Disney Parks are swarmed with celebrities, from world-famous mice to royalty. Most of them have scheduled times you meet them, get their autograph and take tons of pictures with them. But what do you do when you notice a celebrity in the Parks that isn’t on the Times Guide?
It may have happened to you. You’re waiting patiently in line for one of Disney’s great attractions when you realize that you vaguely recognize a person standing behind you. And then it hits you: You don’t actually know this person – you just saw him/her in the latest hit movie! It’s so out of context, your brain needed a minute to make the connection. So, what now? Before you go over and start hounding someone famous for an autograph, stop and think before you act. Remember, they are there for the same reason you are: to enjoy a Disney vacation with their family; they’re not walking the red carpet to promote their celebrity status. Try to imagine how you would feel if someone came up to you and started bugging you. That’s what you might actually be doing if you gush, ask for an autograph or try to initiate a conversation with someone who is actually a total stranger.
Recently, I had the great fortune of sharing the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train experience with Hugh Jackman and his family. It took me a couple of moments to realize why this man was familiar. Once the wheels in my brain made the connection, I was faced with a decision: what do I do, now? Leap across the row of seats between us to smother him in kisses? Whip out my camera and act like a one-woman crazed paparazzi? Shriek in girlish delight? As much as this handsome, Tony-hosting, adamantium-claw-sporting Aussie causes me to swoon, I kept my cool. Before the ride swooped us into world of the dwarves’ mine, Hugh turned around and made eye-contact. I smiled and nodded, a silent admission that I recognized him, and he returned my courtesy with his own stomach-flipping grin. After enjoying the attraction together, we exited the ride vehicle. I could’ve asked for a photo, an autograph, a hug, but as I saw him with his family, I knew the last I’d want to do is disrupt his time with his daughters and wife. I smiled at him one last time and he smiled back and I walked away (immediately texting everyone I knew!). It was a special memory for me, and I like to think that by not making a spectacle, I helped him have a special memory, too.
Here is a guideline of some do’s and don’ts for when you might encounter celebrities on a Disney vacation.
- Do maintain composure. Yes, they may be as charming in person as they are on screen, but keep it together, and hold your inner screaming fan in check.
- Do be courteous and conscientious of their privacy. This can be especially true when they’re with their families.
- Do make small talk. If you run into a celebrity at the valet stand, bar, or in line, and if it seems appropriate, you can make small talk (about the weather, the food you just ate, etc.). The trick is to only do it if it feels natural.
- Do give praise. If you have a chance to chat, it’s perfectly acceptable to let a celebrity know that you truly appreciate their work or body of work. Just don’t overdo it.
- Do take a deep breath and remember that celebrities are people, too. Most of the time they just want a moment with those they are close to.
- Don’t interrupt celebrities while they’re eating, no matter whom they are with or if they are alone.
- Don’t actively follow (i.e. stalk) a celebrity throughout the parks, and especially leave them alone if they head to the restroom!
- Don’t ask celebrities any personal questions, try to slip them a script or piece of your own work, or make negative or questioning comments about their careers or projects.
- Don’t stare – enough said.
- Don’t shout their name across a crowd to get their attention. They may be hoping for a bit of anonymity while on vacation with their family.
- Don’t take pictures or video of celebrities without their permission.
If you really must have an autograph, and the individual has indicated that they’d be willing, ask politely, for an autograph or a photo. (Don’t forget to have your own pen and paper handy, if seeking an autograph.). This situation requires common sense and discretion. Be sure that you make this request in the right moment: not during their meal and not if you are interrupting their time with their family/friends. Finally, whether or not you approach the star, remember your manners and be respectful of their privacy. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to sign autographs or pose for a picture. Say “Thanks!” when they are able to take the time to sign something for you or stand still long enough for you to snap a photo. Let them get on with their lives, as you get on with yours — and know that now you have a great memory and something cool to brag about to your friends.
So what about you? Have you had any celebrity encounters in the Disney Parks? Share your experience in the comments below!