As a child, I looked forward to meeting various princesses and members of the 100 Acre Wood when my family visited Walt Disney World. However, as I got older, meeting characters lost its appeal. It was not because I “grew out of it.” It had more to do with the amount of time spent waiting in line for my turn. In my mind, that time was better spent in a queue for one of my favorite rides. As an adult, I almost came to forget about the existence of Meet and Greets entirely, and it was not until I wanted to see the interior of Princess Fairytale Hall that I finally carved out a portion of my park time for conversing with theme park royalty. Even in that case, I had a Fastpass for the experience, so I knew that I would not be devoting too long of a stretch.
Fast forward, I now have a son, and I am very much looking forward to taking him on his first visit to Walt Disney World. Just over a month ago, he had the opportunity to meet the Easter bunny, and not only was he not afraid of the oversized rabbit, he could not wait to run up and meet him. It was in that moment that it first occurred to me that we may be spending a lot of time waiting to meet Mickey, Donald and the rest of the gang. This realization stopped me for a moment and made me question, “Which Disney character would I be excited enough to meet that I would willingly wait in line?” It turns out, after some consideration, I came up with not just one but eight (four individuals and two pairs) that I would be overjoyed to meet.
We recently saw the debut of an UP unit during the Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland. In that section, there is a walk-around version of Kevin with Russell riding on her back. I cannot explain why, but I love Kevin. It is probably because she is just a mother trying to protect her little ones. Whatever the reason, I would love to have my picture with Kevin.
Bernard and Bianca
I love both The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under films. Bernard and Bianca are the perfect case of opposites attract, and I have often told my husband that he, my son and I should either Disneybound or make group costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party as the mouse duo and Evinrude. The interesting thing about Bernard and Bianca is that they have made appearances as walk-around characters in the overseas parks.
Basil of Baker Street
As someone who has read and loved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories, I feel that The Great Mouse Detective is one of the most underrated of Disney’s animated films. While it takes on a dark tone that was typical of many children’s movies in the late 80s and early 90s, it has a very complete story with loveable characters like Olivia Flaversham, Toby, and Dr. Dawson, but none are more memorable than Basil of Baker Street himself.
Shortly after the release of Wall-E, the titular character could be found as an animatronic/robotic walk-around at very select special events in Walt Disney World (the photo to the right shows the animatronic in storage on the now-extinct Studio Backlot Tour), but he was not available to the general, daily Guests. I would love to see him make a comeback with his own Epcot or Tomorrowland Meet and Greet!
Who else thinks that Ray is the true hero of The Princess and the Frog? While a walk-around character-sized Ray would be “interesting” — some might find it a little strange to see a 5-foot lightning bug (See Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream). Instead, I would like to see this Meet and Greet be something along the lines of the Starlord and Baby Groot set-up. Perhaps Ray could be paired with Louis. The loveable, trumpet-playing alligator could be a typical character, while Ray could be the small animatronic.
Oswald and Ortensia
Disney fans rejoiced when Walt’s original character was brought back into the family. Fittingly, Oswald has made appearances in Disneyland, but he certainly needs to plan a visit to Central Florida, and he should bring his best girl, Ortensia, along with him! To my knowledge, Ortensia has never made appearances, but getting to see them together would surely be an incredibly popular Meet and Greet.
Which Disney characters would you wait in a long line to meet? Who is your ultimate Meet and Greet participant?
(Pixar Play Parade photo copyright Disney. Wall-E photo from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Kendall and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.