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Meet & Greet
Check out our Character Video Playlist on youTube.
TRACKING DOWN THOSE CHARACTERS
You're in the park and on a mission -- gotta find those characters. Gone are the times when your day would include a couple character meets unexpectedly. Between guests clammoring to see their favorites and the parks being more crowded, character meet and greets are much more organized.
How do you find the Characters and what do you do when you get there?
Read the Times Guides -- Each of the 4 main parks (Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios) provide Times Guides that include character greeting times and locations.
Finding Characters in Epcot - You can find a variety of characters throughout World Showcase (Aladdin in Morocco, Snow White in Germany, Pooh in the United Kingdom and so on). There is also the "Epcot Character Spot " meet and greet across from Innoventions West. BONUS: There are at 3 areas in Epcot that you MAY occasionally find characters that are "in rehearsal". Places to keep an eye out include: 1) International Gateway area near the shops; 2) American Adventure off to the left near huge gate as you face the pavilion or 3) World Showplace.
Characters Animal Kingdom Character Meets - Mickey and Minnie can be found in the Adventurers Outpost in Discovery Island. The big area for characters are the greeting trails in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Check the times guides for other locations.
Characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios - This will be your best chance for finding characters from recent animated movies. Also, several times during the day, the characters all emerge from Sorceror Mickey's hat and spread around for meet and greets. During special events, such as Star Wars Weekends, you have the opportunity to meet many special characters as well!
Characters at Magic Kingdom - Various characters around the Town Square area when you enter, Tinker Belle and her friends have a a special nook and Merida has her own themed meet and greet. The times guide will give you the information you need to know.
Use Guest Relations -- Guest Relations at the parks are very useful (City Hall at the Magic Kingdom). They have numbers they can contact to see where everyone will be making appearances. If your child has been aching for a photo with Donald Duck, when you arrive at the park in the morning, your best bet would be to go to Guest Relations. They can find out for you where the good spots are to spot that duck. Though, these schedules are always subject to change, there's a good chance of finding them.
One of the best, least crowded place and times to see Characters at Animal Kingdom is in Camp Minnie-Mickey when the park first opens. Most everyone is headed for the Expedition Everest or the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction!
Still stumped?? Use your friendly neighborhood Cast Members -- Cast members have a phone number to call if you want to know where a specific character should be. However, if you're just looking to see as many as possible, or just see who you might run into, you can.
Woohoo! There they are! Um, now what?
Lining Up -- Okay you've found out where your desired character is, now how to get to that character. Waiting at the entrance they come out at is not recommended. Pluto needs his space just like everyone else. If you find out they'll be coming out at 4:50pm, try to arrive about 5 minutes prior.
At Magic Kingdom if a line begins to form, they set up queue lines.
TIP: Ask a cast member, at the beginning of the line, or at the end, before you go in, who is there. They will tell you who is scheduled for that day.
Be ready -- That means having those pens ready, those books open, your cameras ready, and your video cameras rolling! By all means, take the lens cap OFF. Don't have your camera turned around backwards and take a picture of your (now blinded) face. Don't forget to put your name and address or hotel in the autograph book. You'd be surprised how many are lost...
Try to find "thicker" pens -- remembering some characters have gloves on. Ink pens are best for autograph books and other regular paper products. The brand Sharpie offers a felt tip writer that is "fat" and good for autographing most items in the hat, shirt, poster category. It comes in blue, black and other colors.
Be flexible -- Some of the cutest pictures I've seen have been of a small child staring up in wonder at the life size Pooh standing over him/her. In other words, not every picture has to have everyone looking at the camera. Sometimes a child will not look at you, no matter how long you sit there like a stuck record: "Honey, look here. Look up at Mommy. Look at the camera. Sweetie, say cheese. Look up for the picture. Honey...." Also, do not force your child. If he or she is frightened, do you really want a picture of a terrified child in tears, just so you can "prove" he or she saw Mickey?
Characters Take Breaks TOO! - They need a snack or a break from the heat just like you do. The character you get in line for may not be the one you actually see. Have part of your group get in line and then go ask the Character Greeter for information.
Listen to the greeter -- When they say Minnie is going to be back in 5-10 minutes after she powders her nose, that means just that. She will be back soon. Don't ruin your day by causing a scene. Curiously, this is more often the parents than the children.
Be Nice -- I must admit, Pluto sure does look like a walking jungle jim. Everything from his ears, nose, and tongue down to his tail are easy to hang on. But! These characters gotta be safe and in good shape for meeting so many people every day. Be nice to them and they should be nice back. Pluto does like getting scratched behind the ears. Donald loves to get kisses on the beak. Tigger loves to Bounce!
Be Considerate! - to both the other guests wanting to get to the characters and to the characters themselves! When a character needs to leave an area, it does not mean they have personally singled you out to be mean to. Characters can only stay out for a certain time and it's really important that they leave when the greater tells them it's time. Please DO NOT grab the character(s) and demand that they stay for you.
Signing clothing -- Yes, the characters will do it. However, do not WEAR the item of clothing you wish signed. The characters cannot sign anything *while it is being worn.* Please also note that a ballpoint pen does not write well on a t-shirt. :) Hats are good to have signed, just remember that having a blue pen and writing on blue fabric isn't the easiest to do...if you want hats or any cloth signed, markers will work best especially Sharpies (which come in a variety of colors). These work great on banners and photos too!
Why do those crazy characters do the things they do?
Group Photos -- At some point, you will hear someone ask if they can get a picture of two or more characters together. 99% of the time, the answer is no. This isn't the answer the person was hoping to hear, but the reasoning is that once one picture is taken like that, *everyone* is going to want one like that. Unfortunately, while this makes for a lot of cute pictures -- it also makes for a lot of unhappy kids because they didn't get to see the characters as there wasn't enough time. Getting one picture with each character is a lot faster.
Holding Children -- "Can [insert character name here] hold my child?" No. Nope, sorry, no way. The characters can be a little ... clumsy. You really don't want Pooh dropping your child, no matter how cute the picture would be beforehand. But perhaps, the character might be able to sit on the floor and have your child on their lap.... :)
And then there are the adults who just HAVE to know. Never mind all the children around them who Believe. They smirk at the characters like they are privy to some huge secret. Don't be those people. In order to satisfy your curiosity...
CAUTION. MAGIC SPOILERS AHEAD. PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW SMALL CHILDREN TO READ, OR EVEN BIG KIDS WHO STILL HAVE THEIR PIXIE DUST. :)
I'm not sure why people feel the need to ask these questions, but they do. These questions are heard every day, many times a day. In the hopes of avoiding seeing those precious little faces fall when they overhear some adult bent on crushing the magic... Ok, soapbox mode off. :)
Is it hot in there?
Yes. In a word, yes. I have to laugh at how many people think there are personal air conditioning units inside. Where in the world would they go? But this is why the characters are only out for a little bit at a time -- from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on location and time of year. When Pluto has to go get a drink, please let him go. He will be right back.
Is it heavy?
Depends on which character. Look at what they're wearing. Beast wears a bit more than oh, say, Minnie. But suffice it to say it's a bit heavier than your t-shirt, shorts, and fanny pack.
Are you a boy or a girl in there?
This one astounds me. But in the interest of answering questions, look at body size and guess. Looking at Goofy, how many females do you know around 6 feet tall? Same goes for the mice. Know many small frame, 5 foot guys? As for the middle range characters, you never know. Please don't try to squeeze the arms or hands to feel body size. Although it is kind of humorous to hear someone proclaim matter of factly, "That's a boy in there" when they are so wrong.
Please use common sense --
Don't ask the greeter any of these questions. They won't answer them any more than the character will. While you may be very amused by your macho men getting a picture with Chip or Dale, please recall the the chipmunks are a bit smaller than they are, and perhaps leaning on them with all the guys' weight might not be very comfortable for the chipmunks. It also makes sense that whereas a 5 year old giving Pinocchio a high five as hard as he can can be kind of funny, a 10 year old doing the same thing is *not.*
Please, please, please have fun. That's what you're there for, right? Play with the characters. Interact with them. Don't focus so much on the autographs. Just have a good time. :)
We've been to Disney World almost every year since my son was 4 yrs old and have gone to a character meal that has Tigger each time. Of course pictures with the characters have been taken. Not only do they help record the great times we've had, but I've put together a collage showing my son going from barely waist high on his orange-striped friend to being a bit past Tigger's shoulder. We're going this year in December and even though he'll be 15, he's still game for that "hey mom!" picture! Liz Myrato
We have the character sign on the right-side page of my children's Disney autograph book (this requires handing the book to the character open to the page that you want signed and the book in an upright manner). Then we take a picture of our child with the character. At home, I glue the picture of the character and my daughter or son next to the autograph. The autograph books become their scrapbooks of the Disney trip. We already have many books complete (way too much time spent getting autographs :-) ) and the kids really enjoy looking back at them. A positive side effect to this is that the face Characters make a big deal out of seeing "themselves" in a previous photo. (Debi Starr)
This was the neatest thing I have brought to Disney so far in our four trips. It is a book called "Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters." Each character has his/her own page and a picture with a short story. The characters love it and make such a big deal over it. Most of the speaking characters spent a lot of extra time with my 8-year-old Emily and some even read their own stories with her. Cinderella read the evil stepsisters page to my daughter to show how mean they were to her. Will NEVER go again without it. Don't forget LARGE markers, as they are eaiser for Characters with gloves to hold on to. Makes a great coffee table book afterward and saves a lot of money on multiple autograph books. - Craig Chambers
Our 4 year old daughter has just had a really super time in Orlando. She met loads of characters and also danced in parades. I think the highlight for her was when Mickey actually spoke to her in a parade when she was dressed as Minnie mouse,the outfit was a really good buy for her!! (Mike Millard )
I noticed that you suggest a fat
pen for the character autographs. I want to suggest fat crayons because
those work as well. I used them to get an autograph book signed for me,
my niece and my friend's daughter. Its much easier for the characters
who wear hand pieces to sign their name (I got a couple of thanks for
that.) Another thing is you don't have to worry about the colors running
out of ink. I suggest the Penway crayons because they are available at
Walgreens and they are always on sale. Crayola has the My
First Pack of crayons reasonable too. I had forgotten to get a crayons
before I left and thought about it when I was in Florida. Let me tell
you, crayons are hard to find in August). (Donella)
Picture books with pictures of the characters were great and very original, the characters loved them. We used index cards to slide in and out easily. (The Percey's)
We also found that if you wait until the Festival of the Lion King is going that you can have a private audience with the characters in Camp Minnie-Mickey . (Sharon, Ron and Cameron)
Since my son is too young for an autograph book, we brought 8"x10" photo mats for the characters to sign. I bought two, one for Chef Mickey's and one for Crystal Palace, and markers for the characters to use. Once I got home, I put a picture for our group at the restaurants and they are now proudly displayed in our home. It is a great way to display the autographs and a wonderful way to remember the magic with my son. - Megan P.
Since my four year old daughter was most interested in meeting characters, my big tip would be to go to the character meals at odd hours. We walked into the Garden Grille in Epcot Land Pavilion at 1:30 and were almost the only ones there. She basically spent an hour and a half playing and talking with Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale! It was the highlight of the trip. The meals are a little pricey, but very tasty, and it was worth every penny to see her skipping out of the restaurant hand-in-hand with Dale.
The autograph books are a great idea. At first I thought they kind of held the lines up, but they are a great incentive for those timid kids (like my daughter) to go up to the characters, and a wonderful keepsake. She still thumbs through hers daily. Plus, the characters sign their names in keeping with their characters, i.e. Aladdin signs in swooshy arab-esque letters like the movie logo, The Queen of Hearts carries a red pen and will only sign in red, Eeyore draws a little rain cloud, etc. A lot of fun. (Doug)
We found the best place to see characters was the riverboat in Liberty Square. You can't guarantee who will be on the boat but it usually includes either Mickey or Minnie. We went twice and both times there were at least 7-8 characters on board. It's not well advertised and we had a chance to see them all with little or no waiting. It was only done for part of the day. ( Christina Pitman)
My sons never to be forgotten experience with Snow White. Upon seeing Snow White he immediately grabbed his autograph book and headed for her line. For a five year old I was amazed how patient he was. When it was his turn Snow White noted that he had all of the Seven Dwarfs pins and Snow Whites as well. She asked him "do you know all of their names?" He replied "Yes" and then proceeded to identify each one. At that Snow White remarked that "Anyone that names all of the Dwarfs gets a kiss from Snow White". With that, she kissed his forehead leaving a tremendous lipstick kiss. He REFUSED to wash his forehead for 4 days! (Ken Brown)
As we waited in line for Jafar, I commented that he (Jafar) seemed to be grouchy. When Jafar reached for the autograph book, we got a big surprise when he snatched it out of my sons hand. I said that I thought that he (Jafar) needed a nap. Jafar then placed me in a corner and back up to me so that I could not get out. All of the children, parents and greeters were laughing. My mother begged and pleaded with Jafar to set me free. He made gestures to the crowd that I didn't smell very good which also got a big reaction from the crowd. He did finally let me go, but not without shaking his finger at me. We have great photo memories of that moment and I believe that it is one that I will never forget. (Tina Marie Reed)
I had 2 15 year olds on this trip. They felt it was inappropriate to stand in the long lines for the popular characters, when there were so many little children patiently waiting. So they ended up a lot in the villain lines. The best by far was the Evil Queen from Snow White. When someone would say Smile for a picture she would reply, I don't have to smile. I am beautiful." She would ask little girls why they didn't curtsy. And didn't their parents teach them the correct way to greet a queen. Kelly and Sarah had the Princess Autograph books from the Disney Store. There are pictures of the princesses on every page. They decided quickly to draw horns and a mustache on snow white. When the Queen took their autographs, she laughed and said she liked their style. They would have a place in her castle if they ever wanted to work for the most beautiful queen in the kingdom. (Marty Martin)
When my daughter was waiting in line to get Cruella's autograph she was watching closely as Cruella was doing things like signing and dropping pens and books on the ground etc. Her only comment was "She really is mean". When her turn finally came and Cruella was signing her book she asked her "Haven't you had your coffee today?" Cruella cracked a smile and had to turn away. Her response to my daughter was "Did you dress yourself today." My daughter said of course I did I'm a big girl. This was the highlight of her trip. (DM5300 writes)
AllEars.net thanks many Cast Members at WDW for their help with this section.