How to make the most of your encounters with Disney superstars.
Walt Disney World makes magic real for Guests every day. A large part of that escape to fantasy comes by brining beloved characters to life in the form of character greetings. Here are some pointers on where to find a few of your favorites, as well as tips on what to keep in mind once you find them.
Find Out Ahead of Time Where Your Favorite Character Will Be
Do some research before your trip to make sure you’ll be able to locate your top- priority character. A simple inquiry on any WDW forum should suffice. Each park’s Guest Relations is also helpul in locating specific characters, as is any character handler Cast Member you see with another character within the parks. It saves time in the long run to know where to
find your favorite before you arrive, but if you don’t the Cast Members are still ample help.
Know Where the “Bargains” Are
A bargain means several characters greeting in one convenient location. Often it saves time to know where this is implemented.
For instance, you could spend a fair amount of time tracking down Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald all individually at Magic Kingdom . . . or, you could head to Epcot and wait in one line to meet all five of them at the Epcot Character Spot (though you’ll still meet each of them separately). That’s more like it! Granted, the line gets a bit lengthy for the Epcot Character Spot given the popularity and convenience of the entire Fab Five in the same place, but overall the wait is worth it (and, if you go first thing in the morning, there’s hardly be a wait at all).
Other locations also benefit from this “one spot, many characters” convenience. At Magic Kingdom, Town Square Theater allows the the option of wait in one line to meet Mickey and Minnie together, or entering a separate line that leads to Cinderella, Aurora, and Belle (though you’ll meet each princess individually). Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Sorcerer Mickey’s Hat hosts some of Mickey’s friends in the mornings; they have especially short lines right at park opening. Also at DHS, be sure to stop by The Magic of Disney Animation during the 5:00 hour. In addition to the characters that are present in this building all day long (which currently includes Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and the Incredibles), the 5:00 hour also sees an explosion of random characters, many of them with rather short lines. You can literally jump from line to line, and before you know it, you’ve met a dozen or so characters. At Animal Kingdom, Mickey and friends are all to be found at Camp Minnie-Mickey. You’ll have to wait in separate lines for each of them, but there’s no searching around trying to find all of them.
Typically, individual characters have shorter lines than group greetings. You simply have to consider whether you’d like to wait in many, shorter individual lines or fewer, longer group lines.
Consider a Character Meal
There are many character meals to choose from. A full list of Walt Disney World character dining locations can be found on the resort’s official website (on the left sidebar, click “Dining Experience” and then select “Character Dining”).
Character dining is a great way to have a relaxed meeting with some of your favorites. Characters make their way around the restaurant and come to you; no flagging down necessary.
If you’re dining during a less-crowded time of day (like a very late morning breakfast), you’re likely to have even better character interaction, having a good chance of seeing each of them more than once. This creates some humorous running gags, if you will, and establishes a fun relationship between your family and the characters.
Respect the Character
It’s important to keep in mind the boundaries of the character and to respect some of the limitedness the character may have. It helps to have autograph books open and pens ready while you’re waiting in line; not only does it speed up the wait for everyone else, but it also excuses the characters from having to flip the thin autograph book pages with their big furry paws. For the latter reason, characters also prefer large pens or sharpies so that they can have a better grip on what they’re writing with. This also ensures a more quality signature for you, the Guest!
It’s also respectful to keep in mind the characters’ sight lines and hearing. Make sure you speak to them clearly and loudly so that you’re able to say what you mean with as little confusion as possible, remembering that most of them can only respond to you in pantomime.
Keeping within the characters’ safety boundaries doesn’t mean that you can’t have little fun. Characters love to interact with Guests, and always like when you mention something specific to their movie or personality. Asking Mary Poppins where Bert is can serve as an excellent conversation starter, while telling Donald that Mickey is #1 can spiral into a hilarious fit from the jealous duck. Some characters naturally start the interaction themselves; Stitch is always mischievous and Goofy is always extra clumsy. Thinking about what you’re going to tell the character or coming up with a unique question to ask the character is an excellent idea for helping pass the time in line.
Many of the characters that inhabit Walt Disney World are nothing short of childhood heroes, and meeting them in person is a huge deal. All of these suggestions can help you as a Guest and as a family have better-quality character greetings during your Disney vacation.
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