In my most recent article for the TouringPlans.com blog, I yapped about how enjoyable character experiences can be for guests and how to get the most of out of them. It’s time now to touch on the park that is truly the heart of Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, and the amazing meet and greets that can be found there.
Something to keep in mind before I delve into this topic… schedules and character appearances are apt to change at any given time. A way to make sure your information is up to date is buy grabbing a Character Schedule before entering the park and starting your day. Please also keep in mind that even though “Characters From Aladdin” are scheduled to appear it doesn’t mean that you’ll be seeing Aladdin, Jasmin, and Abu all out together all of the time. Sometimes you may just see one character out but you could also see everyone in a group greeting guests. Check back if your favorite character isn’t out at the moment.
You’ll want to also note that you might be entering a line where Minnie Mouse currently is residing but by the time you get up to the front of the line, Minnie could leave and Pluto could be coming in to take her place. I had this happen to me at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before when I was excitedly waiting in line to meet Max Goof. I was next in line and suddenly Max left and Minnie came out. Disappointment ensued and I was insanely bummed. Be prepared to explain a situation like this to your children because it’s bound to happen at some point.
Getting all those critical details out of the way, it’s time to have some fun meeting characters that appear on Main Street, U.S.A. Upon park opening, you can find numerous characters strolling around Town Square ready to take photos with you and sign your autograph books. From what I understand, these characters that appear aren’t on any specific schedule and change daily.
Also on Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll find the new Town Square Theater meet and greet location. You can clearly see the wait time for both Disney Princesses and Mickey and Minnie on the outside of the building before you even enter a queue line. A first for Walt Disney World character experiences, Town Square Theater provides guests the option of a FASTPASS. This character location is temporary until the new Fantasyland construction is complete and runs from park opening until an hour before scheduled park closing.
Have you autograph books and big fat pens ready for when you hit Adventureland! Characters are abound and ready to greet you. Not a formal meet and greet but definitely a note-worthy character experience, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial can create some wonderful memories for children chosen to participate and take the Pirate Oath. Also appearing from Pirates of the Caribbean is Angelica at the Caribbean Plaza but only through this Saturday. If you’re lucky enough to be in the parks this week, make sure to meet her before she’s gone.
After appearing in Fantasyland, you can now find Ariel greeting guests in Adventureland. Characters from Aladdin appear throughout the day at Agrabah Marketplace and you can meet Tink and other Fairies inside the Adventureland Veranda.
Moving onto Frontierland, the Frontierland Hoedown gives you an opportunity to see the Country Bears perform a little dance but no formal meet and greet. Characters from The Princess and the Frog appear at the nearby Liberty Square Bridge throughout the day and from what I understand this is a very memorable character experience for many guests. For you Toy Story fans, Woody and Jessie can also be found in Frontierland starting at 11:00 a.m. I find both of them to be two of the more outgoing and silly characters to interact with… especially if you egg them on.
Ahh, Fantasyland. Even during current renovations, Fantasyland still manages to provide many meet and greet experiences. Let’s start with the one I’m most excited about visiting in October… Rapunzel from the totally amazing film “Tangled.” You can find her in the Fairytale Garden. Near Peter Pan’s Flight you can catch characters from Peter Pan. One thing thing that people often miss out on seeing is Cinderella’s Fountain behind the castle. If you happen to catch her there at the right time, you’ll be able to meet the Fairy Godmother herself. Pooh and Friends can also be found in Fantasyland.
One of my favorite Fantasyland meet and greets would definitely be Alice in Wonderland near Mad Tea Party. For the first time a few years ago I saw Alice walk out and greet children outside of the teacups. She then walked up to one little girl and asked her if she’d like to ride in a teacup with her! It was the cutest thing to watch the little girl and her mother, along with Alice, spin round and round, giggling and smiling. I’ll never forget witnessing that magical moment.
Tomorrowland seems to be the land lacking of characters. The long standing Buzz Lightyear meet and greet near my all time favorite attraction, Carousel of Progress is still going strong. By far the most interesting character experience is with PUSH the Talking Trashcan. I ran into PUSH a few years ago and we had a really fun conversation. He said he missed me and even asked for a hug. I can say that I’d never hugged a garbage can until that day. Sure, PUSH isn’t famous for being in any Disney film but he’s a star in his own right! This is one “show” that is totally interactive and even fun just to watch him freak people out. Don’t miss it!
Remember, characters are apt to come out at any time at any place for no good reason. I happened to bump into some of the wickedest characters from Cinderella last fall and I definitely didn’t expect it. Keep your eyes open for any characters that just might pop up out of no where!
If your young ones are still a bit afraid of walking up to a character and greeting them, you can always catch many of them during a show. The Magic Kingdom Morning Show is exciting and fun first thing in the morning before park opening. Many times throughout the day Dream-Along With Mickey, a live show in front of Cinderella Castle, is performed and you can get a glimpse of many characters there as well. By far the best time to get close and personal with many characters is at varies parades throughout the day. Even though parades are not formal meet and greets, many characters do walk up to guests and invite them to join in on the fun.
There are only two dining locations in the Magic Kingdom where you can dine with characters currently. Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet welcome you to dine with them at The Crystal Palace, a buffet dining experience open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also available for three meals a day is Cinderella’s Royal Table inside of Cinderella Castle. A very costly meal allows you to be greeted by Cinderella downstairs before entering her restaurant where characters such as Belle, Aurora, Snow White, and Fairy Godmother will drop by to chat. Characters at Cinderella’s Royal Table could change at any point but generally you’ll be dining with princesses.
One way to find a very large amount of characters, especially rare characters, at one time is buy snagging tickets to a hard ticket event such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Be sure to get your tickets before the day of the party so you can get them at a slightly discounted price. Most people have a love/hate relationship with these events as they tend to draw a lot of people at once to the park but also provide really memorable experiences that you won’t be able to find during a normal day in the Magic Kingdom.
What are some of your favorite meet and greets at the Magic Kingdom? Share some of your memorable experiences with us!