Oct 26, 2010

Meet and Greet Mickey Is Going Interactive Vocal!

If you've been to a Disney park with a preschooler, you've probably waited in line for your child to meet a Disney character. The live characters like Snow White obviously can talk and interact with the kids. But the costumed characters like Mickey or Goofy have no voice or mouth movement, which limits their interaction.

But that's about to change. Disney recently announced that they are testing a groundbreaking Mickey Mouse meet-and-greet character that talks to visitors while posing for photos.

According to Walt Disney Imagineering officials, the talking Mickey Mouse has been greeting visitors during unannounced and intermittent “play tests” in his cartoon-style house in Toontown.

After nearly 55 years of mute costumed characters at the theme park, it’s jaw dropping and off-putting to see Mickey’s eyes blink and mouth move as he greets visitors by name. A cast of eye-blinking, mouth-moving characters, including Goofy and Minnie Mouse, also recently made an appearance during the “Dream Along with Mickey” stage show at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

Imagineering officials said if the tests prove successful, the new talking meet-and-greet characters will probably show up in Disney parks in a few years.

As usual, Disney is leading the way by creating new ways to interactively connect with kids. This new breakthrough will take the meet and greet interaction to a whole new level and give kids an experience they will never forget.

Below are videos of the "play tests." As I watched them, I thought about these questions.

  • Do I have an interactive "themed character" for our kidmin? Kids love themed characters...especially 3rd grade and down. Every kid in America knows Mickey (unless their family lives in a cave). I may not have the budget of Disney (who does), but I can purchase character costumes fairly cheap online. A themed character can be a connection point for kids to our ministry...a familiar friend that welcomes them.
  • How interactive is the experience I provide kids? The era of passive learning and entertainment is quickly fading. Interactive has been proven to be more effective. Kids connect and learn best by doing more than watching, talking more than listening, touching more than sitting, and creating more than following shoved down directions. How can we make our kidsmin experience more interactive? Do we need to change our teaching style...listen more than we talk...ask more questions instead of giving all the answers? Are kids hearing "share what you think" more than "ssssshhhhh?"
  • Is our current structure limiting our ability to be more interactive? No one has provided more excellent interaction than Disney. But as you will see in the video...they are never willing to settle into a rut. They continue to analyze, watch kid's reactions, tweak, invent, and change anything and everything necessary to be more effective at connecting with kids. What changes do we need to make to become more interactive?
    We just ordered a new, interactive tool for our kidmin. Little Mountain Productions has just introduced new, interactive, digital puppets. You can see them here. When kids walk in they will be greeted by a puppet on screen. It will interact with them on a personal level. Even engage them in real time conversation. We are excited to see how kids will respond.

    So back to the new Disney meet and greet talking characters. Watch the videos below. Be inspired. Dream about new ways you can provide an interactive experience. The new interaction doesn't have to have a Disney budget to be effective. It might be as simple as a costume that leaves room for a person's face or a hand held puppet.

    Let's take a cue from Disney...let's go vocal...let's go more interactive.

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    Posted by Dale Hudson

    1 comments:

    A mascot! That's a great idea for our Children's Ministry!!

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