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One of most fun things to do at Disney World, especially for kids, is meeting the characters. While this can be a lot of fun, it can also eat up a good deal of your park time. So, here are some tips for meeting characters that will save you some time and improve your character meet and greets. For a list of characters available to meet, see where to find the characters at Disney World.
Time Saving Tips
Get There Early
One of my best tips for meeting characters is to get in line early. This will minimize the amount of time you have to wait to meet each character. To find out what time the characters will be out, check the Times Guide. Try getting there a few minutes before the character’s set starts to get a jump on other people. This will allow you to meet the characters and get on to other activities without spending too much time in line.
Have Your Stuff Ready
While waiting in line to meet a character, get all of your stuff out so you will be ready when it’s your turn. Get your autograph book out and opened to the correct page. Have your pen ready to go. Turn your camera on. While these things don’t take a lot of time to do, they can save you some precious moments when it is time for your meet. This is crucial when you are trying to fit everything in during limited time in the parks. It will also allow you to capture the best moments of a character meet and greet: your kids getting those initial hugs!
Dine at Character Meals
If you or your children want to meet the princesses or other popular characters, save time by dining at a character meal. This effectively allows you to meet characters while eating. Character meals are a great way to see the more popular characters while avoiding long lines. You can find most of the princesses at character meals. There are also character meals with Pooh and friends, Mickey and pals, and the Disney Junior characters. For more info on character meals, see our list of character meals.
Late Night Lines
Another tip to minimize the time you spend waiting to meet characters is to meet them late at night if possible. Now, this won’t work for most characters because they quit meeting guests earlier in the day. However, there are a few characters who will be out until park closing or close to it. For these characters, wait until almost the end of the night to meet them. Usually, this means you will have shorter lines and get more time with the character. A few years ago, we wanted to meet Santa Goofy, but his line was always way too long. One night, we walked past his meeting area a few minutes before Hollywood Studios closed and saw that there were only a few families in line. So, we jumped in his line 5 minutes before the park closed. We only waited a few minutes and had a great time with him.
Tips for Better Meet and Greets
Don’t Force Your Kids
Kids can sometimes be unpredictable. They may be super excited about meeting their favorite characters before your trip, but when it comes time to do so, they may get scared. Kids usually don’t expect the characters to be as big as they are. This can be scary for some. If your kids get scared, please don’t force them to meet the characters. This will just make it worse for you and your kids.
If you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see the character, try meeting the character yourself while your kids sit it out. If your children are good with the character from afar but not up close, try putting yourself between the child and the character for the pictures. Another solution is to take the picture with your child facing away from the camera. This will make for a funny memory later in life.
Seek Out Favorites
If you or your children have a favorite character, make a point to seek them out during your trip. To find them, look in the Times Guide or ask a cast member where you can find them. While there are a ton of characters that meet guests, please remember that there are some characters that do not come out at all. Others are only out during special events. I would recommend finding your children’s favorite characters early in your trip so you don’t miss them. Plus, your kids will probably be much more cooperative once they have met their favorites. For quick reference, see our list of where to find the characters.
Capture the Interactions
When it comes your time to meet a character, start taking pictures as soon as you and your family walk up. Don’t wait until it is time for posed pictures. Instead, snap away the entire time. Sometimes, the best pictures are ones that capture the interactions between your children and the character. Some of my favorite pictures of my son at Disney World are of characters embracing him in a huge bear hug.
Also, take advantage of the Photopass photographers at character meet and greets. They are great at capturing the interactions between the characters and your family. Sometimes, they will take a photo of something that you didn’t even see happen.
Find Your Inner Child
It can be kinda weird as an adult to interact with an animated character, especially one that doesn’t talk. This can cause your pictures to look more awkward than fun. To overcome this feeling, find your inner child and let them come out to play. Have fun with the experience! The more you let loose and go with it, the more comfortable you will be and the more fun the meeting will be for everyone. And remember: you are at a place built to get you in touch with your inner child. So go for it!
Try Fun Poses
Another way to improve your meet and greets with the characters is to try some fun poses. Think about the characters and their movies. Try to come up with some ways to pose that will fit in with the character’s personality. The character will willingly join you in your pose. When we met Tarzan on one trip, Tarzan actually suggested our pose. It was fun and made for a more interesting picture.
One of the unique things about visiting a theme park such as Disney World is the ability to meet characters from your favorite animated movies. Meeting characters is one of our favorite things to do at Disney World. The above tips will save you time meeting characters while also improving your meets. I hope you take some time on your next trip to use these tips for meeting characters at Disney World. For help planning your Disney World trip, see our step-by-step guide, best resources, and quick tips. Happy travels!