So You Want to Meet the Disney World Characters…

A highlight for nearly every child who visits Disney World…and more than a few adults…..is meeting the characters. It is such an important part of a Disney trip that many children plan for weeks which characters they wish to see, and spend just as much time trying to decide where the best place is to see them. (At least that’s the way it worked in our family lol!)

“Hunting for characters” can be a very fun way to create memorable vacation moments so be sure to have that camera ready at all times! While there will be PhotoPass photographers any place a character is, you can certainly use your own camera; in fact you can even give your camera to a castmember if you would like to be in the picture as well.

Whether it’s Mickey Mouse, Snow White, or all Seven Dwarfs, you will find nearly every Disney character somewhere, at some point in the parks. So as you search for your favorites, here are some things to know that will help you to make the most of this experience:

  1. Consider your child(ren) first, and don’t be surprised if they are not thrilled about getting up close and personal with this huge furry creature in front of them. Many children run up to the characters with open arms but just as many hang back, terrified and in tears. It’s ok. You can gently offer to visit the character with your child to ease their fears, but if they are adamant about not going, please don’t force them, no matter how long you’ve waited in line.
  2. Remember that some characters can talk (the so-called “face” characters like the princesses) and some can’t….like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. While you can talk to them, they will respond with nods, high-fives and other non-verbal gestures…but no words. Prepare your children for this ahead of time so they know what to expect.
  3. Many of the characters in “heads” or masks have limited visibility, and so cannot see well…which means they may not easily see your child if they are small or off to the side. But no worries, that’s what the accompanying castmember is for among other things: to help the character see and interact with each child. Just give the character a few seconds and she/he is sure to acknowledge your little one
  4. I know I always have a hard time remembering this, as the characters always seem so, well, REAL, but there are actual people inside those hot, stuffy costumes. In the Florida sun, heat and humidity. So try not to be disappointed if you get to a character line just as he/she is leaving for a well-deserved break. Don’t worry, they’ll be back! Just ask the castmember for the next time or check the park map.
  5. Speaking of the maps, they do note character viewing places where you can see your favorites. Be sure to take a look before you go if that is something important to your child, so that you can plan this just as you would for your favorite ride or attraction.
  6. Do you want character autographs? It’s a fun way to collect a great souvenir! While autograph books are great, you can also ask for the characters to sign a shirt, or hat for something that is lasting. Be sure to always have a fat pen or sharpie for the characters to use no matter what you want them to sign: those big hands have a hard time will little teensy pencils!
  7. Want to see lots of characters without long waits? Consider one of the many character meals that are offered. The Disney website lists who is where so that you can be sure to choose the one that your children will like the most. Remember that some, like the ones in Cinderella’s Castle may book up far in advance so if you want to do one of these, be sure to make your advanced dining reservations at the 180 day mark. (A great tip is to make an dining reservation for breakfast in the Castle for before the park opens: you will feel as if you have Main Street to yourself….and you can get some great “crowd-less” photographs in as you walk to your breakfast!)
  8. Want more great places to see your favorite Disney friends? Consider a character meal at some of the resorts, such as Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary or 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. You might even want to forgo the parks completely on one day and combine your resort character meal with a day of touring all the resorts. This is a fun…and very affordable…way to spend a day.
  9. What about some lesser-known…and therefore highly successful places to meet the characters? Epcot’s World Showcase is a great place to find many characters in their native homelands: Aladdin in Morocco, Belle in France, and Mary Poppins in England are regulars there, and often with very short lines as well. :)
  10. Don’t be shy about visiting a character if you are an adult! They love it when grownups visit too, and I can personally vouch for the fact that Mickey Mouse especially loves it when ladies visit. :)  (Shhh, don’t tell my husband!)

So there you have it. Ten tips for making the most of visiting the characters while at Walt Disney World….no matter what your age is!

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