When I was four years old, I got to go to Walt Disney World in Florida for the first time. While riding “It’s a Small World” and Dumbo were highly remembered, the highlight bar none of the trip was the meet and greets with the Disney character mascots. It was amazing as a young child to see these animated people on a screen come to life, showing a new dimension of animation in a life-like form.
Looking back on my trips that followed to Walt Disney World, none seemed to capture the awe and imagination of the first. To this day, I remember having my autograph book in hand waiting in long lines to get autographs from such characters as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Chip and Dale. While I do think that past and future generations still get some of the same excitement of Disney as I did, I believe my-age generation got more, growing up with characters from “The Disney Renaissance.” The ability to see such idols as Ariel, Simba, Belle, and Aladdin really gave a connection from the silver screen to real life.
Call it great marketing or child-like wishes, but Disney as always for me exceeded the mark on capturing the dreams of every young child. I still have my autograph book today and treasure it as much as I did then. To me, the autograph of a Disney character equals that of an athlete or movie star; the ability to meet, shake hands, or get a hug from a childhood idol is priceless.
What are your thoughts? Did any of you get to travel down to Orlando (or Anaheim) to meet Disney characters? Or did you have another moment in your childhood when you met someone you idolized?