Character Meet and Greets

One thing I didn’t include in the Bite-Sized Disney 1 Day itinerary is meeting characters for photos or autographs. Some people are more interested in all the Princesses while others prefer the costumed, classic characters so it’s hard to include all the character preferences into an itinerary. Wanting to meet or take pictures with Disney characters at the parks is a fun experience for young and old and should be a part of your Disney trip, though! Once the parks get full the lines to meet Mickey and pals can get pretty long. Don’t be intimidated! There are definitely some great ways to save time when planning your character meet and greets. 

The best way to save some precious park time and meet tons of characters (if your budget allows) is to reserve a character meal. These meals are usually table service with either buffet or family style dining. As you eat the characters come around the dining room to meet everyone saving you time by having a great meal and making new friends!

Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park is a character meal located at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland. It is the only character breakfast located inside the park. Classic breakfast items are serviced including Mickey waffles, omelets, French toast, and biscuits and gravy. The setting is authentically Victorian and is an original location from the 1955 opening day. As you meet with Minnie and friends enjoy the stained glass ceilings, marbled floors, and ornate wood work. Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, helped design the interior and some of the pieces were saved from a home in LA. The Plaza Inn isn’t just a breakfast stop. They are known for their Specialty Chicken – fried chicken – that has put this stop at the top of everyone’s lists. It is also a great place for parade views at night.

Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Napa Rose, Disney’s California Adventure Hotel and Spa will take your character and dining experience to a whole new level with a three course meal. A royal price does accompany this experience at $125 per person. However, along with meeting variety of princesses your family enjoys activities, special photo opportunities, and a unique memento to remember the experience. Having breakfast with the Princesses is an experience enjoyable without park admission so this could be a special meal anytime you visit the Anaheim area, not just during a Disney vacation.

Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast – Disney’s PCH Grill, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is a causal and beachy way to start breakfast. Buffet style with a build-your-own-parfait station, kids and adults can load up on delicious breakfast fares. Characters will be in alternate costumes to accompany the seaside atmosphere which adds a little extra magic to this meal vs traditional meets and greets in the ToonTown area of Disneyland.

Breakfast and Dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen – Disneyland Hotel has an atmosphere akin to an open air kitchen with Goofy at the helm. Breakfast is buffet style with a continuation of classic foods, Mickey waffles, Minnie pancakes and Goofy’s own creations a peanut butter and jelly pizza. This is the only experience available at the Disneyland hotel; it offers visitors another way to experience Disney magic without a park admission ticket and has a lower price tag than the Princess breakfast.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet – Storytellers Café, Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa provides guests with a whimsical atmosphere and a buffet menu similar to Goofy’s Kitchen. Mickey and friends visit each table and discuss his newest adventures. Another opportunity to see a classic character in a unique costume, this experience has a similar price point to others but at a higher end restaurant within Disney Grand Californian Hotel. Characters can also be seen during the lunch seating at the Storyteller’s Café.

With more space at WDW comes more character dining options! If you’re interested in Princesses, check out Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, 1900 Park Fare, Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea, Trattoria al Forno, and Storybook Dining at Artist Point. Special character experiences include the Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare for $49 per child. Signature dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table includes dinner as a guest of Cinderella and Prince Charming followed by priority seating for evening fireworks and After Fireworks Dessert Party for $199 for adults and $169 for children.

If you’d rather get some cooking lessons from the mouse himself or dine with classic characters head to Chef Mickey’s, The Crystal Palace, The Garden Grill, Hollywood & Vine, Tusker House Restaurant, ‘Ohana, Cape May Café, Garden Grove, and Ravello for a good morning breakfast. Some of these options including reserve seating for evening light or fireworks shows such as Rivers of Light at Epcot. As well as additional benefits, some character dining also occurs in the evening in WDW. Meals at ‘Ohana and other hotel restaurants do not require park tickets while those at eateries like The Crystal Palace will require park admission. If your young ones are fans of Winnie the Pooh, the Crystal Palace was a great place to meet all the characters at once in a light and airy atmosphere akin to a Victorian greenhouse with glass walls and ceilings.

Looking for unique or rare characters? Events such as the Half Marathon Princess Run may have a few extra faces like Hercules, Tarzan and Prince Charming in attendance. Mickey’s Not-so-Scary-Halloween Party will have extra villains in tow such as Cruella De Vil and Captain Hook. Parades are also a great time to see unique characters that may or may not do individual meet and greets. Holidays are a great time to see characters in alternate costumes.

If character dining or a special event would be a strain to the purse strings, look for characters on the move within the parks and at designated meet and greet opportunities. Using the Disneyland or WDW App is a great way to quickly locate your favorite characters and view their limited greeting windows. Guides are also available at guest relations. If you or your kids have a lists of characters they want to meet or specific characters to track down to complete their autograph books, it is a great idea to find out where each character is within the parks. Some are more obvious such as Buzz and Woody in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios or Pixar Pier. Not all the Princesses can be found in Magic Kingdom, some are only in Epcot like Anna and Elsa, while Pocahontas can be spotted on Discovery Island in Animal Kingdom. Likewise, characters like Mary Poppins can be found in England at World Showcase.

FastPass+ is available for some character meet and greets. In most cases this isn’t a great use for your FP. If, however, you have brought some of the littlest Disney fans to the parks and you don’t plan on using FP for the most popular rides due to height restrictions or other limitations skipping the majority of the line so your little Princess can meet her favorite Princess might be ideal. Each family will have a different rhythm when it comes to organizing and prioritizing their Disney vacation.

When meeting characters be prepared with a personal camera or smartphone. Pictures are great ways to remember your interactions with the characters. For tangible evidence of interaction, you can pick up an autograph book or make one at home. Some characters will have PhotoPass photographers at the ready for catching excited reactions and a great way to utilize your MaxPass so you can be in the photo with your child too!

Many of the characters have unique signatures and some folks have a serious check-list of must meet characters for signatures. Not all characters will be able to sign with a pen. Buzz Lightyear may have a special stamp for your book. Characters like Lightening McQueen unfortunately can’t leave tire prints.

Signatures can be a great way to remember a special for first Disney trip. Characters are happy to
sign on non-traditional items as well such as photo mats, cups or mugs, and clothing (as long as it isn’t on your body). @JenniferVerge received a great gift from her friend – a tumbler covered in Disney signatures with a Disneyfied Starbucks logo. Having different colored Sharpie markers at the ready for characters is a great way to add color to an autograph book for other keepsake! Logos like the Starbucks Ariel and other Disney-inspired images can be found on Etsy.

What tips do you have for meeting classic or unique Disney characters? Who is on the top of your ”Must Meet” list? Comment below!


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