If you are a solid Disney fan, chances are that you have had your photo taken with Mickey Mouse or are planning to, given the first opportunity on your next visit. It’s one of those standard experiences that comes with the territory when visiting Disney Parks. Mickey, Minnie, a Princess or two; the odds are that you will have the opportunity to meet some of the Disney characters, and when you do, you may or may not know that there are some unspoken rules involved in the process.
Here is a collection of my best tips, rules, and advice for the most enjoyable meet & greet experience in the Disney Parks.
If the line is long, be prepared to be turned away.
You would be forgiven for thinking that your character friend will greet everyone in the line or that their handler will step in and limit the line to those that can be accommodated. Sometimes that does happen; however, most of the time, some guests will be turned away, even after waiting a lengthy period. The reason is that characters can only stay in certain places for a set period of time, especially characters in full face-covering costumes. When that time is up, it becomes their handlers’ job to move them on as quickly as possible.
If you are approaching a line that already looks long, have realistic expectations and be sure to warn any children that they might not make it to meet their character friend.
Be ready for your turn.
It is in everyone’s best interest that the queue for meet & greet activities move quickly and smoothly. Every person can help with this by being ready as you reach the front of the line. This will ensure that you or your kids get the most time to enjoy your interaction and not waste any searching for your phone or trying to wipe the chocolate off your child’s face.
As you near the front, make any clothing adjustments to costumes or get out any accessories that you might like in the photos, such as a shield if meeting Captain America or Ear Headband for Minnie or Mickey.
Scout out the best spot for your photos.
If you are in an open area, look at where the Disney photographer is standing, they usually know the perfect spot for lighting and ambiance; they are also good at excluding the masses in the photo behind your family. If taking pictures of your own, be ready to pop over into a similar spot to get the best angle.
Prep your children in advance so they know what to expect.
Meeting your favorite character can be overwhelming for a younger one, so it is good to prepare them in advance. Ask them what question they might like to ask a speaking character or if there is a particular type of pose they want to do; I find this one especially helpful for Marvel meet & greets. When your child walks into the area with something in mind, they can enjoy the conversation and are less likely to become shy or uncooperative.
Prepping your kids for a good interaction often makes for fantastic video material as well, so be ready to capture those moments as soon as your family runs into the scene.
Please clean dirty hands before meeting and greeting.
This is not a requirement of Disney in any way; however, as a fellow parent, I am begging you not to let your child smear any sticky substance all over our beloved characters. Many years ago, I witnessed one parent encourage their child to run up to Chip and Dale for a big hug while also coating their faces and shirts in an abundance of bright blue cupcake icing. I don’t know how this child managed to get that much on their hands in the first place, but I do know the nature of Disney cupcake icing is inherently very messy and colorful.
For the enjoyment of the cast members and the line of families behind you, please make sure your child’s hands aren’t filthy, particularly if they have just been enjoying a bribery snack to wait quietly in line.
Know what photos you want.
Think about this one in advance. What will you use the photos for? Kid’s room decoration or for a memory book? You might not want everyone in each picture. Have a short list in your head of what you would ultimately like to walk away with so you can get what you need in a timely manner. For example, I liked to have a photo with each of my kids along with Mickey and then one of them all together. The single ones would go in their room after each visit, and the family photo went into a photo book. With a bit of coaching, my kids were very familiar with the quick interchanges, so we could get all our pictures in around 30 seconds and have time to spare to have a quick chat with the characters they love.
Don’t be afraid to look silly.
Some of the best photos I’ve ever seen with characters are the ones where guests aren’t afraid to get silly. Fun poses and facial expressions are the best way to set your character photos apart from all the rest. Get into the spirit of your meeting without worrying about what anyone around you will think.
Try not to hold up the line.
When you’ve been waiting a long time to meet your Disney friend, it’s easy to linger longer than you should, eager to soak up every moment of the interaction that you can. The problem is, there are lots of families behind you hoping for the same thing. Try to keep your family in check time-wise, making sure that you enjoy the moment you have been looking forward to without outstaying your welcome.
There is no going back.
This one is borrowed from an upcoming Five People You Don’t Want to be in Disney Parks article. I won’t disclose the full story now, but let’s just say that I witnessed a very heated encounter when one Mom tried to re-enter the front of the line after her turn was finished because her child ‘forgot to ask something.’ Therefore, a rule that I thought was unnecessary to disclose is now back on the list of things that should be spoken of.
There is no going back. Once your turn is over, if you want to revisit a character for any reason, you need to join the back of the queue. It shouldn’t need to be said, but here we are.
I hope some of those tips help you to have the most enjoyable experience at your Walt Disney World Meet & Greet. If you have any tips you would like to add, be sure to mention them in the comments below. You can find a list of Character Experiences throughout Walt Disney World by visiting the Disney Parks website here.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.