If you’ve seen any pictures from a Disney World vacation, you’ve likely seen some Disney characters pop in a few here and there. At Disney you can meet and interact with several characters- anyone from Mickey Mouse, Queen Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, to Cruz Ramirez. Dreams really do come true at Disney! Here is what you need to know about Disney character meet and greets at Disney World:
- Not all character encounters are the same experience
I’ve found that character encounters really vary in terms of the overall experience. Generally, Disney does a PHENOMENAL job at ensuring each child has 3-5 quality minutes during the encounter. The character will sign autographs, take pictures, and (if they can talk) interact with your child about something- ask about their day, their outfit, their squeaker sneakers (lol). The general décor of the encounter will vary. Tinkerbell has a pretty cool little setup at Magic Kingdom, that is perfect for Tinkerbell loving princesses. At Epcot, you walk through Anna and Elsa’s summer house while you wait which is really cool. Some characters may just be stationed here and there, which kind of changes the experience.
- Check out what characters are out and where they are on the app
The My Disney Experience app is really a MUST for your Disney vacation. Beyond making dining reservations, fast pass reservations (and live changes), and looking up show times, you can use the map feature to find rides (see wait times too!) and characters. The app will tell you who is where, when they will be there, and how close you are. The app can also help you find some of the better hidden character experiences (looking at you Peter Quill). You absolutely must download the app for your trip.
- Disney Photographers will take pictures for you
Don’t worry about taking your own pictures during your character encounter. Let the Disney photographer take pictures for you. They almost always turn out great. If you are trying to save some money (see How to Save Money at Disney World), ask the photographer or cast member to take pictures with your camera/phone. They will ALWAYS say yes. If you’re a Passholder, this is a huge perk- all your pictures can be downloaded for free.
- Not all characters are at all of the parks
If your child has his/her heart set on meeting a certain character, make sure you know what park the character is at and if they are still there. Some characters only make appearances in certain parks. For instance, Sofia the First and Jake (Neverland Pirates) are only seen at Hollywood Studios. Merida and Tiana can only be met at Magic Kingdom (they may be in shows or parades elsewhere). Pocahontas can only be met at Animal Kingdom, and so on. There are some characters (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, & Daisy) that can be found at all the parks.
- You can get fast passes to SOME character experiences
Do some research to see if you need to get a fast pass for a certain character experience. They vary as to which have fast passes. For instance, all princesses at Princess Fairy Tale hall have fast past reservations (Tiana, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Elena-occasionally there will be a guest princess). You can also get fast passes for meeting Mickey and/or Tinkerbell at Magic Kingdom. Anna/Elsa at Epcot does not have a fast pass reservation, though luckily you will hardly ever need one (wait times are relatively fast). None of the princesses at Epcot have fast passes.
- Most princesses are at Magic Kingdom and Epcot
If you’re little girl is ALL princess, you need to know that Magic Kingdom and Epcot are the places to be. At Magic Kingdom you can usually meet (at a minimum): Cinderella, Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Tiana, Merida, Jasmine/Aladdin, and Elena. At Epcot you can usually meet: Anna and Elsa, Mulan, Jasmine/Aladdin, Aurora, and Belle. Of course more can be seen in parades and at character dining.
- You can have characters come see you while you eat…
If you select a character dining restaurant. For more information about the best character dining experience (with tips and tricks) check out: Best Character Meals at Disney World.
- Some characters change outfits
Depending where you are and what season you are in, some Disney characters change outfits. For instance, if you meet Mickey/Minnie at Animal Kingdom at Adventure’s Outpost, they are usually in their precious little Safari outfits; however, get there during the holidays and they are in their holiday getup! You may also see princesses add a sweater to their attire in cooler months, etc. You can see Mickey in his Wizard outfit from Fantasia at Hollywood Studios. Classic Mickey is at Magic Kingdom.
You should meet at least 1 character during your Disney Trip! If you have younger kids, you may find yourself meeting many (check out What to Do at Disney World with Young Children). Whatever you do- Have fun!