For many families and little ones, meeting a “real life” character at Disney World can be a highlight of a trip. After all, for a three year old, a chance to see and hug Mickey Mouse is kinda like meeting a rock star.

However, not all kids are ready to just walk up to a five foot tall mouse without a little preparation.

Here are four easy ways to prepare your children for meeting characters at Disney World

1 – Determine Who They Like

Long before you leave for your Disney World vacation, you might want to get an understanding of what Disney characters your child likes. A great way to do this is to watch videos or Disney shows at home. Do they laugh and smile when Mickey Mouse comes on? Are villains a bit too much for them to handle quite yet?  A little preparation can help you make much better plans for your time at Disney World.

2 – Do A Trial Run At Home

Look for a local entertainment establishment or restaurant near your home that has walk around characters. While the Chuck E Cheese mascot is no Mickey Mouse, having your child meet a life-sized character near home will give you a good idea for how well they might react when they are at Disney World. After all, you don’t want your kid’s first experience with a Disney Character to be a nightmare that will ruin your vacation.

Some Disney Characters may be too scary for little ones.

Some Disney Characters may be too scary for little ones.

3 – Watch A Parade

All of the parades at Disney World include life sized Disney characters. Before you stand in a line somewhere to meet a character one-on-one, watch a parade, and again, observe how your child reacts when seeing the characters from afar. Are there some characters they particularly like? Are they frightened by some? This is all good information to use when planning which meet and greets to wait around for and which ones to avoid altogether.

4 – Be Prepared

Finally, you know which characters your kids like, which to avoid, and how they might react. It’s time to get in line (or get a FastPass+) to spend some quality time with a character one-on-one.

Explain to your child what will happen, and how they should act. A gentle hug and a polite request for an autograph are great ways to start. Be prepared with an autograph book and pen. Make sure your camera is ready, and have your Photopass card or Magic Band ready if you want a Disney photographer to capture the moment.

If things go really well, and your child is enamored with meeting characters, you might consider attending a Disney Character Dining event as your next step.

Have Fun

Above all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your child regarding meeting characters. Some kids may not be quite ready for it. Other kids may want to spend every minute of your vacation meeting characters.  Remember, that there are lots of fun things to do beyond meeting characters.

Stay calm, keep a balanced approach, and do your best to have fun. After all, you are on vacation too.

Do you or your kids like to meet Disney characters?