Most parents and grandparents planning a Disney vacation dream of the moment when the kids will meet a favorite Disney character for the first time. Unfortunately, sometimes those first meetings are less than magical. Imagine being four years old and seeing a giant version of your favorite stuffed animal coming at you! Lots of kids are scared of the characters, but there are ways to ease them into the idea.
How you introduce a shy child to the idea of larger than life characters can make a big difference. Start off small with a parade, a stage show, or a greeting that is still distanced. (Winnie the Pooh at Epcot comes to mind.) If there is some distance, the child will feel less pressure.
Many families have more luck with characters and shy children if they book a character meal. The characters will take their cue from the children and interact as little or as much as necessary. Eating dinner will keep the kids busy as well. It’s much easier on them than standing in a line.
Some children find face characters easier to interact with. The simple fact that they can hold a conversation with a face character makes them feel more at ease. Then again, if the child is very shy he or she might not want to talk to a face character (or anyone for that matter). You know your child the best.
You might want to stay away from villains if there are any out and about. Villains will stay in character, which can be scary for any young one, even if the child isn’t shy.
Finally, never force the kids to give a hug to a character if they don’t want to. I know that we all want that perfect picture, but telling kids that they “have” to hug Mickey could send the wrong message. You want the child’s trip to be special to him or her, and forcing an unwanted hug could be traumatic. Mickey will understand.