Monday, January 4, 2010

Disney Characters 101

Foolin Around

To me, a day at Disney without seeing their world-class Atmosphere Characters representative of movies, cartoon shorts, and other media of their respective company is like forgoing the Eucharist in a Sunday Mass. At one trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios, I saw four characters and they are from Pixar films to boot. No stand-by queue experience on Toy Story Midway Mania is complete without seeing another building with a window showing the action figures Buzz Lightyear and Woody, only they are much bigger and more mobile and animated. That's what I like seeing in those childhood figures being brought to life by Disney magic.

There are two types of Characters - face and fur. Face characters bear less burdens and are forgiving; they have their own faces dolled up in just makeup and wear less restricting (but hot in some cases) garments. Examples of them include the girls' fan favorite Disney Princesses, like Mulan and the more recent Tiana. Fur Characters are Disney's beasts of burden - they wear costumes mostly weighing 25 pounds or more, wear a mask or helmet fashioned after the Character portrayed, and suffer the Florida heat longer. As personal experience has it, not all fur Characters are anthropomorphic animals (like Piglet) - while Woody, Buzz, and Russell are humanoid in a cartoonish way by Pixar, they are still classified as such since they have to depict themselves in character by wearing helmets fashioned after their noggins. Unlike face characters, they tend to intimidate young children at first sight, and the video shows how overwhelming a child's first glance at them can be.


Child: Hi, Eeyore!
(Child in stool screams)

So, where are the Disney Characters located? They can be seen in scheduled greeting spots, in places designated specifically for them on set locations, select meals (reservations strongly suggested), parades, stage shows, and somewhere unexpected in the Parks and Resorts not marked by the glove signs. Characters relevant to the attraction (or in Epcot's case, World Showcase pavillion) can be seen in nearby areas, like the area adjacent to Pooh's Playful Spot across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh himself meets. If you want to see a member of the newer crowd or somebody long not seen, check out Guest Relations and a Cast Member would pinpoint the character's whereabouts for you.

When they are in full force, remove the caps from the pens, open the autograph books and turn the cameras on! Better yet, be nice to them - I heard from some news sources that fur characters suffer more injuries than their face counterparts. (The incident when Tigger practiced his cross-jab on a teen is a great example.) With my insights about Characters all said and done, I wish you a happy hunting for your favorite Disney peeps!

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