I’ve been tracking character movement for over a year now and I’ve discovered a pretty big decline in overall scheduled character meets available. For a person whose family has enjoyed meeting a variety of characters over the years it’s quite disappointing to see the continuing decline in the number of available meets. Sure, I’m as excited as the next person to see the new costumes and meet areas for Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Minnie and Ariel. It’s a terrific move to include Gaston near his Tavern. He’s a great character to interact with, almost as much fun as the Tremaine Family. It’s wonderful to know that Wreck-it Ralph is coming to Hollywood Studios with Vanellope, but adding the shiny, new stuff doesn’t hide the fact that a number of meets and meet areas are gone for the foreseeable future. I’ll break down all the character meets that have been eliminated, moved or added over the last year or so.
The Animal Kingdom has been hit harder in the entertainment and character areas than any other park. The park has lost Jiminy Cricket from Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Pocahontas only meets in Camp Minnie Mickey. Meeko, Thumper, Miss Bunny and random Brer sightings are gone as well as Daisy’s lunch meet in Camp Minnie Mickey. Flik was retired but replaced by Dug and Russell. Lilo and Stitch were eliminated from the park and their meet area currently goes unused. Goofy used to meet in both Camp Minnie Mickey and Dinoland, but now only meets in Dinoland. Terk was eliminated from the park and Baloo and Louie were relocated to Camp Minnie Mickey. Chip n Dale were moved from Camp Minnie Mickey to Rafiki’s. Timon used to meet in the Oasis in the early morning and was sometimes accompanied by other rare characters like Gov. Ratcliffe as well as Pluto and Goofy, but that meet is gone. The Animal Kingdom is a sad place to visit with only some bad DJ shows offered as entertainment.
Score: Animal Kingdom losses 11, Gains 2
Epcot has had the most stale character meets for quite some time now. You could set your watch by the characters set schedules that usually only changed slightly for seasonal crowd increases. Recently, Beast was eliminated from regular in-park meet and greets (Rumors have him meeting for dinner guests only at Be Our Guest Restaurant). Marie was moved from France in Epcot to the Flag Pole in the Magic Kingdom. Other characters continue to meet, but I suspect more cuts will come. I’d guess that we’ll see only one Donald meet in Mexico very soon.
Score: Epcot Losses 2, Gains 0
Recently the Hundred Acre Wood characters and Mrs. Incredible were eliminated from in-park meets. That meant that Piglet can only be met at the Crystal Palace at an additional cost. Mrs. Incredible will no longer meet guests. One can still find Eeyore at Animal Kingdom and Tigger & Pooh meet at Epcot and Magic Kingdom. By the end of October, Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope will move into Winnie the Pooh’s old spot in the Magic of Animation.
Score: Hollywood Studios Losses 5, Gains 2
The always popular Flynn Rider was eliminated from regular meets. Rapunzel was moved twice into her currently partial-day meet at Town Square Theater. Aurora was booted out of the theater and given the location next to City Hall. Pinocchio was completely retired from regularly scheduled meets (but I’ve heard a rumor that he might return at some point to Fantasyland). Rosetta, Terance and Vidia only meet on very rare occasions since Periwinkle has moved in with her sister in Adventureland. Merida’s bear brothers were eliminated and the cart was eventually removed. Marie was relocated to the Flag Pole and Chip n Dale were moved from Tomorrowland to Frontierland. Daisy/Minnie and Donald/Goofy were moved into Pete’s Silly Sideshow. With Ariel’s relocation and regaining fins, Eric has been eliminated from meet and greets. Gaston has been added (soft opening) to New Fantasyland.
Score: Magic Kingdom Losses 7, Gains 2
Total character meet and greet Losses over 24, Gains 6
This table demonstrates the characters that have been lost entirely from regular meet and greets or gained over the last year or so.
There are currenlty 56 different characters that offer scheduled meets at Disney World. 8 others can be met at a character meal or experience at additional cost. Other characters may appear for training meets or character palooza (seasonal). What do you think about the current state of the variety of meet and greets in Walt Disney World?