by Blake Taylor
Who should be top priority on your star search?
Meeting characters is great fun, and everyone has their favorite. To many Guests, meeting a Disney character is much more than posing for a quick family photo—it’s getting to have a conversation with a childhood hero (whether that said childhood is still happening or was gone decades ago). There are a handful of characters, though, who pack more bang for your buck, and who really kick things up a notch in giving you quality family memories that you’re surely not going to forget anytime soon. If you only have time to see a few characters on your Disney trip, make sure you track down a few of the faces on this list.
This countdown is, of course, not definitive. Everyone has their own favorite characters and is certainly entitled to their own opinions. These are just the ones that my family has had extra-special encounters with. I’d like to hear your character stories in the comments!
*Note: All character locations are correct as of when this was posted. However, Disney changes things up every now and then. If one of these characters is a must-see for you, check the Times Guide schedule or stop by Guest Relations when you arrive.
12. Mary Poppins
Always having something witty and very nanny-like to say, Ms. Poppins is very fun to meet.
Where to meet her: Town Square in the Magic Kingdom, United Kingdom at Epcot, 1900 Park Fare character breakfast (NOT dinner) at the Grand Floridian Resort.
What to say to her: Ask how Bert is doing and how to say supercalifragil….(yeah, that word) backward. Also, ask where her carpet bag is. She’s supposed to tell you she left it in a store at Epcot…and if you go and check, sure enough, it’s exactly where she said it was.
Bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, and fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, Tigger is always energetic and adds great spontaneity to the average character greeting.
Where to meet him: Near the Pooh ride in the Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace character breakfast/lunch/dinner in the Magic Kingdom, United Kingdom at Epcot, Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios, Discovery Island Character Landing at Animal Kingdom.
What to say to him: Ask for a bouncing lesson!
10. Donald Duck
With a temper as feisty as Donald’s, it doesn’t take much to light his fuse, especially if you happen to have anything relating to Mickey Mouse on your person. Usually Donald remains sedate and cooperative during meet & greets, but if you egg him on, you might be fortunate enough to see him blow his top.
Where to meet him: Near Country Bear Jamboree in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Character Spot at Epcot, Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios, Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom, Tusker House character breakfast/lunch at Animal Kingdom, Chef Mickey’s character breakfast/dinner at the Contemporary Resort, Cape May Café character breakfast at the Beach Club Resort.
What to say to him: Come prepared with a very biased comment about why Mickey Mouse is better than him. Or, better yet, show off a Mickey toy. Donald will do the rest.
9. Snow Queen
The evil queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs probably wouldn’t be a character that would first pop into your mind when thinking of a top-priority character checklist. My family underestimated her as well, but after one encounter with her, she quickly became one of our all-time favorites. Her voice is monotone at all times and she always keeps a straight face, but the things she says are hilarious, never breaking character. When we told her she was the fairest one of all instead of Snow White, instead of thanking us for the compliment, she stated dryly, “Is that a question or a statement?”
Where to meet her: Unfortunately, the Snow Queen doesn’t have a regular greeting location. If she’s to be found anywhere, it would be inside the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios in the late afternoon (around 5 or 6), along with a group of other random characters. The only guaranteed time to see her is during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom in September and October.
What to say to her: Basically anything. Ask her a question about herself, and she’ll no doubt retort a quick, perfect answer that will bring a smile to your face (but, alas, not to hers).
Goofy is just, well, goofy. He’s always good for a laugh.
Where to meet him: Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Character Spot at Epcot, Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios, Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom, Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom, Tusker House character breakfast/lunch at Animal Kingdom, Chef Mickey’s character breakfast/dinner at the Contemporary Resort, Cape May Café character breakfast at the Beach Club Resort.
What to say to him: Goofy’s clumsiness is often the result of his own shenanigans, so usually you can count on him to find something funny to get the conversation going. A prop or toy might help make the encounter even funnier, though.
7. Cinderella’s Stepfamily: Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella
This trio is a hoot. They’re still bitter about Prince Charming choosing Cinderella, and they aren’t afraid to express their disdain on the matter. Because of this, Anastasia and Drizella are a bit desperate to find a prince of their own, so don’t be surprised if they try to make a move!
Where to meet them: Behind the Castle in the Magic Kingdom, 1900 Park Fare character dinner (NOT breakfast) at the Grand Floridian Resort.
What to say to them: It’s quite popular for bachelors in their 20s to propose to Anastasia and Drizella! If you don’t fall into that category, though, ask them to sing something for you. They probably perform “Sing Sweet Nightingale” by request all the time, so perhaps think of another Disney song. Whatever it is, the results are sure to be entertaining.
6. Chip and Dale
Where to meet them: Town Square in the Magic Kingdom, Innoventions Plaza at Epcot, Garden Grill character dinner at Epcot, Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios, Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom
What to say to them: Similar to Goofy, Chip and Dale are able to take anything and run with it (sometimes literally, if you happen to have a toy on your person). Props help get that interaction going even more. They’ve probably heard some questions a thousand times, like “How can you tell each other apart?,” but some others might get a fun reaction too, like “Which one of you is Clarice’s girlfriend?” or “Which of you is the oldest brother?” Or, you could really get them in a tizzy by intentionally calling them squirrels or mistaking them for Alvin (you know…the chipmunk).
5. Captain Jack Sparrow
He’s a rare find at Walt Disney World, but when you get the chance to meet him, he’s quite the chatty Kathy!
Where to find him: Captain Jack does appear daily in the Pirate Tutorial in the Magic Kingdom, but that’s a scripted show with minimal interaction. The only way to have a one-on-one meet and greet with him is during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. However, if you take a Disney Cruise, you’ll be able to track down Jack easily, as he makes numerous appearances every voyage.
What to say to him: Watch one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies beforehand and ask him something relating to his story, or come in pirate gear. My brother wore Captain Jack mouse ears, to which the real Captain Jack noted, “Oh! You’ve got my piece of eight!” I’d love to see his reaction if you told him Jack the monkey was standing behind him.
4. Mad Hatter
This guy is just plain kooky. He’s off the wall and out of control, and can pretty much be counted upon to act completely nuts.
Where to find him: His only regular location is the 1900 Park Fare character breakfast (NOT character dinner) at the Grand Floridian, though he does appear during the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween and Christmas parties.
What to say to him: The better question is what NOT to say to him. Rather than asking him questions, the Mad Hatter is more likely to ask you a question instead (such as why my sister was wearing guitar-pic earrings, when clearly her ear was not a guitar). The Mad Hatter also isn’t afraid to be a little rude for the sake of comedy. My uncle asked the Mad Hatter if English people’s dental health was affected by their constant tea drinking, to which Hatter promptly screamed across the restaurant to ask Alice to show him her teeth. He’s hilarious.
Where to find him: Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios, ‘Ohana character breakfast at the Polynesian Resort.
What to say to him: Ask him how his badness level is doing…though that might lead him to showing you that it isn’t improving much! Fun results are probably also found if an Elvis impersonation is requested.
2. Captain Hook
The bad guys are often really playful to meet in the parks, and Captain Hook is no different. Though he doesn’t talk, he’s got plenty to say.
Where to find him: Unfortunately, Captain Hook is hard to find these days! His schedule is the exact same as the Snow Queen—only guaranteed at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but likely to show up sporadically in the late afternoons inside the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios.
What to say to him: As much as it’s been done, it never gets old to do the classic gator chomp and watch Hook quiver with fury.
1. Mickey Mouse
Mickey is the face of The Walt Disney Company, and to many people, getting their picture taken with Mickey Mouse is the essence of a Walt Disney World vacation, as mandatory and important as posing in front of the Castle. What he means to the Disney legacy and what he embodies as a character—honesty, integrity, and a positive attitude—give Mickey his rightful place as the #1 must-see character.
Where to find him: Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Character Spot at Epcot, Garden Grill character dinner at Epcot, The Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios, Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom, Tusker House character breakfast/lunch at Animal Kingdom, Chef Mickey’s character breakfast/dinner at the Contemporary Resort, ‘Ohana character breakfast at the Polynesian Resort.
What to say to him: Mickey has probably been asked the marriage question (“When are you going to propose to Minnie?”) more times than he’d like to count. Instead, perhaps ask him how Pluto is doing or his memories of working with Walt. If you’re feeling courageous, ask him how he’s doing now that his house is bulldozed. But more than anything, soak up your time with the big cheese. Let’s face it—in the world of celebrities, it doesn’t get much bigger than one-on-one time with Mickey Mouse!
Who is your “MUST SEE” character? Who else would you add to the list of “extra magical” characters to meet? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
Blake recently graduated from high school and has been surrounded by Disney literally since birth, having had a Mickey mobile in his crib. Blake enjoys helping peers plan WDW vacations and writing for his Disney blog, BlakeOnline.com.
For more ideas of fun ways to interact with characters, check out Makena’s blog, “Make Your Character Meets More Interactive” here.