Random Character Meet and Greet at Walt Disney World
A magical experience for a guest of any age is the character meet and greet. The cast members really know their craft and keep to their role. They make every interaction different. It’s not just a hi/sign/photo and bye moment.
The character meet and greets are spread out across all the parks. So if you have some favourites that you or your family want to meet then a little research and planning will go a long way. You will find the big five – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto at each of the parks in different costumers relevant to the theme of that park.
The Park maps or the My Disney Experience Apps will let you know where each character can be located.
If it’s Princesses that you are after then the Magic Kingdom has your number. You can and probably should use some of your FastPasses as they are very popular. The Princess Pavilion in Fantasyland is a great addition to the area but the stand-by wait time any day we were there was well over 60 minutes.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom also has some random meet and greets, I’ll share two but keep your eyes open. If you want to show of your muscles to Gaston then head to his pub. If you see him, grab a photo, we held off until our last day and it started to rain so our youngest missed out. You can also meet the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella under the arches by the carousel, again we only saw her once and missed a photo opportunity.
Old school glamour collides with the Force at Hollywood Studios. This is the park for Star Wars fans. Disney has located all the characters in one pavilion. It feels a little like a warren but the wait times tend to be short. I’d expect big changes to the meet and greets with the addition of Star Wars land which is expected to open in 2019. This will be perfectly timed with our next visit.
For the younger fans then head to Animation Courtyard to meet the stars of Disney Junior. Fans will have the chance to meet Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Across the board we found wait times for the character meet and greets at this park to be quite short. The most popular were Olaf, Woody and Buzz – all three had fast passes.
Epot is the home to some unique meet and greets. Whilst Norway has become the home of Frozen where you can met Ana and Elsa, each land has an associated character experience. Head to Mexico to meet Donald, France to meet Belle or to China to meet Mulan. The United Kingdom has the added delight of meeting both Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. We have always found the lines – apart from Frozen – at this park to be manageable. For something a little different, head to the Future World to meet Baymax at Hiro’s Workshop. If you’re feeling a little sad then Joy and Sadness will bring a smile to your face.
If you’re not one for standing in line or you don’t want to use your FastPass then you can always head to a dining experience. Most of the Resorts and Theme Parks will cater for you.
For breakfast, we’ve always visited 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Hotel. Not only is it a great way to start your day but you get to meet Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. The environment is very relaxed, buffet style and the characters come to your table.
We’ve also lunched at the very popular Cinderella’s table in the castle at the Magic Kingdom. It’s a great way to meet Disney Princesses and to see the inside of the castle. The menu is also one of the best we have experienced within the park.
Both are very popular so I would advise booking well in advance especially if you want to eat at a standard time e.g. breakfast was at 10am and lunch at 2pm this trip. The MyDisney App means you an easily make reservations online and you can filter by park and charter experience if you are unsure what is available.
Other Disney Experiences
If it’s Captain Hook and Mr Smee then you can meet them at the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage which sets sail from the Disney Contemporary Resort. Bookings are required and the pre-sailing entertain and snacks will set you up for your boat trip. You can book online, I’ve always struggled to find this on Disney’s website.
Also, Disney has also not forgotten it’s water parks. Surfs up, then head to Typhoon Lagoon to meet Lilo and Stitch. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Olaf at Blizzard Beach.
If you visit during the month of August then you might catch Disney’s Photo Pass day. Across all the Parks, there are special character meet and greets. This year was for Villains fans. Always wanted to meet the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Maybe pass some time with Maleficent or plot with Cruella de Vil, then this day is for you. Keep an eye on the Disney Park blog as they will keep you posted on when the next event is being held.
One final tip – have you heard about character palooza? I’ve read about it but we have never experienced it, perhaps it’s an urban legend. But the story is told that this is a character experience meet and greet at Hollywood Studios which occurs most days from 4pm. It’s not advertised, cast members won’t tell you where or when it is on and if you stumble across it then you will meet 5 to 10 random characters who you don’t normally meet who appear to take photos, sign auto-graph and converse with guests.
Good Luck hunting for character palooza.