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Are you hesitant to take your kids to Disney World because they are afraid of meeting the characters in real life? Do you worry that the whole experience will traumatize your child? Well, worry no more! These smart tips can help your kids overcome a fear of characters, so you can all have a fun trip!
When my niece was little, she was terrified of mascots or characters of any kind. I worried about how she would react on her first trip to Disney World. To my surprise, not only did she not freak out, but she actually overcame her fear on that trip! Many of these tips helped her, and I know they will help your kids too!
- Tip #1: Don’t push them.
- Tip #2: Talk about it.
- Tip #3: Start with a favorite character.
- Tip #4: Start with a face character.
- Tip #5: Be the middle man.
- Tip #6: Show some excitement.
- Tip #7: Take a photo without your child.
- Tip #8: Let them size up a character without attention.
- Tip #9: Offer a reward.
- Tip #10: Give them some space.
- Tip #11: Skip the characters all together.
Tip #1: Don’t push them.
The biggest key to helping your kids overcome a fear of characters is to not push them. Instead, let them move at their own pace.
If you push your kids to interact with the characters before they are ready, it will probably backfire on you. The better approach is to allow them decide how close to get and how much to interact with the characters.
Don’t rush them. Instead, let them adjust to and become comfortable with the characters in their own time. Just because they are scared of the characters on the first day of your trip, doesn’t mean they will still be scared on your last day. They may just need a little time to warm up.
Tip #2: Talk about it.
If you know your child is scared of meeting the characters, talk to them about it prior to your trip. Ask them why they are scared, and listen to their concerns. Address any fears that you can.
Also, take the time to explain to them what to expect when meeting the characters. Talk about how big they are and that most of them don’t talk. Tell your child that the characters won’t hurt them or try to scare them.
The more your kid knows about meeting the characters before they get to Disney World, the less anxious they will hopefully be.
Tip #3: Start with a favorite character.
Another way to help your child overcome a fear of the characters at Disney World is to take them to meet one of their favorite characters first.
Sometimes, the excitement of getting to meet a beloved character can be enough to conquer the fear.
Tip #4: Start with a face character.
There are two types of characters at Disney World: those with oversized heads, similar to college mascots, and face characters. These characters don’t wear anything over their faces. They also have the ability to talk to you and your child.
Because face characters don’t have the big heads, they look more like a regular person. Sometimes, this makes them less intimidating to children. And because they can talk, they can make your child feel more at ease during the meet and greet.
Gaston, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, Alice, and most of the princesses are all face characters.
Tip #5: Be the middle man.
Many times, it’s not that kids are scared of the characters, but it’s that they are just intimidated by their extra large size.
If this is the case with your child, putting yourself between them and the character during photos can be enough to help them overcome a fear of characters.
Tip #6: Show some excitement.
It’s no secret that kids, especially younger ones, take their cues on what to do and how to feel from their parents.
So, to help your kids overcome a fear of characters at Disney World, show them that you are excited to meet the characters. If they see you are not scared and are having fun, they are more likely to follow suit.
Tip #7: Take a photo without your child.
Another tip to help your kids overcome a fear of characters while at Disney World is to take a photo with the character without your child.
This will show your child that there is no reason to be scared of the characters. Plus, it can make your kid feel like they are being left out of the fun, which can motivate them to want to jump in the photo too. And once they join in the fun once, they will forget about being scared.
Tip #8: Let them size up a character without attention.
Once of the best tips for helping kids overcome a fear of characters is to give them a chance to check out a character without attracting the character’s attention.
This tip helped my niece more than anything else. During a character meal on the first night of our trip, she was able to get a close up look at Donald Duck from behind while he was interacting with another family. It let her see that there was nothing to worry about.
You can give your kids the chance to size up a character without being the center of their attention by letting them watch the character interact with others from a distance, letting them walk behind a character during a character meal or by letting other members of your family meet the character first.
Tip #9: Offer a reward.
If your child’s fear of characters is really bad, consider offering them a reward for taking a photo with a character. This may be the motivation they need to get past this fear. And once they realize that meeting the characters isn’t scary, they can have fun during the rest of your trip meeting other characters.
Tip #10: Give them some space.
Another way to help your kids tackle their fears of the characters is by simply giving them the space they need. Don’t try to push them to get closer to the characters than they want.
If they want to stand on the other side of the room, let them. If they are ok with standing next to a character, but don’t want to be touched, that’s ok too.
Tip #11: Skip the characters all together.
Lastly, if nothing else works, then just skip meeting the characters all together. It may be that your child just isn’t ready to get up close with them. They may prefer to just wave at the characters from afar. And that’s ok if that is what they are comfortable doing.
It may be that they need another year or two of growing before they overcome this fear.
Meeting the characters and getting photos with them is a favorite activity at Disney World for children. Yet, some kids are scared of the characters once they see them in person. These tips can help your child overcome a fear of characters during your trip. Good luck!
For help planning your trip to Disney World, see my step by step guide, the best resources for planning your trip, quick tips for Disney trips, packing tips for Disney trips, and advice for first timers. To book your trip, visit Disney World’s website.