Back in the day, and at Disneyland still today, you could be caught rubbing elbows on the street with all your favorite Disney characters as you made your way around Walt Disney World. These meetups took place randomly on your way to the next attraction, perhaps. Today at WDW, character meet and greets ARE an attraction. You can even get FastPasses for them. Having said that, today, I want to talk about why character meet and greets just aren’t my thing.
As a child, I remember the excitement it would bring me to meet Mickey Mouse or a big, tall, towering Goofy walking around the parks. They would stop and spend a few minutes with you making you feel like the only kid in the world as they gave you their undivided attention. I love seeing videos of these impromptu meet ups today from a nostalgic standpoint. My favorite is to see little kids meeting the character they are dressed up as for that day in the park. If you’ve seen these, you know what I mean. I know this sometimes happens today, but it’s just not like it use to be.
I have mentioned this before — we are all different and we all have different motivations for vacations. For us, our Disney vacations are typically attraction and food motivated. When it comes to character meet and greets, time is too precious for us to waste. We would rather stand in line for Space or Splash Mountain than meet a Disney character. It’s nothing against these characters; it’s just not our thing. We would rather spend that time elsewhere to fit our priorities.
If you’ve ever met me or have known me for a little while, you would know I am not the biggest fan of awkward silence. I will fill the silence in the room with spoon playing and humming if I have to. It’s an issue, I know, but I’m working on it. As an adult, a character meet and greet is one big awkward silence to me. I’m very interactive and if I feel like I have to keep the conversation going while one person plays charades — it becomes exhausting. I am a people-pleaser to the max (recovering) and I even start feeling super awkward when characters come by our table. I really just want to take a pic and then to send them on their way but I feel as if I need to keep it going (I don’t know why). I also don’t like knowing if it’s really a girl or guy under that costume that I’m talking to (don’t let your kids read this). Guys, this is just how my introverted extroverted personality plays out.
I have to admit, I love seeing the characters at character dining, but I would be ok if they skipped over us. I think it’s cool to see them in different costumes and to see the joy others experience from seeing them, but I would love to remain an innocent bystander. I know that sounds terrible and you’re probably like “Beth, what has gotten into you?” but in my old age, I guess I’m getting grumpy.
We typically go to places like Tusker House and Hollywood and Vine because we love the variety of food there. Don’t get me wrong, I love the themes, decor, and costumes, but usually, I am thinking about the rides and big attractions following those meals. Well, that and eating. I am not a huge fan of the constant up and down of getting pics and playing charades with characters while I’m trying to eat. Food is just more of a top priority for me (I AM every person in a Snickers commercial who gets hangry). When I’m eating, I want to eat and share conversation with my people. Sometimes the characters can get in the way of that and wear me out (so sorry safari Minnie and Donald).
Now that you totally hate my guts, hear me out. I remember loving characters as a child and I know how much joy and glee it can bring others who meet with their favorite celebrities face to face. For some, it’s the big show. All other things fade in comparison to meeting that one character in person for the first time and getting their autograph. For some it’s Justin Bieber, for others, it’s Winnie the Pooh (to each their own). I would never say that characters need to go away or not be a part of the parks, I would say they are the cornerstones of the parks. What I am simply saying is that it’s just not a priority for me at this time in my life. Things can ALWAYS change, right?
It does make me a little sad that it’s not how it used to be with nonchalant meetups on the sidewalk, but I get it. I understand the growing popularity of characters would never be able to allow that today and it does make for better photos, theming, and personal touch to have designated areas and times. I think we all long for a simpler time now and then, and that’s ok. If character meet and greets are your bread and butter, I salute you. I would still love to be friends and I’m interested to know who your favorites are and why.
If you’re looking for more information on how to maximize your character meet and greet game, check out Rad Disney Dad’s tips HERE!
Special thanks to Nicole Ellington and Rad Disney Dad for the use of their photos!