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Disney World Character Meet and Greets

Everything You Need to Know About Disney World Character Meet and Greets

Raise your hand if Disney World character meet and greets are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had during past trips to “The Most Magical Place on Earth!” It is certainly one of our favorite things to do at both the theme parks and Disney Resorts!

With so many characters meet and greets, and such a limited amount of vacation time, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to Disney World character experiences for you to bring along on your next trip:

Frozen Ever After, Anna and Elsa Disney World Characters

Credit: Pics from the World of Disney

Disney World Character Meet & Greets

How Do You Meet Characters at Walt Disney World?

There are several ways to see characters at Walt Disney World, ranging from traditional character meet and greets to character dining, and more. Character meet and greet locations are available in all four Disney theme parks, as well as at Disney Resorts and even Disney water parks (on rare occasions) during special events.

In addition to up-close character meet and greets, Guests are able to see popular characters from afar during stage shows, parades, and character cavalcades. While they do not come with the ability to hug or get autographs, experiences like Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire in the Magic Kingdom offer opportunities to see lots of favorite characters all in one amazing performance.

mickey mouse hugging kids, Disney World character meet and greets

Credit: Disney

RELATED: PHOTOS: 5 Extinct Walt Disney World Characters We Miss

Can You Hug Disney Characters?

Yes! If it has been a few years since your last Disney vacation, you will be pleased to learn that both hugs and autographs are back!

While the traditional character meet and greet and character meal experience has returned, some Disney Parks have continued to offer the distanced character cavalcades (or flotillas in the case of Animal Kingdom on the Discovery Island River). You can rest assured, though, that a Disney vacation now comes with the best of both experiences.

Can You Dress Up as Disney Characters?

No, with few exceptions. We’ll explain…. The general rule for visiting Disney World is that costumes are not allowed to be worn by Guests ages 14 and over. More specifically, Disney uses this rule as a way of avoiding confusion where other Guests could mistake you for an official character and that would of course, be a problem.

Younger children then are welcome to dress up, and you will often see lots of “princesses” during your trip, either in their own gowns or those purchased at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

As for that one other exception, Guests of all ages are invited to dress up during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, an annual event in the Magic Kingdom. Disney still enforces costume guidelines during the event (no masks for adults is the big one) but it is the one opportunity to dress up as a character while visiting the Park as an adult.

While not a costume, DisneyBounding is another option to channel your favorite characters without breaking any Disney Park rules. DisneyBounds are made up of your own clothing items that, when put together, resemble the look of a character without being a full costume.

donald-tusker-safari-animal-kingdom

Credit: Disney Tips

RELATED: How to Meet Rare Disney Parks Characters like Mulan and Raya in 2023

How to Find Disney World Character Meet and Greets

Disney World character meet and greets can be found daily in every theme park and at several Disney Resorts!

Where Can You Meet Classic Disney Characters?

Mickey & Pals:

  • Mickey Mouse: Adventurer’s Outpost in Discovery Island (Animal Kingdom), Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival in World Celebration (EPCOT), Town Square Theater on Main Street, U.S.A. (Magic Kingdom), and Red Carpet Dreams on Commissary Lane (Hollywood Studios)
  • Minnie Mouse: Adventurer’s Outpost in Discovery Island (Disney’s Animal Kingdom), Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival in World Celebration (EPCOT), and Red Carpet Dreams on Commissary Lane (Hollywood Studios)
  • Chip and Dale: Upper Cretaceous Trail in DinoLand U.S.A. (Animal Kingdom)
  • Daisy Duck: Daisy’s Design Studio in DinoLand U.S.A. (Animal Kingdom), and International Gateway, (EPCOT)
  • Donald Duck: DinoLand U.S.A. Welcome Center (Animal Kingdom), and Mexico Promenade in World Showcase, (EPCOT)
  • Goofy: World Celebration near the Park entrance (EPCOT)
  • Pluto: World Showcase Friendship Ambassador Gazebo (EPCOT), and Animation Courtyard (Hollywood Studios)

More Disney Characters:

  • Aladdin: Adventureland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Alice: UK Gardens in World Showcase (EPCOT)
  • Anastasia and Drizella: Fantasyland near Cinderella Fountain (Magic Kingdom)
  • Big Al, Liver Lips McGrowl, Shaker, and Wendell: Country Bear Jamboree Balcony in Frontierland (Magic Kingdom, character sighting)
  • Captain Jack Sparrow: Adventureland Stage (Magic Kingdom)
  • Mary Poppins: United Kingdom Courtyard in World Showcase (EPCOT)
  • Max with Goofy: Tower of Terror balcony on Sunset Boulevard (Hollywood Studios, character sighting)
  • Olaf: Celebrity Spotlight at Echo Lake (Hollywood Studios)
  • Peter Pan: Never Land Map in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Stitch: Rocket Tower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom, character sighting)
  • Tigger: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom)
  • Vanellope von Schweetz: ImageWorks in World Celebration (EPCOT)
  • Winnie the Pooh: Gardens near Imagination Pavilion (EPCOT, character sighting)
Rapunzel, Princess Fairytale Hall, Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Where Can You Meet Disney Princesses?

  • Anna and Elsa: Royal Sommerhus in Norway (EPCOT)
  • Belle: Maurice’s Cottage in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Cinderella: Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Jasmine: Morrocco Pavilion (EPCOT)
  • Merida: Fairytale Garden in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Mulan: China Gardens in World Showcase (EPCOT)
  • Rapunzel: Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Tiana: Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)

Where Can You Meet Pixar Characters?

  • Buzz Lightyear: Near the entrance of Toy Story Land (Hollywood Studios), and Rocket Tower Stage in Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom, character sighting)
  • James P. Sullivan (Sulley): Animation Courtyard in Walt Disney Presents (Hollywood Studios)
  • Jessie: Near the entrance of Toy Story Land (Hollywood Studios)
  • Joy: ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs (EPCOT)
  • Kevin: Discovery Island (Animal Kingdom, character sighting)
  • Woody: Toy Story Mania in Toy Story Land (Hollywood Studios)

Where Can You Meet Disney Junior Characters?

  • Doc McStuffins: Animation Courtyard (Hollywood Studios)
  • Elena: Princess Fairy Tale Hall in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)
  • Fancy Nancy: Animation Courtyard (Hollywood Studios)
  • Vampirina: Animation Courtyard (Hollywood Studios)
Vampirina at Animation Courtyard

Credit: Disney

Where Can You Meet Star Wars Characters?

  • BB-8: Animation Courtyard in Star Wars Launch Bay (Hollywood Studios)
  • Chewbacca: Animation Courtyard in Star Wars Launch Bay (Hollywood Studios)
  • Darth Vader: Animation Courtyard in Star Wars Launch Bay (Hollywood Studios)
  • First Order Stormtrooper: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (Hollywood Studios, character sighting)
  • Kylo Ren: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, (Hollywood Studios, character sighting)
  • Rey: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, (Hollywood Studios, character sighting)
  • Vi Moradi: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, (Hollywood Studios, character sighting)

Meeting Rare Characters at Walt Disney World

Where Can You Find Rare Disney Characters?

Rare characters will not be listed on the My Disney Experience app like everyone else featured in this post, but there are a couple of ways to find them.

Special events are usually the best places to find rare characters as many of them only come out during such occasions. These would include after-hours events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom, any Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic events, and runDisney races, to name a few.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is known to feature such rare characters as Jack Skellington as “Sandy Claws,” and several Disney Princes greeting Guests alongside their Princesses. And Mickey’s Very Merry Halloween Party brings out Jack and Sally in their traditional looks from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), along with lesser-seen characters like Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear from Toy Story 3 (2010), Elvis Stitch, Jafar, and Mickey and friends dressed up in their Halloween costumes.

You might have luck meeting rare characters at Walt Disney World that are not noted on Disney’s app or website. In these cases, the “friends” of the characters are typically training, so their meeting times and the characters featured can seem like a surprise to Guests in the Park. We often spot these kinds of character meet and greets by the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and adjacent to the American Adventure pavilion in EPCOT.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Credit: Disney

What Is Character Palozza?

“Character Palooza” is an under-the-radar character meet and greet experience that takes place frequently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For many Guests, these interactions with Disney World characters serve as a fun surprise and spontaneous magical moment, but we’ve got the lowdown if you want to try to experience it during your next trip.

The secret event takes place nearby the exit to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction on Sunset Boulevard. Times and specific characters cannot be confirmed in advance, but for a hint, we can share that Guests will often see some of their characters featured in the finale scene of Fantasmic!

Disney Character Dining Locations

Character dining is one of the best ways to meet multiple characters at Walt Disney World without spending lots of time waiting in line (you’ll need to spend time eating anyway, right?) Compared to other table-service restaurants, Disney character dining experiences do come at a higher price point, but they are often featured at buffet or family style meals that are all-you-care-to-enjoy.

Reservations are always recommended for any table service restaurant at the Walt Disney World Resort, but if you happen to be looking for a last-minute character dining experience, you can always check for walk-up availability in the My Disney Experience app.

Belle at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT

Credit: Disney

RELATED: The Real Reason Why Belle Has a Special Disney World Christmas Dress

Which Theme Park Restaurants Offer Character Dining?

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (EPCOT)

Located in the Norway pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offers Guests of all ages the opportunity to try Norwegian-inspired cuisine while spending time with Disney Princesses like Belle, Snow White, Ariel, Cinderella, and Princess Aurora.

Menu items are served family style and include field greens salad with lingonberry vinaigrette, traditional kjØttkake (Norwegian meatballs) and grilled salmon, along with dessert platters. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was open for breakfast in years past, but it is currently only open for lunch and dinner.

Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Is there anything more magical than enjoying a meal inside Cinderella Castle? Located on the second floor of Disney World’s most recognizable Park icon, this location offers a breathtaking setting with traditional breakfast and lunch and dinner fit for royals with menu items like assorted cured meats and cheeses, tenderloin of beef, Chef’s fish of the day, and the signature dessert, The Clock Strikes Twelve—dark chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate ganache served with a raspberry coulis.

Note: Character dining is currently unavailable at Cinderella’s Royal Table but is set to return on February 28, 2023. In years past, this location featured a rotation of different characters throughout each meal time with Cinderella at each meal, of course, and Ariel, Aurora, and Snow White at breakfast, and Jasmine and Snow White during lunch and dinner.

The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

One of the Magic Kingdom’s most beloved character dining experiences, Crystal Palace offers buffet dining on Main Street, U.S.A. with characters like Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger.

Disney’s official description of The Crystal Palace reads:

A Buffet with Character
Inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s, The Crystal Palace brims with light, topiaries and tropical palms. It’s an enchanting spot to dine in the heart of Magic Kingdom park with views of Cinderella Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.

As you dine on scrumptious fare, Winnie the Pooh and pals from the Hundred-Acre Wood stop by for photos and autographs.

It’s a must-do dining experience!

Garden Grill Restaurant, Chip 'n' Dale's Harvest Feast

Credit: Disney

Garden Grill Restaurant (EPCOT)

Characters are not the only reason that Garden Grill is actually one of the most unique restaurants at Walt Disney World. This EPCOT family-style dining experience actually slowly rotates during your character meal so Guests can see various scenes from Living With the Land right from their tables.

The menu focuses on farm-fresh eats inspired by each scene of this portion of the attraction, including a rainforest, farmhouse, thunderstorm, sandstorm, and prairie. And of course, Guests at Garden Grill also enjoy Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast, so they will be greeted by Chip ‘n’ Dale and their pals like Mickey (in an adorable farmer outfit!), and Pluto.

Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

Hollywood & Vine is one of the most unique and underrated restaurants at Walt Disney World because this location offers a totally different character experience for select meals and even includes themed dines for select holidays.

Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine is offered all year and features characters from Disney Junior like Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Roadster Goofy, and Doc McStuffins. Seasonally, Minnie Mouse hosts themed dines for lunch and dinner, where she is joined by Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald, all dressed up for the season.

Donald outside of Tusker House Restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Tusker House Restaurant (Animal Kingdom)

Admittedly one of our favorite character meals here on Disney Tips, Tusker House Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers delicious African-inspired eats alongside classic characters all dressed up for a safari. Characters include Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

Disney notes the following details on the buffet at Tusker House:

For breakfast, munch on Safari Bread, Mickey and Simba Waffles, and Durban Chicken and Egg Curry with Jasmine Rice. Lunch and dinner offerings include Moroccan-Spiced Beef, Berbere-Marinated Pork, Spit-Roasted Herb Chicken and Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp.

Where Is Character Dining Available at Disney Resorts?

Cape May Cafe (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)

Cape May Cafe is another unique destination where it offers entirely different experiences depending on the meal. For dinner, this location offers a New England-inspired seafood feast. But we’re here to talk about characters, and for that, you will want to make reservations for breakfast.

Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast runs from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily, with a buffet featuring favorite breakfast classics and characters decked out in their beach gear. Characters that stop by Disney’s Beach Club Resort just for this experience include Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy.

Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)

If there is one ultimate character dining experience that every Disney fan needs to experience once in their lives, it is probably Chef Mickey’s. Located within the Grand Canyon Concourse at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, this buffet-style character restaurant offers a midday break from or dinner after the Magic Kingdom or an exciting breakfast before heading out into the Park.

The buffet dining offers good, albeit standard, American fare but the character interactions here can easily be some of the most memorable of your trip. Come with a healthy appetite and your autograph books and cameras ready to see the Fab Five; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

‘Ohana (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

‘Ohana is one of the most popular restaurants among Disney fans for its endless dinner feast packed with ‘Ohana noodles, specialties from the grill, chicken wings, and of course, bread pudding, but breakfast is where the characters are at.

This family-style breakfast is one of the only ways to see Lilo right now at Walt Disney World, and she is joined by Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto.

Story Book Dining at Artist Point With Snow White (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge)

One of the most unique character dining experiences at any Disney Park or Resorts is Story Book Dining at Artist Point. This multi-course dinner at Wilderness Lodge includes delectable eats with appetizers and desserts even lightly themed to Snow White’s story.

For characters, Story Book Dining features Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen. As of this writing, this restaurant is one of the only ways to meet the two Dwarfs and the Evil Queen, making this location rather popular for Guests seeking out rare characters.

Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera (Disney’s Riviera Resort)

One of Disney’s newest character dining experiences, Topolino’s Terrace on the rooftop of Disney’s Riviera Resort, receives consistent praise from fans for both its delicious menu items and character interactions.

While the restaurant doubles as a signature dining experience for lunch and dinner, mornings include French-inspired twists on classic American breakfast items and greetings from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck.

Ready to set out and find all your favorite Disney World character meet and greets? Use this post as a starting point, and confirm meeting times and dining availability in the My Disney Experience app throughout your visit. Have a magical time!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."