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KennythePirate’s 13 Steps to Successful Character Meet and Greets

KennythePirate’s 13 Steps to Successful Character Meet and Greets

Planning your theme park trip can feel like a daunting task of military style tactical preparation.  You have so many details to plan out and prepare every hour of every day it seems.  I thought it might be helpful to create this guide to meeting characters for you.

1.  Know where to find them

Most guests who visit a theme park follow what I call the “See em, meet em” rule.  A guest will see a favorite character on their way to a certain attraction and on the spot decide whether to meet the character.  You’ll be way ahead of the game by knowing where the characters are located.  You can easily know where the characters are located by using my Characters tab above or subscribing to Character Locator.  My custom maps have the regular character meets pinpointed as well.

2.  Visit the ones with outside meets early or late

It gets hot in Florida, really hot!  Many guests from cooler climates may not be prepared for the heat combined with the incredible humidity.  April through October is basically summer here.  Who wants to be standing in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes pouring sweat.  Once you reach the character, you feel exhausted and you’re all sweaty.  Your hair is frazzled and your nerves may not be far away.  Plan your meets so you visit the outdoor characters early in the day or late in the day, if they meet late.

3.  Consider some character meals

Walt Disney World, Hollywood and Vine, Character Meal, Handy MannyWhat could be better than meeting Mickey or Cinderella with no line in air conditioning with some delicious food?  Character meals can be pricey for those on a tight budget, but most of them are only 1 credit on the Disney Dining Plan with table service options.  You can arrange your schedule to plan the best times.  I prefer a late breakfast, lunch or dinner meal.  Some like to plan pre-park opening breakfasts, but that plan could go out the window if a park changes its hours to open earlier than planned.  My family loves character meals and there’s a few characters than can only be met at Character Meals.

4. Use Fastpass+

If a character offers Fastpass+, you might consider using that as an option.  Meeting Anna & Elsa is far easier with Fastpass+ (unavailable after mid June until they open the new meet in Epcot in June 2016).  Why wait 60 minutes or more when you could be in and out in 15 minutes or less.  Downside for finding Fastpass+ for Anna & Elsa is the need to book them 60 days in advance of your trip, but it saves a lot of time.  Really popular characters that don’t offer Fastpass+ like Joy and Sadness can be met at park opening or near closing time to avoid those long lines.

5.  Know when they could arrive

Character Locator Character Schedules

Character Locator Character Schedules

If you know when the characters arrive, you’ll be able to get to their location a few minutes before the character arrives and shorten your wait.  Some characters like Gaston or Belle often cut their line as the character arrives or even well before the character arrives.  A few resources for finding times could include: Disney World times guides (usually has terms like “intermittently,” Disney World website and My Disney Experience app (when it actually works), but the best planning resource for schedules is Character Locator.  You won’t find a better planning resource for the theme parks than Character Locator.  You can include any scheduled item in the parks in your touring plan and just mark it “Completed” as you go!

6.  Understand that schedules can change.

Even though we plan our days in detail from 180 days out, characters may not be able to appear or a substitute character may take their place.  You may have planned the perfect outline only to hear that a character won’t make that meet.  You may find an alternate character or no meet at all.  Guests often become frustrated when they hear that a character has been cut, but things change and we should be having fun on our vacation.  If you promise your little one a certain character meet and the character doesn’t appear, perhaps you can use it as a teachable moment on adapting to the situation and find something else fun to do or just go grab a Mickey Ice Cream Bar and cry it out together.
Rain can also affect meets.  Characters may find a suitable location indoors near their meet or just cancel the meet entirely.

7.  Be Patient

Be patient with your family.  Know their needs.  Are they hot?  Are they tired?  Are they hungry?  Arriving before the park opens and staying until it closes daily is exhausting.  All the “Extra Magic” can wear them down.  Plan some breaks and plan at least one sleep in and pool day in the middle of the trip.  A refreshed family will have more fun.  You can also plan your afternoons for air conditioned theater attractions that usually have lower waits anyway.  Bring some fans too!

Lines get cut.  You arrive and find that the line for your favorite character has been cut.  A Cast Member lets you know if thy will have another meet and may suggest a time to return.  Be polite, they are merely doing their job.  Manners matter.

Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Character Meet and Greets, Chip n Dale

Characters may need a short break for heat, water or a snack.  Sometimes you’re in line for characters like Chip n Dale and they need to “find some nuts” or Daisy may need a “quick swim,” it may take an additional 5 or 10 minutes, but characters get hot and hungry, just like we do.  Be understanding and patient.

We’ve been in line for a character and a “Make a Wish” child was sent to the beginning of the line.  Please understand that these children have life threatening illnesses and for some it could be their life dream that gives them strength to continue fighting or, sadly, could be the final character they meet. It may delay your plan by a few minutes, but it will make lifetime memories for the child and family.  On the day my daughter and I did 100 attractions in a day, a Make a Wish child came along to one of our meets, we enthusiastically allowed the child to skip us and take as long as they needed.  Our goal of 100 things in a day was secondary to seeing the joy of the young child and really brightened our day.

8.  Hugs

Characters love to hug.  An appropriate and kind hug can make your day and even give a boost to the character themselves.  Photopass often gets some great photos of guests hugging their favorite character.

9.  Dealing with fear

Some young children are deathly afraid of characters.  A child could travel one trip and adore Mickey and another trip he doesn’t want anything to do with the Big Cheese.  Let your child decide how close is okay.  Hold them while they reach out to appropriately touch the character.  Help them work through their fear.  Some people feel hurried because there is a line behind them, but taking a couple of minutes to acclimate your child to character meets could really affect your trip.  My little girl has always loved characters, but on one trip, she thought Rafiki was a “scary monkey.”  We tried to let her acclimate to him, but wanted nothing to do with him.  We let her sit in her stroller while the remainder of the family met him.  Becoming angry with your child because they are afraid is the worst response.  Have some patience and, if necessary, change your plans.

10.  Autographs

Walt Disney World, Hollywood and Vine, Character Meal, Doc McStuffins, autographsCharacter attendants or “Blueberries” as they are called spend a lot of their time trying to keep the line moving smoothly so the characters can meet as many of their fans as possible.  Have those autograph items ready to sign before stepping up.  Have them sign your item before interacting, so the autograph item can be handed off.

Characters will sign a multitude of items, but it cannot be inappropriate and cannot be currently worn by a guest.  Fat pens and markers help the costumed or “fur” characters to have a nice grip.  We love retractable sharpies.


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11.  Interact

Most guests just act as paparazzi with a quick autograph and a photo and they are on their way, but it’s okay to take a moment to speak with the character and get involved with them.  A few years ago I compiled this Interaction tips list

Know their films.  If you watch all the films that the characters appear in, you can be fully prepared to speak to them about the details.  Characters will often know about other characters in the Disney universe.  You might speak to Anna about Rapunzel or Gaston could talk about Peter Pan.  Disney characters won’t know of anyone outside their universe though.

12.  Have some fun with poses

When you’re getting ready to take that memorable photo, you may consider creating a fun pose like having tea with Alice or reading a book with Belle.  I’ve created a few pose ideas for some characters here and here, but perhaps you have some of your own ideas you’d like to share?

13.  Photo time

It’s finally time for that memorable photo.  Photopass photographers will want to take some great shots of you and your family.  “Blueberries” are there to assist as well with photos from your camera or mobile device.  I always choose to do both because each person taking photos has a different perspective.

Be sure to share this post to help as many guests as possible!

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Bob and Jaiden

Saturday 30th of April 2016

Blueberries can be very mean. We were in line to meet Mickey, and I believe her name was Ruth. At Magic Kingdom we had a Fasspass and there was 2 people in front in the Fasspass line, and 2 behind. She was letting people go through the line and all the sudden a small child said "WOO HOO!!" The lady said "EVERY BODY WAIT, THIS IS TOO MUCH AT ONCE!!!!!" She was literally hitting people to get in the "perfect rhythm of using Fasspass." :) So,so, rude. Should of reported her. :(

But on the other hand. . . Blueberries can be Super Awesome!! The same year we dealed with the mean one, I drew pictures for EVERY single character we were going to meet. (Did the same for this year,we are going in July.) a super nice man at Animal Kingdom the thought the one I did for Tarzan was great! He took us from Tarzan's meeting location, to Mickey and Minnie's meet, told the blueberries there to delay our fasspass'. Then he took us all across the park to meet Pocahontas. She had a 1hour 45 min wait at the time. He took us to the font of the line to meet her. It was a big help!

Lastly, I want to say that Kenny, you are such a big help to every person who reads your article. I can't put into words how much I appreciate your business. Thank you so much. :D


Saturday 30th of April 2016

The person you encountered at the Mickey meet would have been operations. You don't encounter a blueberry until you actually reach Mickey, Tink, Anna/Elsa or Cinderella/Rapunzel

Melissa S.

Thursday 28th of April 2016

Kenny - I've been wanting to thank you. We visited WDW a few short weeks ago over spring break. After reading your review of the Pirates & Pals fireworks cruise some time ago, we took the plunge and booked it. At the conclusion of the event, we were the very last in line to meet Peter (due to being the latter of the two boats to return to dock, and being seated in the very last row of said boat). Recalling your review of your meet (and with a little additional encouragement from one of the cast members who was there to prevent Contemporary guests from jumping in the meeting line), I persuaded my youngest (7yrs) to ask Peter to crow. What followed was nothing short of HILARIOUS! I won't spoil it for others who might read this and attempt the same thing, but I will say that we spent nearly 15 minutes with him, and the Photopass photographer took nearly 35 photos of their interaction. If I may reiterate what you've already advocated - it ALWAYS pays to personally engage a character during a meet, and sometimes, being at the BACK of a really long line, is more worth the trouble than you could have ever imagined! Thank you for all of your hard work and honest reviews - it is so appreciated!!!


Thursday 28th of April 2016

Glad I can help and that you had a lifetime memory!


Thursday 28th of April 2016

Thank you for your kind comments on Wish kids. We are going this Monday for my daughter's once in a lifetime wish trip, and hoping we don't get any dirty looks from others!


Thursday 28th of April 2016

I hope it helps your child to be stronger and fight! Enjoy your day and don't worry about what others say.


Thursday 28th of April 2016

We ran into a rotten blueberry our first trip when trying to see Wendy. We got there 5 min after the meet and greet began and he decided to cut the line right before we got there. I asked and tried with my two little girls begging to see her and he was like a pit bull and did not give in. Was horrible... Been 4 times and never had another experience like that again. Most would let us in if we are just a little late. The worst part was there were only a handful of people in line at the time. I think the guy was just mean. We have never gotten to see Wendy either.


Thursday 28th of April 2016

Blueberries have to determine a cut point for the safety and security of the character on stage. If the line is cut, they are usually standing at the back of the line. Just because a few people are in line, doesn't mean they aren't completing their assigned time set. Blueberries have a really difficult job and if they say the line is cut, be polite and ask when the character will return. If you use my tips and app, you'll rarely face this though.


Thursday 28th of April 2016

Yesterday you posted that Anna and Elsa had been extended in Magic Kingdom but in this one says that they won't be there the end of May? Has this changed again?


Thursday 28th of April 2016

Updated. Article took me a number of hours, so I didn't catch that.

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