Travel tips: How to meet and greet a theme park character

January 19, 2011, 12:21 PM · For many parents, the highlight of their theme park visit is to snap a picture of their children with Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man or some other theme park character.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with the TPI kids

As soon as a character emerges from behind backstage wall at any theme park, a crowd inevitably will materialize, as parents gather to queue for their chance to get that keepsake photo.

But character meet and greets can turn ugly when certain parents and children fail to show the proper manners. I've spoken with several "good friends" of Mickey Mouse, Goofy and other theme park characters, and am happy to share their advice on how to meet and greet their "friends."

  1. Wait your turn.

  2. Don't be mad if a character is leaving. Generally that character will be back in five minutes.

  3. Have cameras, autograph books and pens ready. Not just because it moves the line but it gives your family more quality time with your favorite character.

  4. Stay in the character's field of vision (never approach from side or behind - if the character is on the street ahead of you, go around to approach it from front. You can try calling their name to get their attention, but still will have to go around if he doesn't stop and turn around.)

  5. Follow the character's cues. Watch for it to motion where to stand, etc. The characters know what it takes to get a good photo. Follow their lead.

  6. Talk politely to the character, and politely direct your child if he or she seems intimidated or confused.

  7. Don't touch the character. If you want to shake hands or hive five, put out your hand and let character touch it.

  8. Say thank you when done.

Where are some of your favorite places to meet characters in the parks? Tell us in the comments.

Replies (8)

January 19, 2011 at 12:34 PM · One of my most favorite perks with the Disney Visa is the private audience that you get with Mickey and the Gang at Innoventsions at EPCOT. Depending on the line outside, you can get a "photo shoot" that will include a Disney photographer and your camera for between 3 to 10 minutes. Thats right! You get a bit of private time with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald! AND YOU GET A FREE PICTURE OUT OF IT!!!

So to answer your question, EPCOT! Even if you do not have a Disney Visa, EPCOT has a very nice and convient set up where you can go character to character to character with nice backdrops near Innoventions!

January 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM · You might notice that the photo above was taken next to the American pavilion at Epcot. That park is gold for character meet and greets. Look in the pathways leading away from the main drag around World Showcase, next to each country, and you'll often find characters.
January 19, 2011 at 1:31 PM · We always go to the character lunches or dinners and it's guaranteed that you will get a good amount of time with the characters. It's pricey but well worth it. I'd rather be able to eat lunch and meet a character (which is worth so much more when little kids need entertaining while waiting to be served), than wait to meet a character when I could be watching a show or getting ride time.
January 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM · That is very true!

It is a bit of a shock now thinking of it that EPCOT is probably the best place to meet characters. They have:

Disney Visa Photo Opportunity
Innoventions Photo Line (Mickey,Minnie, Goofy, etc)
Chip n Dale at the Land Dining
Donald in Mexico
Mulan and Mushu in China
All the Princesses in Norway Dining
Snow White in Germany
Mickey in American Adventure
Pinoccio in Italy
Alice and Mary Poppins in the UK
Marie, Remy, Belle, and the Beast in France
Aladdin, Jasmine, and the Genie in Morocco

Not to mention holidays around the world!

Wow, never thought of it!

January 20, 2011 at 3:54 AM · EPCOT providing the best character meet & greets makes sense when you think about it.
It might possibly be down to visitor behaviour being different there.
At Magic Kingdom they tend to have to put out ropes and barriers to prevent the stampede of wild kids and pushy parents from trampling the poor characters into the ground. Mickey and the Gang take their lives in their hands when they go out on the streets of MK and see the frenzy of excited "guests" descending upon them with all the subtelty of a piranha attack. I'm often surprised, and if I'm honest a little disappointed, that they don't ever turn tail and run. That would be hilarious.
But at EPCOT it seems more disciplined and orderly. More genteel. Safer and a better experience for everyone involved.
January 20, 2011 at 5:47 AM · I agree with Rob and Anthony, there is definitely a different atmosphere at Epcot with Character meet and greets. When we had our boys there we would just stumble upon characters in World Showcase with only one or two people waiting to meet them. We even ran into Naveen and Tiana standing close to the back entrance of World Showcase.

The only other Character meet and greets I would recommend would be to try to attend a special event such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. There are so many characters out that you normally do not find, with many opportunities to get a photo and such. I know that during this is usually the rare time that you can get all seven dwarfs and Snow White in one picture, villains, and characters dressed for the holidays.

January 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM · "Wait your turn?" The fact that someone actually felt there was a need to say that doesn't reflect well on our society.
January 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM · Perhaps I should restate "wait your turn" as "look for the line." Too often, I see families barge up to a character, thinking that there's no wait because the area immediately around the character is empty. But they don't look 10 feet over to see the long queue of others waiting to approach.

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