Imagineers at the Walt Disney World Resort work tirelessly all year long to make sure Disney offers the most interactive and technologically-advanced attractions. They brainstorm about new attractions, new lands and new experiences all over the parks. But there are some experiences at Disney World that need no new advanced computer systems, no new ride technology, no new approaches. That’s because those experiences are among the most simple—yet most enjoyable—things Guests can enjoy at Disney World. What could they be? Character encounters, also called meet and greets. These cheerful exchanges between Guests and beloved Disney characters are so perfectly different for each and every Guest, and nothing about them needs any new software, advanced lighting or sound effects. They’re perfect just as they are! After all, who doesn’t love meeting their favorite Disney princesses, heroes and other characters? Here are ten of the most popular in the parks—how many have you experienced?
The Scottish heroine meets Guests at Fairytale Gardens near Cinderella Castle, but this is no ordinary meet and greet. The headstrong princess engages Guests in archery lessons and even shares some insight about her faithful horse Angus. You’ll even have the opportunity to color a “tapestry” while you wait to meet Merida. Because of fans’ love for PIXAR’s only princess, you can expect a wait, but it’s well worth your time. This is one character you won’t get to meet anywhere else in the parks, so don’t miss her!
9. Princess Aurora
The incomparable Briar Rose meets Guests and poses for photos near the Fragrance Gardens inside the France pavilion on the World Showcase at Epcot. She is a popular princess and usually draws long lines of Guests waiting to meet her. Thankfully, she meets Guests all day long at Epcot—weather permitting—and because you can only find her sporadically at Magic Kingdom, this is your best opportunity to meet Sleeping Beauty and have her sign your autograph book.
8. Epcot Character Spot
At Future World inside Epcot, Guests can step inside the Character Spot and meet more than one beloved Disney character. Guests can meet Joy and Sadness from Disney/PIXAR’s Inside Out at Headquarters, and just across the walkway in a makeshift robotics workshop, Guests can say hello to Baymax from Disney’s Big Hero 6. Both of these encounters boast elaborate sets, backgrounds and props, which makes for some of the best PhotoPass photos you can get! Wait times to meet these characters are never overly extensive, but you can usually experience shorter wait times if you go later in the day when many Guests have moved on from Future World to the World Showcase.
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Just inside Magic Kingdom at the Town Square Theater, Guests can meet Peter Pan’s tiny companion. FastPass+ is available for this meet and greet, but if you go later in the afternoon or early evening, you usually won’t need one. At this character encounter, Guests are “shrunk down” to fairy size, as evidenced by all the plants and flowers that serve as the backdrop for photos with Tink—they’re all bigger than the Guests! This is a popular meet and greet and the only place you can meet Tinkerbell in the parks.
6. Peter Pan
Hear tales about Neverland, the Lost Boys and the antics of the villainous Captain Hook when you visit with Peter Pan in Fantasyland near the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction. Peter poses for whimsical photos with Guests and encourages them to never grow up. Peter is a Guest favorite among the Disney characters, so there’s often a wait to meet him. Your best bet is to access the My Disney Experience app to see when he will be visiting Guests at Fantasyland and then make your way to his meeting spot 10 to 15 minutes before he is scheduled to appear.
5. Star Wars Launch Bay
On just about any day of the year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll find Guests storming the Star Wars Launch Bay just off the Animation Courtyard. Eager fans of the Star Wars saga can’t wait for their chance to meet three of the most infamous characters from the blockbuster film franchise—Kylo Ren, BB-8 and Chewbacca. Each character has his own separate queue and meeting space, so you’ll need to wait in three different queues, but later in the day, the lines aren’t very long to meet each one of them.
4. Toy Story Friends
Thanks to the opening of the long-hoped for Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can now meet Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear all in one place. Just outside the new entrance to Toy Story Mania, you’ll find the playful trio eager to meet adoring Toy Story fans. Take photos with the lovable Sheriff, cowgirl and Space Ranger and share in the excitement of the new land in Andy’s backyard.
3. Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall
Inside Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom across from Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, princesses-in-training can meet Disney royalty at Princess Fairytale Hall. On one side of the ornate hall, Guests can meet Cinderella and Elena of Avalor. On the other side, Guests are invited to meet Rapunzel and Tiana. These are two separate attractions, and if you want to meet all four princesses, you’ll need to walk through two different queues. FastPass+ service is available for this attraction, and if you’ve come hundreds of miles for your little ones to meet their favorite royal ladies, you might consider securing a FastPass+ time in advance—especially during peak seasons in the parks.
Meeting Gaston is an experience all by itself—and one that is different for every Guest. You’ll remember Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. He’s in love with Belle, though she has no interest in him whatsoever. But he’s in love with someone else too—himself—so even though Belle ignores him and declines his offers of marriage, Gaston is convinced Belle will be his. At Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, Guests can meet the arrogant oaf near his tavern close to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And he’s still at it—loving himself and looking down on others. So bring your brave face and tough skin when you meet this beastly character—he’ll have you rolling your eyes during the entire encounter.
1. Queen Elsa and Princess Anna
Inside the Norway pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase, Guests can meet the famous royal duo from Disney’s Frozen at Royal Sommerhus. The queue for this meet and greet is very interesting, as it takes Guests through part of what looks like a childhood home of Anna and Elsa. There are intricate carvings in the wood, props that tell the story of the royal sisters and more. Guests meet both ladies at this encounter, and PhotoPass photographers are on hand to capture all the magic. Bring your little princess to meet them and enjoy seeing the wonder in her eyes as she says hello to Arendelle’s royalty.