First and foremost, invest in the Disney Photopass service. For Walt Disney World there is a dicounted price if you purchase the disk before you travel. Don't purchase it too far in advance, though. I normally purchase it a couple of weeks before our trip so that it does not expire before I can see the photos. Even better, if you decide there aren't enough photos you want you can get a refund. Disneyland does not offer a preorder special - in fact, you can't preorder it at all - but it is considerably cheaper to purchase (presumably because there are two parks, not four + 2 water parks). This is helpful because you can have the photopass photographers take as many photos as you'd like and you can look at them online - ALL FOR FREE - before deciding to purchase and you aren't the one holding the camera! You can also have them take a few for you on your own camera, but note that some photopass photogs are just as amatuer as the people they are taking pics for and may not take the best photos with your camera. For more information and tips on photopass I recommend the Stitch Kingdom guide.
Once you've figured out the Photopass system - use it. It's so much easier to interact and capture the moments when you're in the moment and the photopass guys are there to make it happen, but don't be disappointed if you don't see a photorapher with the character you are meeting. Each character has a "friend" or "handler" who deals with the organization of the lines and will be more than willing to snap a photo or two. If you are like me and have a DSLR camera - make sure to have it in full point and shoot mode, and have the camera zoomed out as much as possible - trust me, most Cast Members really don't know much about cameras and feel overwhelmed when they look at my rig. Always make sure to ask for them to take multiple photos and to feel free to snap the interactions as well as the posed cheesey smile. Photopass photographers are supposed to already know to do this, but it never hurts to give them permission to do so.
|It's ALWAYS Erin's fault!|
Familiarizing yourself with the Characters also helps the children recognize them in the parks which may help with the anxiety of meeting them. Some children have no problems going up to the characters right off the bat. Others are super shy or even terrified of them. It should be up to the child, and not the adult, to decide if the child will meet any of the characters. Some things that help are if the child sees some of the adults in the group getting silly and having fun with the characters. One of the best places for this comfortable spontaneous interaction is through a character meal. The characters each visit the tables at least once, and if you spend enough time and it's not too crowded (go at an off time during the day, or during the off season) you can get them to return to your table several times. The shy members of your group will have a better chance of seeing the characters up close and at their leisure. We used this method and got great results with my neice in Feb. This is a great way to start your trip as it gets the kiddos ready to meet the characters while touring the parks, and it's overall less overwhelming.
|Haille scratches Pluto's nose. That's Disney Magic.|
The final big tip I can give is - research and figure out who, when and where the characters will be out. If you're like I am, you'll plan your day around rides and characters. Be flexible, most characters come out several times a day. If you can't make one meet up, or the line is too long, try again a little later. Ask a cast member if any special "non scheduled" characters will be out and about. This is normally how princes, secondary characters, and villians are found. If a character is getting set to take a break - don't leave the line. Minnie only needs about five minutes to check on her apple pie that she has baking in the back. Some people in line will leave when she does, so your wait time will be less if you just stick it out. So be paitent and know when and where to be. And don't feel bad meeting the same characters more than once. Each interaction will most likely be different and so much fun!
The main ingredient to a positive and magical interaction is you. The Characters feed off of what you bring to the meeting. If you're all business you'll most likely only get the standard picture. If you don't seem willing to play games, they won't push the issue for fear of offending or wasting your time. If you're just into collecting character pictures, then please move right along, but if you're into the fun photos and memories that last far longer than your trip then take a risk, look a little silly and have fun! Happy snapping!
Want more tips/tricks/ideas? Let me know in a comment or email! I'd be happy to point you towards the magic.
This was originally posted on Thoughts by Tonichelle.