By: Amy Kawa
As a kid, who doesn’t dream of meeting Mickey Mouse in the happiest place on earth? Kids I don’t want to know – that’s who! Sure, you can find Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald in a myriad of places throughout Walt Disney World, but what about all of the other amazing characters that have their own spots around the parks? The number of character meet and greets and the lines that accompany them can seem daunting, so Dreams on Main Street is here to help you find the best of the best!
It seems as though there is almost a cyclical pattern when it comes to interest in meeting characters throughout someone’s lifetime. Characters are the be-all-and-the-end-all when you’re 3-8 years old, and then they’re not so cool anymore for about 10 years. Now, at 24, I LOVE meeting characters again! The interactions you can have with them as an adult brings them to life again in a completely new way!
So, without further ado, in no particular order, here is a listing of the best character meet and greets throughout the Walt Disney World Resort:
Talking Mickey Mouse – Magic Kingdom
As I have already mentioned, most people have the dream of running up to Mickey in the Magic Kingdom and giving him a HUGE hug. Well, what if that Mickey in your dreams could talk to you too?! One Mickey in particular can actually speak! You can only find “Magician Mickey” in Magic Kingdom’s Town Square Theater, and you better hurry if you haven’t met him yet, as talking Mickey will be retiring May 12, 2018.
Have no fear! If you can’t meet talking Mickey, nothing beats the nostalgia of meeting any old Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney World! You can find the main mouse at many character meals in the parks and resort hotels, at the Epcot Character Spot, at Red Carpet Dreams in Hollywood Studios, and at Adventurers Outpost in Animal Kingdom.
Line: Indoor, air-conditioned (Fastpass + offered), 45-60 minutes consistently throughout the day
Suggestion for parents: Go with your kiddos! Seeing your kids meet Mickey is a memory that lasts a lifetime, an no one will judge you if you sneak a hug too!
2. Baymax – Epcot
“Are you satisfied with your care?” You can meet this health care companion in Epcot’s Future World. Everyone who has seen Big Hero 6 wanted to hug Baymax from the moment that fluffy marshmallow came on the screen, and Disney has given us that chance! Bless them!
Baymax’s character handler will ask you to remove all sharp objects (pins, buttons, lanyards, etc.) so you don’t puncture Baymax, as he is literally made of some kind of balloon-like material. You can give him “light hugs” and a fist bump, but he doesn’t do much more than that on terms of interaction. He’s very low-key, just like his on-screen self.
Line: Indoor, air-conditioned, 20-40 minutes consistently throughout the day
Suggestion for parents: If you like Big Hero 6, get in on this meet and greet! Baymax is the man!
3. Joy and Sadness – Epcot
In Epcot and the same building as Baymax, you can meet a couple of the stars from Pixar’s Inside Out – Joy and Sadness. These emotions meet together and are true to their namesakes. Joy is perky, bright, and lively, whereas Sadness is certainly more low-key, lethargic, and sullen. Both of them are sweet as can be, and you will sure to leave with a big smile on your face after you meet them (maybe not as big as my sister’s smile, but still…).
Line: Indoor, air-conditioned, 20-40 minutes consistently throughout the day
Suggestion for parents: You might enjoy it best to watch your kiddos twirl with Joy or hug Sadness from afar, but if you like Inside Out, get in there with them too!
4. Gaston – Magic Kingdom
“No one’s slick as Gaston. No one’s quick as Gaston.” No one… does meet and greets like Gaston! Whether you’re 2 or 72, Gaston will use his charm and looks to “woo” the ladies and intimidate the gentleman who he graces with his presence. This meet and greet is truly one of the best I have done, and is a must-do every trip. Gaston comes up with some amazing one-liners and makes every interaction feel special. You can challenge him to a pushup contest, compare biceps, tell him you like the Beast better, or appeal to his ego by flirting with him or telling him how great he is.
You can find Gaston in the Magic Kingdom in New Fantasyland, right in front of his tavern.
Line: Outdoor, uncovered, 20-40 minutes during his appearances sporadically throughout the day, which stop at dusk
Suggestion for parents: Gaston can chat with anyone, so this is one meet and greet you won’t want to miss!
5. The Star Wars Good Guys – Chewbacca and BB-8 – Hollywood Studios
Inside the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will find some awesome Star Wars meet and greets. Everyone’s favorite wookie, the iconic Chewbacca, greets guests, offering incredibly strong, wookie-sized hugs and laughs. Chewy is seriously impressive, as Disney has literally brought Hans Solo’s (RIP!) right-hand man to life. Just across the hallway, BB-8 beeps, blips, and wurs, magically engaging guests and somehow carrying on full conversations with space travelers. I am still not sure how they do it, but BB-8 has appropriately responded with some sort of noise to every conversation I have seen him have. Meeting BB-8 was a bucket list thing for me, and Disney gave me this gift!
On a side note, you can also meet Kylo Ren at the Launch Bay, but his pre-recorded lines never seem to match up to the conversation, and his stand-offish nature isn’t too fun to be around.
Line: Indoor, air-conditioned, 5-45 minutes depending on the time of year and day – shorter lines very early in the morning and at night
Suggestion for parents: For a lot of parents, they have always wanted a chance to meet Chewy and other Star Wars characters, so go, live your dream!
6. Merida – Magic Kingdom
You can meet this arrow-shooting, red-headed princess in a tucked away courtyard in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. In keeping with the meet and greet trend of recent years, Merida takes her time with the guests she meets, having an actual conversation with them or showing them how to shoot an arrow, as opposed to just posing for a quick photo. Her Scottish accent is also amazing to hear in-person.
Line: Outdoor, somewhat shaded by trees, 20-40 minutes during her appearances, which stop at dusk
Suggestion for parents: Merida can hold down the fort with the kiddos, so feel free to take a breather while your child meets her, or if you’re a big fan of the film, Brave, then now’s your chance to “change your fate,” and meet Merida!
7. Chip and Dale – Various
Who doesn’t love to meet these mischievous chipmunks?! Chip and Dale are always a solid meet and greet. They play off of each other and have some fun with the guests they meet – taking your hat or sunglasses, playing hide-and-seek, or playing little jokes on guests. Not to mention, Chip and Dale are two of the cutest Disney characters to come to life.
You can meet them in almost all of the parks in various “pop-up” locations: Magic Kingdom from time-to-time in Tomorrowland, Epcot occasionally in Future World outside the Character Spot, and Hollywood Studios by the Chinese Theater or down Commissary Lane. You can also meet them at various character meals in the parks and resort hotels.
Line: In the parks, usually outdoor and uncovered, 10-20 minutes sporadically until dusk
Suggestion for parents: Chip and Dale represent some good, old-fashioned Disney, so have some fun with a couple Rescue Rangers (they’ll love it if you mention their starring roles on that show too!).
8. Buzz Lightyear and Woody – Hollywood Studios; Buzz also appears solo at Magic Kingdom
“You are a TOY!” You have your chance to step into Andy’s room and meet his main buddies, Buzz and Woody, in Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios. You can also meet Buzz solo outside his ride at Magic Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
As with other charter duo meet and greets, these guys feed off of each other, which oftentimes make the interaction more entertaining for kids and adults alike.
Autographs: Sometimes (they may or may not sign and/or use a stamp)
Line: Indoors, air conditioned in Hollywood Studios; outside, uncovered in Magic Kingdom, 20-40 minutes throughout the day
Suggestion for adults: Who wouldn’t want to meet Buzz and Woody!? Get in there!
9. Captain Jack Sparrow – Magic Kingdom
You can only meet Captain Jack during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, but boy is he worth the wait! Ahoy matey!
Captain Jack is everything you’d hope he would be while watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He talks a whole lot of nonsense about his grand pirate schemes, flirts with the ladies – young and old alike, and tries to recruit young lads to become a part of his crew aboard the Black Pearl. Captain Jack is another character who really seems to take his time with his guests, making for some great stories and pictures!
Line: Outdoors, uncovered, 30-45 minutes during peak party times
Suggestion for parents: Captain Jack is another character who is appreciated more by older guests, so grab a spot in line and enjoy a chat with this famous Pirate of the Caribbean.
10. Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters – Magic Kingdom
I know. I know. Another villain. But I promise, this meet and greet is the best of the best! Most of the time now, the Stepsisters just meet sans mom, but they’re still fantastic! They are loud, obnoxious, vain, and desperate for a prince (whether he be 4 or 40!). You can find them roaming around Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland between the Carousel, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Enchanted Tales with Belle. A line will form by the “castle wall” in that area.
Line: Outdoor, uncovered, 15-35 minutes during their few meeting times throughout the day until dusk
Suggestions for parents: This family loves to play around with anyone, so the more the merrier!
A. The Disney Dogs – Various
Maybe this stems from nostalgia, but to me, there is no better meet and greet that Goofy and Pluto. Goofy is just that, “goofy,” from his giant, galloping shoes to his long ears and oversized head. Pluto is as cute, fuzzy, and dog-like as you’d hope the family dog would be. Personally, I am partial to Pluto, as I feel like he doesn’t get the love he deserves. If you have an autograph book, give it to Pluto to sign. The memory of how he does so is one that has stayed with me for the past 20 years.
You can meet the “Disney Dogs” in a variety of places throughout the parks and resort hotels. You can find Goofy at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot’s Character Spot, sometimes in a “pop-up” spot in Hollywood Studios, and in Dinoland USA where he in fact meets with Pluto in Animal Kingdom. You can find Pluto usually by the flagpole on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, at Epcot’s Character Spot, sometimes in a “pop-up” spot in Hollywood Studios, and in Dinoland USA with Goofy by his side. They both (either together or separately) can also be found at several character dining locations at the parks and resorts.
B. Any Disney Villain – Various
Everyone knows the bad guys and gals have all the fun! Disney villains only meet guests during special occasions, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or during other hard-ticketed events. Their exclusivity always means the lines to meet them are ridiculously long when those rare opportunities do arise. However, the interactions the Disney villains provide are almost always worth the wait! Meeting the Queen of Hearts (face-character version), Cruella DeVil, the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Dr. Facilier at Disney’s Club Villain a few years ago was some of the best character interactions I’ve ever experienced. The villains are free to be more fun and less scripted than the princesses or the “good guys.”
Autographs: Yes (when they appear)
Lines: Outdoors, uncovered (when they appear), 60+ minutes
Suggestion for parents: The villains actually like interacting more with an older clientele, as the kiddos tend to be more afraid of them than entertained, so indulge and chat with Malificient if you are lucky enough to get that chance!
Did we miss any of your favorite meet and greets? Let us know in the comments!