Disney World was not our first Theme Park. Living in South Eastern Pennsylvania, we’ve visited Sesame Place, Dutch Wonderland, and Hershey Park. Our family has also been to two Sea Worlds (Orlando and San Antonio) and plenty of parties with characters to meet and greet. And each time had a commonality: our kids had no interest in meeting and greeting.
While for all of those trips, it didn’t really matter, for Disney World, I wanted the kids to see the characters. I wanted the pictures, the hugs, the love. I worried about my kids being scared of a giant mouse like they were Cookie Monster. I was concerned they’d shy away from Pluto instead of hugging and joking. So, I researched for ideas that would help my kids get to know the characters.
First, we saw every Disney movie our library had in stock. This kind of preparation takes time, weeks, months even. And we watched Disney’s free planning DVD the night before we left, showing other kids hugging, high-fiving, and joking around with the characters.
But the most pivotal part of their character relationship was the autograph book. Having an autograph book gave them something to do with their hands if they didn’t want to hug. And it gave the boys a purpose to their visit. You can buy Autograph books at Target and area bookstores. Amazon has plenty. Or, be simple, inexpensive, and unique and make your own.
I purchased 4×6″ spiral sketchbooks with thick covers at ACMoore (any craft store will do) and went to their scrapbooking section, where I found an entire section of Disney stickers, 40% off. I selected a few: some had Disney terms like “the happiest place on Earth” and “the place where dreams come true,” others had pictures of the popular characters. I also purchased a few sheets of Mickey ears stickers with alphabetic letters.
On the first few pages, I included stickers with the character’s stickers. There was a Mickey page, a Minnie, a Goofy, and a Donald… The covers had the kids’ names spelled with the ears stickers and a title. And the inside cover included quotes about Disney. There were about 50 blank pages.
When I gave the books to the boys, I also gave them additional stickers. The stickers made for great busy-work when awaiting meals and while on the plane (and would have been wonderful in line, had there been significant lines.)
Remember to bring a writing utensil. We found that Sharpies worked well because the characters could grip them easily. Some characters, like Buzz Lightyear, have autograph stamps.
And include a return address somewhere in your book. I didn’t get to test this, but I’ve heard that if an autograph book is found in the parks, they are often signed by all the big-shots before being mailed to your home. (I almost wanted to bring an extra book and lose it, just to test this one.)