As my family’s next Disney trip approaches, we’re wrapping up a special assignment – Walt Disney World Character Boot Camp. It’s a highly successful, kid-friendly (no push-ups), mother approved program that I highly recommend for your family before your next trip to Disney World. My children are both graduates of the program and will earn their training certificate again before our next trip.
Since you’ve asked, (well, since you’re still reading), I’ll give you the two simple planning steps, the program, and then the method behind the madness.
Character Boot Camp Planning
Planning Step 1 – Take inventory of Disney movies available at home. Research and make note of available titles from your local library or video rental store.
Planning Step 2 – Note which Disney movies you must watch before getting to Walt Disney World and create a schedule of movie watching for your family. Pay special attention to any movies with characters you’ll be meeting at character meals that you have booked.
Character Boot Camp Program
The plan is simple – watch as many Disney movies as possible before heading to Walt Disney World. Be prepared with popcorn and other snacks.
Behind the Madness
Boot camp for our family begins months before our trips for one main reason. There are so many characters to see at Walt Disney World and I know my children will get more out of it if they know them by name and movie. So, starting over the summer when life wasn’t as hectic (yeah, right) we started watching all the Disney movies I have collected through the years. Then we hit the library and grabbed titles we didn’t have at home.
Here’s the insane list of movies we have watched this year, with notes next to some about why they are especially important to us or any attractions where we’ll see the characters. And, of course, they’ll get the chance to meet many of these characters:
- 101 Dalmations (animated and live action) – one of the themed areas of the All Star Movies resort
- A Bug’s Life – check out It’s Tough to be a Bug in Animal Kingdom
- Aladdin – ride the Magic Carpets of Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom. You can meet Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom and in Morocco at Epcot as well.
- Alice in Wonderland – ride the Mad Tea Party (MK) and meet Alice and friends by this attraction or at 1900 Park Fare.
- Beauty and the Beast – check out Beauty and the Beast, Live on Stage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Meet Belle in Epcot at Akershus in Norway and in France, or at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom.
- Cars and Cars 2 – a great section at Art of Animation. Meet the cars at Hollywood Studios.
- Cinderella – we’re having dinner with the Cinderella crew at 1900 Park Fare. You can also meet her, her stepmother and stepsisters in the Magic Kingdom.
- Finding Nemo – another section at Art of Animation and The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot.
- The Incredibles- meet the Incredibles in Hollywood Studios.
- James and the Giant Peach – I don’t think you can meet them, but it did get my kids eating peaches!
- Jungle Book – meet King Louie at Animal Kingdom.
- Lady and the Tramp – Tony’s Town Square restaurant (MK)
- Lilo and Stitch – Meet them at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. Stitch greets guests in Tomorrowland and at Hollywood Studios as well.
- Lion King and Lion King 1½ – we’re staying in the Lion King section of Art of Animation. There is also the Festival of the Lion King show in Animal Kingdom.
- The Little Mermaid – another section at Art of Animation and Voyage of the Little Mermaid showing Hollywood Studios. Ariel greets guests at Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table and in the Magic Kingdom.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – we’ll meet them at breakfast at the Crystal Palace. See then on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction in the Magic Kingdom or meet them in all of the parks except Hollywood Studios.
- Mary Poppins – you can meet her and at 1900 Park Fare, in the United Kingdom at Epcot and in the Magic Kingdom.
- Monsters, Inc – we love the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Meet the guys in Hollywood Studios.
- Mulan – meet her in China at Epcot.
- The Muppets – see them in Muppet Vision 3Dat Hollywood Studios.
- Peter Pan – ride Peter Pan’s Flight and meet him in the Magic Kingdom.
- Pocahontas – meet her in the Animal Kingdom.
- Princess and the Frog – meet Tiana and Prince Naveen in the Magic Kingdom.
- Ratatoullie – we’re having dinner in France with Remy and friends
- Robin Hood
- Sleeping Beauty- she can be met at Akershus and Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Snow White greets guests at Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table and in the Magic Kingdom. You can meet the dwarfs at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
- Tangled – meet Rapunzel in the Magic Kingdom
- The Nightmare before Christmas
- The Three Caballeros – we love them in the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexican pavilion in Epcot!
- Toy Story (all of them) – ride Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios) and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (MK). It is also one of the themed areas of the All Star Movies resort. You can meet Buzz in Tomorrowland and at Hollwood Studios, where he greets guests with Woody.
Keep in mind, character greeting locations often change. This information is accurate as of October 2012.
Now, I promise I did let my kids out of the house this summer. We watched a lot of movies towards the end of our very busy days. The kids loved picking a new movie to watch. And, as an added bonus, my children also learned the answer to the very valuable question, “What is a VCR?”.
I’d say our boot camp was a success! Now, boot camp for Mom and Dad is slightly different. For me, it meant months interviewing shoes for our trip, researching touring plans and creating a seemingly endless packing list…