairy Godmother, and many more, just because we didn't know they would be out. If you see some one like that out go ahead and stand in line, because you never know when you'll see them again. 

Also, usually when something goes viral, the characters will stop doing this action. Last year we saw the "Andy's Coming" on Facebook, where the Toy Story characters would fall and rest. Since everyone was yelling this every 3 minutes, then there would be no time for pictures. There are fun things to say to different characters and get different responses, look for something original that they usually don't do.

What stories do you have of your favorite character interactions? What's a character you would like to meet?

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