Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting the Most "Character" from Your Character Dining Experiences with Little Ones

This article was orginally published in my Making Magical Memories column in the WDW Daily News newsletter in August of 2013.

Experiencing several character meals every trip is a tradition for our family.  Over the years, we have tried almost each and every one Walt Disney World has to offer.  We have also learned a few ways to make the most of our character interactions at each of the meals.  I would like to take credit for these, but in all honesty, most of these ideas my children came up with unbeknownst to me!

Princess Aurora and Hayley were discussing how
Flora,Fauna and Merryweather gave Hayley's dress
a bow, which they did not add to Aurora's
1. It’s All in the Clothes:  Every trip, I buy the kids new Disney t-shirts.  I organize them by park and/or character meal (and for safety coordinate by color so they are all in one color and easy to spot).  My kids wear shirts of the characters we plan to see.  For example, last trip at Cape May Café, we knew we would see Minnie Mouse.  My mom, my girls and myself all wore our Minnie Mouse shirts, and Minnie made quite the big deal about it when she saw us!  For our Chef Mickey dinner, Joey wore a Mickey shirt and the girls wore another Minnie Mouse shirt (which were also perfect for heading to the Magic Kingdom after we ate).  Having the characters see themselves on the clothes we are wearing is always fun, especially if you are wearing a Buzz Lightyear shirt at a Woody and Buzz character meet and greet or a Mickey Mouse shirt when meeting Donald Duck!  Of course, wearing princess dresses always gives my girls a little extra attention too!

I think Pluto was having as much fun with Joey's
Pluto racer as Joey was!
2. Sharing Favorite Toys:  In 2011, as we all packed our own carry ons for the plane, I noticed Joey’s backpack was particularly heavy.  He told me that he was bringing all his Disney racers, so he could show them to his “friends” at Chef Mickey’s. This turned out to be one of the best character interactions. Mickey, Pluto and Donald all came to the table and played with the racers with Joey.  Pluto even let Joey race the Pluto car off his nose!  Having these little cars along with us gave us several extra minutes with each of the characters, as well as some really fun photos and special memories.  Plus, we found that if you bring a stuffed animal, Pluto will use it like a dog toy – remember my previous article about Hayley, Pluto and Hayley’s stuffed Stitch?

Since my hard drive crashed, I don't have a photo of
Hayley with Stitch, so here is a fun one of us from
Pete's Silly Sideshow
3. Bringing Original Artwork:  My daughter, Hayley, is always drawing. Our refrigerator is completely covered with her masterpieces.  During one trip, her carry on was filled with pictures she had made.  I asked her why she was bringing them with her.  She had made a picture for EVERY character she thought she would see.  We brought them to all the character meals and in the parks.  Each and every character made a big deal about her pictures.  She got lots of big hugs and the characters made a big deal of showing her drawings to all the cast members around.  It was certainly special and absolutely made Hayley smile ear to ear each time she handed out one of her original masterpieces.  Hayley was especially impressed with where Stitch “stored” his photo!  I won’t give it away, but if you have breakfast with Stitch at ‘Ohana’s bring him a picture and see what he does with it!

It has been fun over the years to find ways to bring a little extra magic to our character interactions.  From the Fab 5 to the princesses to everyone else in between, we have created some very magical memories over the years that are usually the things our children remember the most.  So next time you are in Disney, see what fun you can have with the characters!


Lisa Cameron said...

Great tips! I totally agree with #1. I do the same thing. Our daughter had a great conversation with Belle because she was wearing a Belle headband.

Beth D. said...

So cute! My daughters are already planning out which princess dresses they are bringing for our next trip and we haven't even set dates yet. :-) But my son once wore a Buzz sweatshirt when meeting Woody and it was a great moment for all of us.

Heidi Strawser said...

What great ideas, Beth! That is so sweet that Hayley took them pictures. :)

Beth D. said...

They were personalized too! She is so sweet and thoughtful when it comes to things like that. She brought about 40 pictures and came home with less than 10.

JenniferLissak said...

I love this!!

Beth D. said...

Sometimes, I feel like it is such a rushed "pose-smile-take a picture" that it goes by too quickly. This has actually created some great moments that have become some of our most cherished memories!

DisneyDonnaKay said...

I love the picture of Hayley and Aurora!! Bringing original artwork is a great idea, I will have to remember that one when I get to go with Lexi and Tripp.

Beth D. said...

She made most of her pictures here at home, but it was also a fun activity for her on the plane!