This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Meet and Greets at the Magic Kingdom. Let’s face it, meet and greets have become an important part of the vacation experience for many guests. Gone are the days when you could randomly bump into characters roaming the parks as the meet and greets of today have become attractions themselves, with some lines equaling even the best rides and shows in the parks. With elaborate sets, must-do character dining, and even special events based around the opportunity to meet characters, nobody does meet and greets better than Walt Disney World. Today we are going to look at the very best meet and greets at the Magic Kingdom, along with a little advice from an expert on meeting characters, Kenny the Pirate. The rankings are based on several factors including; theming of the meet and greet area, guest interaction with the characters, and a pinch of Je ne sais quoi (the indefinable magic that some meet and greets deliver which stays with you and your family for years, if not a lifetime.) Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, and with that out of the way let’s start with…
# 6 – The Little Mermaid (Ariel’s Grotto)
Disney hit a home run with New Fantasyland delivering a great coaster with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a wonderful dark ride with Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, and the first “E-Ticket” dining experience with Be Our Guest Restaurant. They also over-delivered in the area of meet and greets with the hilarious Gaston (who we just may see later in the list,) Enchanted Tales with Belle (including the stunning Lumiere animatronic and the how did they do that Magic Mirror,) and Ariel’s Grotto.
The Grotto is located right next to the Mermaid attraction and personifies what Disney can bring to the table. Walking into the area guests will receive the same wow factor they got when seeing the elaborate queue of Under the Sea or the impressive Ursula figure during the ride. This is a setting befit of a Disney princess.Guests are asked to sit next to Ariel on her clam shell bench, and this provides an intimate experience you just don’t get at many meet and greets. Like her movie counterpart, this Ariel will comment on unusual items guests may have that wouldn’t be found in the water, along with having age appropriate conversations with each and every guest. This is your only opportunity to meet Ariel outside of a dining package, and be sure to ask how her friends Flounder and Sebastian are doing!
The Little Mermaid. (photo by Jackie Laughters)
Ariel’s Grotto. (photo by Daisy Lauren)
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A few weeks ago I was in Epcot Guest Relations and overheard a flustered mom asking where she could find Merida, the latest Disney Princess from the movie Brave. It seemed like a reasonable request since she was in a Disney park. Her daughter waited anxiously behind her with red ringlets bouncing on the wig that sat strangely on her head, not quite fitting. I watched tears well up when they were told that Merida was only in the Magic Kingdom, and a flustered mom turned furious as they stomped off for the other park. In hopes of preventing future disasters like this one, I decided to share this little guide to finding princesses. Remember – this is accurate as of November 2013 but character meeting locations change all the time, so please always check here for the latest information!
Ariel is one of those princesses who only meets in one very specific location, making it a little harder to catch her. You can find her appearing daily in her Grotto just by the new Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride in the Magic Kingdom. It’s best to try to meet her early or late in the day as like most things the midday line gets very long. While this line looks like it’s indoors it’s really just caves making it still very hot in the summer months. I also recommend meeting Ariel before riding her ride as the load capacity is much higher for the omnimover attraction. Please be aware that Ariel normally swims away one hour before park closing, so don’t wait too late to meet her!
Mulan also only meets in one spot but she is even harder to find due to limited “sets”. You can find her in front of the China area in Epcot just behind the arches. Currently she greets at: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, and 3:50pm – weather permitting. The weather in Florida tends to either be hot or cold. There really aren’t many perfect days. It makes this a tough meet and greet to get to comfortably. I recommend trying to make it over for her earliest meeting time as lines will be shortest and hopefully the weather will be mild.
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