Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How to Meet as Many Characters as Possible at Epcot

When most people want to meet Disney characters, the first place that usually comes to mind for meet-and-greets is the Magic Kingdom. While the MK is a great place to meet lots of characters, especially the Disney Princesses, it can often be difficult to actually meet the characters with ridiculously long wait times. Some of the meet-and-greets are treated like other attractions, complete with Fast Passes and timed queues. What many people don't realize is that Epcot plays host to quite a few characters as well, including some otherwise hard-to-find characters. With characters strategically placed all along the World Showcase, it can often be easier to meet some of your favorites at Epcot than anywhere else at Disney World. Here are some tips for maximizing your Epcot meet-and-greets:

1. Map it out
Think about where in Epcot you want to start your day, take a look at the park map and times guide, and plan accordingly. You don't necessarily have to base your entire day on character meet-and-greet times, but keep them in the back of your mind as you tour the World Showcase. Focus on the characters you want to meet most, then start your "journey around the world" at Mexico or Canada based on your character priorities. And don't forget to check for any meet-and-greets in Future World as well!

2. Arrive early (but not too early!)
No one wants to waste their entire day waiting in line to meet a character! But as with anything at Disney, a little waiting is required at each meet-and-greet. Characters in the World Showcase generally meet guests for a 45-minute period, take a break for about 15 minutes, and then return for another meet-and-greet session. My advice is to jump in line as soon as you see characters leaving their designated spot for their break. Most guests leave the area when the characters do, so joining the line at that time will usually put in you right up front. I've never had to wait more than 20 minutes to meet a character with this strategy (compared to wait times upwards of 60 minutes for the princesses at the Magic Kingdom--and make that 120 minutes for Anna and Elsa!).

3. Don't stress!
If you get too busy enjoying the shops, food, and scenery at one of the countries in the World Showcase and miss a character meet-and-greet, don't sweat it! Characters in the World Showcase usually have several morning appearances and several afternoon appearances. They routinely take short breaks between appearance times, and the character you missed will most likely be back in about 15 minutes. If you are trying to make your next character meet-and-greet, check your time guide for a later appearance time and circle back around. This works especially well if you start as soon as the World Showcase opens in the morning, giving you plenty of time in the afternoon to make any character appearances you may have missed earlier in the day.


4. Check out Character Spot
Tucked away in Future World at Epcot is a designated (and queued) character meet-and-greet area called Character Spot. While Fast Passes are available and sometimes necessary to meet the characters housed at Character Spot, there are times during the day when lines are exceptionally low and wait times are under 10 minutes. My husband and I reserved Fast Passes last year for later in the day and didn't even need them--the queue was only 5 minutes! Character Spot usually plays host to Mickey and friends, but has seen other characters pass through. Rumor has it that Joy and Sadness from Inside Out might be heading to Character Spot in the near future!

5. Consider Character Dining
If you want to meet even more characters and have a slightly more personalized visit with them, consider character dining. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion offers the chance to meet several Disney Princesses during your meal. Instead of waiting in line, the princesses make their way around the restaurant to greet each table, take pictures, sign autographs, and share a brief conversation. Just be careful which characters you meet throughout the day if you plan to dine at Akershus. You wouldn't want your child to be confused when Snow White in Akershus doesn't quite look like the Snow White she just met in Germany!

Below is a list of all of the characters I have personally seen at Epcot along with their locations, followed by a list of other characters currently at Epcot.

Characters I have seen at Epcot:
Mary Poppins - UK
Marie (Aristocats) - France
Aurora- France, Akershus
Belle - France, Akershus
Beast - France
Aladdin - Morocco
Jasmine - Morocco
Snow White - Germany, Akershus
Mulan - China
Mickey - Character Spot
Minnie - Character Spot
Goofy - Character Spot
Ariel - Akershus
Cinderella - Akershus

Other characters currently at Epcot:
Alice - UK
Baymax - Character Spot
Daisy Duck - Friendship Ambassador Gazebo
Donald Duck - Mexico
Pluto - Legacy Plaza

Leave a comment below with any other tips, tricks, experiences, and observations regarding meeting characters in Epcot!

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