Observations Special Edition: Pop-Up Meet and Greet at Epcot

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Hey everyone! I wanted to bring you a special edition of Observations today. It’s a little departure from the photos of crowds and food and things that I usually take because I’ve been working on ways to show you the parks that mix it up so you don’t fall asleep  “walking” with me through Hollywood Studios or World Showcase. I went to Epcot yesterday to do some recon on a new restaurant and a couple of other menu-type things. I like getting pictures of characters, and I know that every once in a while a princess or a pixie will show up outside the large gate between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase.

You know. This gate.

You know. This gate.

I strolled by around 11, but there wasn’t anything going on. I hit Fountain View for a latte (see the menu) and made my way back, and, as I was passing an again-empty walkway, I heard someone talking from behind the gate. Just past the merchandise cart there’s a little break in the shrubbery, and you can actually see into the courtyard behind. Lo and behold, there was a cast member talking to either a very tall man with a hair shirt or Br’er Bear. Deciding it was less disturbing to assume it was the bear, I planted myself directly in front of the gate to see just what was up.

What happened next is one of the most Disney things I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve been coming to the parks since before I can remember, and while I hate throwing the word “magical” around too much (I close with it to be a little sassy), what transpired was definitely magical. First, a door to the right of the gate swung open, and Chip and Dale skipped out with a cast member.

Chip!

Chip!

Chip and Dale! I love these guys.

Chip and Dale! I love these guys.

While I’m never going to turn down a chance to say, “Hi!” to these two rascals, I knew there had to be more. Because, well, I could see feet and an orange hat through the crack in the gate! After a few laughs with the handful of us standing around (maybe 5 people?), the boys went up and knocked on the gate. And I kind of geeked out thinking I was going to get to see some friends.

What's Behind the Gate?

Chip and Dale Knock on the Gate

If you scroll through the next few shots really fast, it’ll maybe look like exactly what I saw. Well, maybe not, but it was so awesome. The gates opened a little, and there was Br’er Bear!

Br'er Bear Emerges

And then they just kept opening! It should be noted here that I made some kind of high-pitched screechy noise. Just accept that it happened and keep scrolling.

Gate Opening to Reveal Characters

Gate Opening to Reveal Characters

Gate Opening to Reveal Characters

TEN characters (don’t forget the chipmunks are there), with some you don’t see very often (hey there, Max and Mr. Smee!). There are some people who give these kinds of events value based on how many rare characters there are, but the second I saw Mickey and Minnie together, it was more than enough for me. I was transported back to the days of postcards on my bulletin board and dreaming about going to Disney World, and it was fantastic.

At this point, the meet and greet had drawn 30 or 40 people. The characters walked back down the pathway and proceeded to meet, greet, take pictures, sign autographs, and have great interactions.

Character Interactions

The real story behind this is that these meet and greets are where many characters get their interaction training. But that’s not a lot of fun, so we’ll just leave it at being a whole lot of bang for your buck if you’re looking for photos and autographs with no lines. Because of the training aspect, it’s unlikely that you’ll see these kinds of meet and greets on super-busy days, but always be sure to look. This one started around 11:45 a.m. I’ll leave you with a fun photo of me and the mouse, and best wishes on having such an experience here. Until you do…Keep it Magical.

Morgan and Mickey

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Posted on January 21, 2014

10 Responses to “Observations Special Edition: Pop-Up Meet and Greet at Epcot”

  • by Holly Pennington on January 21, 2014, at 8:20 am EST

    I think Magical is the perfect word to describe this moment. I think I would have reacted the same way you did!

  • We had the same thing happen last weekend at Hollywood Studios. We were walking around the Streets Of America when we turned the corner and saw TONS of characters. Mary Poppins, Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie, Max, Belle, Snow White, Mulan and more!! I had never seen anything like it before. It was an amazing experience. And yes, I was in tears when I saw Belle. I love how Disney turns you back into a little kid. :)

  • by Morgan Crutchfield on January 21, 2014, at 9:08 am EST

    Neula, what you experienced is what they call “Characterpalooza” around here. Amazing, isn’t it? You lucked out – it’s fairly rare to see Belle in that set!

  • We experienced the exact same thing on a dreary February day in 2011. The gate opened and let in about 30 people and then closed, leaving us to mingle with penguins, Bear, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Mickey and Gideon! It was, as you say, magical. We danced and took photos and celebrated our amazing luck with the other folks that made it back. It is still one of my all time favorite meet and greets. And yes, from that point on we always peek behind the gate to see if another impromptu session is in the works. I’m glad you got to experience this as well!!

  • by Jennifer o'callaghab on January 21, 2014, at 9:46 am EST

    That looks amazing :-) I remember about 12 years ago my sister and I had been dropped of in Epcot by my mum (I was 18 my sister was 10) and we had taken a birthday card with us to get the characters to sign instead of an autograph book (for my mums 40th). We were almost at Germany and we asked a cast member when Snow White would be coming out and she told us to wait 10 mins as something special was going to happen. Needless to say I was amazed when Snow White came out followed by all 7 dwarves! We got photos with them all and my mums 40th birthday card is particularly awesome :-) xx

  • I have to agree this is magical. When you think of all the time you spend in line to meet the characters to have a bunch of rare ones just come out for a short impromptu meet and greet is great. My family experienced this at Animal Kingdom in 2010. We’d just come out of a showing of the Festival of the Lion King when a CM asked my children (then 5 and 10)if they like to come to an impromptu character meeting. We saw Launchpad McQuack (I had to explain to the kids who this was!), Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, Wendall from Country Bears, Clarice Chipmunk and a few others.

  • Awesome. That made me happy just to read it!

  • Last March, on our way to LeCellier for an early supper (dinner–depending on your feudal class)I was walking with my two girls and those same gates opened up and here were Tinker Bell(she was awesome), Princess Tiana (my youngest’s favorite princess) and Prince Naveen, Aurora, and Snow White. It was definitely magical. We were the first ones there and my girls were excited (my oldest daughter is 5′ 11″ and tinker bell was making fun of her for being so tall–thought she was a giant). It was good because we had gotten Tiana at MK the day before, but to have Prince Naveen there made it great for my youngest.

  • Hey Morgan! I enjoyed your post. I experienced something unusual at Epcot myself yesterday (Jan 20). Just to the right of Journey into Imagination there is a small walkway and on that walkway was Snow White doing a meet and greet! I’ve never seen any characters here and I had only seen Snow White in Germany. The scene made me wonder was this another surprise “training” meet and greet.