I’m as much of a kid as anyone and I’ve always enjoyed doing character greetings. I’ve never requested an autograph but would jump at the chance to have my photograph taken with Ariel, Belle, Sully, or other favorites as a keepsake memory from various vacations. I’ll even admit that I’ve felt a little starstruck at times when meeting face characters, not quite sure what to say or how to have a memorable interaction. With all of that being said, I’ve never voluntarily waited in a long line to meet any character.
My children – boys ages 4 and 5 – enjoy meeting characters but don’t typically ask or beg to meet them. There have been occasions when they saw a character and asked to meet them when I replied, “okay, but it’s a long line. Are you sure you want to wait?” and they would shrug and say “nah,” happily moving on to the next thing. So for the four of us, character meets have never been a huge priority. Right or wrong, that’s just the way our family rolls. We’d rather spend our time doing and experiencing than waiting in line.
Then, that one day, everything changed. We spent two separate days at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during our last trip. On our first day there, we couldn’t find the characters from Big Hero 6, Hiro Hamada and Baymax. I’d heard that they might no longer be available but I wanted to find out for myself because BH6 had quickly replaced Toy Story and Cars in my boys’ hearts. I was disappointed initially but then thrilled during our second day to discover them in the (now closed) Magic of Disney Animation building. The line looked like it might be 30 minutes long (tops) and the boys were eager to meet their heroes so we happily hopped in line.
About an hour and 55 minutes later, we were finally next in line. It was late afternoon and we were all hungry, worn out, and especially tired of waiting in line. I’ve never seen a line move so slow and felt very whiny and complain-y myself. Then, it happened. I’ll spare you the photos of the actual meeting because you can imagine what they look like. The real magic happened as we exited the building. My little 4 and 5 year old boys skipped ahead of us and spontaneously held hands and started twirling around. They talked excitedly about meeting Hiro and Baymax. We couldn’t hear them in the midst of the crowd but they had the most sincere, ear-to-ear grins on their sweet faces. My husband and I reached for each other’s hands and locked eyes, communicating without words that every second was worth the wait. Tears sprang to my eyes as the pure, uninterrupted joy of that magical moment washed over me.
THIS feeling. THIS moment. THIS is what Disney World is all about. This is the magic. Kids are only little for a short while and I will never try to discourage them from waiting in a long line to meet a character again!
Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.