Like everyone else, I go to Walt Disney World for the very high quality family entertainment. I love the attractions, shows, restaurants, special events and activities, and pretty much anything else WDW has to offer. One experience that I think often gets overlooked however, especially by adults who aren't traveling with children, are the character meet & greets. There are a TON of amazing character meet & greets throughout all four theme parks and the resorts that can add that extra layer of pixie dust to any trip. Even before my wife and I had kids, we’d always wait in line to meet a character or two each day. It helped us find the little kids that were still very much parts of ourselves! Let me tell you about the Most Magical Character Meet & Greets in Walt Disney World!
Anna & Elsa – Royal Sommerhus in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion
– I know there are a lot of folks out there who just never got the Frozen phenomenon. I know if I hadn’t had a 3 year old daughter when it first came out, it may have taken me quite a while to see it (who am I kidding…if we hadn’t had a 3 year old my wife and I would’ve been there opening night). The fact of the matter is, the movie is fantastic and what they’ve done with the Norway Pavilion is tasteful, it fits in very well with the theme of the country, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun! Meeting Anna & Elsa was always fun before, especially when the sisters banter back and forth and you, the guest, are kind of in the middle, but the entire experience has been ratcheted up quite a bit now that they’re in a permanent, themed location. My best recommendation for this one goes like this: get FastPasses as early in the day as possible for Frozen Ever After, then after riding get right in line to meet Anna & Elsa!
Chewbacca – Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
– A few months ago I was in line to meet the big Wookie himself and I didn’t know what to expect. I purposely didn’t watch any YouTube videos of the meet & greet because I didn’t want it spoiled ahead of time for me. I wondered if the costume would look movie quality, if Chewbacca would be tall enough, if he would actually talk (you know what I mean!) I have to say when I got into the room to meet the big guy I was BLOWN AWAY. Not only did I feel like I was standing in front of the real Chewbacca, when he opened his mouth and started making his Chewbacca-noises, I could barely contain my excitement! For any Star Wars fan, meeting Chewbacca is an absolute must! And the pictures of the two of us are fantastic. I’m only 5’7”, so standing next to him I look like a toddler! All in all this is an awesome experience and definitely one you shouldn’t skip on your next trip to Hollywood Studios.
Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, & Drizella – 1900 Park Fare in Disney’s Grand Floridian
– This one is not technically a meet & greet since it’s actually a character dining experience, but still, it’s phenomenal! A bonus to this one is you also get to meet and hang out with Cinderella and Prince Charming, but the Tremaine Trio are the true reasons I put this one on my list. The interaction with these Disney villains is truly fantastic and in my opinion Disney needs more offerings like this all year round in the parks and resorts. Not only are they not very nice to you and your children (a fun change from the normally very sweet princesses and other characters), their interactions with each other are extremely entertaining and hilarious. They argue with each other (often fighting over Prince Charming), make jokes with the children and adults, and have an all out great time. Their performances keep me coming back year after year and I hope you and your family give the Tremaine family a shot the next time you’re on vacation!
Kylo Ren – Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
– If it hadn’t been for Daisy Ridley’s performance as Rey in the latest Star Wars movie, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren would have absolutely stolen the show. Kylo Ren is imposing, creepy, and sometimes downright scary throughout the film. You get all of that and more when you meet Kylo Ren at Star Wars Launch Bay. As soon as you walk into the room and see the way he interacts with guests, it gives you that kind of uneasy feeling. When I took my kids to meet him a few months ago, my oldest daughter wore her Rey costume. When it was our turn to approach him, she boldly yelled “You’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader!” Kylo Ren’s reaction was perfect. He stood, frozen, for about five seconds. He then made his way over to my oldest (while my younger daughter took off for the door) and bend down, incredibly slowly, until his mask was inches from her face. The pictures I have of that moment are now hanging on my wall in my home and I look at them and smile every single day. This is a character that Disney has allowed to really be himself and frighten people (children included) and I love it!
Talking Mickey Mouse at The Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom
– Before I go into how truly awesome this experience is, I do have to warn you that this Mickey Mouse doesn’t always talk. I haven’t been through when he hasn’t but it does happen from time to time. However, when he is talking it is one of the coolest experiences you can have anywhere in Walt Disney World. Not only does Mickey talk to you and your family while his mouth opens and closes and his eyes blink, he also can answer questions and hold a conversation! One of my children asked him where to find Minnie Mouse last trip and within seconds he rattled off a little speech about where Minnie Mouse could be found in the park. The technology is amazing and I’ve seen more than one person cry when Mickey talked back to them (no, that person wasn’t me…I had something in my eye!) Bonus Tip: If you get FastPasses for this one and are able to scan your MagicBand or park ticket on the way in, Mickey may even say your name!
These are just five of my favorite meet & greets throughout Walt Disney World and honestly these only scratch the surface. There are tons of other great ones out there and most of them can be found on the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone or on the website mydisneyexperience.com. I’d recommend taking a look at who you’d like to meet before taking your next vacation and getting FastPasses for those that offer them. Sometimes the lines can get a little bit long! As always, thank you for reading and please let me know of any magical meet & greets that I didn’t mention!