Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- How to Use MyDisneyExperience to Find Characters
- Character Meet and Greets at Animal Kingdom
- Cape May Cafe (Breakfast)
- Cinderella’s Royal Table (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- The Crystal Palace (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- Topolino’s Terrace- Flavors of the Riviera (Breakfast)
- ‘Ohana (Breakfast)
- Chef Mickey’s (Breakfast and Dinner)
- Garden Grill Restaurant (Lunch and Dinner)
- Hollywood & Vine (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
- Tusker House Restaurant (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
- Story Book Dining at Artist’s Point (Dinner)
- Akershus Royal Banquet (Dinner)
- Be Aware of Disney Character Meal Cancellation Rules
Is your little one looking forward to meeting and seeing characters at
One thing that changed for the better during Disney’s reopening after their pandemic closure was Disney Character meet and greets. Before traditional character meet and greets returned there were some fun socially distanced photo ops that have stuck around. It is so much more magical to see “characters in the wild” while heading around the Disney parks. You can look up both fixed locations and character pop-up greetings in the My Disney Experience app.
Things to Know About Character Experiences at Disney: 2023
For the majority of 2021 character experiences at Orlando’s Disney World were limited to flotillas, motorcades, cavalcades, pop-up sightings and a limited number of character breakfasts due to the pandemic. As characters make their way back into Disney daily life there are a few things to keep in mind.
Character experiences are back to traditional meet and greets.
You may be asking, “Can Disney characters give hugs”? Yes! Hugs are back. In fact my fellow travel writer and I got one of Olaf’s warm hugs during our May trip.
Can I get character autographs?
Autographs are hit or miss. We saw some characters doing them and some meet and greets were giving out stickers instead. You can certainly plan to get autographs but just know it may not happen with each character.
Read More: See how Disney character meet and greets differ from those at Universal Studios in our WDW vs. Universal analysis.
How do I make a reservation for a Disney World characters Meet and Greet?
As we predicted when writing this article back prior to the relaunch- the meet and greets have made it onto Genie+. If you’re utilizing Genie+ (see our full Genie+ guide here) you can set a return window for the following character attractions.
- Mickey at Town Square Theater (Magic Kingdom)
- Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall (Magic Kingdom)
- Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall (Magic Kingdom)
- Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight (Hollywood Studios)
Ways to Minimize Disney World Character Meet and Greet Wait Times
There are a few other strategies for getting a jump on the meet and greet lines.
- Stay on property. Not only do on property guests get into the parks a little bit earlier, but you’ll get earlier access to Genie Service/Lightning Lanes than those staying off property.
- Make early dining reservations. This is one of the most talked about “secrets” for getting into the park early. Dining reservations can be made at Cinderella’s Royal Table for an hour before the park opens. You’ll enter the theme park through a special line. Keep in mind though that this is a pretty pricey way to get in early and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be done eating in time to get to the attraction before others entering at rope drop.
- Lines tend to die down a bit during nighttime shows. If you’re already seen the fireworks or can park hop, this can be a good time to visit characters. It’s a better bet for those with older kiddos as some little ones may be pretty tired by this point in the day.
- Go during parades. Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade provides a great window to jump into line. This is especially true if you have multiple Magic Kingdom days planned. Watch the parade one day and visit the princesses on the other.
- Be sure to utilize the My Disney Experience app to its potential. Disney’s Genie Service is a great (free) vacation planning tool! Even if you don’t pay for Genie+ you can put in your priorities and Genie will help you fit them in at the most opportune times.
How to Use MyDisneyExperience to Find Characters
The MyDisneyExperience App is vital to locating characters. In addition to timed meet and greets, there are numerous other pop up sightings, cavalcades and more. A lot of folks have said that they’re a bit confused about how to know what is happening when and where. You’ll find them listed in the app under the entertainment section. Here’s how to find that:
- On your app look at the icons along the bottom of your phone. Next to the home button is a location pin button. Click on that.
- In the top left corner apply filters for the Disney park you’d like to look at.
- Click the middle drop down menu and select Entertainment.
- It will automatically show you the map version of the results. Click the top right hand corner on Show List to see them in list format. It’s much easier to browse. Flotillas, character cruises, cavalcades, motorcades, distanced meets and more will show up here.
SheBuysTravel Tip: You’ll probably laugh but we recommend practicing some selfies. Yes, we said practice taking selfies. We all want those great Disney character pictures but the set up is definitely different. Selfie sticks still aren’t allowed at Disney World or Disneyland so do a quick photo shoot at home to figure out the best way to hold your phone for a good shot! We highly recommend a Pop Socket or similar item so you can prop your phone up or get a good grip.
Disney World Characters at EPCOT
EPCOT is still doing some “pop up” style meets. You can see them on your My Disney Experience app. They usually have many many times throughout the day. In the pin on the app be sure to check both Character and Entertainment dropdown menus. They can be listed as both. Also keep your eyes peeled as you head around for these unique photo opportunities.
EPCOT Characters in World Celebration Area
In the World Celebration area you can look for:
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- Goofy (near EPCOT Main Entrance)
- Minnie Mouse (near EPCOT Main Entrance)
- Winnie the Pooh (sighting in Gardens near Imagination)
- Joy from Inside Out (ImageWorks)
- Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph (ImageWorks)
- Mickey Mouse
- Pluto (World Showcase Friendship Ambassador Gazebo- across from boat launch)
We hoped that with the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind we would see some Marvel characters. Groot photo ops would be amazing! So far none have popped up.
Characters in the World Showcase
The following characters are the ones we usually see in the World Showcase.
- Donald Duck (Mexico Promenade)
- Anna and Elsa (Royal Sommerhus in Norway)
- Mulan (China Gardens)
- Snow White (Germany Wishing Well)
- Jasmine (Morocco)
- Aurora (France Fragrance Gardens Gazebo)
- Princess Aurora (France Fragrance Gardens Gazebo)
- Daisy Duck (International Gateway)
- Mary Poppins (United Kingdom Courtyard)
Where to Find Characters at Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has many scheduled opportunities for character meet and greets. There used to be numerous motorcades but most of those characters have returned to their permanent meet and greet homes.
Red Carpet Dreams
Located on Commissary Lane, this Disney World character meet includes both Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. You may be tempted to skip this one if you’ve gotten a pic with them elsewhere but they have special outfits here. Minnie is in a ball gown and Mickey is outfitted in his Sorcerer’s Apprentice robes.
Animation Courtyard Character Meets
Kids can see some of their favorite Disney Junior characters in the Animation Courtyard, located on the right after you walk down Sunset Boulevard in front of the Disney Junior Dance Party building. The courtyard has cute little sets for some favorite Disney Junior characters including Vampirina in her Scare B&B, Doc McStuffins in her backyard playhouse clinic, Fancy Nancy at her play palace and classic favorite Pluto.
Star Wars Launch Bay
The Star Wars characters are back, which means that Chewbacca has moved from his character sightings in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. You can also meet Chewbacca and Darth Vader here. The Star Wars Launch Bay is located next to the Animation Courtyard.
Your kiddos will melt when they see Olaf at this character meet and greet near Echo Lake. The great news is that this is the only Hollywood Studios meet and greet that you can book using Genie+ which saves time spent in line! Be aware that every time the Frozen Sing Along lets out this line swells. Try to join during a show or you may end up waiting longer.
Walt Disney Presents
You can head right next to the Animation Courtyard to meet James P. Sullivan (Sulley) at Walt Disney Presents.
Toy Story Land
You can find some of your favorite Pixar characters in Toy Story Land. Buzz Lightyear can be found near the Toy Story Land entrance. Woody and Jessie are located near the Toy Story Mania Entrance.
Character Sightings at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has also kept some of the character sightings. Goofy can be seen on the Tower of Terror balcony, Daisy and Donald Duck are on the front park entrance balcony, and Chip and Dale pop up on the Brown Derby lawn.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Even though the Star Wars characters are back for meet and greets, Disney Visa Cardmembers can still stop by the Animation Courtyard Star Wars Launch Bay daily for a special magic shot photo opportunity.
Spotting Star Wars Characters in Galaxy’s Edge
If you’re exploring Batuu you may catch a glimpse of characters like First Order Stormtrooper, Kylo Ren, Rey, and Vi Moradi. We had no trouble spotting multiple characters during our last few trips.
Character Meet and Greets at Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the slowest to roll out character meet and greets again. Surprisingly Pocahontas hasn’t returned to Discovery Island even with the outdoor setting.
There are some other character meet and greets and sighting though.
In DinoLand U.S.A. there are three opportunities. Daisy Duck greets guests at Daisy’s Design Studio. Donald Duck is located at the DinoLand U.S.A. Welcome Center and Chip and Dale are located on the Upper Cretaceous Trail.
Kevin from Up roams around Discovery Island. He’ll do quick stops for pictures. We usually see him near Dug & Russell’s Wilderness Explorer Club House.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are located at the Adventurers Outpost on Discovery Island right before you head over the bridge into Asia.
Be sure to check on the MyDisneyExperience app for character sighting opportunities like the Up Adventure Flotilla (Russel and Dug), Mickey and Friends Flotilla (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and friends), Discovery River Character Cruise (either Pocahontas or Lion King characters), and Adventure Flotilla (Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack). Flotillas and River Characters are not located under character on the dropdown. You need to look under the Entertainment dropdown menu.
Disney Princess Meet and Greets and More at Magic Kingdom
Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom
You’ll find the Disney Princess character meet and greets back at the Princess Fairytale Hall. This experience is located in Fantasyland just behind the castle, across from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. In pre-Covid times the waits for this meet and greet could be extensive. Princess visits are available to select a time slot for using Genie+. If you won’t be utilizing Genie+ we recommend having a strategy for these meet and greets if you don’t want to wait for 2 hours to see Jasmine and friends.
Our recommendations are:
- Book an early Magic Kingdom breakfast. You’ll get in before rope drop. Eat fast. Head over as soon as you’re done. Not worth it if you’re a resort guest because you’re only buying yourself 30 minutes to eat before you’d be able to exercise early entry.
- Stay in a Disney resort. Arrive for early entry (30 minutes before the park opens). Be there early, line up and be ready to hustle. It’s not on the early attraction list but we expect it to be added once it officially launches. Worse case scenario you stand in line for 30 minutes until it opens. Still less than the 1-3 hour wait times we’re used to seeing.
- If you’re visiting MK more than once and have seen the parade or the nighttime show, go during it. Lines should be significantly shorter if you line up while folks are hunting down seating ahead of a parade or show.
Which Princesses are at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom?
If you’re wondering which princesses you may be able to meet at Princess Fairytale Hall, we’ve got the list for you. Princesses at the Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom include- Cinderella, Elena of Avalor, Tiana and Rapunzel. Sleeping Beauty (Aurora) has also been featured there on occasion. If you’re looking for Disney World characters Anna and Elsa, they’ve moved over to EPCOT.
One fun thing that we always did with my girls was wear princess dresses to our meets. The photos were adorable. If you plan to have your little wear a Disney costume please note that we HIGHLY urge buying it in advance of your trip. It will save you a bundle. I’ve outlined Disney essentials that we buy before our trip to save big in this post.
Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom
We covered the princesses first because we get the most questions about their meet and greets, but let us be realistic, Mickey is still much loved and much visited. Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theater will be a special character sighting opportunity during Disney’s 50th Anniversary Celebration because he’ll be in his EARidescent outfit. This character experience is located just inside the gates of Magic Kingdom on Main Street U.S.A. Look to the right after you go under the railroad. It’s a quick one to jump in line for the second you get in the gates.
In addition, Snow White appears on the Town Square Theatre porch.
Other Disney World Character Opportunities at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has a lot of opportunities to see characters.
- Captain Jack Sparrow (Adventureland Stage)
- Buzz Lightyear and Stitch (sightings at Rocket Tower Plaza Stage)
- Belle (Maurice’s Cottage)
- Merida (Fairytale Garden to the right of the castle)
- Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella Fountain directly behind the castle)
- Tigger and Winnie the Pooh (Fantasyland, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)
- Peter Pan (Fantasyland, Never Land Map)
- Bear Characters Big Al, Liver Lips McGrowl, Shaker and Wendell (sighting on the Country Bear Jamboree Balcony)
- Aladdin and Princess Jasmine (Adventureland, Agrabah)
We do see some pop up sightings from time to time around the park. Cavalcades are also still happening (think mini-parade). You can look up times for the day of your visit for the Mickey Celebration Cavalcade and the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.
Some Disney World character interactions at Magic Kingdom are still unavailable. Gaston hasn’t returned to Fantasyland just yet.
Disney World Character Meals
One other way to ensure you see characters is to book a character breakfast or other meal. Please be sure to carefully read character experience descriptions ahead of time though. Available characters may be different within the same restaurant during different meal periods. Some meals that traditionally featured characters are open right now with no characters. For the most up to date feedback on Disney character meals, we recommend joining our Disney Facebook group where you can hear feedback from recent visitors.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Make sure that you’re aware that kids pricing for character meals is only for kids age 3-9. Kids 10+ are billed as adults. If you have a child under 3, they can eat off your plate or they’ll bring out something for them on request at no charge.
Currently the following character meals are available (January 2023):
Cape May Cafe (Breakfast)
Looking for a fun way to start your Disney day? Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at the Beach Club’s Cape May Cafe is a fun character meal. It’s perfect for an EPCOT day that starts later. Once you’re done you can walk right over to the EPCOT International entrance. Minnie and friends appear in their beach wear and stroll around the seating area. Breakfast is served buffet style.
Please be aware that although Cape May serves dinner it is not a character meal. We don’t want any disappointed kiddos!
Cost of Cape May Cafe Character Meal: Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast is $45/adults and $29/kids. Specialty drinks can add on to that cost.
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
*Please note that characters are currently unavailable. Character Dining will return on February 28, 2023.
Located inside of Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle this is a unique Disney dining experiences. You will need a park ticket, park reservations and dining reservations for this experience. Reservations fill up quickly for this location so be sure to book as soon as your Advanced Dining Window opens up. This location charges the cost of the meal at the time of reservation, not when you dine.
If you are eating dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table you need to know that they rope off the castle exit 20 minutes prior to the nighttime show. If you don’t exit before that point you will not be able to leave.
Cost of Cinderella’s Royal Table Character Meal: Breakfast is $45/adults and $29/kids. Lunch and dinner are $67/adults and $39/kids. Specialty drinks can add on to that cost. Please be aware that Disney says that once characters return on 2/28/23 pricing will be adjusted to reflect their return.
The Crystal Palace (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Located on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom, the Crystal Palace offers character dining for all three meals. Since it is located inside of a park you will need valid park tickets, park reservations and dining reservations to eat here. Meals are buffet-style. Winnie the Pooh and friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood move from table to table meeting and greeting guests.
Topolino’s Terrace- Flavors of the Riviera (Breakfast)
Topolino’s located at the Riviera Resort is one of the most sought after character dining experiences at Disney. This means that reservations can be hard to come by, especially right when the window opens up. Persistence is key here. Don’t worry if you don’t get the reservation right off. Many people snag them closer to their trip dates as people change their plans.
Pros of character meals at Topolino’s are the food (great), the ability for each family member to order their own meal and the Skyliner access to get to Disney parks afterwards.
Cons of character meals at Topolino’s include the dress code which can be a bit challenging for families (no tank tops or flip flops) and the need to move a car if you’ve driven and parked for a meal.
Characters at Topolino’s Terrace are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Daisy. They are all dressed in unique, artsy costumes.
Cost of Topolino’s Character Meal: Breakfast a la Arte is $45/adults and $29/kids. Specialty drinks can add on to that cost.
Located at the Polynesian, ‘Ohana offers the Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch. This breakfast actually runs until noon so it’s great for a departure day if you’re leaving later in the afternoon. Be sure to try their special pineapple coconut bread!
Cost of ‘Ohana Character Meal: Breakfast is $45/adults and $29/kids. Specialty drinks can add on to that cost.
Chef Mickey’s (Breakfast and Dinner)
Located at the Contemporary Resort, this popular character meal is another coveted reservation. As with Topolino’s, if you don’t get a reservation at first keep trying. More become available closer to the date as people’s plans change. You can also sign up for a Mousewatchers Dining Subscription. They’ll send you text alerts as reservations open up so that you can snag them. Chef Mickey’s used to be buffet style and has pivoted to family style due to Covid.
Pros of Chef Mickey’s include its location outside of the parks (no ticket needed), family style dining that keeps the food coming, dinner availability and accessibility to the monorail.
Cons of Chef Mickey’s include food quality (feedback consistently rates it below Topolino’s) and family style service (yes it can be a pro and a con) if you have kids who like to order their own food.
Characters at Chef Mickey’s the original fab five – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto.
Garden Grill Restaurant (Lunch and Dinner)
I have a soft spot for Garden Grill. My first trip to Disney was in high school in the 90s. We ate at Garden Grill. I’m an avid gardener and Living with the Land is one of my favorite Disney rides. It’s a recipe for success for me. Reservations at Garden Grill are a bit easier to snag. Located in the World Nature neighborhood of EPCOT in the Land pavilion, you do need to have both a park ticket and park reservation to eat here.
Pros of Garden Grill are the availability of a lunch character meal, family style dining and changing scenery as the restaurant rotates through different scenes. I feel the need to say here that I’ve been unable to dine in other rotating restaurants. I can do a roller coaster but the slow rotation usually kicks off nausea for me. I’ve found Garden Grill tolerable. The rotation is slow.
Cons of Garden Grill are the cost. Since both meals are more substantial than eggs and waffle breakfast, you’ll pay a little bit more. Dining is family style which again can be a challenge for some families with pickier eaters. Of all the character meals this one is going to be challenging for pickier kids. The menu is vegetable and herb heavy. Even the meats are less familiar ones for little kiddos and you may spend your time begging them to eat the expensive food.
Characters at Garden Grill are Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Chip and Dale.
Hollywood & Vine (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hollywood & Vine requires both a park ticket and a park reservation to access. Be aware Hollywood & Vine is one of the restaurants where the characters are different depending on the time of day. Many folks aren’t prepared for this and end up disappointed when the characters they see aren’t who they expected.
Pros at Hollywood & Vine are that all meals are available for character dining. Meals are served buffet style. You could eat breakfast and dinner here and it would be a totally different experience. We’ve also heard anecdotally that the character interaction at this meal is above and beyond others. There is a dance party theme for breakfast that kids love and the pictures from these meals are always super cute.
The only major con for this character meal is simply the amount of time spent dining in a park that has so many high wait time rides. With reservations starting 30 minutes before the park opens, you’re not going to be able to rope drop and beat anyone to rides here.
Characters at Hollywood & Vine are Disney Junior characters for breakfast. Breakfast includes Vampirina, Doc McStuffins, Fancy Nancy and Goofy. Lunch and Dinner characters are Minnie and friends. Most people have reported seeing Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Pluto and Goofy but we’ve heard a few Pluto or Goofy instead of both situations. The best part about Hollywood & Vine lunch and dinner is that the characters change costumes seasonally so you can see them dressed up for Halloween, Christmas and more.
Tusker House Restaurant (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Located inside the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tusker House used to be a buffet style character meal. It has now pivoted to family style. All three meals are available as character meals. You do need to have both a park ticket and park reservation to eat here. This specific character meal is often mentioned as a favorite with diners calling out the fantastic cast members they interacted with.
Pros at Tusker House are the super cute safari style outfits of the characters, the ability to break up the day in a park that requires a lot of walking and the opportunity to try different foods.
Cons are food your kiddo may or may not eat if they’re picky. If you do have pickier eaters, we’d recommend breakfast.
Character at Tusker House are Mickey Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck and Goofy.
Story Book Dining at Artist’s Point (Dinner)
If you’re heading to Wilderness Lodge, try to time your dinner so that you can get out in time to see Disney’s Electrical Water Pageant, one of our favorite nighttime shows.
Cost of Story Book Dining Character Meal: Dinner is $65/adults and $39/kids
Akershus Royal Banquet (Dinner)
Dinner at EPCOT’s Akershus Royal Banquet actually begins midway through the afternoon so it can be the perfect choice for younger kiddos. Located in Norway, Akershus serves a unique menu during their Princess Storybook Dining dinner. Pickier eaters may not find their perfect fit here. Meals are served family-style.
The princesses come out one by one to meet and greet tables. Princesses you can meet here include Ariel, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine and Snow White.
Cost of Akershus Royal Banquet Character Meal: Dinner is $63/adults and $41/kids
Be Aware of Disney Character Meal Cancellation Rules
Make sure you only book meals you are going to show up to. This may seem obvious but often people get super excited and book multiple sit-down meals in one day. That creates a timing issue where you don’t have room to do anything else. Disney has been very strict with cancellation rules for meals recently. Most character meals have a 2 hour cancellation policy. If you do not cancel 2 hours in advance of your dining reservation time you’ll incur a $10/person cancellation fee. Your credit card will be charged automatically if you no-show or don’t cancel 2 hours in advance. We’ve heard about people showing up 5 minutes late and not being seated only to find out afterwards that they were charged a no-show fee. Plan accordingly!
Do you have a favorite character experience? Let us know if we’ve missed one of your must do items!