10 Tips for Meeting Characters at Disney

{Meeting Aurora at Epcot's France Pavilion}

Character meet-and-greets at Disney can be a magical experience for the whole family.  This year's Walt Disney World trip was extra special because our little girl was at the perfect age (3 years and 9 months) to meet so many Disney princesses and characters and really soak it up.  She met 16 characters over four days.  With so many character meet-and-greets on this trip we definitely picked up a few good tips.  By the end of the trip I thought she was going to take a princess home with her!

Here's 10 Tips for Meeting Characters at Disney:

1. Pay attention to character spots outside that don't have FastPass options.  If you see a character that doesn't have a long line, go ahead and jump in line because chances are later in the day the wait time will get longer (like Merida in the Fairytale Garden at Magic Kingdom).  Last year when we were in Tommorrowland I saw Chip and Dale walk out.  I hesitated for a few minutes and by the time we jumped in line half a dozen people were in front of us.  This year we spotted Snow White off of Main Street at Magic Kingdom and had virtually no wait time.  And she ended up being one of our favorite character meet-and-greets of the whole week!

2. Use the FastPass option to avoid long wait lines for special characters.  If there is one character that your child really wants to see, a FastPass is the best way to make that happen.   On this trip I used one FastPass per day on a character that I knew my daughter would be excited to see.  And don't forget after you use all three FastPasses for the day you can get more one at a time.  On our last day at Magic Kingdom while we were waiting for the Festival of Fantasy Parade to begin, I was able to score another FastPass to meet Rapunzel and Tiana right after the parade.

3. Get in line 15 minutes before the character is scheduled to appear.  Since Epcot doesn't have as many kid rides my plan was to meet a character at each country.  I scheduled a detailed plan for the day where we would start at Mexico and work our way around the world showcase ending in Canada.  What I didn't take into account was that each character averaged a 30 minute wait.  After making our way halfway around the world showcase without seeing any characters, I realized that I needed to pick a favorite and show up early.  We hadn't seen Aurora yet so I saved our spot in line while my husband and daughter walked around France and bought a treat.  It was actually a really nice break to sit down for a few minutes by France's Fragrance Garden and eat our gelato.  We were first in line when Aurora made her appearance and it was our favorite character experience of the whole trip!

4. When the park opens, go see the popular characters first.  We weren't able to get FastPasses to ride the crazy popular Frozen Ever After.  So our plan was to get to the park early and head straight to Norway at park opening.  After the ride, we went next door to meet Elsa and Anna at the Royal Sommerhus.  We only waited around 15 minutes and later the same day I heard someone mention the wait was an hour for the character greetings.

5. Plan to spend a day at Hollywood Studios to take advantage of short wait lines.  Hollywood Studios is much less crowded than Magic Kingdom.  We met four characters in less than one hour.  After meeting Olaf, we walked by the Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse character locations.  I was shocked that the wait time was only 5 minutes!  The wait time to meet Mickey at Magic Kingdom averages 45 minutes.  If I had known, I wouldn't have used a FastPass on Mickey at Magic Kingdom since we were headed to Hollywood Studios the next day.

6. If a character is running late, don't waste time waiting for them to show.  Characters usually run on time so if they are five and ten minutes late that means something went wrong.  At Hollywood Studios we were waiting for Chip and Dale to come out, and after awhile I asked a Disney attendant and they said they weren't sure why but they were running behind.  We decided to keep moving and down the street we met Goofy instead!

7. Purchase Disney's PhotoPass for high quality character photos.  The first couple of days I made my husband take photos of every character meet-and-greet until I realized that the professional pictures on the MyDisneyExperience app looked so much better!  Disney offers a professional photography service called PhotoPass where photographers are positioned at every character location!  From now on we will purchase our PhotoPass ahead of time and not stress about getting the perfect shot at every character location.

8. Prep your child before they meet each character.  While we were waiting in line, I would tell my daughter who we were meeting and let her know exactly what to expect.  By explaining the process it helped her not to be nervous and enjoy her character meet-and-greet.  You may have to give your child cues when it's time to leave, "Okay, give Elsa a hug" and "Smile for the camera."  It's a balance between letting your child enjoy their time while being courteous of those waiting in line behind you.

9. Bring something unique to the character meet-and-greet to make it more special.  This could be an autograph book and pen or a princess dress to match the Disney Princess you are meeting.  We bought my daughter a ShellieMay Bear on our first day at the parks.  She received so much extra attention from the characters by bringing ShellieMay along.

10. Live in the moment at let your child enjoy their time with each character.  Disney can make for a very fast paced day, but when it's your child turn to meet a character slow down and be present.  These are magical moments that make all the planning and trip prepping worth it.  If the meet-and-greet for one of your special characters doesn't go exactly like you imagined, it's okay.  Your child will still have a wonderful time and often times it's the characters you didn't expect to meet that are the most memorable.

What are your tips for meeting characters at Disney?


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