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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For many children, and adults, Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming place, filled with countless new sights, sounds, smells, textures, in an endless stream of stimuli. Sure you can surprise your family with trip to Walt Disney World, but you may have a better overall vacation experience if you give your kids some time to prepare in advance. At-home preparation for you kids might take the form of meeting costumed characters, practicing table manners, or learning to sleep in a particular crib, but one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to get a child ready for a Disney vacation is to show him movies related to your upcoming trip.
Cinderella is a must see before visiting Walt Disney World.
You’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of what’s happening in the parks if you’re familiar with the stories depicted in what you see there.
Some of these suggestions will be obvious. Your child will no doubt have a better grasp on something like the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor if he’s, you know, actually seen Monsters, Inc. Other suggestions will be more tangentially related to specific attractions, but will give a your kids a greater comprehension of the tone and flavor of Walt Disney World.
As always, use these recommendations with the caveat that you are the best judge of what’s appropriate for your specific child and his current developmental stage. For example, while most preschoolers will adore The Little Mermaid, a child who’s in fear-of-the-ocean mode might have a full-scale meltdown at the sight of Ursula. Similarly, some kids might be ready for a Star Wars marathon at age four, while others will need to wait until eight, nine, or even older. If there’s a movie that you haven’t seen since your own childhood, it might be worth doing a quick preview on your own before subjecting your child to potential overload.
You’ll no doubt note that many Disney and Pixar films are not mentioned on my list (Bambi, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Up, etc.). This bears no reflection on the quality of the films, nor on their place in the canon, but rather speaks to their current relative lack of representation at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts. There are also a few non-Disney films listed here because, in my opinion, they do a particularly good job of evoking an atmosphere or time period represented at the parks in a more succinct way than any actual Disney film does.
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