One of my favorite things to do in the parks is to meet the characters, especially the rare, hardly ever seen characters. The trick is knowing where and when to find these guys — they’re called “rare” for a reason!
Luckily there are a few “secret” character meet and greet locations where you might be able to meet those rare characters. Not all of these meet-and-greets happen on a daily basis, but we think it’s important to know the locations so you can be on the lookout if you are in the area!
First we have to note that traditional character meet and greets have returned to the parks, but many characters still have not yet returned to the spots we’ve previously seen them. We’ll be sure to update you as we see more meet-and-greets return, so keep following AllEars!
EPCOT’s World Showcase
When walking through EPCOT’s World Showcase, be on the lookout for pop-up character meet and greets. Sometimes, out of the blue, we’ve seen characters gather in certain places for a short meet-up, and many times the characters are rare.
This often happens in the sections between the countries. We have most often spotted these near the American Adventure Pavilion or in front of World Showplace, which is between the UK and Canada pavilions. Usually there are big, brown gates shutting the Showplace off from the rest of the World. Watch for when these gates are open and just inside you may find a huge group of characters-in-training!
Another spot we’ve happened upon characters randomly is in front of the World Traveler shop in the International Gateway between France and the UK. We’ve previously spotted Cruella de Vil and Megara from Hercules here.
Like I said these are completely random so you never know when they are going to happen or who you are going to see. These “pop-ups” occur when new performers are training. Here you might find Donald, Mickey, Pinocchio, Hook, or others meeting.
Tucked away in World Celebration near Journey to Imagination with Figment, you will find characters meeting. Although this experience is more consistent than some of the others on our list, it’s often overlooked because the location is tucked away!
You can pop into the Imagination Pavilion to meet Joy and Vanellope!
Hollywood Studios Character Palooza
For the longest time, Disney had what was referred to as “Character Palooza” near the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. Every day around 4PM, the gates would open and a group of characters would be waiting to greet you. The palooza only occurred for a short period of time, so you would have to rush when picking which character to meet. Most of the time, when the palooza was busy, you’d only be able to meet one. Sometimes these characters would include the Evil Queen and Robin Hood!
However, even two years after Disney World’s reopening, we haven’t seen these characters return. If it does return, though, you may see some characters that appear in the nighttime show Fantasmic! (which also still has not yet returned). So, characters like Pluto, Tiana, Robin Hood, and Geppetto.
Sometimes at the new Fantasyland archways in Magic Kingdom you will find other characters taking the place of the regularly scheduled Cinderella’s stepsisters or Fairy Godmother — and sometimes, you’ll see Suzy and Perla, the mice from Cinderella here.
And since Disney is all about magic, characters can really pop up anywhere. Disney likes the element of surprise, so make sure you are always on the lookout.
Animal Kingdom Entrance
We have not seen this happen too often, but we’ve heard that characters like Chip, Dale, Tarzan, and Jane have randomly met in front of Animal Kingdom. I think that Disney just does this to sprinkle in magic from time to time. There is no set time or promise of this happening, but when you walk into Animal Kingdom be on the lookout because a funny or furry face may be waiting to greet you!
Holiday Character Surprises
Many characters only appear during certain holidays. This includes Santa Clause during the Christmas season and Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny during Easter. Over at Animal Kingdom, Earth Day can bring in some super rare characters like Gypsy from A Bug’s Life, and Brother Bear’s Koda and Kenai.
We would love it if Disney would do even more of the “secret” meet and greets! But it’s good to know that there are some places where these surprises can happen. You just never know when one of your favorite characters might randomly show up to give you a hug!
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Have you spotted any other “secret” meet and greet locations? If, so let us know in the comments below!