November 21, 2016
This Week’s Ask Ashley Question
One of the questions this week came from Deborah from Collegedale, Tennessee. Deborah asked:
Do you have any advice or tricks when it comes to the meeting Disney characters? We’re going to Walt Disney World next year and I really want to see my daughter’s face light up when she see’s Anna and Elsa for the first time! But, I know how popular Frozen was and still is. Are my chances slim?
Ashley’s Answers: Disney Character Tips
Thank you so much for your question Deborah! One of every family’s concern when it comes to their Disney vacation is the opportunity for their child to meet his/her favorite character. You’re not alone! Also, it isn’t impossible and it doesn’t have to involve hours in line.
Unfortunately, gone are the times when you could just stumble upon Mickey Mouse or other characters just roaming Magic Kingdom or other parks. Today, partly as a result of the MagicBands, the schedules for a meet and greet with a character are pretty structured. Always remember, when in doubt: Get a Times Guide!
To answer your question, I will give you some insight and tips on how the character meet and greet process works and how to be sure you meet Anna and Elsa! Certain things are key: Preparation, Timing, Photography, and Interaction + Fun.
When you finally do get up to Elsa and Anna, be sure you’re prepared. More specifically, have your camera and/or autograph book(s) and pen available. Some characters won’t be signing autographs (i.e. the Beast, Baymax , and Wreck-It Ralph) and others like Winnie the Pooh may need something larger, like a marker, for their signatures. If you’re looking for the unique autograph, characters can and will sign things like fabric or other paper-type material, as long as you aren’t wearing it. Goofy even once signed the tag on my Goofy plush!
A different way to think of preparedness is this: If it’s 30 degrees out with a 19 degree wind chill and you’re walking up to the front door of you house, the last thing you want to be doing is searching for your keys. Another way of looking at it: At the end of a long and tiring work day, you stop at the grocery store to pick up dinner and end up behind a slow-moving shopper in the express lane turning your 5 minute stop into a 15 minute trip.
Remember that though you may be in the Happiest Place on Earth, each family is attacking their trip in a different fashion and after an hour wait or more, many guest’s level of patience can run thin.
So you have your Times Guide and you’ve decided where you’re meeting each character that day; but, 15 minutes before the scheduled time slot you stop for popcorn. As a result, you end up in Germany to meet Snow White and possibly even Dopey at 3:00 p.m. The problem? The scheduled time for the meet and greet was from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. To make matters worse, when you arrive, a Cast Member is approaching the end of the line to say, “I’m so sorry, but Snow White needs to check in with the dwarfs. She will be back out in about 30 minutes.” Now you have a decision to make, wait 30 more minutes to meet Snow White or reschedule your FastPass+ reservation for Frozen Ever After.
To alleviate having to make the spur-of-the-moment decision that often can be difficult or an inefficient use of time, arrive early (at least for the more popular or rare opportunities). You will see my pictures above with Jack and Sally as well as the Seven Dwarfs. I chose to wait for the Seven Dwarfs first and Jack and Sally second (others may choose the opposite) because they were most important to me. I began waiting prior to the start of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (because the event ticket allows you early access to Magic Kingdom Park) and was able to meet them just after the event began. Now, this is a special circumstance. You should plan on arriving early for Aladdin and Jasmine in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom, but you won’t need an hour and a half.
Memory Maker is a staple for my vacations; it does cost extra, but I always include the price with my budget and adjust accordingly. I always have my camera or at least, my phone; but, Memory Maker is the best opportunity to have other photos taken by the PhotoPass photographers during character meet and greets, on popular attractions, and even in front of your favorite park icons. What makes the experience all that more special? PhotoPass photographers have the experience of capturing the special moments. Who better to capture the your child’s first meeting with Anna and Elsa than the Cast Member who captures these moments for a living?
Additionally, the photos can be retrieved once you arrive back home or via the My Disney Experience App while in the Walt Disney World Resort and the service intertwines seamlessly with the MagicBand system, making the process simpler than ever!
Another trick? If you just can’t wait in line for your favorite character or you have a I-just-missed-them moment, opt for the candid shot of the character in another interaction or just in the park scenery. You may not have been able to meet them, but there is something to be said about at least getting a glimpse.
Interaction + Fun
These videos show some of the better interactions with Disney characters. Because, lets face it, having the memento of the autograph and/or photograph is one thing, having the memory of the interaction is another. Even if meeting the characters isn’t something you’re going to Walt Disney World for, it is the moments like these that can make your vacation!
As they’re always in character, why not have a little fun? For instance, you can see the guitar-playing Dale in the photograph above as a result of my husband’s Metallica t-shirt. Other ways of interacting is asking characters like Belle what books she’s read lately or simply just taking in the experience with the Mad Hatter or Peter Pan (both are great meet and greet opportunities). One of my favorite interactions are with Daisy and Minnie when you complement their outfit choices (especially in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park). Be creative. Have fun. Enjoy the experience!
If you’re not sure waiting in line for characters is for you and you’re OK not seeing each and every character, there are dining experiences that allow for the opportunity of character interaction and individual meetings. Certain locations include Tusker House in Animal Kingdom Park (e.g. Mickey and friends), Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom Park (e.g. Winnie the Pooh and friends), Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot (e.g. Disney Princesses), and Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (e.g. Playhouse Disney characters at breakfast and lunch or Minnie and friends for dinner). A pretty unique addition is at Hollywood and Vine during Star Wars Weekends when the dining experience with Minnie and friends involves them dresses in their Star Wars costumes!
Are there any other characters you have wanted to meet, but haven’t been able to? If so, which ones? What has been your most memorable character experience?