There’s just something so exciting about going to Disney World with a toddler. Maybe it’s the way they see things; everything is still so magical to them. And really, if you look at it through their eyes, you start to see things differently too!
One of those things that changed for me when I started bringing my young kids to Disney World was Character meets.
I’ll never forget the first time our oldest met Mickey and Friends. He wasn’t even a year old and we had taken him to his first character meal at Tusker House. He was both equal parts excited and bewildered, and I’d be lying if I said I was a prepared instagram super mommy. There really is a lot to learn when you are taking a 2 year old or a 3 year old to Disney, and it’s a topic that most people glaze over since the kids are so young!
But I’ve learned a lot since those days and with a few more kids in tow, we’ve learned some great tips for making those character interactions even more special! Especially when it comes to the best character meals for toddlers!
Character meet and greets for toddlers – the timing matters the most
You know this because you’re probably trying to get 5 minutes of sanity to read a post about how to make this vacation more magical for your little tike that you’re trying to get 5 minutes of peace from.
But TIMING MATTERS. Not yelling- just really putting it out there.
Nap time? Bad idea to meet characters.
Evening time? Probably even worse.
So, the best time we’ve found between our three kids and watching other people with theirs is in the morning time, when the characters first come out (and it helps to be at the best parks for character meets too!)
Because it’s less time for meltdowns and crazy outfit changes. More time to meet the characters without feeling rushed. And this ties directly into my very last tip for getting the most out of your character meet.
Prepare for long lines (or go to character dining)
Something that many people aren’t expecting are the lines to see characters. Especially at places like Magic Kingdom where it’s mostly in the A/C, character meets can get well over an hour even on the slower days.
Then if you think about somewhere like Epcot, or Animal Kingdom, where many of the meets are totally outside, and it’s no surprise why people pick the A/C!
It’s also one thing to wait in just one 20 minute line to meet one character.
But most people aren’t going to want to meet just one person- what’s Donald without Daisy? And Goofy really is one of the funniest characters we’ve ever met!
So the alternative to the longer lines is to:
- Get a fastpass (but not all meets have a fastpass+ and even then, you could wait up to 20 minutes, but more like 10)
- Go to Character Meals where you can meet 3-5 characters while you eat (yes, you can go to character meals with food allergies!).
- Go to a special additional ticket event like the Halloween and Christmas Party.
Get them excited ahead of time so they aren’t scared
There seems to be a number around 18 months or so for each kid where they start to dislike the characters, and then somewhere around 2-3 years old they get back into the groove again.
Each kid is different, but what really helps is getting them excited ahead of time. Even with my 2 year old now, I’ll talk about going to see Mickey, or having a character meal and meeting some friends. But my 3 yr old is already pretty excited, amazing how it changes so much just in a year!
Half the time she’s over the moon- the other time (mostly the face characters) she couldn’t care less.
Talk for the characters
Here’s something that is especially important for the characters that can’t talk- you need to talk for them. They do a lot of hand signals- but you prompting your child will go a long way.
This is especially true if you want the most bang for your buck. When we get involved with the characters and tell them things (and DON’T go immediately for the picture) it turns into something much more magical.
Like we love to ask Mickey about Minnie, or tell the characters that they are the kids favorite, or that we’ve been talking about meeting them for days and days. We just did this when we went to Topolinos, we asked Mickey what his plans were for Minnie. It was quite entertaining!
Watch out for their heads
So here’s the thing… you and I know, much like Santa Clauses Beard at the Picture Studio, that you’ve got to be a little careful.
You must be careful with the ‘head’ of the character and watch your children too. It’s exciting to get in the mood of meeting them, but if you accidentally hurt them, they’ll have to leave early.
We watched this happen at Epcot with Minnie Mouse one day and they had to close the character meet because she had to leave early. We waited in line for another 20 minutes before leaving- these are costumes after all.
Get in the picture yourself
You’ve done all the things- now enjoy it!
And I can promise you that when your kid looks back, they will want to see you in the picture as well. Not to be sentimental, but my mother in law passed away and my husband wished they would have had more family pictures- Mickey Mouse included.
Remember to get the autograph
Ok ok… I’ll admit that we’ve done the whole song and dance. Gotten the kids ready to meet. Changed their outfits from the food they decided to paint on their shirt, and stood in line to meet the characters. Had a blast and a half, talked and chatted and grabbed pics.
Then, we left the meet and greet only to realize. OOPS we forgot to get their autograph!!
Whatever you do- figure out a way to remind yourself so you don’t forget!
Don’t be afraid to try again
Last, but probably the most important part of this is, don’t be afraid to try again. It’s not difficult to meet more characters, and you’ll find many repeats throughout the parks.
Also know- some characters are specific to a park. Like Mulan only meets at Epcot, and BB-8 only at Hollywood Studios, so if the meet went bad, don’t stress it and come back in a few hours!