About two months before our Disney World vacation last June, Ladybug announced that she wanted to meet some characters. Although we’d been to Disney World twice before, Ladybug was young both times so we hadn’t attempted to meet any characters. Even though Ladybug was a little older for this trip and deep in the world of Disney princess fandom, meeting characters was low on my priority list. So when she started listing all of the characters she wanted to meet- and it was quite a long list- I went to work figuring out how to make it work.
Meet and greets became the focus of this trip and it’s now one of our new favorite things to do at Disney World. In another post I will discuss which meet and greets were our favorite but for now, here are a few tips for before and during your trip to Disney World to help make your meet and greets as magical as can be.
Before you go
Create a schedule
We met a total of 21 characters during our four days at Disney World. Just reading that number makes me wonder how we did it. I spent the weeks leading up to our trip pouring over each character’s schedule, arranging and rearranging meet and greet times until I came up with a schedule that worked for us and allowed us to still take some breaks throughout the day to rest at the hotel. What a novice Disney World goer needs to know is each character has a set time and location where they can be found in the parks. This schedule can be found on My Disney Experience. It is wise, especially if you have a lot of characters you want to meet, to come up with at least a loose schedule so you know what times they’re meeting with guests and to make sure you can meet them all.
Some of the more popular characters-such as Rapunzel and Cinderella- have fastpasses available to make waiting in line with young ones more manageable. Because our kids are so young, we didn’t use our fastpasses for rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Space Mountain that have a height requirement. Instead, we used our fastpasses to meet Rapunzel, Tiana, Aurora and Cinderella in Princess Fairytale Hall, Tinker Bell and Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater, and Ariel in her Grotto. It greatly lowered our wait time which was so important for a preschooler and a baby.
Prepare your kids
I’m going to be honest here: thinking about meeting characters actually made me nervous. I’m very reserved and often feel uncomfortable being forced to come out of my shell. So while I was preparing Ladybug for a meeting with her favorite princesses, I also had to prepare myself. We talked a lot about what we could say and what questions we could ask the characters so there wouldn’t be any awkward silences during the meet and greet. We also watched youtube videos of meet and greets to get a feel for the character and how they interact with guests. Ladybug also wanted to bring her favorite Disney characters a hand drawn picture from her. These worked out well because they were an automatic conversation starter.
While You’re in the parks
The majority of the meet and greets take place only at select times and places. Because these times are posted on My Disney Experience and, in some locations, at the site itself, it is no secret when each character is greeting guests. The lines often fill up fast and the handler may even close the line at a certain point because it has reached capacity. We learned this the hard way when we tried to meet Peter Pan. We arrived about five minutes before he was scheduled to appear and the line was already pretty long. The handler informed us the line was closed and to come back 20 minutes before the next appearance. Thankfully, we didn’t have another meet and greet planned so we came back 30 minutes early for the next appearance and were able to meet him. So, learn from us- make sure you arrive early.
Follow your child’s lead
During our meet and greets, D and I tried to stay in the background and let Ladybug have her special time with her favorite characters. It seemed to work well for all but one character- Peter Pan. For some reason, she was terrified of him and did not want to take a picture with him by herself. So I went up with her. But for the most part, we stayed in the background and watched, delightedly, as the meet and greet transpired. My advice is to let your child lead the situation. If your child needs a little reassurance, go up with them. However, it can be more magical for them if you let the meet and greet be their moment.
Have your autograph book and pen ready
Preparedness is key when meeting characters. You only have a few minutes to interact during your meet and greet so if you want a character to sign something, make sure you have it out and ready to give to them so that you have as much time as possible to interact and take pictures.
Record the meet and greet
Of course you want to take lots of pictures at your meet and greet. Meeting a favorite Disney character is a big deal in a child’s life. You’ll want to snap both candid and posed to remember the experience. However, in order to remember it even better, why not take a video as well? We celebrated Ladybug’s birthday while in Disney World. She got to wear the Happy Birthday button and so many people- cast members and other guests alike- wished her a happy birthday. But the most memorable moment was when we went to meet Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater. He led the whole room in singing “Happy Birthday” to Ladybug. I’m so glad that we got a video of it as it is one of our favorite memories from our vacation.
On our Animal Kingdom day, we had plans to meet Pocahontas and Mickey and Minnie at Adventurer’s Outpost. However, after we met Pocahontas, it was already almost lunchtime and the day was sweltering. We decided to skip our meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie and go back to the hotel to cool off. We were disappointed but knew that taking a break was better than dragging two cranky kids, especially Ladybug who was originally the one who wanted to meet them, through the line. But you know what? It worked out for the best because after naps, we decided to spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom where we met Mickey at Town Square Theater instead- which was an awesome experience. We also met Daisy, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald at Pete’s Silly Sideshow.
Keep in mind that things happen and plans need to be changed last minute. Maybe you’ll need to meet a character at a different time. Or maybe you’ll have to skip a particular meet and greet. Being flexible is important in having fun on your Disney vacation. If you’re too bummed about the experiences that you have to give up, you won’t be able to enjoy the unexpected surprises that do happen. Also, if you do need to skip a meet and greet that you wanted to attend, it’s all the more reason to plan another trip to Walt Disney World.
Character meet and greets can greatly enhance your Disney World experience. Whether you meet one or many, with a little planning, you can have a magical time meeting your or your child’s favorite Disney characters.
Do you have any tips for character meet and greets at Disney World? Share them in the comments!
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