If seeing the characters has always been an important part of your Disney vacation, you might be wondering how you’ll fill that void now that classic Character Meet and Greets (where you stood in line to meet a character, then chatted, got an autograph and photo, and maybe even a hug or two) are not available. We understand that can be a big hole to fill especially if you have little ones that have been dreaming of hugging their favorite princess or giving a high five to Chewbacca.
While the parks have changed the parameters around how you see and interact with characters, all is not lost if you still want that fun interaction at Disney. You might have to be a bit more spontaneous, but you can still see some of your favorites on your upcoming trip. Here’s how:
These impromptu mini parades take place in each park. You’ll see several varieties featuring different characters in every park. Characters could be riding in souped-up vehicles at Hollywood Studios, walking around World Showcase in Epcot, riding horses or trolleys on the streets of Magic Kingdom, or cruising around in boats at Animal Kingdom. The nice thing is that you no longer need to try to get the kids to wait for an hour as you protect your 2-foot spot on the curb to watch the floats go by. Now, you simply keep your ears open before your eyes. Once you hear the music change on nearby speakers, you will know a cavalcade is heading your way. All you need to do is stop, wait, and watch them walk/ride/float by. Because the crowds are lower, the chance of your child’s favorite princess locking eyes with her and waving is increased, making it even more special than parades of the past.
Another new and fun way that Disney has introduced characters into the parks is by having them interact with the park in various settings. You might find Alice watering the flowers in the UK pavilion, or Joy playing in the gardens of Epcot. Sometimes, the characters even randomly travel to resorts and find areas to hang out where they can wave and smile as the guests like you. Disney will be very safety minded and there will be no “touching” of the characters (they’re usually behind some type of fence or barrier) but you can have very one-on-one conversations with the characters while they’re out like this. Again, it’s completely random, so if it’s something that’s very important to your family, ask a Cast Member when you enter a park where are the most likely areas you might find a character this way.
There are still a few character meals at Disney World. The best thing about a character meal is the guarantee that you’ll see the characters assigned to that restaurant. You’ll be paying a premium for the meal but if you want your child to be guaranteed to see her favorite character, this is the way to go. Again, no hugging or autographs, but the characters will generally walk near each table so there can be lots of waving, chatting, and even long-distance selfies with characters. You can currently see characters at Chef Mickey’s, Topolino’s Terrace, Hollywood and Vine, and Garden Grill.
We’re confident that character meet and greets will return someday but in the meantime, Disney has set up some wonderful ways to keep that magic alive for you.