We took my daughter for her first trip when she was 2. She was scared to death. At 3 she was a little better. At 4 you would have thought she was one of the characters too. I just think it takes time. Don't force them. Also, volunteer to go up with them and to be in the picture with them. We did this a lot and it helped. The characters can also sense when a child is timid and they tend to understand and try to work with you.
I have read people having success with one parent going up to the character and having a good ole' time with them and then asking the child if they would like to meet their friend "character". Sometimes, once the child sees that the character isn't going to hurt them and mom or dad is there with them, they will get a little more adventurous.
Some characters are scarier than the others. I mean, if you saw Brer Fox waving you over to him, would you go? Compared to Tigger, the difference is almost night and day. Brer Fox looks mean and dirty compared to bright, happy, cuddly Tigger.
phlydude  (aka Dennis)
"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse" Walter Elias Disney
I was a character for 2 years at a local amusement park. I was Garfield, Odie and Kenny the Kangaroo. It is amazing how many kids are afraid and how many parents try to force them. When I saw a kid was scared, I would play shy and cover "my" eyes. I would offer a hand and let them come to me. The parents would often come to me first and then the kids were sometimes a little better.
The problem tends to be the other kids and parents. The ones who think it is funny to step on Kenny's tail or pull Garfield's tail. Unlike Disney, we weren't so protected. Garfield's tail was buckled to our waists. Pulling the tail hurt. Stepping on Kenny's tail (it dragged on the ground) could make us fall. I got hit, punched, grabbed, etc all the time.
Oh then you get the teen girls who don't seem to understand that it is a GIRL in the costume. I was felt up so many times by teenaged girls. I actually said to one girl who was about 17...I am a girl in here. She got freaked out.
But the bright side. When taking a picture with a group of cute men...grabbing a rear end was fairly common. lol. It is cute when Kenny does it I am sure Disney would not appreciate their characters behaving so badly but then again...Kenny got to spend the day riding the rides at the park too