Character meet and greets may be frightening for some children

Bringing the kids to Walt Disney World for the first time? No matter how well you know your children, you may be surprised during your first visit to a theme park to find there are some seemingly random things that will leave them frightened and confused. Even if the kids make it past a height requirement or their usual bedtime, some aspects of a theme park visit may not sit so well with them.

Meeting characters

Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

Image: Disney

One of the most common childhood fears that many parents are not prepared for is the fear of meeting characters. Parents often wait for their children to be whatever they consider to be the perfect age so they can bring the family down to the parks to meet Mickey himself. Unfortunately, Mickey probably appears much larger than the kids would have expected, and some kids just aren’t ready for this kind of interaction. It is understandable why some kids may be frightened by character meet and greets. A child who knows Mickey from some of his Disney Junior shows probably wouldn’t expect him to be larger than life in person.

Goofy and Pluto

The most important thing for parents to know in case this does happen is to not force their children into any kind of uncomfortable situation when it comes to meet and greets if they seem frightened. While some families let small children walk towards the characters and interact with them on their own, this may not be the best method for a child who is thrown by the size of the character. If you sense a bit of apprehension, try picking up the child and holding him or her for a photo, or at least holding their hands. If you sense a meltdown ensuing and you need to get out of there quick, never fear—Mickey and his friends, along with character attendants have plenty of experience in dealing with this, so no one will be offended or phased.


Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Image: Disney

Children being afraid of the dark may seem like an obvious point to be making, however there is actually more darkness in a theme park than you may realize. Space Mountain for instance, may be obviously dark, but some first-time guests do not realize that an attraction like the Peoplemover spends some time in the dark as well. Even some standard Fantasyland attractions, like the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh spend some time in the dark (and Heffalumps and Woozles can definitely be frightening for some kids!)

The easiest way to handle this problem is obviously to just avoid those attractions. But sometimes it isn’t that simple. You may have a child who begs to go on a certain attraction regardless of the dark moments. Use your best judgment when deciding if the attraction will be too spooky for the kids, and if they need reassurance in some cases just know in advance that this may happen at an unexpected time.


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