Disney Character meet and greet with Princess Tiana on the Mark Twain

Character Meet and Greets BACK at Disney Resorts!

The moment every Disney fan has been waiting for.. Character meet and greets are coming back to the Disney Parks!

This has been news many have long awaited since the Parks reopened after COVID. Many even believed that these more personal, one-on-one moments would never be brought back. But Disney has just announced that these special interactions will be coming back April 18! It seems that this change will happen at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Aulani, and their Disney Cruise line.

How is this any different from what they have already offered guests?

Many character interactions from the last year or so have been socially distanced. This didn’t allow guests to give hugs or have more personalized interactions with these characters. But the ropes are dropping, the hugs are coming back, and no longer will guests have to shout at their favorite characters to try to have a conversation with them!

But I thought this was only going to be available for Galactic Starcruiser?

Galactic Starcruiser is Walt Disney World’s new immersive Star Wars hotel experience. In this experience, guests were able to interact with the onboard characters without masks from either the guest or the character. Many Disney fans were furious as this was a change that hadn’t made its way into the Park. Because of that, many believed that Disney’s money-grabbing ways were getting the best of them. News circled fast that the only way to get a character hug now was to spend $6,000 to be a part of this experience.

But now with this news we are learning that the magic of normalcy will be coming back to the Parks for ALL Disney loving park-goers. mark your calendars because this change is coming 4/18!

What are your thoughts on this big change? Leave a comment!

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Oga’s Cantina – How to Make a Reservation? And Is It Worth It?

With Galaxy’s Edge still blowing everyone’s Jedi robes right off their back, there is still one thing lots of people haven’t done. And no it’s not building a droid or a lightsaber. It’s something far more affordable than those experiences.

It’s going to Oga’s Cantina.

After Galaxy’s Edge opened to the public, many people were extremely confused about how they were able to gain entry into this bar. I think the confusion lies in the fact that before Galaxy’s Edge opened to the public, you could only gain entry into this land by making a reservation. Now with this immersive Star Wars area fully open to the public, I think some people thought that reservations were no longer needed. Well, they were half right – you don’t need a reservation to get into Galaxy’s Edge anymore, but you still need a reservation to get into Oga’s Cantina.

If you plan on visiting Galaxy’s Edge, I highly recommend making a reservation because this is one of the most affordable experiences in Batuu. I used to be under the impression that you could only make reservations two weeks out from when you plan on being there. But in fact, you can make your reservation up to 60 days before your travel date!

To do so, you will need a few things, and this will be the easiest way to make the reservation and be reminded of it in one setting. First you will need a Disney account and the Disneyland App.

Once you have logged in, press the (+) button and go to the option for Reserve Dining. From there you will have to select how many people are in your party, select the day, select if you want  Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner options or select a more specific time, and look at the times available for ALL Dining experiences.

More easily though, you can also scroll over to Galaxy’s Edge on the park map, change the setting from Attractions to Dining, and from there simply click Oga’s Cantina on the map and begin planning your reservation time.

Again, you will select your party size, select the day you want to make the reservation for, and select a time slot. As mentioned before, I have found it easier by choosing a more general option first because then it will give you a number of time options under that time period.

Make sure at least one person in your party is over the age of 14, and anyone drinking alcohol will need to be 21+ (they card everyone!). But not to worry because there are non-alcoholic options as well as a few snacks to eat too. From there it will ask you to have a credit card on file. It does not cost any money to make the reservation, but you will be charged $10 a person for those who do not show up for the reservation.

It is VERY important that everyone you are reserving for shows up on time – especially the person who is holding the reservation. To check in for your time, you can show up 15 minutes prior to your reservation time by waiting in the line outside. It’s a big line – you can’t miss it. From there, one of the cast members will check you and your party in. Make sure you have your photo ID ready! They may also ask for the credit card you used to make the reservation as another verification. However, once you are checked in this does not mean you get to go in yet. You will have to wait in this line until you get to the front to go in. So even if your reservation time is 6:15 and show up at 6:00 to get checked in, you still may not get in until 6:20. But while you are standing in line, they give you a menu to look at which is very helpful!

On busy days, you will probably wait in this line for about 15-20 minutes. But when I went on a weekday, I was in the Cantina in about 5 minutes. Not to mention, the group in front of me was able to get in without a reservation! So this is not to say that you 100% cannot get in without a reservation – on slow days they do take walk-ups.

Oga’s Cantina has a strict 45 minute experience time limit and a two drink maximum. That 45 minutes starts when a cast member leads you to your sitting/standing area. When I went with my boyfriend, we were in the standing room right on the bar top.  We barely had enough room for the two of us to stand next to each other and our backpacks were on top of our feet. However the day I came on a weekday, there was a lot more space to move – still busy but less crowded overall. Be prepared to know what you want to order before you get in there because you don’t want to waste your time trying to decide what you want!

Overall, I hope this little guide helps you plan your own reservation! I promise you will have a great time in there!

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Can I Get Yo’ Autograph?

If you were like me, then as a kid your mom or dad bought you a Disney autograph book so that whenever you went on your family vacations, you could go find your favorite characters and get them to sign your book!

I still have my original autograph book and honestly I am so thankful for my parents for getting me this, but the downside is that I don’t remember a single time meeting any of these characters that I have autographs from. Maybe I was too little to remember or something, but I have all of these autographs that don’t really mean anything to me because I have no memory of how I got it.

So a couple of months ago, I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to create new memories of getting autographs, but I wanted to make it extra special. Now before I talk about my experience, I want to put a disclaimer that this was not my idea, but at the same time I have no idea who actually gave me the idea. I’m not sure if I heard this idea from a friend of a friend, or if I read about someone else doing this on Pinterest or Instagram. But overall, I am putting this out there now that this wasn’t my original idea – but I wish it was because I had an incredible time!

We all know that Disney is for kids and adults {and childless millennials} alike. But more often than not, it is definitely more catered to the younglings running around and that’s okay! While people, like me, go to the park to casually ride rides and wear themed outfits to go take cute Instagram pictures, little girls and boys are getting dressed up as their favorite characters and role models and experiencing their own dash of magic. I feel my absolute best when my makeup looks just right, my hair is having a great day, and the lighting is perfectly lit. And those kids are doing the same thing as me – but are they feeling the same things as me?

As adults, we have learned to compliment one another because we know how much it might mean to someone else or how it could possibly brighten their day. Kids on the other hand, tend to be a little more shy when it comes to verbalizing their feelings. But I think we also all know just how much excitement kids get out of a big kid complimenting them or paying attention to them. They are overjoyed by it!

And that was my mission. To make sure that those kids, who spent so much time and effort into making themselves feel so good about how they looked knew that someone other than their family was noticing.

So what did I do?

Well for starters, for the low investment cost of $9.99 (before my AP discount), I bought a Pixar Autograph Book. Autograph books do range in price depending on if you get one that comes with a pen or with slots to put pictures in, but I just got the most basic one for this purpose. They can also be found at most any store or merchandise booth – I for instance bought one in the Mad Hatter boutique that is across from the Tea Cup ride in Fantasyland. If you don’t already have a pen, you can definitely buy one with it! But I had already brought a pen in with me.

Pixar Autograph Book for Disneyland

Next step – time to make the magic happen!

The task is simple: find a child dressed in her or his favorite character costume and ask them to sign your autograph book!

There are SO many little girls wandering the parks dressed as all sorts of princesses, and they look incredible! They look absolutely magical! They are glowing with excitement because THEY ARE ARIEL! They are Belle! They are Moana! And they spent so much time getting dressed up, driving anxiously to get to the park, and then waiting in line to walk down Main Street USA. They deserve to be recognized and complimented for just how stunning they look today.

The first princess I happened upon was a beautiful girl dressed as Rapunzel, and to be honest, I was a little nervous. What if going up to kids that I don’t know is weird? Are they going to run away from me? Will I get suspicious looks from parents? But regardless I walked over to her.

“Excuse me, princess? Hi, can I get your autograph please?”

The look on her face was priceless. She looked as though she couldn’t believe I was asking for her autograph. For HER autograph! And her parents or guardians couldn’t believe it either. While she was signing my book and I was complimenting her on her dress, I could tell they were taking pictures of the encounter in the background. After she signed my book, I thanked her and asked if I could get a picture with her and she agreed. Look at her face!

Donna from Brand By You asking a beautiful girl dressed as Rapunzel for her autograph.

Now, not every princess I asked was as responsive as the one above. While I was taking pictures by It’s A Small World, I noticed another girl dressed as Queen Elsa. Since she was looking at some merchandise with her parents I decided to get on her eye level.

“Queen Elsa? Hi! Wow you look amazing. Can you sign my autograph book?”

Immediately I hear her mom go “Oh my gosh, honey isn’t that so sweet?”. But poor Queen Elsa froze (pun not intended, but appreciated anyway haha). She was shocked I asked her, no words came out of her mouth, and she quickly hid her face in her dad’s legs. Her mom quickly explained to me that she was shy but was just so thrilled that I even asked her that she didn’t know what to do. I tried to ease her into it, but it was clear that she was not confident enough to sign my book. I thanked her regardless, gave her another compliment on how great she looked, and stood back up. Her parents both thanked me and decided to take their queen on the next adventure.

Afterwards, my friend Ashley and I then left to move on with our day to go get some lunch. As we were heading out of the park, low and behold, I see Belle! And no, not Disney Princess Belle, but another stunning girl in a Belle dress. So again I stopped in the middle of the walkway.

“Oh my goodness, you look amazing Princess Belle! Do you mind signing my autograph book for me?”

She looked over at the adults she was with and then back at me, and took the pen from me to write her name down. She was also just so entirely happy that I stopped her on her own day at the park to give her a compliment. And again, the adults in the background were taking our picture. I loved the fact that I wasn’t just possibly making this girl’s day, but also the adults in the group too.

Donna from Brand By You asking a somewhat shy girl Queen Elsa for her autograph.

I’m not a mother or an aunt or anything close to such so I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to facilitate a successful Disney day with kids who might be cranky or fussy or just like to explore a little more than they should. These parents or guardians also really only have one thing on their mind – to make sure that their little one is having the best time ever. Because when they are having a good time, then everything about that day is flawless. So although initially this was supposed to be about the kids, I could tell that it was also becoming about those parents who spent the time, the money, and most importantly the energy to make sure that day was as magical as possible.

I also know that this encounter specifically sparked a lot of attention on a Facebook group! The guardian of this specific princess actually found Brand By You’s business Facebook page (before I made the switch to this website, I was blogging under my small shop’s page) and commented on a photo I had posted of myself that day at the park with a picture she had taken of me getting my autograph book signed and asked if it was me! She then proceeded to leave me this incredible comment.

Now she didn’t have to go out of her way to leave this comment or to even try to find me, but she did. And that just proves that this simple thing you can do for someone is so much more than what you think you may be doing. Yes you are spending your own money for the sake of someone else, but that’s the point. I didn’t buy this autograph book for me to get Disney characters to sign it. I bought it to give a smile to a kid who deserved to be called beautiful. I did it so I could make memories with my own autograph book that I would actually remember. And I also did it so that the kids that I did ask would hopefully have a memory to take home with them that day that wasn’t produced by a Disney employee.

I honestly hope you all can do this at least once in your lifetime because it was absolutely incredible to be a part of creating the magic at Disney. I left so many more pages empty in the book because I will be doing a day like this again! I want to be able to make some magic and this was one of the sweetest ways to do it!

All pictures were taken and used with permission from the kid’s parents or guardians.

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Donna

If you read my last blog post on my character experience with pirate lass, Redd, you know that it is my goal for 2019 to work on experiencing more of what Disney has to offer – especially when it involves the character meet and greets!

The Marvel Universe has been carefully and successfully making fans loose their minds since the release of Iron Man in 2008, and with the last major Marvel release of Infinity War in 2018, that has been ten years of my life I have dedicated to the amazing world Stan Lee created and that so many others have helped to perfect.

I have made it SUPER clear that off the record my favorite superhero is Iron Man, but on the record it’s Captain America. {Captain America even told me that his favorite Disney princess is Tony Stark!} And if you are a friend of mine, you know that I thought Spiderman was a little punk for the longest time.. But man, oh man, the new Spiderman chapters have 100% changed my opinion of the youngest superhero – that’s right Tom Holland, I’m looking at you and the ‘amazing’ work you did {and to Tobey Maguire, I hope you take offense}.

As I learned from my last character experience, it is important to have a topic of discussion going into the experience to make sure you get the most out of it. Of course that meant I had to take my new Assemble the Avengers letterman jacket on a field trip to Spiderman’s neighborhood. While I was standing in line, I was watching the other interactions people were having – some people showed him pins, little kids tried to show him their Spidey moves. Me being the dork I am, I wanted to do what the little kids were doing. But also being the grown adult I am, I was going to make sure I was going to do it right!

But first as I walked up to Spiderman, I looked up at a banner above our heads that clearly had some vandalism on it that did not seem so “friendly”.

“Did you do that”, I asked.

Spiderman looks up at the banner and says, “Oh no, never. That would just be mean. Whoever did that is just.. rude.”

Ok – I see you, Spidey! I am a huge fan of sarcasm and a good hit. Right there, I knew we were going to have a good time!

I quickly transitioned into showing him my jacket which he loved! He said he doesn’t get a lot of credit for the work he does, and quickly followed up with “But I guess it makes sense. Everyone wants to give the older fellows something to do.” That’s true, he is a more underrated superhero of the Marvel crew.

“So the reason I am here today is because I want you to teach me how to do some Spidey moves.”

“Is that so? Ok so the first thing you do is lean back on your back leg and pretty much sit on your heel. Then you put one of your hands on the ground —“

I quickly noticed that he wasn’t even going to show me how to do this himself! Instead he was literally just standing over me and pointing out what I needed to do!

“Um aren’t you supposed to be doing this with me??”, I asked accusatorially, “I just look stupid doing this by myself!”

Without missing a beat, Spiderman says “Well yea, that’s the point..”

UM WHAT?? I couldn’t help it – I busted a gut right there! That is literally exactly the type of burn I would say to one of my friends, so having a character say it to me was absolutely incredible. Putting the mask aside for a second – that employee’s job is to be a sarcastic little prick all day long!! THAT’S AWESOME!

He finally agreed to show me his best pose. But to seal the deal, I threw up some bunny ears behind his head because I wanted to end this experience on a note of childish fun. Walking away from this encounter, I was so happy. This experience alone finally tipped the scale on my feelings towards Spiderman to something that was extremely positive. I walked away knowing that I would be back for another character meet and greet with him as soon as I could.

Not to mention, I need to learn some more moves 😉

If you want to meet Spiderman the next time you are in California Adventure, click here to see where you can! I highly recommend visiting him!

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Why Does Everyone ACTUALLY Want the Redhead?

There are two type of Disney goers – those who do character meet and greets, and those that do not. I happen to fall in the “do not” category. Now before one of you avid meet and greet people start coming @ me, hear me out!!

I did not grow up spending my time at Disneyland meeting characters. Disney to me is the rides! And yes I want to experience everything Disney has to offer, but characters were just never a part of it. Now that I am 25 years old, character meet and greets to me are just….. awkward.

Here’s the unfiltered truth: YOU ARE A GROWN PERSON ACTING LIKE SOMEONE ELSE! How am I {another grown up!} supposed to look at you and act like you are ACTUALLY Cinderella?! I know you’re a fake. You know you’re a fake. But yet we both have to act like you were literally pulled out of your cartoon living room and plopped right into the middle of Fantasy Faire. Mmm I don’t buy it.

Now I’m not hating on anyone who loves character talks! This is literally just me and how I perceive my interaction with these characters. This is me looking at someone who is doing their job {and doing it extremely well} and just being curiously questionable about it. What’s even worse is trying to do these meet n greets with a non-face character. What do I mean by that? I mean the people that are put into costumes where they are not allowed to talk. How am I responsible enough to carry this conversation when they cannot talk! So if I were to do a character meet n greet, I would probably gravitate towards a face character.

And boy oh boy did I take that journey…..Enter in the Redhead.

After some exploring on Tom Sawyer’s Island {I’m sorry but I refuse to call it Pirate’s Lair – no matter how cool that name is}, I looked across the lake and who do I see but the most sought after pirate in all the land – Redd! You could tell even from a far that this lass had some sass. With her billowing skirt and her full dusky red ensemble, she looked absolutely stunning! Seeing as it is part of my 2019 resolution to try to do more experiences at Disney, I thought this would be a great first step into the character meet and greet world. There was no line, she didn’t have a cast member delegating her, and come on – it’s Redd! It seemed too perfect to pass up.

All I was thinking walking to her was “ok, so.. just act normal but also try to engage in relevant conversation.” The plus side was that I was wearing my Black Pearl Caribbean Spiced Rum tee so right there I knew I was safe to use my shirt as a conversation starter. But something else came to mind. “We wants the Redhead! We wants the Redhead!”. Well if you had seen Pirates of the Caribbean before they refurbished it, Redd was a stunning bride at the “Buy a Bride” event. Every man wanted her. But what exactly did they want? Needless to say I think we all know WHY they wanted her. But that didn’t sit right with me. “There has got to be a story behind why everyone wants her”, I thought.

There! THAT was my conversation! A backstory! A way to learn something new about a character and actually engage with them a little bit.

Of course, I broke the ice with my shirt {SCORE!}. With that ice breaker, she asked if that meant I had seen Jack Sparrow or the Black Pearl and I replied that it was in the bottle on my shirt. Being the pillaging pirate she is, she asked if she could have it. Well I wasn’t going to just hand it over that easy. So I said she could have it for the right price of course.

The price? Answer one question. Why does everyone want the Redhead? Well if you want to find out, watch what she had to say below. Enjoy 😉  

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