Whether you’ve gone to the Disney Parks one time, ten times, or every year since you were born, odds are, you’ve met a Disney character or two. Character meet and greets at the parks date back to the opening of Disneyland in California when Walt Disney used Mickey and Minnie costumes from their appearance at the 1950 Ice Capades to allow guests the opportunity to meet their favorite mice. The costumes only got more and more elaborate from there, with dozens of character meet and greets available throughout Disneyland and the four parks at Walt Disney World to this day.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, character meet and greets were one of the many things missing from the magic for an extended amount of time. Anyone who went to the parks in 2020 or 2021 remembers how characters would appear from a distance and wave at guests, ride by in short cavalcades, or greet you atop the railroad station as you entered Magic Kingdom.
With characters finally returning to offer full meet-and-greet experiences with guests – the most recent returns being The Little Mermaid herself in Ariel’s Grotto and Belle in Enchanted Tales with Belle – I’ve decided to look back at my all-time favorite character experiences at the parks, and let you know if they still exist.
Lilo from Lilo and Stitch – ‘Ohana
Can you currently meet Lilo here? Yes!
Back in 2017, I went to my first character meal when I was eight years old, and it was at a restaurant I had never been to before: ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. We got the family-style breakfast full of typical breakfast-time favorites with Hawaiin hints thrown in. We had the opportunity to meet Mickey and Pluto, along with Hawaii-based characters Lilo and Stitch.
Donning my Lilo and Stitch dress, I was most excited to meet one of my childhood favorites, Lilo. When she got to our table, she memorably noted that she was on my dress, making for a fun interaction before our photo.
With character meals returning to the parks, Lilo, Stitch, and their buddies finally joined their ohana at the restaurant again in October 2022. So, if you’re hoping to meet these two classic characters during your next WDW trip, they can be found at ‘Ohana!
Scrooge McDuck from Ducktales – Dinoland U.S.A.
Can you currently meet Scrooge McDuck here? Maybe.
I have a love for Disney ducks, and it turned into an unexpected magical moment during my 2019 trip to Disney when we were just about to leave Animal Kingdom, making our way out of Dinoland U.S.A. when we saw Scrooge McDuck appear for a meet and greet.
We immediately jumped in line, only a few guests ahead of us. It remains an especially memorable moment to have taken Scrooge’s arm for a photo and have the chance to meet this rarer Disney character.
As for meeting Scrooge nowadays, it seems his meet and greet has disappeared in Animal Kingdom, with no guests reporting any recent opportunities. But Scrooge can currently be spotted during a cavalcade across Discovery River along with some other duck pals!
Pluto – Garden Grill
Can you currently meet Pluto here? Yes!
During my 2022 trip, my second time at the restaurant, Pluto made things magical with a single photo. No one asked Pluto to pose so perfectly for this photo; that’s just the magic these characters bring to the table (literally) at Walt Disney World.
When I ate here in 2021, the meet and greets happened behind the tables, maintaining social distancing for the guests and characters. But as of 2022, the meet and greet are back to being up close and personal!
Woody from Toy Story – Pixar Pier
Can you currently meet Woody here? Sort of.
While I’d previously met Woody in Walt Disney World, my most memorable time meeting my favorite character was during my 2018 trip to Disneyland during a spur-of-the-moment decision to hop in his meet and greet line on Pixar Pier.
As it was during Pixarfest, I went to the park Disney-bounding as the Luxo ball and told Woody I was dressed like a toy he knows. Even in my 20s, Woody reminded me I still had a friend in him with a hug, which the cast member perfectly captured.
While Woody and Buzz currently do a distanced meeting experience on Pixar Pier, you can get the full meet and greet with them, along with Bo Peep, in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, which made its return to Andy’s backyard in October 2022!
Mickey Mouse – Chef Mickey’s
Can you currently meet Mickey Mouse here? Yes!
You can’t have a Disney trip without meeting the big cheese himself, and while I’ve met Mickey plenty of times, meeting him at Chef Mickey’s in 2019 was a favorite because it was my birthday!
Being your typical Disney Adult, I’ve celebrated my birthday at WDW a handful of times, and my birthday meal of choice during this trip was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. While I met Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald during the meal as well, meeting Mickey Mouse on my birthday was a memorable moment, mainly because he also acted as this former cast member’s boss at the time!
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is another character meal that offered distanced meet and greets until late 2022, and now offers regular meet and greets with plans of replacing the current family-style meal back to the buffet this year!
Ashley Amber is a former Disney cast member who rediscovered her love of writing when the 2020 pandemic ended her time making magic. When she's not bringing the magic to The DIS articles, Ashley works as a writer for Happy Productions and a live-blogger at MJ's Big Blog, and previously published over 300 articles with Collider. Ashley also authored a self-published fantasy/romance series of novelettes, and made her poetry debut in 2021's LGBTQIA+ anthology Deviant: Chronicles of Pride by InkFeathers Publishing. As a former pro ballroom dancer, when she's not writing, you can find Ashley on Youtube and TikTok where she posts dance videos featuring her own choreography and tutorials.