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6 Disney Character Secrets That Keep the Magic Alive

4. Maintaining the storyline

Sadness

Every character has a clearly defined personality. Performers are given a detailed profile for their character so they know exactly how to act, whether that means adopting a sunny disposition or a menacing façade. Characters also have signature gestures and body movements. They’re trained to move, stand, and pose in very particular ways. Those that can talk must learn to mimic the character’s voice and intonation.

Characters also maintain a particular storyline. Princes and princesses obviously have an air of romance between them. Members of the Disney gang (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy) are all good friends. Face characters can speak and respond to guests’ questions, so they have to maintain their character at all times. They exist in a magical fairytale world, so they’re not acquainted with our modern devices and trends. Think of the film Enchanted and you’ll have an idea of how these characters must perceive the things around them.

5. Scheduling so they don’t overlap

Green Army Men

Disney schedules its characters very carefully to make sure that they never overlap. You won’t see Mickey handing out autographs in one building while he’s also in a parade elsewhere. Ask any Cast Member and you’ll hear time and time again that there’s only one Mickey. That Mickey may have the magic to get from one place to another very quickly, but he can never be in multiple places at once. Even if you couldn’t reasonably get from one character spot to another fast enough to catch the doubles, Disney does take into account the fact that another member of your party could be elsewhere, so they make sure their characters truly are in just one place at a time.

6. Giving Mickey the power of speech

Mickey speaking

One of the latest innovations in character technology is a new line of fur characters that can move their mouths, blink, and otherwise appear completely lifelike. You’ll see them regularly in stage shows, where everyone in “The Gang” can now mouth along to their lines and blink realistically. You may also find these characters debuting in meet and greets, though less predictably.

If you do get to meet the talking Mickey, you’ll find that he responds to what you say and do. Though his lines are clearly pre-recorded, they’re appropriate to what’s going on around him. This is accomplished through a complex combination of technology. One Cast Member reported that a camera in the meet and greet area allows Mickey’s voice operator to see and hear what’s going on, so someone in a control tower is essentially picking and choosing the mouse’s phrases. Meanwhile, the performer controls facial movements using discreet controls hidden in the gloves.

Though the technology will undoubtedly undergo many advancements and changes, this is just the latest tactic that Disney is using to keep its characters as lively and realistic as possible.

Whether you’re an avid collector of character autographs, or you shy away from getting close and personal with the living version of your favorite cartoons, there’s no denying that Disney puts an impressive amount of work into keeping their character experiences as real as possible.

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