The Best Disney Character Meet and Greets for Each Park
“I hope we never lose sight of one thing- that it was all started by a mouse”. Walt’s words about his best pal Mickey were spoken many decades ago, but the root of this now-famous phrase remain as true today as they were then- everyone loves Mickey and his friends. Without Disney characters like Mickey, there would be no movies, TV shows, toys, or Walt Disney World at all.
All these years later, neither Disney nor its fans have forgotten that Mickey was the foundation of it all and that his success was the flint that sparked creation of all of the Disney characters we love today. It’s not a surprise that one of the biggest must-do’s for families visiting the theme parks is to experience character meet-and-greets offered in each of the theme parks, and with so many places you can meet your favorite Disney pal, there isn’t a chance at fitting them all in on your next vacation. If you can’t go home without meeting at least a few characters, be sure you choose the best possible character experiences available!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s popularity has seen a drastic climb in the past year. With the openings of Pandora and the addition of nighttime hours and experiences like Rivers of Light, its made the official transition to a morning-to-night park. That being said, there are certainly no shortages of character meet-and-greet experiences here! One of the coolest character experiences waits for you along Discovery Island Trail at the Character Landing. Pocahontas greets her forest friends at this lush, secluded, easy-to-bypass spot. Pocahontas is an elusive character, and if you want to add her to your autograph book, this is the only place across the entire Walt Disney World property you can catch her!
When in the Animal Kingdom, one should meet animals of all kinds! Live animals, animals represented onstage, and character animal experiences are not uncommon here, and tapping into your wild side will ensure a fully immersive experience at the park! King Louie is another great character meet-and-greet exclusive to Animal Kingdom. You can find him around Asia on a regular basis. He’s really furry and makes for a great hug!
The regal sisters from Arendelle recognize their popularity in the kingdom and luckily for us, have graciously opened their Royal Sommerhus to greet their subjects! Situated in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion, the Royal Sommerhus is the one and only place you can chat and take photos with Ana and Elsa, and the line can certainly get long. If it’s on the top of your list, you should arrive for rope drop and get in line since this experience does not offer Fastpass+. The themeing of the Sommerhus is great and small details will really jump out at Frozen mega-fans!
For a time saving character experience, go to the Character Spot in the Future World breezeway. Is someone in your travel party is dead set on meeting as many characters as possible? Is the rest of your party more interested in attractions? You aren’t the first to experience this Disney planning tug of war! To minimize your time meeting characters while maximizing the amount of characters you meet, the Epcot Character Spot is the place to go! Waiting in just one line will culminate in meeting not one but three of the classic Disney characters: Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey! The characters here are dressed in their classic attire.
There are so many character experiences here, its so difficult to choose just a few to highlight! Knock one meet-and-greet off your list right when you enter the park by taking a right towards Town Square Theater. You can meet the ‘talking Mickey’ here, but my recommendation is to skip Mickey here (more on that later) and opt to meet Tinkerbell. With a little sprinkle of Pixie Dust, you’ll be shrunken to fairy size as Tinkerbell invites you into her tree home. Giant berries, leaves, and greenery make up the surroundings, creating the perfect environment to meet Tink before she takes her nightly flight around the park during the fireworks!
Magic Kingdom is the place to meet Merida, Tiana, Cinderella, Rapunzel…aka the princess hotspot. In my opinion, the best of the princess meet-and-greets will require a little swim through the mysterious fathoms of Fantasyland. Bring your dinglehopper and meet Ariel in her undersea grotto adorned with giant clam shells and seaweed. This is one of the best themed princess experiences, and every Little Mermaid fan will get a chance to swim with their favorite mermaid of all.
Need a break from all of those classic Disney character meet and greets? Do you have an intergalactic space traveler who won’t stand for meeting with one more princess? Then you have to head to Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios! The lineup of characters has changed over the past few years, and the current lineup includes BB8, Chewie, and Kylo Ren. You’ll have to queue separately for each of the characters, and if time is of the essence for you, Chewie and Kylo Ren’s interactions are the must-do’s here. Chewbacca only speaks Shyriiwood so he isn’t much for conversation, but Kylo Ren’s encounter includes bone-chilling conversation with the Sith-in-training. If he asks which side you’re on you’d better choose wisely…he carries his lightsaber with him!
My all time favorite Disney character meet and greet experiences are, of course, the ones with the mouse himself. You can meet Mickey in each of the 4 theme parks, but you can only meet Sorcerer Mickey at Red Carpet Dreams at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Before he harnesses the hat’s magical powers in Fantasmic!, this cheeky version of Mickey has opened his Apprentice chambers to us park visitors! His staging area is based on the short from Fantasia, and his outfit is beautifully constructed from the detail in his Sorcerer’s hat right down to his velour robe and old brown boots. You’ll also have a chance to meet Minnie in her camera-ready, Hollywood-inspired look! Bonus: you’ll only have to queue once for both characters!
Character experiences are always at the top of my friends and families’ lists whenever they take a trip to WDW, and they’re always excited to share photos and autographs with me when they return. There really are countless places you can meet your favorite characters, but the ones highlighted here have time and time again proven to delight everyone I’ve recommended them to, and I’m confident you and your family will enjoy them too! They all boast the best themeing and best characters to meet with, no matter if you’re a princess lover or a Rebel spy. So, which character are you most looking forward to meeting? Let us know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!