How To Find Characters at Walt Disney World

Love them or hate them if you have young children; & perhaps if you don’t; you are going to spend a  lot of your time in Disney World seeking Characters. Fastpass Plus & Character Meals can significantly cut the amount of time waiting to see your favourite Characters but waiting on occasions is unavoidable.

Character meets in Walt Disney World are now very organised affairs. Today it is unusual to find unexpected Characters just wandering around a park.

Meeting Alice in Wonderland How To Find Characters at Walt Disney World
Meeting Alice

Many of the biggest Character meets can now be reserved in advance using Fastpass. This can significantly cut your waiting time. However; you will need to sacrifice a Fastpass for a ride and often this isn’t a good use of Fastpass in our opinion. One advantage is several lines contain more than 1 character.

How To Find Characters at Walt Disney World
Minnie Mouse at Epcot Character Spot a Fastpass option & you can meet several characters

However many Characters can be met or seen away from the regular meet and greets. Read our top tips on how to find Characters at Walt Disney World.

My Disney Experience for Character Hunting

The My Disney Experience App or the time guide; available at the entrance; will tell you where you can meet your favourite character. Guest relations or any Cast member will help if you are struggling to find your idol.

In our experience the My Disney Experience App is now essential for Walt Disney World. It is important you carry a smart phone or tablet so you can use the free WiFi in the parks. The app will even give you an indication of the waits for the most popular characters.

All parks have a different selection of characters although you will find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto usually in all parks. Characters in parks do change from time to time.

Meeting Donald Duck in EPCOT Mexico pavilion
How to Find Characters at Walt Disney World Donald? You can meet Donald in Mexico

Character Meals

Character Meals are located throughout Walt Disney World. They are offered at each theme park plus at several resorts. Whether it is Mickey Mouse, a Disney Princess or Winnie the Pooh there is likely to be a character meal where you can meet your favourite character.

Whilst they often don’t offer the best food character meals are always great fun. They also offer the opportunity to meet some of the most popular characters without the queues you will meet in the Theme Parks.

Belle Princess Storybook Dining EPCOT NOrway
Belle Princess Storybook Dining

To learn more about character meals click here.

Parades

Whilst you will not meet the Characters, although you may hit lucky & get some interaction from a walking Character, parades offer a great opportunity to see a collection of characters.

There is now only 1 true parade in Walt Disney World. The fantastic Festival of Fantasy Parade is held daily at 3pm in Magic Kingdom. Characters do occasionally vary but you may see up to 40 of your favourites. Common characters include: Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, The Seven Dwarves, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Jiminy Cricket.

Festival of Fantasy Parade Anna & Elsa

The Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party is held several times a day on Main Street. Whilst not a true parade you may get the opportunity to see characters such as Genie, Nick Wilde, Woody & Mickey Mouse. The best place to watch this is at the Central Hub where Characters will take part in a dance party for around 10 minutes.

The Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play it! Street party
The Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play it! Street Party. You will probably see the Genie from Aladdin

Unscheduled Character Appearances

Unscheduled appearances of Characters are becoming increasingly rare events.

Character Palooza is an unpublished character meet and greet that occurs on any day that Hollywood Studios holds performances of Fantasmic here you will find between 5-10 rare characters. This meet & greet will be advertised nowhere and cast members will even deny it even exists. The site varies, it may be cancelled by bad weather and the frequency even varies. The only thing you can guarantee if there is no Fantasmic there will be no Character Palooza.

There are also unscheduled character appearances on occasions in Epcot but these are even harder to predict than Character Palooza. Epcot is used as the training ground for new cast members and occasionally unscheduled appearances do occur. International Gateway and the American Adventure gates are the common locations.

Appearances at Resorts

Disneyland Paris regularly has Resort based Characters but at Walt Disney World this is a rare event.

Usually the only opportunity to see Characters at Resorts are at Character Meals. However; at Christmas there are appearances in the Deluxe Resorts and in times of extraordinary weather characters may make appearances to raise spirits.

How to find Disney World Characters
Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort

Disney Springs

Apart from Santa Claus during December & rather bizarrely during the summer you will not find Characters at Disney Springs.

Special Events

Both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party offer the opportunity to meet rare characters. As added bonus costumes will usually be either spooky or festive themed. Halloween offers the opportunity to meet the rather rare Disney Villains whilst at Christmas Scrooge McDuck will usually make appearances. Plus both parties are the only opportunity to meet all Seven Dwarfs.

Lotto making a rare appearance at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party where to find Disney World Characters
Lotto making a rare appearance at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Plus do not miss the parade to spot some additional rare seasonal characters!

Pay for a Private Session

It isn’t cheap but everything has a price at Walt Disney World even a private Character session!

Tips When Meeting Characters

You have found your favourite Character & the kids are getting excited!

Here are our Top Tips to have a great Character experience:

  • Wait your turn. If you are in a queue you will meet the character. They will occasionally have breaks but they will return. Cast Members will close the line if the Meet & Greet is scheduled to close.
  • At Character Meals all tables will be visited! Don’t ruin another table’s experience by jumping on Mickey Mouse. In the unlikely event you do get missed speak to a Cast Member and they will return.
  • Be prepared i.e. camera out, autograph book open on a blank page, have a pen that works , etc.
  • Don’t push or poke characters! Seriously it does happen, often by adults, and it isn’t nice. Keep an eye on the kids as they can get a bit over excited.
  • Don’t spend too long with the characters. It is nice for everyone to have both individual and group photos but there will also be people behind you.
  • Have an autograph book? You can buy these everywhere at Walt Disney World but a simple homemade one works just as well.
  • Be patient if a Character goes for a break. They will be back and it isn’t the Cast Member manning the line fault that Goofy needs the restroom.
Goofy pete Silly Sideshow Magic Kingdom
Even Goofy needs restroom breaks

Do you have any further Character tips? Leave a comment below if you have any.

Read More

Why not start at our Beginners Guide to Walt Disney World? The guide is a great resource for both first time and repeat guests.

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