You know and love them. They visit you in your home through your favorite books, television shows, comic books or video games. Meeting them in person is a must do during your vacation. Don’t worry – you won’t spend hours in line because I’m going to help you figure out where to find characters at Walt Disney World as painlessly as possible. If you have a character you have to meet during your vacation, be sure to ask a Cast Member. They’ll let you know where the character can be found and what times they’ll be out so you can make sure you’re ready and waiting during one of their meet and greets. Grabbing a Times Guide when you enter the park (usually located with the park maps) is helpful because characters and their availability are listed. You can also use the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone to get this information.
Before You Go
Decide who is a “must see”, how you’re going to collect autographs and how much time in your trip is going to be devoted to meeting characters. Longer trips allow for more time but even during a short trip you’ll be able to meet quite a few of them with a little bit of planning. If any of your “must do” characters are notorious for having a very long wait (think Anna and Elsa), consider using one of your FastPass+ experiences to meet them. You’ll still wait in line to see them but it will be much shorter than people just walking into the standby line to see them. Another thing to consider is if you need to actually meet the character in person or just seem them in passing (waving from a parade for example).
Being the most popular park, there are plenty of opportunities to meet characters during your visit. From Mickey Mouse to Anna and Elsa, you’ve got a lot of options here. Arrive at Magic Kingdom for rope drop (an adorable “show” welcoming guests to the park before it opens) to see a slew of characters ride in on Walt Disney World Railroad. When you enter the park in the mornings, there are often characters out around the flag pole and sidewalks before you head down Main Street, U. S. A. Most of these are common characters (Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck for example) so unless they’re a must do, skip them for now. Stop in Town Square Theater during the day to take a break from the heat and meet the Big Cheese himself. (Because he’s located near the exit, this is a good one to do on the way out.) In addition to Mickey, Tinker Bell is also in Town Square Theater so it’s a nice place to stop. Mary Poppins and Snow White are often out in this area as well. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re enjoying the park – characters can be anywhere! Buzz Lightyear usually greets guests near Buzz Lightyear’s Spaceranger Spin in Tomorrowland and Stitch can be found over there too. Princess Tiana (and sometimes Prince Naveen!) has a spot to greet guests in Liberty Square near the Ye Old Christmas Shoppe.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Four groups of characters stand out here for us when we visit. After trying our hand at Toy Story Midway Mania, we make a stop right across the walkway to see Buzz and Woody. This meet and greet is indoors with photo ops along the way. Lightening McQueen and Tow Mater are also here and meet with guests most of the day without much of a wait. They can be a little bit loud so little ones might need a grown up to walk them up until they feel comfortable. Our favorite monsters can also be found at the Studios: Mike and Sulley! While waiting in line, take some time to read the postings on the boards – they’re very cute! One other duo can be found here that we always have to make time for. Our buddies Phineas and Ferb are a lot of fun and the Cast Members with them have sing alongs and fun games to play while waiting which is nice to help pass the time.
Most of the characters here are real and always on the move but some of your favorites are here too. Baloo and King Louie are always up for a good time and like to have fun during their time with you. Up fans will want to make time to meet with Dug and Russell to compare Wilderness Explorer badges during your visit.
Each of the countries in World Showcase hosts a character from the movie that took place in the country. Mulan meets in China, Belle and the Beast meet in France and Aladdin and Jasmine greet guests in Morocco for example. In Future World you can stop by Epcot’s Character Spot to meet some classic characters indoors (strollers need to be parked outside here).
One of the easiest ways to meet characters is to enjoy one of the many character meals offered at both the theme parks and resorts. They do cost a bit more than the average table service meal at Walt Disney World but you’re getting the benefit of not spending time in line to meet four or five characters. Many of the meals are also all you can eat either family style or buffet so you can take your time to see the characters as they rotate around the room while enjoying your food at your own pace. (Tip: grab food for the kids as soon as you are seated so they can eat some food before the characters come out.)
Parties and Special Events
Visiting one of the parks during a party or special event is a fantastic experience. It also allows you to meet characters you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to on a regular day visiting the parks. Be sure to look over the event information to see what characters will be out and where they will be located if any of them are “must meet” for you.
What’s your favorite character? Where can you find them in the parks? What character do you wish would be out to meet with guests?