He might talk in Disney’s theme park shows and parades, but when it comes to one-on-one meetings with guests, Mickey Mouse – like most park mascots – has been mute for years. Not any more!
But now visitors to Disney’s Magic Kingdom can go behind the curtain in the Town Square Theater to meet “everyone’s favourite mouse” – and hear him speak back! Dressed in his finest magician duds, Mickey greets guests in his rehearsal room while posing for photos, signing autographs and dishing out hugs – as seen in the video below.
Video courtesy Orlando Attractions Magazine
But should park mascots speak, or does it spoil the magic? Park World asked both a fellow park operator and a costumer character supplier for their views.
“Disney understands that, despite doing the simple things better than anyone else, they are also challenged today with delivering to a more sophisticated and technology-savvy customer base,” notes Simon Foulkes of UK mascot manufacturer and character events company Rainbow Productions. “We have also had to rise to the challenge of installing voice boxes, talkback features, GPS locators and moving facial features into mascots to satisfy the demand that our clients pass on to us from their own guests”.
“Here at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, we plan to have our mascots continue to communicate non-verbally,” says Matt Eckert of the park in Santa Claus, Indiana. “This helps create a bit of mystery and encourages the youngsters to use their imaginations. Plus children who do not yet have a large vocabulary can feel comfortable connecting with a friendly high-five, a wave or a hug. And although we don’t consider him to be a mascot, Santa Claus is always available for a nice chat at Holiday World too.