How to survive a Disneyland or Disney World character meet and greet
Survive a character meet and greet? Aren’t those supposed to be fun? For most people, both adults and children, they are. It is a chance to meet their favorite characters, get autographs, interact, and have their pictures taken. But some of us (adults and children) have physical and/or cognitive issues that can easily cause our day to go from magical to maddening. Some may not like to be touched. Others may need to be the one to initiate physical contact. This can be problematic as most characters love to give hugs. And beware; if one hug could set off a meltdown or cause physical pain, there are some characters that don’t know when to stop hugging or squeezing. On a few occasions I have exited a meet and greet feeling like I had just been beaten up because the character was overly affectionate. There have been times when I chose to stand to meet a character only to come dangerously close to falling when a character has pulled me in for a hug.
However, there is a way to meet your favorite character without physical or emotional trauma. Before visiting the parks, think about how you or the person (adult or child) with the physical or cognitive sensitivities reacts to everyday greetings. Are they in constant physical pain? Do they initiate physical contact or are they okay with someone else being the initiator? Will they tolerate a quick hug but nothing more beyond that? Will a prolonged physical touch or a rough hug cause physical pain? When I am experiencing a high pain day, every touch no matter how light feels like a punch. I could feel bruised for hours or days from the gentlest of hugs. Do they have a weak immune system, could receiving a hug from a character that has already had thousands of other bodies pressed against it cause this person to become ill?
Next, write a list of what would make the meeting more magical. Keep it simple. No touching, handshake only, be gentle, one hug, etc… Depending on how many characters you or the guest with sensitivities is planning on meeting, you may want to print out the requests. This would also be beneficial if the person will be meeting characters with other party guests and not always you. Whether you print it out or not, make sure that everyone who could possibly accompany said person to a meet and greet is informed of the requests. When you arrive at the line for your chosen character, you will see that they always have a cast member with them. Some have several cast members in attendance. Be sure to inform the first one you see of your requests. They will then inform the character prior to your turn to meet the character.
By following this simple tip, you can avoid messy meltdowns and physical pain. Find out how to have a most magical Disney vacation by discovering what you should know about visiting the parks with a physical disability, chronic illness, special needs, a service dog, and more by reading my Disneyland attraction posts. Information about Disney World attractions will be coming soon as well as a tool to help handicapped guests in both parks. Visiting with a handicap of any kind can be daunting, but when you know what to expect in advance you have that much less to stress about.