Easily one of the most magical parts of any Disney Parks experience is the chance to meet the stars themselves, from the lovely princesses and devious villains, all the way to the big Mouse himself! Of all your vacation moments, that’s usually the one that sticks with you for years after.
But with mounting popularity, and an ever-growing number of characters to meet, orchestrating the perfect moment for you and your family can be increasingly difficult. Knowing where to go and what to do is a huge advantage, and we here at DAPs Magic want to make sure your experience is as magical as possible!
Know Who You’re Looking For
While there are very few things more wonderful than unexpectedly bumping in to Donald Duck on Main Street USA, it can really benefit you to know whom you and your family would like to meet. Well ahead of your trip, sit down with your party and write up a list of hopeful star-sightings. This can be a really fun activity, especially for your little ones, as they begin to build anticipation for their journey to a Disney park.
Once you have your list, encourage your kids (and remind yourself) that with all of the fun to be had on your trip, you may not be able to meet absolutely everyone on your list. These are very busy people (and ducks and goofs and mice), after all!
Then, compare your list to helpful resources, such as the companion apps made available to you for free from Disney.
Some characters, like Mickey and his closest pals, will have some fairly consistent times and places where you might spot them. Keep in mind, however, that you may be hard-pressed to find more obscure characters, like Clarabelle Cow or Goofy’s son, Max.
Occasionally, the Disney Parks will offer limited-time opportunities with a higher likelihood of meeting specific characters. For example, many of Disney’s villains enjoy casting shadows around the streets near fall, even more so during the yearly Halloween parties. If meeting a particular character is a high priority for you and yours, consider scheduling your trip around a known time that they might appear. Even then, don’t promise your children (or yourself) that you will meet them, just that you will do your best.
Character Etiquette 101: A Wonderful Opportunity for Manners
So, you’ve made it to the parks, and you’re on the prowl for characters. Great! They can pop up in the most surprising of locations. Keep your eyes (and Mickey ears) peeled!
Once you’ve spotted a character, restrain yourself from immediately running full-force at them. Meeting a celebrity like Mickey or Minnie is certainly an exciting experience, but it is the same for the hundreds of families around you. Look for the character’s line, and patiently wait your turn. This is a great chance to get things like autograph books and cameras ready for the big moment.
When you arrive at the front, enjoy it! Have your camera out to take pictures of the kids, or to hand to a friendly Cast Member to take a photo of the family. If you are taking advantage of Disney’s PhotoPass service, have your card or code ready to be scanned. Keep in mind how much happiness this character has given to you and yours, and be courteous with their time so that they may continue to share it with others.
If you spy a character, and find a Cast Member letting you know that the line has closed and that the character will need to leave soon, please, please, please respect their request. You and your children should be prepped before you arrive that this may happen, and that it doesn’t mean you won’t see them again! If the Cast Member has a moment, or you spy another nearby, feel free to ask when you might catch the character next. Many times, they will happily direct you when and where to go.
On the note of respect, please discuss proper behavior ahead of time for meeting such high-profile celebrities. Young gentlemen and ladies can bow and curtsey to royalty, high 4’s are a great way to say hello, and of course, everyone loves hugs. Discussion should be kept civil, and one should never say or do anything to a character that would be improper.
Stack the Deck in your Favor
If meeting a character is tops on your list, there are several excellent dining reservations that can be made to guarantee a visit! There are many, many options when looking at character dining, so pick ones that work best for what you and your family are looking to experience. Plus, you’ll be getting a wonderful Disney-quality meal! What’s not to like?
Also, some locations, such as Pixie Hollow and Mickey’s Toontown, will offer set times to get in line to meet specific characters. These will be your absolute best option for several of the famous residents, so plan a portion of your day to visit! Plus, these themed locations offer many great photo opportunities for your party to enjoy, with or without the character present.
If you’d like to see as many characters as possible, and not wait in as many lines, be sure to watch the parades! You’ll be guaranteed to see a wide selection of your favorites, all very excited to dance and have fun.
The most important thing to remember is how much happiness is waiting to be found at the Disney Parks! Meeting a famous character should only enhance, and never detract from your experience. At the end of the day, the best character to have is the one you can take home with you. Magic isn’t just an idea at the parks; it’s practiced daily. Let it surprise you, whomever you may meet!
…Oh, and if you see Mickey or Minnie, say hey for us here at DAPs Magic.
He is a regular co-host on Geeks Corner and contributes to the DAPs Magic writings with his own, unique perspective. When not writing, he is a talented artist and performer, and can often be found shirking these gifts by playing games like Pokemon, Bioshock, and Fallout.