One of the toughest questions you’ll ever get asked by a child about Disney will be, “Are the characters real?’ I’m sure you remember the first time you asked a parent this question and maybe one day it will be a younger sibling or your own child asking you.
People will have different opinions on whether or not to be “honest” about this. Having worked in the Magic Kingdom and having been asked many questions along these lines, I would say preserve the magic above all.
Even as adults, many guests you talk to will say they choose to believe the magic. I have seen people of all ages cry when they meet Mickey Mouse for the first, fourth, or four-hundredth time. It’s not always about what’s actually going on, but about how it makes you feel.
People can have so many memories tied up in their Disney experience that visiting their favorite character truly does make them feel like a kid again. Because of this, it’s important to let the children fall into the story and stay there for as long as they choose, even if it’s their entire lives.
The questions may seem tough because you know the “real” answer, but a deep breath and some logic are all it takes to get through them. First and foremost, follow the story…it gives you all the inspiration you need!
Rides are down because Stitch is up to no good. It’s hot because Elsa is away visiting Arendelle.
As a former cast-member, I’ve had some exposure to some really, really good answers and for the sake of the magic I would love to share them.
On how characters appear at different spots so quickly:
Q: “How did Mickey get in that parade? We just met him at breakfast!”
A: “Well we got here too, didn’t we? So why couldn’t he?”
“He uses all of the holes he has hidden to get to different spots quickly! He is a mouse after all!”
On the absence of conversation:
This will be less of an issue in the coming years considering you can now meet talking Mickey at Town Square Theater, but here’s a few for the time being and for the rest of the gang.
Q: “Why doesn’t Mickey talk?”
A: “Mickey wants to meet as many friends as possible, so he doesn’t have time to talk to every one if he’s going to make it to all of the parades and shows.”
“Mickey and his friends are playing the silent game, and he already beat all the princesses!”
“Mickey doesn’t speak all the languages, and he doesn’t want other kids to feel bad if he can’t speak to them but can speak to others.”
“Mickey doesn’t think he needs to talk to communicate with you.”
Never say a character can’t talk because he is ill!! Character attendants will be quick to remind you that characters do not get sick!
On Tinkerbell’s guide wire for her flight during Wishes:
Q: “Tinker Bell is attached to a wire, she can’t fly!”
A: “That’s a guide so that she doesn’t lose her way. It’s hard to tell where to land when the lights on the buildings and the lights from the cameras all look the same.”
On zippers and flaps noticed on a character costume:
Only the most observant kids will catch this, they’re hidden pretty well.
Q: “Why does Mickey have a zipper on him?”
A: “You have a zipper on your clothes don’t you, so why wouldn’t he?”
If worse comes to worst, ask your little princess/pirate to keep their findings to themselves. If there’s anything worse than having your child figure out the bigger picture on their own, it’s having your child told by someone else’s.
How about you? Do you remember asking if the characters are “real” and what response you heard? What clever answer did you provide if asked by someone? Let me know in the comments below!
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