Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World

TGIF Characters

One of the best things about traveling to Walt Disney World is that you can get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most famous characters ever – we’re talking Mickey & Minnie, Anna & Elsa, and so many more, too! Character meet and greets are a super important part of each day my family spends at the Disney Parks – and I’m betting they will be for you, too! It can be overwhelming, not knowing where the characters might be or how your little one can get to meet their all-time favorites, but you needn’t worry – help is here!

Here’s our Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World:

Technology Is Your Friend: Let’s be real – you use your smartphone all the time anyways, you’ll have it out a lot to take pictures while you’re in Disney, so you might as well use it to help you meet characters, right? You’ll want to download the My Disney Experience app well in advance of your trip, so you have time to get used to it and play around with its features – and one of the best features of the app is the Character locater – just click on the “Characters” tab from the main screen and up comes an alphabetical list of characters and the times/places that you can meet up with them. As if that isn’t amazing enough, you can even sort by location so you can view the Characters for the Parks you’re currently at, or plan ahead for the day too!

Character Meals Are A MUST: For those of you who are unfamiliar with Character Dining, let me school you real quick – it’s basically a meal where you get to meet anywhere from 3-5 characters all in one place – and the best part is – they come to YOU! That’s right, pretty much all character meals (with the exception of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ), follow the same pattern – where the characters circulate from table to table, and for most places it takes about and hour and a half to get to see all the characters. Word of warning if you’re new to character dining: these restaurants can be loud and crowded – but you shouldn’t let that deter you from planning to eat at these places – as they can be truly amazing experiences! Character meals allow you to be treated like royalty and meet all the Disney Princesses, or join the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) at Mickey’s place – Chef Mickey’s. So if nothing else, you’re getting a chance to meet multiple characters in one place, while enjoying a delicious meal – and that’s what we call vacation multitasking at its finest!

The Waiting Game: Even if you come armed with a strategy and have a list and plan out when and where you’re going to meet up with your “must see” characters, be warned – it may not go totally as planned. You might miss a character due to a delay at another ride, or you might end up still waiting an hour in line to see a character (even if you planned ahead!). So the best planning advice I can give you is to plan on doing some standing around and waiting – take that chance to practice patience, and make sure you bring along some snacks/drinks, and maybe a few new little toys or books to occupy your kids (or you!) while you inch forward towards the main attraction – whoever it may be! And remember – it will all be worth it when you see your little one’s face light up when they see Mickey for the first time (trust me!)

Be Prepared: I swear, the main reason the lines to meet characters move so slowly is because people are not ready when it finally is their turn – and there’s nothing more frustrating than watching someone fumble with their camera and waste everyone’s time even more when they should have already been ready to go. So – don’t be that guy. BE PREPARED – Have your camera ready with the right settings and the lens cap off (or have your smartphone’s camera open and ready to fire away), Have your autograph book open and your pen uncapped. Ask your kids what they want to say when it’s their turn and practice it with them if needed. All of this might sound a bit silly, or even like it should be common sense – but believe me it is NOT – so save everyone (and yourselves!) some time and practice good character etiquette to help keep the line moving and reduce the wait times for everyone else

Back in the day (and we are talking the early 90’s here), my family traveled to Disney World every spring – and my dad was our planning guru. He was truly a master of character meet and greets – he knew where they would be, and made sure I got to see every character I could. His method? Well, he always made sure to grab the most updated park maps/schedules as soon as we arrived, and he made sure to study up on them so he could have an idea of what to expect, and if all else failed, he asked a Cast Member, and that advice still rings true today – the staff at Walt Disney World can answer pretty much any question you might have, and they always do so with a smile!

Meeting up with your favorite characters doesn’t have to be hard, and if you follow my tips above, you’ll be sure to have some amazing character interactions on your next trip to Walt Disney World!

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Catie Hiltz is an avid Walt Disney World lover who has been vacationing there since she was tall enough to ride Space Mountain. She believes there is something for everyone at WDW-and especially writing about the benefits of vacationing there as an adult
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