The meet and greet with various characters is a big part of a trip to Walt Disney World for many children. Even some adults center their entire visit around this.
Though I wanted Raileigh to meet as many characters as possible, I didn’t want to spend our entire trip waiting in line after line for a minute of face time with a character. Over time, I have learned some things that help to maximize our time with characters while still leaving plenty of time to enjoy the many other things that Walt Disney World has to offer.
Each of the four parks at Walt Disney World has it’s own character meeting dynamics. You’ll see different characters at the various parks. Some characters have a certain spot they hang out in, while others roam around.
I’ll walk you through our experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, including some tips to make the most of your visit to the park.
The best and most important piece of advice I can offer is to arrive at the park early. The character meeting lines will likely be shorter. This means less time standing around and waiting, and usually a bit more face time with the characters. Usually, the characters don’t come out right when the park opens. To find out the exact time each character will appear and what location they will be in, consult the Times Guide.
For us, the character hot spot at Animal Kingdom is Camp Minnie-Mickey. There are devoted character meeting trails. We found that the Classic Characters were at the ends of these trails. The characters were all dressed in safari clothing.
We also found that a lot of characters hung around Camp Minnie-Mickey not on the devoted trails. The characters would stand off to the side, and lines would form to meet them. We never knew which characters would be there, so we checked a couple of times throughout the day to see if there were any new arrivals. The characters we saw here were usually more minor characters. We saw Chip n Dale, Thumper, Brer Bear, Rafiki, Meeko, and Pocahontas.
There are several spots on Discovery Island to meet up with characters. There is small spot off to the side of Island Mercantile, near the Disney Vacation Club Kiosk. Lilo and Stitch hung out here a lot, but we also saw Meeko here as well.
Another spot on Discovery Island to meet the characters is a character trail over near DinoLand U.S.A. If you’re coming from the main entrance of the park, the trail will be on your right just before you spy the dinos. The set up at the end of the trail is very nice. We saw Pooh and Tigger here. It seems that Eeyore is here sometimes as well.
DinoLand U.S.A. is another spot to meet a few characters. There is one spot to meet and greet across from TriceraTop Spin. There’s a themed backdrop for a DinoLand Vacation, and we saw two characters dressed up in matching apparel- Pluto and Goofy. The line here did seem to be a bit longer than in other parts of the park anytime we passed by.
Take the train over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. While you check out the petting zoo and other fun things to do there, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for characters. We usually saw at least one character near the middle of the center. At times there were even two in this location. There was also the occasional character dispersed elsewhere. If you don’t see any characters, just ask someone when they’ll be returning. We found the employees here to be extremely helpful in determining character appearances. We saw Pocahontas, Rafiki, and Jiminy Cricket here.
The last place we came across characters at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park was in Africa. Go right past the entrance to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, heading towards Asia, and you’ll see several character meeting trails. There are a few off of the path overlooking the back side of the big tree. There are also several spots on the other side of the pathway. We even saw a few characters just wandering around here, greeting everyone.
All in all, we found Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park to be an ideal spot for character meetings. The lines all tended to be relatively short and there were many minor characters that we didn’t see anywhere else.
* Please Note: The details included within this post are what I found to work best in the Spring of 2011. Which characters actually appear and their location is subject to change at any time. For the most up-to-date information on character meeting times and locations, please pick up and refer to a Times Guide.