Vote of the Week: Character meet-and-greets - yes or no?

December 6, 2013, 11:32 AM · Did you stop to get a picture with a character the last time you visited a theme park?

Princess Tiana
Meeting Princess Tiana in Disneyland's New Orleans Square

Meet and greets have become wildly popular, especially at the Disney parks, where meet-and-greets with Mickey and Minnie Mouse or with the Disney princesses have moved into permanent attraction buildings of their own. You can even get Fastpasses to meet those characters now.

Even the so-called "minor" characters can draw huge lines. And they're often slow-moving ones, too, as families take their time with the character, often fumbling around with a camera, coaxing a reluctant child forward, or lingering trying to get that perfect shot. A while back, we offered some advice on How to meet and greet a theme park character, to help make the experience as rewarding as possible for everyone (including that hard-working cast member portraying the character!)

But not everyone takes time to meet Mickey, or a Minion, when visiting a theme park. For some fans, the characters are simply a distraction. For those park visitors, the best thing they can say about character meet-and-greets is that they pull other park guests out of the ride and show lines they're running toward.

What do you think about theme park character meet-and-greets? Do you make them a regular part of your theme park visits, or do you usually skip 'em? Don't think that this is simply a "thing" for families with small kids. Plenty of grown-ups meet the characters, too! (See photo above.)

Got a great character meet-and-greet story? Tell us in the comments! And thank you, as always, for being part of the Theme Park Insider community.

Update: Here's my story: My now-teenage daughter loved Buzz Lightyear when she was a toddler. She carried a little Buzz doll pretty much 24/7 for over a year when she was four and often demanded that her mother and I "talk like Buzz" so she could have a conversation with it.

So when we moved to Southern California and I started taking her to Disneyland, of course, she wanted to meet her hero. We went one Saturday, waited in line in Tomorrowland, and finally had our turn. But when my daughter faced Disneyland's five-foot-tall Buzz, she crumpled. She wouldn't look at Buzz, buried her face onto the ground, sobbing, and refused to move until I agreed to carry her away. She just couldn't reconcile this gargantuan Buzz with the little five-inch doll she carried around and saw, as the same size, on her TV screen.

Replies (15)

December 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM · This is why I book the character dining. Since we are going to eat and we want to see characters, why not kill two birds with one stone? Only when it is a unique character that you find at special events, like Uncle Scrooge or all seven dwarfs, is when I am willing to wait in line. I would rather spend my time on attractions.
December 6, 2013 at 2:14 PM · The Meet and Greets are attractions in their own right. I take plenty of photos with characters. It is especially necessary for making photo books. You need a few good shots that feature my kid with her favorite princesses. Actually, all the princesses are her favorite. You just can't choose these days.
December 6, 2013 at 1:14 PM · Years ago my daughter met Tigger just inside the main gate at Disneyland. Afterward, she refused to let go - no tantrum or anything, just made it clear she was perfectly with Tigger and wouldn't need us for a while. He started walking into the park (headed offstage), and she happily toddled off alongside, without so much as a glance over her shoulder. This was Tigger's reaction:

December 6, 2013 at 2:04 PM · Standing Ovation for Anon Mouse. Nominee for Father of the Year.
December 6, 2013 at 2:06 PM · #1. Characters are absolutely a MUST DO! Period. End of sentence.

#2. I am incredibly biased when it comes to this subject.

December 6, 2013 at 2:09 PM · The first time my wife and I went to WDW we did not have children and it was just a winter vacation for us, now have two children and have been to WDW a few more times. Back then you didn't have to line up to see the characters as they were out and about in the park, you always knew where one was buy the crowd of kids young and old. I miss seeing the character just randomly in the park, it made your photos sort of unique and not just another one of a thousand with the same background and angles.
December 6, 2013 at 2:33 PM · I think meet and greets can provide great memories for those old enough to enjoy them (older kids, kids at hearts, fans of characters, nostalgic adults, etc.)

I've seen plenty of the "spliced" photos with an individual who took a photo with a character as a child & as an adult.

Plus some of the meet & greets at Disneyland are more than just photos. The characters (when applicable) actually talk & spend a few moments with visitors.

Thor & Cruella can both be hilarious when interacting with guest.

December 6, 2013 at 3:06 PM · We always do a Meet and Greet with Mickey though the Disney Visa Photo Time.

Tip for all you Disney Visa Cardholders at Disneyland and at EPCOT: You can take multiple pictures with Mickey and a couple of other characters (usually Minnie and Goofy) and choose one of the pictures as a 5 x 7 for FREE!

December 6, 2013 at 4:47 PM · That is a definite yes for me. It would not have been when I was way younger but now ever since I began really considering working entertainment at a theme park, it is a must now.
December 6, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Meet-and-greet is for children! Before I had them I just ignore meet-and-greet, now it is a must do!
December 6, 2013 at 7:30 PM · My son was waiting in like at Universal Studios Florida for Shrek and Donkey. I was standing in the street waiting for him to get his turn. Shrek walks out of his themed photo op and comes to give me a big hug. I was somewhat perplexed for a moment and then realized I was wearing a bright green polo in an XX-Ogre size. Fun memory.
December 6, 2013 at 11:51 PM · My favourite character interaction happened at a Not So Scary Halloween Party in 2009. I was with several friends and we were in line to meet Tarzan and Jane in Adventureland. Jane was about to go backstage so we let a family with small children ahead of us so they could meet both characters. As they signed the kids' autograph books I said to my friends I was surprised that Tarzan could sign a book, I didn't think that Tarzan could read let alone write his name. Finally it was our turn and as we got into position for a photo, Tarzan (who was perfectly cast in the role) turned to me and said "Tarzan not write good, but he has good hearing". A good laugh was had by our entire group.
December 7, 2013 at 2:37 AM · I use the character breakfast that are located IN THE Parks for my character meet and greets. Does that count ?
December 7, 2013 at 8:17 AM · On taking my 5 year old niece to meet the princesses, Snow White asks here "What's your name?". My red headed niece responds "I'm Snow White."

Snow White was speechless.

Meet and greats are primarily for the kids, and therefore if you're taking kids to the parks they are a must (if that's what the kids want). Why bother taking your kids if you're not going to make sure they're going to have the time of their lives.

December 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM · I'd totally do them if I weren't so durn shy!! As a kid visiting MK, I denied Robin Hood a hug I was so shy...I'm sorry, Robin! :D

This year we accidently took a photo with Ariel mistaking her line for the ride line. She was so nice! :D

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