Alright, it is time to be unapologetically honest for a minute about Character experiences at Disney Theme Parks.
Whether they appear as “fur characters” (ie Mickey, Donald, Goofy), or “face characters” (i.e. Peter Pan, and the Disney Princesses), Disney Parks Character Performers provide a crucial part of Disney Magic in bringing everybody’s favorite Disney characters to life. Every parent knows and every grown-up fan remembers how a child’s face lights up when he or she sees that favorite character in person for the first time!
Walt Disney World’s opportunities for Disney Character Meet and Greets and other experiences are scattered across Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, from Princess Fairytale Hall and the Town Square Theater to Animation Courtyard and Star Wars Launch Bay. Whether it is character dining or staged meet and greets, Disney Character experiences are technically open to everyone, but that does not mean that everyone should be partaking in those experiences. Specifically, fully grown men. This is not an absolute opinion. But, 90% of the time, seeing a grown man waiting in line by himself to talk and take pictures with a character–especially Ariel or some other Disney Princess–is just plain weird and kind of creepy.
Despite the fact that I am a grown man who is unapologetically a Disney Fanatic, and I am well aware that places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World were made for the child inside every visitor, I know that the character meet and greets are not for me. They are for the actual children and the princesses who visit the Parks at every age.
I stand by the belief that there are only a few reasons why Guests should find grown men in line to meet Disney characters. Here they are:
The Man is a Father/Uncle/Cousin Taking Kids to Meet Their Favorite Princess
It’s all for the kids, right? And any man who would stand in line for hours just so his kids, nieces and nephews, or little cousins can say hi to their favorite Princess or other Disney Character is supposed to be a special kind of everyday hero. He doesn’t want to wait 200 minutes to say hi to a woman dressed as Queen Elsa or Princess Anna, but he’s going to because that’s how his kids want to spend their Disney day. But even if he wants to do it, you can’t help but stop and ask “why?” and I would argue it’s wrong to take the time away from the kids, even if the man is a perfect gentleman. As a new uncle and Godfather, I can’t wait until the day my nephews are old enough to have a Disney day with me and I will more than gladly take them to see all of their favorite characters.
But unfortunately, creepy grown men have found ways to exploit this excuse to go as far as to assault the Cast Members, so who knows how long this family-focused excuse will last.
The Man is Doing it for/with His Girlfriend or Wife
Disney created the standard for the modern fairytale love story, right? So what woman doesn’t want to feel like they’re a Disney princess in the Magic Kingdom with their true love, let alone show off their true love to their favorite Disney characters? In these cases, men become multifunctional. They are not just the Prince Charming, but they are also the proverbial Kristoff, and Sven, stuck holding the purses and bags and getting worthy pictures on her smartphone. It is a noble role and it can actually be an entertaining experience. Oftentimes, too, a Disney World character meet and greet will pair Disney couples together, so the princes can bro out while their princesses have their girl talk. There is a romantic sense of achievement that only rewards men for their effort.
It’s Mickey Mouse, or His Favorite/Most Similar Character
You’re at Disney. Everyone should unapologetically be able to go visit The Mouse. Just don’t be one of the idiots that does everything he can to get the poor Cast Member to break character or break the costume. Give Mickey a hug, take your picture, and maintain the immersion. Nowadays, too, it seems that guys are likened to particular Disney Characters more than ever and cling to a favorite. In my case, my favorite character is Donald Duck, and I am most likened to either Aladdin or Flynn. So, keep up the brand, especially for social media.
Character Dining, Free-Roaming Characters, Challenging Gaston, and Other Exceptions
There are of course other exceptions to the idea that grown men should completely remove character meet and greets from their Disney Park experience. Character dining experiences at Walt Disney World Resort, for example, offer some of the best dining options on the property. Disney Bloggers, Influences, and other variants of Insiders need to get footage of quality Character interactions. Gaston is always up for a pushup challenge from any man who thinks he can best him, and many areas have free-roaming characters who will walk right up to you where you are the weird one if you don’t play along. It can be good fun to dare one of the boys to go up and take a picture with a Disney Princess, and if you are gay, then go vibe with your fellow royals, queen.
But why would a guy do any of this alone? I am not saying that solo Disney trips are bad, but there are some things that were not meant to be done alone, like enjoying a character dining experience. And why do people insist on not keeping the interactions family-friendly?
Among all of the Guest behavior stories we have covered over the past few years, character performer harassment and even sexual assault, have been a constant theme, and yes that is starting to include coming from women as well. The Character Performers reportedly even get training on how to turn down marriage proposals from grown adults. Perhaps, it is only the Princesses that should be off-limits to childless adults, and a list of child-accompanied offenders needs to be created at the very least. But, regarding Disney Character experiences in general, it is probably best just to leave it to the kids. Don’t make it weird.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.