Meeting the Characters

At Disneyworld, they have, for those people whose wives are sufficiently driven to successfully get reservations, so-called “character meals” where various Disney characters will come around, right to each table in turn.  They’ll take pictures with you, sign autograph books, chat a little with the children (and adults), the whole bit.  We actually did four of these things.  A princess breakfast (five princesses), Winnie the Pooh breakfast (Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet), Cinderella’s Royal Table (five princesses, but not quite the same five; Jasmine instead of Ariel, if memory serves), and the supercalifragibreakfast (Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice, and the Mad Hatter).

There is much about Disneyworld that is impressive, but foremost in my mind is the quality of the characters. Costumes, makeup, voice, conversational style, diction, what my actor friend Joe would call intent, it’s all very well done. When Datura told Jasmine that her brother was “a grabber”, Jasmine, not missing a beat, told Datura that her friend Abuwas a grabber too.You’d never look at one of the princesses and think anything other than “princess”.  It is a normal child’s dream, I think, to meet the characters of the stories you love, to talk to them.  This is as close as a child could ever come.

I’m not sure how clearly this comes across in the pictures we took, since I was there when they were taken and I can’t see the pictures with the eyes of one who wasn’t, but Datura was evidently thrilled to meet the princesses.  Datura loves the princesses.  More surprising, both of the children liked Pooh and friends.  (I suspected my daughter was too old and my son was too young, but I was wrong on both counts.)

This trip also enabled me to fulfill a childhood dream (which I had sorta forgotten I used to have) of meeting the Mad Hatter.  (Relevant facts: I have dressed up as the Hatter for Halloween, and I happen to know that some of my students have called me The Mad Hatter behind my back.)  This guy was good.  He had the voice (Disney cartoon version) nailed down (which I think I need to learn myself), and when he posed for pictures he would shout something helpful like “Everybody say bacon!” or “Everybody say tea party!”  (I did take advantage of the opportunity…after the picture with the kids, I got a separate picture of me “having a serious conversation” with the Hatter, which I will have in my office.)

More memorable for me than the Hatter, hard to believe as that may be, was Alice.  She was damned unsettling.  Oh, the blue dress and blonde hair and all was exactly what you’d expect, but her voice sounded distant and, in a word, mad.  Her greeting to me was to look quizzically at my cap (a baseball cap from my Bar Harbor honeymoon, not my trademark deerstalker) and ask “Are you keeping your birthday cake in there so you can eat it later?” No one had mentioned birthday cake.  More unsettling yet was when, after she greeted Datura, she asked about Gabriel, whom she called our “little oyster”.  She asked if he knew the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter, “which is a very important lesson for every little oyster to know, don’t you think?”

Do you remember the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter? It’s a messed up story, and it give me the jibblies. When that scene in the Natalie Gregory version of the movie comes around, I sometimes leave the room.

*shudder*

Anyway, nice job, Disney cast members.  Way to thoroughly impress my children.  (And skeeve me out.)

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