PlanningThe ParksTips

What To Do BEFORE You Visit Disney Characters

We are thrilled that we can once again hug all of our favorite characters once again in Walt Disney World.   It is great to hug Mickey Mouse, chat with the princesses, and get into trouble with Chip n Dale.

To have the best experience as you meet the characters in Walt Disney World, there are some things you can do ahead of time.  We have what you need to do before you meet your favorite Disney characters in Walt Disney World so you have a magical experience.

pooh bear epcot
Credit: Jennifer Retzlaff

Plan Ahead

You will want to do some research before you head to Walt Disney World so you know which characters are in the different Disney Parks.

Not all characters are in all four Parks.  Pocahontas can only be seen at times in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Our favorite sister duo of Elsa and Anna only greet Guests in Norway.

Also, pay attention to what outfits the characters are wearing at the different locations.   Mickey can be seen in the new 50th celebration costume in Magic Kingdom.   Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is Sorcerer Mickey and in EPCOT he is in his classic costume.

Depending on what pictures you want, taking time to figure this out is important.   You don’t want to promise your princess something you can’t deliver.

Check the My Disney Experience app so you can see who’s all available in the Parks.

Autograph Book
Photo Credit: Disney

Autograph Books and Pens

Before meeting the characters you are going to want to make sure you have everything you need ready to go.  Disney of course sells autograph books in the Disney Parks.  You can also create your own or look at other ways to collect autographs from characters in Disney.

We have seen Guests bring frames, pillowcases, or even stuffed animals.  Even though autographs are the norm, there are a lot of different ways to collect those magical moments.

The other item that you will need when visiting the characters if you are wanting autographs is a writing utensil.  The best option to make it easier for our Disney friends are those big pens or sharpies.  Having these large pens or sharpies makes it easier to write.  Also having ones that click is also helpful.

Getting these items ahead of time will have you ready to capture those magical moments.

Ease Them In

Once you arrive at Walt Disney World and are ready to start hanging out with the characters, take some time to ease in with your kids.  Don’t jump right into a character meal at Chef Mickey’s if you don’t know how your kid is going to react.

A good way to ease into characters is to start by meeting what Disney calls face characters in the Disney Parks.  These are characters such as the princesses or step-sisters.  Since they are human, they are a little less intimidating.

If your little one does well with face characters, then consider testing out some fur characters.  These are our beloved Mickey and friends.  Since they are big and over the top, some kids might be overwhelmed by them.

You don’t want to book a character meal only to find out that your little one is terrified of the characters.  Ease them into the fun with short and controlled meet and greets throughout the Disney Parks.

Mickey Mouse
Credit: Jennifer Retzlaff

Plan Ahead

This is a great tip for little ones and adults who are meeting characters.  Plan ahead when it comes to what you are going to say.  As you wait in line, talk to your kids about what they might want to ask Mickey.  Having this conversation ahead of time can make the interaction less awkward.

The hardest interactions are with those characters that don’t talk as they can only use their hands to communicate.  Although there are sometimes other Cast Members that can help translate what their friends are saying, be prepared with some topics ahead of time.

We love complimenting Minnie on her outfits or talking to Rupenzel about her paintings.  Having these talking points ready to go can really make for some great interactions.

Disney Genie
Credit: Disney

Consider Genie+

We know that most use the new Genie+ system to access rides, but there are some character meet and greet experiences that offer Genie+.

If you are wanting to make sure you meet Mickey Mouse, consider using Genie+ in Magic Kingdom.  You can also get a Genie+ for the princesses at Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom.

Using Genie+ is a great way to bypass the long standby lines by getting access to the lightning lane.

My Disney Experience can let you know how long the wait times are as well as if Genie+ is available.  Use this to avoid long waits.

Be Camera Ready

Finally, before you head to meet the characters, make sure you have a plan on how you plan to capture the magical moments.

At many of the meet and greets you will find Disney Photopass Photographers.  These amazing Cast Members will capture your experience for you.  If you have Memory Maker, these photos will show up in your My Disney Experience.

For those that haven’t purchased Memory Maker, you can still have the Cast Members take pictures with your phone if you choose.  You are also able to capture your own videos and pictures if you wish.

No matter how you want to capture your magical moments, make sure you have a plan before it is your turn with Mickey.

These are tips that you can think about before you meet your beloved Disney characters on your Walt Disney World vacation.

Who are you excited to hug?

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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