I’ve covered Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Now it’s time for me to get into the park where entertainment reigns and find where characters are waiting to be greeted. Disney’s Hollywood Studios revolves mostly around movies and television so it’s no wonder why you can see so many characters walking around. They’re meant to be at the Studios!
If you’re arriving at park opening then you’re most definitely going to be greeted by the most unique form of entertainment anywhere in Walt Disney World, the Citizens of Hollywood. The comedy skits are seriously hilarious and you’d be silly to walk right past them if you had the time to spare to watch for a few minutes. First thing in the morning before park opening there is a skit to welcome guests into the park. My husband and I were chosen to participate in this show on our honeymoon and it was an absolute blast! Seriously the most memorable moment I’ve ever had at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Many of the Streetmosphere shows pull guests right off of the street to participate. This makes for great photo opportunities. Even if the Citizens aren’t official Disney film characters, they still are worth saying hello to.
Perhaps the most centrally located and easiest location to meet characters is right by the giant Sorcerer Hat. Most of the time you’re going to find Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and the Chipmunks hanging out. Because this place is so high profile and is in the middle of a lot of traffic, lines can get rather long. If you are walking by and see a short line for a character be sure to jump in it and not wait, otherwise you could be standing there for a while. That is, unless we’re talking about park opening and you’re headed for Toy Story Midway Mania.
If your family is interested in meeting the big cheese, Mickey Mouse, then head over to the Magic of Animation building. My advice is to avoid the film that they never update and, instead, head through the “exit” which is, in classic Disney style, a gift shop. If you pass through the shop you’ll come right into the Animation building where you can meet not just Mickey, but many other beloved characters. From time to time Disney will send out random characters that aren’t scheduled to appear. You never know who you could meet. If the line for Mickey is long be sure to check out the other scheduled characters, The Incredibles and Pooh and Friends. The location that the Winnie the Pooh characters occupy currently is a rotating spot for any characters that have a movie in theaters. This works for Disney as a great marketing tool and a way for guests to get to know new characters.
Right outside of the Magic of Animation you’ll come upon the Animation Courtyard where you can play with characters from Disney Junior. Be sure to check out the show Disney Junior – Live on Stage! at some point if you think that your little ones would enjoy it. On Extra Magic Hour nights there is a Disney Junior Dance Party that starts at 10:00 p.m. So, wake your kids up and hoist them out of the their strollers so they can get their groove on. Another kid friendly meet and greet experience that will be exciting for any Disney Channel fan is Phineas and Ferb who hang out by Mama Melrose’s. And, though it doesn’t get the most favorable reviews, Hollywood and Vine is a table service meal that brings Playhouse Disney characters right to your table as you dine. Be sure to get a breakfast or lunch Advanced Dining Reservation though because characters do not appear at dinner.
When I visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios now mid-day, I’m reminded of how much I miss Block Party Bash. What makes me realize the quality of Block Party Bash now? It’s replacement… Pixar Pals Parade. What saves this parade are the characters. You can’t stop and take pictures with the characters and have them sign your autograph book but you at least get to see them and wave. If the characters didn’t exist then you’d have a bunch of lame refurbished floats and a crummy soundtrack. But, I’m not writing an article on parade critiques so I’m gonna shut up and get back to characters.
Another show throughout the day that children are welcome to participate in is the Jedi Training Academy. This show used to just take place during Star Wars Weekends but it was so popular that they decided to make it a permanent fixture. Kids line up and get trained in lightsaber skills before battling Darth Vader himself. While it’s not a formal meet and greet, if your child participates you can of course snap away and get great shots of them in action.
Pixar Place is your destination if you want to have some fun with Toy Story characters. While Buzz and Woody are cool and all, I prefer the Green Army Men. More Pixar friends from Monsters, Inc. are over by the Backlot Tour. I happen to love this location because it’s tucked away and many people don’t even know that it’s there… resulting in short lines. We all love short lines. A Pixar character meet and greet that isn’t so hidden is the Cars 2 meet and greet on the Streets of America.
On select weekends during May and June, you can experience Star Wars Weekends. Not only do you get to meet Star Wars characters but even some of the actors that appeared in the films have autograph signings open to the public. What’s great is that it’s at no extra charge to guests. You just have to endure long lines. Trust me though, it’s worth it. I grew up with two older brothers that were very, very into Star Wars and it definitely rubbed off on me. Check out the Touring Plan made for Star Wars Weekends that focuses on celebrity autographs!
It’s so easy to have fun walking around all day meeting characters and giving them high fives. I’ve had some very memorable experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’d love for you to share some of yours with me! Leave me a comment and tell me about it!