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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If you’ve ever seen a TV commercial or promotional video for Walt Disney World, then you’ve certainly seen images of young girls wearing Disney princess dresses in the theme parks. This iconography is so prevalent that it’s easy to get the impression that ball gown attire is mandatory for every elementary-school-age child entering the Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.
While many girls do choose to wear princess dresses for some of their time at Walt Disney World, this is certainly not a requirement for any activity at the parks. Your daughter might love to dress up, or she might be completely uncomfortable in princess attire. Both opinions are perfectly OK. You should follow your child’s lead on whether to consider princess dresses as part of your vacation plan.
Here’s the complete scoop on how to navigate the princess dress situation in a way that makes sense for your family.
Do most girls wear princess dresses at Walt Disney World?
When you’re just walking around the park, you’ll see just a small percentage of girls ages about 3 to 8 wearing princess costumes, maybe 5%. However, there are some places at the parks where the percentage of girls in princess attire will be much higher.
My non-scientific, personal observation is that something along the lines of 50-60% of the preschool and elementary age girls at the princess-themed character meals will be wearing princess dresses. Note that this also means that 40-50% of the girls there will NOT be wearing gowns. Very few girls older than age 8 or 9 will be wearing princess dresses at meals, or anywhere else.
Ariel dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.
Something on the order of 80% of the girls getting makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) will be sporting some form of princess attire. Similarly, something on the order of 80-90% of the children attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be wearing costumes. These might be princess gowns, but could just as easily be something else entirely.
My own three daughters did lots of princess dress-up at home, but never chose to wear gowns while at Walt Disney World, not even at the princess meals or the BBB. That was their choice. They never felt uncomfortable that other girls were wearing dresses at character meals while they were not. You should use your judgment about your own child’s personality about whether you think she would feel left out or sad if other girls are dressed in gowns while she is not.
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