*This is Part 2 of several posts devoted to All Things Magic Kingdom.
If wait times are any indication, then meeting characters is a very popular activity when visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort. This is especially true in Magic Kingdom where there are so many opportunities to meet a variety of popular Disney characters.
Why do so many guests wait in line for these characters? Because it is both a fun and magical experience! It does not matter how old or young you are - Disney characters are happy to greet everyone, interact, sign autographs and take photos. Many of these locations offer a FastPass+, and nearly all have a PhotoPass photographer.
(For more information about PhotoPass and Memory Maker, see this post: http://uniglobeblog.wixsite.com/wendy/single-post/2016/10/04/Memory-Maker)
Times will vary from character to character. Below is a rundown of who you can currently meet during your visit to Magic Kingdom and suggestions to make your interactions a bit more fun! As all character meet and greets are subject to change, on the day of your visit, you can stop by Guest Relations (City Hall in Magic Kingdom) for specific inquiries and locations.
Before getting to the obvious characters, let me first mention the Citizens of Main Street, USA in Magic Kingdom. Throughout the day, these citizens walk around Main Street and interact with guests. These very entertaining, early 20th century characters add a unique joy to your visit to the Magic Kingdom. Shake hands with the Mayor. Say hello to the Fire Chief. Share gossip with the town Socialite or listen to the Suffragette promoting women’s right to vote. They are highly energetic and eager to talk to you. If you are lucky enough to encounter them, I encourage you to take a few moments to enjoy their company.
The following are Character Meet & Greets and are listed in the weekly Times Guide. Some are available for the bulk of the park operating hours while others are only out intermittently. When you arrive at Magic Kingdom, grab a park map and a Times Guide for details.
Ariel at Her Grotto in Fantasyland
Princess Fairytale Hall featuring Tiana and Rapunzel in Fantasyland
Princess Fairytale Hall featuring Cinderella and Elena in Fantasyland
Characters from “Aladdin” in Adventureland
Classic Disney Characters featuring Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy
Merida from “Brave” in Fairytale Garden
Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater
Out of this World friends featuring Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland
Tinkerbell in Town Square Theater
In addition to the above, you can usually stumble upon other unannounced characters. Again, for specifics of who will be out, when and where, stop by Guest Relations. They know everything! Among some of the extra characters I have met during regular park hours in my visits this year (2016) include:
White Rabbit, Alice, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum near Mad Hatter Tea Party
Chip and Dale in Frontierland
Country Bears in Frontierland
Stitch in Tomorrowland
Fairy Godmother, Suzy and Perla (Cinderella’s mouse friends) in Fantasyland
Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia behind Cinderella’s Castle
Gaston near his Tavern
As with most things in life, your character experience is what you make it. Many characters such as Pluto, Goofy, Buzz Lightyear do not speak, but they are very animated in their gestures to communicate with you, and a cast member is always with them to help interpret for you. You can play along and it will be a more enjoyable experience. For instance, Donald Duck always signs his autograph with #1 beside it. You can tell him you think Mickey is #1, or perhaps the mom or dad of your group is #1. He will silently “argue” with you that HE is #1. Other characters do speak- Tinkerbell, all the Princesses, Gaston, etc. They are perhaps easier to engage. Ask them questions about the movie they are featured in. For example- you can ask Ariel how many dinglehoppers she has, or tell her how many you have. You can tell Gaston you think you can do more pushups than he can, or that you are better looking than he is. Or perhaps bring him a small mirror. Their reactions are often very entertaining! Don’t believe me? Google a couple YouTube videos! Kids dressed like movie characters tend to have easy interactions with corresponding characters, and it makes for excellent photos. And remember those Main Street Citizens I mentioned? Strike up a conversation with the Mayor. He may give you a special card- good for entry to the BACK of any line (haha! It’s a nice keepsake though!)
Collecting autographs from the characters is very popular. Each has a unique signature and the collection makes for a nice keepsake. Autograph books can be purchased for a reasonable price at any of the Walt Disney World Resort shops. Several varieties are available; our favorite is the kind with a photo slot adjacent to the autograph page. Alternatively, you can bring your own from home or have them sign something else. One great choice is a photo mat, which you can then frame around your favorite picture from your trip. Or perhaps you prefer a pillowcase for your child to use once you return home. T-shirts can be signed as well, but NOT while on the body. You would need to carry it separately. Remember for any cloth type item, you will want something hard to place between layers to prevent bleeding though of ink and to make signing easier. You will also need to bring your own pens. Fine point sharpies work best, in my opinion. For a regular autograph book a pen works just fine, however, a “fat” pen is easier for the characters to handle. These are also for sale at the Walt Disney World Resort retail stores or you can find something similar locally before you travel.
One final note: during Extra Ticket events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, more rare character experiences are made available, such as the Seven Dwarfs, Jack Skellington and Sally. Many villains will be out during the Halloween parties such as Jafar and the Evil Queen in witch form. During the Christmas party, Peter Pan is often joined by Wendy Darling and Abu may join Jasmine and Aladdin, for example. I’ll share the details of these special events in a future blog entry.