One of the biggest and most dangerous preconceptions that untrained Disney vacationers can have is the belief that they can experience everything that Disney has to offer in a single trip. We have been visiting the parks yearly for the past 5 years and still discover something new on every trip. Many times these new experiences are attractions, rides, or characters that we were aware of, but never had time to see before. Occasionally, however, you will stumble upon a magical gem that you had no idea even existed. Today, we will look specifically at 3 Character Meet & Greets that we were completely unaware of and that absolutely made our trip.
Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
We start in the Magic Kingdom of course with everyone’s favorite Mouse. While this Meet & Greet is certainly no secret, the real hidden gem here is Mickey himself. Everyone who has been to Disney has likely had a magical encounter with the main Mouse in one form or another. What most people haven’t done is actually have a conversation with Mickey. At this meet & greet, not only do you get a very personal interaction and photo op with Mickey in his backstage rehearsal room, but HE ACTUALLY TALKS TO YOU! The kids were amazed when Mickey asked them questions, responded to their requests, and even told them a joke. This is one character spot that should not be missed.
The Magic of Disney Animation
Next, we hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a more animated encounter. Somehow, The Magic of Disney Animation had completely escaped our notice in years past. Nestled between The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Disney Junior Live on Stage and beyond a sea of parked strollers, this attraction is easily overlooked if you are not looking for it. It was only through the suggestion of some friends that we made a point to seek it out this year. The attraction features a 9-minute film on the art of Disney animation and an interactive Animation Station experience afterward. The big find for us, however, was the jackpot Meet & Greet with Mr. Incredible and Frozone, Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz, and even Sorcerer Mickey. The Wreck-it Ralph area was particularly impressive with its inside the video game theme. Parents who grew up playing video games will appreciate the subtle throw back references on the maintenance board. (I particularly liked the "Contra Rerouted" Warning.) The Wreck-it Ralph meet and greet has been recently replaced with a new "Big Hero Six" area, where you can meet Hiro and Beymax. As always, Disney paid great attention to detail and created a wonderful character experience. Unfortunately, the entire attraction is easily overlooked, so make a point to seek it out. You won't be disappointed!
Everyone’s Favorite Guy
Finally, we venture back over to The Magic Kingdom and New Fantasy Land for one of the best Character interactions we have ever experienced at Disney. Just outside of Gaston’s pub we found a line leading to the handsome ham himself. We waited about 20 minutes to meet Gaston, but as soon as you were within earshot of the boastful town hero the show began. His conversations with every family we saw were unique and specialized. It was one of the most on-the-nose character portrayals we have seen. From his insistence that the little girl in front of us shouldn't have an autograph book because “books give girls ideas and make them think too much”, to his explanation that “his statue in the town square wasn't made of gold because it was too weak of a metal”, he never missed a beat. On our approach, the kids handed over their autograph books, which were a bit waterlogged from a pop-up shower on a previous day, and Gaston’s immediate response was, “oh, looks like someone tossed your book in the mud. It wasn’t me was it?” It was an amazing experience that we only found thanks to the suggestion of a fellow Disney fan we had met by the pool the day before.
It’s hard to miss the inspiring awe of Cinderella’s Castle or the predominant structure of Mission Space, but sometimes the most memorable moments of your trip can be found in small, out of the way, corners of the parks that you never knew existed. Go, explore, and discover something magical!