In continuing with the theme of the “basics” of a Walt Disney World vacation, today’s topic is Character Meet and Greets. Disney has a lot of characters and a lot of visitors want to meet those characters. In my opinion, Disney has developed three ways for guests to meet their favorite characters:
1) Character Meals: Table-service meals where Disney characters rotate through the dining hall for pictures with the guests.
2) Formal In-Park Meet and Greets: Pre-established areas, with set design, where guests can go and meet the characters.
3) Informal In-Park Meet and Greets: These are spontaneous or known areas where guest can go and meet the characters.
Each type of meet-and-greet has its own pluses and minuses.
At Walt Disney World, there are plenty of opportunities to get a meal and autographs/pictures with your favorite characters.
In the four parks:
Animal Kingdom: Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House (breakfast and lunch only) – Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy
EPCOT: Chip N’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill (dinner only) – Chip N’ Dale, Pluto, Mickey
Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Banquet Hall (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Mary Poppins
Note about this meal: All characters listed are not guaranteed to appear at your meal. They rotate based on the day and meal.
Guests also receive a professional photo package which includes: 4 prints (4″x6″) and 1 6″x8″ print with one of the princesses. The package is delivered to the table during the meal.
Hollywood Studios: Disney’s Play N’ Dine at Hollywood and Vine (breakfast and lunch only) – Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Handy Mandy, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Magic Kingdom: A Buffet with Character at The Crystal Palace (breakfast, lunch and dinner) – Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger
Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, Snow White; The Fairy Godmother appears at dinner. This is a TWO table-credit dining experience.
Guests also receive a professional photo package which includes: 4 prints (4″x6″), 1 6″x8″ print, 1 6″x8″ print of Cinderella’s Castle, and a Cinderella Themed Photo Folder
Children (ages 3-9) also receive a special gift: a princess wand for girls and prince’s sword for boys
Meals at the Resorts:
Contemporary Resort: Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet at Chef Mickey’s (breakfast and dinner only) – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto
Grand Floridan Resort and Spa: Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare (breakfast only) – Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and The Mad Hatter
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (dinner only) – Cinderella and Prince Charming, The Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella, Some characters may only be seen in the lobby for pictures.
Polynesian Resort: ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch (breakfast only) – Lilo and Stitch. Often Mickey Mouse and Pluto appear but are not guaranteed.
Yacht and Beach Club Resort: Beach Club Breakfast Buffet at Cape May Cafe (breakfast only) – Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy
My family has gone to every character meal on this list except the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. We love going to character meals. It has many advantages. First, a guest can meet a lot of characters in a short period of time since most of the meals take about 60 to 90 minutes. Second, a guest can see the characters in “non-traditional” attire. For example, Mickey Mouse is dressed as Farmer Mickey at Garden Grill, Safari Mickey at Tusker House and Chef Mickey at Chef Mickey’s. Third, it gives the guest a chance to relax, sit down in an air-conditioned environment while the characters come to them as opposed to the other way around.
The major drawback to the character meals, guests are taking away time in the parks to spend time at a meal. Another drawback is if a guest is not on the Disney Dining Plan, these meals can be a bit pricey. Most of them are buffets and not true sit down meals.
That being said, you can get some great pictures and some quality character interaction.
Sometimes if you get seated at the right place, you can get some good panoramic pictures of the resort.
Formal In-Park Meet and Greets:
This group of meet and greets is set only in the parks. When Disney, first opened, almost all the meet and greets were informal. If you saw a character walking through the resort, you could stop and take pictures. As more and more people wanted to meet the characters, Disney made the meet and greet more formalized. They set up permanent locations where people can go and meet the characters. There are many locations where guests can do this. Another way to determine if a meet and greet is formal or informal is to ask this question: Is there a wait time listed for the meet and greet? If the answer is yes, then it’s a formal meet and greet.
Animal Kingdom: Currently there are no formal meet and greets anymore. Disney is in the process of creating Avatar Land which is scheduled to open in 2017. In the process of creating this land, they had to eliminate the Camp Minnie-Mickey. Camp Minnie-Mickey was a place was guests could meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and a rotating set of characters. There were also informal meet and greets that would spring up when the lines for the other characters go too long. My daughter got the chance to meet Thumper and Miss Bunny at one of the informal meet and greets.
EPCOT: The EPCOT Character Spot – Mickey, Pluto, and Minnie Mouse
EPCOT is also the best place for informal in-park meet and greets.
Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a meet and greets which meet the “wait time listed” criteria. However, they do have four meet and greets where guests can meet characters in a formal setting with themed backdrops:
Outside of Disney Junior Live – Disney Junior Characters on a rotating basis
Phineas and Ferb Meet and Greet outside of Muppetvision
Monsters University in Pixar Place
The Animation Courtyard – Typically Sorcerer Mickey, Winnie the Pooh, and characters from non-princess Movies
Magic Kingdom: Magic Kingdom has the most formal character meet and greets.
Ariel’s Grotto – Ariel as a mermaid
Pete’s Silly Sideshow (2 queues) – Donald Duck and Goofy in one queue; Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse in the other.
Princess Hall (2 queues) – Cinderella and Rapunzel in one queue; Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen in the other.
Note: the wait times for Anna and Elsa can approach the four hour range. As I’m writing, the listed expected wait time is 300 minutes (5 hours). Two tips: either get in line right away or use a Fastpass+ experience for this. The Fastpass+ should cut the wait time down to “only” 30 minutes.
Tinker Bell’s Nook – Tinker Bell and the other Disney Fairies
Town Square Mickey – Magician Mickey Mouse
These meet and greets are a good way to meet characters but have the drawback of potentially long wait times to meet one, maybe, two characters and waiting, for a portion of the time, outside. Still the pictures can be good:
Informal In-Park Meet and Greets:
These meet and greets vary in location and/or time of day. There is no set schedule when this type of meet and greet takes place. The best thing to do is to ask a Cast Member or Guest Relations when a guest arrives at the park. Some of the same meet and greets take place every day (for example: Princesses like Snow White and Mulan in EPCOT have a set schedule) , however, not all of them do which is why it is best to ask upon arrival. This is also a good chance to see rarely seen characters. Typically, the lines for this type of meet and greet is shorter than the formal meet and greet given there is no set schedule.
This is a rarity – meeting one of the “Big Five” characters at an informal meet and greet. My daughter and I were walking through EPCOT during the Food and Wine Festival, last year, as I was taking her picture in front of every booth and Minnie came walking out. We, immediately, stopped her for a picture before a line could form. She came out with this guy:
As we continued to walk through the World Showcase, we passed into China and Mulan was out for pictures and autographs. This was the first time we had seen Mulan in our travels. As a result, she was one of the few princesses that daughter didn’t have her picture taken with. So, we stopped for a picture.
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