Meeting Disney characters is one of the Frog Family’s favorite things about going to Walt Disney World. I’m giving you my 10 best character greeting tips so you’ll have those autograph books and photo albums filled up in no time.
Tip #1 – If You See a Line, Get In It!
I’ve made the mistake of thinking I would have another opportunity to meet a character or that I could find a shorter line later on, only to end up missing out completely. If you notice a line forming to meet a character or if the line is less than 25 guests long, go ahead and line up. The Cast Members move guests along pretty quickly, so you won’t have to wait very long.
Tip #2 – Have Your Memory-Making Supplies Ready
As soon as you get in line, take out your camera, autograph books and markers. On that note, fat markers work the best since the characters have a hard time holding small pens and pencils. (Mommy Frog packs all these supplies, so we don’t have to buy them when we get there. More on packing tips from Mommy Frog.)
Tip #3 – Prepare to Be Star-Struck
If you haven’t met one of the characters before, it can be a little overwhelming. Prepare the younger ones in the group beforehand. (Everyone has at least one picture of themself crying on Santa’s lap, right? Same idea.)
Tip #4 – Respect Their Limitations
Picture it…you’re two people from the front of the line and suddenly Goofy needs a break. No worries! He’ll be right back so don’t leave the line. (If you were in those hot costumes, you’d need frequent breaks too.) Speaking of costumes, the characters have limited visibility. Try to keep the little ones a few feet away from the character until it’s time for the picture and autograph.
Tip #5 – Know Their Hang-out Spots
Characters are bound to show up just about anywhere, but they have favorite hang-out locations that are indicated on the park maps.
Here are a few popular spots in each park…
- Magic Kingdom: Near Town Square and City Hall on Main Street, by Splash Mountain in Frontierland, in front of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.
- Epcot: Epcot Character Spot in Innoventions West, outside most pavilions in World Showcase.
- Hollywood Studios: Pixar Place, at the giant sorcerer’s hat at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, on the Streets of America, inside the Magic of Disney Animation building.
- Animal Kingdom: Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Greeting Trails at Camp Minnie-Mickey
Tip #6 – Dine with the Characters
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy Character Dining, it is the easiest way to meet lots of characters in one place. From Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom to the Cape May Café at the Beach Club Resort, there are character dining options to suit any taste. Character dining is very popular, so make your reservations (ADRs or Advanced Dining Reservations) well in advance of your trip.
Tip #7 – Keep an Eye Out
The Frog Family treats “Character Spotting” almost like a treasure hunt. We always keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of a greeting opportunity: a line starting to form at a popular hang-out spot (see Tip #5) or a character being guided by a Cast Member.
Tip #8 – Keep Expectations Realistic
It’s practically impossible to meet every Disney character, even over several trips to Disney. Savor the autographs and pictures of the characters you do get to meet, and look forward to your next trip to add to the collection. (My dad, Leap, agrees with our Facebook friend, Michelle, that they would wait the longest to meet Mickey. Camp Minnie-Mickey in Animal Kingdom is your best bet, but like I said, keep your expectations realistic.)
Tip #9 – Consult Your Trusty “Times Guide”
Grab a Times Guide at the park entrance and look for the section called “Character Greeting Times.” Epcot’s guide has more specific information than the others, but each is a helpful “character-spotting” resource.
Tip #10 – It’s Fun for Grown-Ups, Too!
It may embarrass me and Lily when our parents hop at the chance to get their picture taken with Chip ‘n Dale, but we understand. Meeting famous Disney characters is fun for any age, so to all you adults out there…go for it!