How to Find Character Meets at Disney

How to Find Characters at Disney

Chances are if you’ve ever visited a Disney destination, then meeting your favorite Disney characters is a must. Today I’m going to discuss how to find character meets at Disney. Since Disney is always switching things up, this post won’t simply be a list of who and where to find them. This is a how to find character meets at Disney. That’s right, I’m going to share with you how to find the current meets for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani and more! Let’s get going then!

How to Find Characters at Disney

Walt Disney World

Let’s start with the biggest Disney destination, Walt Disney World. With four major theme parks, two water parks, resorts, and a giant shopping center, Walt Disney World is huge! That means there’s no shortage of character meets there.

Walt Disney World Website

When looking to find Disney character meets at Walt Disney World, the first thing you need to do is check out their website before you travel. Did you know you can even schedule fastpasses for some character meet and greets?That means if you plan to stay as an on-site guest, you’ll want to check out these options before your 60 day FastPass booking date. If you are staying off-site, make sure to book your FastPasses 30 days prior to travel.

How to Find Characters at Disney

To find character experiences available, you can simply head over to Walt Disney World’s website. To start, hover over the Things To Do tab and click on Character Experiences. This will take you to a large list of all the character-based experiences available for that day.

How to Find Characters at Disney

You’ll then need to filter the experiences to only show character experiences for which you can meet and interact with them. You’ll need to update the calendar date so that you’re looking at character experiences available for your travel dates. Once you’ve done that, you can scroll through and explore which characters are available to meet.

If you click on a specific meet experience, you can also view what times they’re available and if they are eligible to be booked as a fastpass experience. You can even click on Show In My Plans located below the available times so that you can add them directly to your itinerary! I do this for all of my clients and it’s a great way to ensure character meets won’t be forgotten once at the theme parks. But what about if you’re already at the park you ask?

My Disney Experience App

If you’re already in a park and want to see what’s available, you can use the My Disney Experience app to find them! Simply open your app and click on the map at the top. You’ll then want to click on the top filter (usually loads with wait times first). Select Characters. This will load character experiences available, but you’re not quite done. Next, you’ll want to click the filter and select the specific park you’re in so that it will load everything near you.

How to Find Characters at Disney

As you can see in my screenshot, my app is currently showing Characters experiences and has 1 filter for the Magic Kingdom. There are so many characters to meet at Magic Kingdom! But what about character dining?

Let’s talk about character dining next!

Character Dining

If you’re looking to dine with characters, then this is how it’s done! Under the Things to Do tab, select All Restaurants under Dining. This will load a list of Walt Disney World restaurants for you. Once this list is loaded, you’ll need to once again use the filter option to select Character Dining and be sure to update the calendar for your travel date. That’s it! So easy and there’s so many options to choose from! The Garden Grill, 1900 Park Fare, Ohana, and Cinderella’s Royal Table are some of our very favorite character dining locations. What’s your favorite character dining location?

How to Find Characters at Disney

But what about Disneyland for our west coast fans? Next, let’s head to Disneyland so I can tell you how to find characters at Disney land too!

Disneyland

Exciting news, as finding character experiences at Disneyland is exactly the same as Walt Disney World! Simply head over to the website, click on Things To Do, and filter by Character Experiences and your travel date. It really is that easy! What’s more, the app works the same too!! But what about international Disney parks you ask?

How to Find Characters at Disneyland

International Parks

This same search and filter method works for all the Disney parks destinations! Simply direct your browser to the Disney park website of your choice and follow the steps I’ve provided above for Walt Disney World to find characters within all the Disney parks around the world! You can find the website for all of the Disney parks here. This search method even works for guests visiting Disney’s Aulani, a resort and spa in Hawaii! Just load the Aulani page and hover over Activities to click on Character Experiences.

How to Find Characters at Disney Parks

But Meredith, you’re forgetting the Disney Cruise Line, you say. Let’s set sail next and discover how to find character meets at Disney aboard the Disney cruise ships!

Disney Cruise Line

Although this same search gameplan works mostly the same for Disney Cruise Line, there are some differences. The first and major difference is once you’re on the Disney Cruise Line website and loaded the Character Experiences page under the Our Ships tab, you’ll want to go ahead and filter the list by the specific ship you’ll be sailing on since some characters are available only on certain ships.

Disney Cruise Line Characters

The second difference is that DCL features several character meets that require tickets to be requested ahead of time. This includes meeting the Princesses, the Frozen sisters, the Star Wars and Marvel characters (for those sailing on these select themed sailings), and the Disney Junior characters. You can secure tickets for these meets once your booking window opens. It’s good to know that you must be paid in full to be able to login and book onboard activities. It’s also good to know that these experiences book fully super fast and you’ll want to be ready to book them as soon as your window opens. If you’re unable to secure tickets for a meet you’d like to experience, don’t worry! You can always head over to guest services once onboard and request tickets and in most cases, they have more available for guests at that time.

How to Find Characters at Disney

Character Dining Onboard

Disney Cruise Line features a very special meet and greet onboard called the Royal Court, Royal Tea. This exclusive tea party is an additional charge and functions more like character dining does at Disney parks. We’ve been fortunate enough to experience this (thanks Mom & Dad!) and enjoyed it very much! Not only do the princesses come out and sing, dance, and interact with guests, but they bring each child a special gift!

Disney Cruise Line also offers a Disney Junior Character Breakfast for sailing of 6 or more nights. Tickets can be obtained for free by clicking on book onboard activities once you’re logged into your account, paid in full, and your booking window is open. This is a special character breakfast that has special breakfast foods located at Animator’s Palette and features favorite Disney Junior Characters. They’ve just recently added Vampirina and Fancy Nancy to the lineup!

Moana

Additionally, you can meet exclusive characters during special events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Each event has its own exclusive characters and you can find information about these character meets once you’re at the event via the printed times guide available when you enter. In some cases Disney will list exclusive characters on their website, but that’s not always the case. Checking your times guide is the best way to ensure you find all these exclusive characters. We were able to meet Moana this year at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party because she isn’t available during regular operating hours at Walt Disney World.

Now that you know how to find characters at Disney, be sure to check out these other great posts to help you prepare for your trip! You won’t want to miss our Ultimate Disney Packing List! Be sure browse our posts about Walt Disney World and Disneyland too!

All About Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Dash

What’s the “Buzz” on Toy Story Land?

Image result for toystoryland

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Slated to open on June 30th, this land will allow guests to “shrink” down to toy size. We will have the chance to explore Andy’s backyard with Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the Toy Story gang! We promise that this land will be fun for kids – and kids at heart!

Set the Scene

Toy Story Land will be full of larger than life designs inspired by a playground in Andy’s imagination. You will see giant building blocks and board game pieces, and spot some of our favorite Toy Story characters around the land.

New Attractions

Toy Story land will feature the classic Toy Story Mania, with an upgrade! There will now be 3 tracks to allow higher capacity for riders. This is definitely one of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios, and we are very optimistic that the third track will shorten the wait time.

Attraction cars at the start of Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Slinky Dog Dash is a family friendly coaster that will have guests zipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops that Andy has created to make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits. This attraction will be for guests 38″ and taller. Families will have rider swap offered as an option.

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Alien Swirling Saucers is inside a play set that Andy won at Pizza Planet.

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The concept art looks almost like bumper cars meets flying saucers. Rider swap will be offered, and guests must be 32″ tall to ride. We have to wonder one thing about this attraction…will you be chosen by the claw?!?

Concept art of Toy Story Land with a giant figure of Buzz Lightyear and the Alien Swirling Saucers spinner ride under 2 retro flying saucer shaped structures

Woody’s Lunch Box

You know that we can’t discuss this new and exciting land without discussing food! We are all about food at The Mouse and the Monorail, and we are so excited about the newest quick service dining option at Hollywood Studios, Woody’s Lunch Box. Guests can choose to eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner at this super fun and unique restaurant. The menu features classic American food with a twist, old fashioned soda floats and Toy Story themed specialties. The Monte Cristo sandwich sounds out of this world (see what we did there!) and there seems to be many options to please even the pickiest eaters in your bunch.

Image result for woody's lunch box food disney parks blog

FastPass+

No trip to Walt Disney World can be complete without discussing FastPass+. We now know that Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania will be “Group A” options for Hollywood Studios. You can pre-select only 1 of those when you are making your FastPass+ reservations. You will also be able to pre-choose 2 other experiences at Hollywood Studios outside of Toy Story Land.

What to Expect

If you will be visiting Toy Story Land anytime in the immediate future be prepared! You should expect the following:

  • Lots of fun attractions and awesome food!
  • Crowds – you and everyone else will want to see Toy Story Land. Either roll with the crowds or wait it out!
  • High wait times – be patient! Leave those angry eyes at home!

Image result for mr. potato head angry eyes

Disney Imagineers have gone above and beyond preparing this new land. They take even the smallest details into account, and we can’t wait to see everything this new land has to offer. Are you super excited about Toy Story Land? Let’s chat in the comments!

All concept photos, attraction photos and Toy Story Land photos are from Disney Parks Blog and disneyworld.disney.go.com

Tips for Disney’s Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tips for Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tips for visiting Pandora : The World of Avatar

Meredith

Be Patient

Pandora is new, as it just opened on May 27th. This one is most important to remember because everyone wants to see and do it all too. There’s no need to be rude to other guests just because you’re having to wait. This should go without saying, but everyone has paid to be there and no one is more special than the other. You’ll all get a turn soon enough! This extends to Cast Members too because they’re working hard to make it an unforgettable experience for you. Sit back and enjoy knowing that it may take a little longer if you’re one of the first humans to visit Pandora.

Meredith

Do Not Miss Flight of Passage

Queue up for this attraction as early as possible so that you can experience the wait queue at least once. The fastpass queue doesn’t have any of the fun theming that the standby queue has and it’s worth the wait at least once. The standby queue is the only time you’ll get to see the Pandoran caves with wildlife and all of the experiments that the Pandoran Conservation Initiative scientists have ongoing. This includes everything from water samples and small creatures to the full-size and very life-like floating avatar in its liquid-filled chamber. This is also the only time you’ll be able to see the giant wall that has the mural of the flying banshee and the life-size silhouettes of a Na’vi male and female. 

ikran

Then gear up for a most fantastical journey into Pandora on the back of your very own banshee after being paired with an avatar and linked in the link chairs. It’s also good to know that some Pooh-sized guests may have a bit of trouble boarding the ride since the back and leg braces flip up to engage. Be sure to scoot as far forward as possible and sit straight up. You’ll also want to push your knees forward and stay on your tip-toes until the ride harnesses engage in case you have long legs or large calves. Then hold on tight for one of the most thrilling and amazing rides Disney has ever imagineered! This ride is breathtaking, well except for when you’re taking in all the smells that Pandora has to offer too. This ride cannot be skipped!

Meredith

Use Extra Magic Hours

Extra magic hours are a perk of staying in a Disney resort and can help you experience the parks without the massive crowds. Check the app the night before your park days to see which parks and hours have this special perk so you can plan accordingly. Some magic hours occur in the morning, so you’ll need to be prepared the night before. Additionally, some magic hours happen at night and nighttime magic hours in Animal Kingdom will allow you to travel back to Pandora so you can experience its glowing beauty. 

fastpass

Schedule FastPasses ASAP

Scheduling early is a huge perk for guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort and this one is huge. If you’d like a fastpass for either ride, scheduling your fastpass at 60 days out the second they become available is crucial. And it’s good to know that the Pandora rides are now part of a tiered Animal Kingdom fastpass+ system, so you’ll have to choose one or the other. Both wait queues have outdoor areas and that means waiting in the sun, so a fastpass is like having a VIP status! Just remember that only guests staying in a WDW resort can schedule fastpasses 60 days in advance. If you’re staying off-property or are an annual passholder, the earliest you can schedule a fastpass is 30 days out. It pays to stay on property!

avatar

Stop and Look

The Na’vi have a phrase oel ngati kameie” meaning “I see you” and you won’t want to miss seeing and actually taking in all of its beauty. You’ll especially want to take your time and look if you’re waiting in line for either of Pandora’s feature attractions. The world is beautifully themed throughout and there are many little nooks where you can rest or just relax in a bit of shade. You can even find plants to drum on!

Pandora

If you’re lucky, or smart because you checked your times guide for the day, you can watch an authentic Pandoran drum circle in front of the Mountains! You can watch my the live feed I provided on opening day over on our facebook page. Travel back to Pandora (or just stay til the sun sets) to experience all of Pandora’s nighttime wonder. The star of Pandora’s nighttime magic is its “syuratan” or bioluminescence. You’ll be surprised that you may even glow too!! 

Meredith

Make use of Memory Maker

This should go without saying if you’ve ever used Disney’s Memory Maker. If you’re not sure what Memory Maker is, be sure to read this post. Like most lands at Walt Disney World, Pandora also has several photopass locations where you can get an epic photo with the floating mountains or even have your photo taken as an official Visitor to Pandora! There’s several locations and you can find these stops in your app. Simply open up your My Disney Experience app and slide the selection over to PhotoPass to see all the locations.

Meredith

Order Food Via App

This is another big one! With the opening of Pandora and its dining option, Satu’li Canteen, Disney has begun implementing its first use of a mobile food order feature. By ordering food via the app, you’ll save loads of time and give your feet a break from standing in yet another wait line. Not to mention, you’ll feel like a VIP as you stroll past the wait line straight to the counter to pick up your food. You can order from the app under the “My Plans” section. And once it’s ready, it’ll give you a push notification to let you know that your food is waiting for you. 

Meredith

Be sure your app is updated to the most current version to access this feature. It’s also good to know that if you have a card saved for all your incidentals (dining reservations etc), your app will automatically process the payment from that card. So if you plan to order from the app, be sure to have a card on file to save yourself time while in the park inputting card information. It’s also good to know that mobile order pickup will allow you entry into the canteen even if there’s a cast member outside keeping track of guest numbers inside. Just show them your “Order Ready” screen and they’ll show you where to go!

Meredith

Visit Windtraders Early 

The grand opening day of Pandora brought wait times in excess of three hours just to gain access to the Pandoran store! And be sure to queue up for the adopt a banshee at the rookery while there! Adopting a banshee has been super popular, so again be patient if you’re in a longer than expected line.

Meredith Meredith

You can also have yourself scanned and your DNA combined with that of a Na’vi to create your very own Avatar! This experience however, takes time and you will need to revisit Windtraders around an hour later to pick up your avatar.

Meredith

It’s good to know that your card (they give you when you sign up) will allow you entrance back into the store even if there’s a wait line. Simply go to the door and let the cast member know you’re back to pick up your avatar. You may get some dirty looks from those waiting in line to go in, but you won’t have to wait to actually go in again. 

Meredith

More than Just Rides and Food

Disney has gone above and beyond to create a world that seamlessly fits within the Animal Kingdom’s nature-based story. And Pandora: The World of Avatar helps to further push us to see our own beautiful Earth in new ways. Personally, our ride aboard the Kilimanjaro Safaris, after experiencing Pandora, had me more closely examining the plant life that surrounds each habitat’s wildlife. How amazing our own world is!

Meredith

The food had me questioning what exactly should alien food look like?! And would our own everyday foods seem alien to the Omiticaya people or other alien beings? Additionally, you don’t have to have seen or liked the Avatar movie to appreciate this new land. My kids loved Pandora and have never seen the movie. They actually came home and used their own money to purchase the movie so they could see the movie based on their unique experience. This new land is more than a couple of rides and some weird food; It’s an experience that leaves you “newomum nì’ul,”  wanting to know more!

Extra Tips for those with Special Accommodations:

Make Use of Rider Swap

If you’ve got a child that isn’t tall enough or just doesn’t want to ride, you can make use of Disney’s rider swap which allows one parent to stay behind with a child(ren) while the other parents waits in the standby line. The cast members will give the first parent a rider swap return fastpass and once that first parent completes their ride, the second is able to go back through the fastpass line. Best yet, that second parent can be accompanied by two other people, so your other kids have the opportunity to ride twice by waiting in the standby line with the first parent and then again in the fastpass line with the second parent!

Meredith

Make Use of Disability Access Service

If you or a member of your travel party has a disability,  be sure to stop by guest services at the beginning of your stay to receive your disability access service card, or DAS for short. This card will allow you to avoid waiting in the actual queue  while still waiting the standby wait time. Simply see a cast member at the fastpass entrance to any attraction and tell them you’d like to get a DAS wait time and they’ll give you a time to come back and ride. This is especially beneficial as some of the wait queues can be difficult to navigate with a wheelchair or ECV. And not waiting in the line for Flight of Passage will allow you more time to explore Pandora while you wait for your ride time. 

If you’d like to find out more about the world of Avatar, be sure to check out the official Disney website here.

FastPass+ – In a Chip and Dale Nutshell

If you are heading to Walt Disney World in the future, and have never used the new FastPass+ system, here is what you need to know – in a nutshell.

  • You can book a FastPass+ reservation up to 60 days out if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort and 30 days out if you are staying off property.
  • You can log on to My Disney Experience at midnight (11pm central) on your 60th day to make reservations.
  • Make sure that your entire party has been set up in your Family and Friends section of My Disney Experience in order to make FastPass+ selections for your group.
  • Each FastPass+ reservation lasts for an hour, and Disney officially enforces the ride return time. Just like a restaurant reservation, your FastPass+ may be canceled if you don’t show up on time. It’s best to be 5 minutes early.
  • When you return to your FastPass+ choice at the designated time, you’ll be directed to a “FastPass+ Return” line. Before you enter the line, you’ll need to scan your MagicBand to validate your reservation.
  • If technical problems cause an attraction to be closed during your return time, Disney will adjust your FastPass+ reservation by either allowing you to return to the attraction at any point in the day after the attraction reopens, will let you choose another FastPass+ selection, or give you another FastPass+ selection for any park the following day.
  • You may make up to 3 FastPass+ selections prior to your trip, but you don’t have to make any! FastPass+ is not required for attractions – it just lessens your wait time.
  • If you only make 2 FastPass+ selections, Disney will automatically chose a 3rd selection for you. It’s best to just go ahead and make the selection yourself.
  • Disney will select the time frame of your FastPass+ return times. If you don’t like those times, or they don’t fit in with your plans, you can change the time to another open time slot.
  • When you return to your FastPass+ choice at the designated time, you’ll be directed to a “FastPass+ Return” line. Before you enter the line, you’ll need to scan your MagicBand to validate your reservation.

Below is a list of FastPass+ Attractions at the Walt Disney World parks. I’ve notated the attractions that have height requirements.

FastPass+ Attractions at Magic Kingdom
You can make three FastPass+ selections at Magic Kingdom, and when you have used those selections, you can use the app or a kiosk to make another selection. These are the attractions at Magic Kingdom that offer FastPass+:

• Ariel’s Grotto
• The Barnstormer* – 35”
• Big Thunder Mountain Railroad* – 40”
• Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
• Dumbo the Flying Elephant
• Enchanted Tales with Belle
• Festival of Fantasy (afternoon parade)
• The Haunted Mansion
• it’s a small world
• Jungle Cruise
• Mad Tea Party
• The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
• Main Street Electrical Parade (evening parade)
• The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
• Mickey’s PhilharMagic
• Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
• Peter Pan’s Flight
• Pirates of the Caribbean
• Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel
• Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen
• Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
• Space Mountain* – 44”
• Splash Mountain* – 40”
• Tomorrowland Speedway* – 52” to ride alone
• Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet
• Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
• Wishes Nighttime SpectacularFastPass+ Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
You can make three FastPass+ selections at Animal Kingdom, and when you have used those selections, you can use the app or a kiosk to make another selection. These are the attractions at Animal Kingdom that offer FastPass+:
• DINOSAUR* – 38”
• Expedition Everest* – 44”
• Festival of the Lion King
• Finding Nemo – The Musical
• It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
• Kali River Rapids* – 38”
• Kilimanjaro Safaris
• Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
• Primeval Whirl* – 48”
Tiered FastPass+ At Epcot and Hollywood Studios
Here’s how FastPass+ works at Epcot and Hollywood Studios: The park’s attractions are divided into two groups, or tiers. You make one FastPass+ selection out of group A, and two selections out of Group B. After those selections are used or expired, you can check the app to obtain a new FastPass+ selection.

Epcot FastPass+ Group A (Choose 1)
• IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
• Soarin’* – 40”
• Test Track* – 40”
• Living with the Land

Epcot FastPass+ Group B (Choose 2)
• Captain EO
• Journey Into Imagination With Figment
• Mission: SPACE Green* – 44”
• Mission: SPACE Orange* – 44”
• Spaceship Earth
• The Seas with Nemo & Friends
• Turtle Talk with Crush
• Epcot Character Spot

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Group A (Choose 1)
• Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
• The Great Movie Ride
• Fantasmic!
• Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith* – 48”
• Toy Story Midway Mania!

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Group B (Choose 2)
• The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special (seasonal)
• Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
• For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
• Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
• Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
• Muppet*Vision 3D
• Star Tours: The Adventures Continue* – 40”
• Star Wars Presentations (seasonal)
• The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror* – 40”
• Voyage of the Little Mermaid

FastPass+ has been designed to maximize your enjoyment of the attractions at Walt Disney World parks. Don’t be afraid to give it a try. If you haven’t left for your trip and are overwhelmed, you can always email us at mouseandmonorail@gmail.com and either Sarah, Meredith or myself will be more than happy to help you. We have recorded two podcasts (Episode 3 and Episode 4) dedicated to FastPass+, and Sarah has shared some great tips on how to overlap FastPass+ times if you are having trouble getting reservations for your entire group.

If you are in the parks, there are cast members all over the place that can answer any questions.
So that’s the scoop on FastPass+. What are your thoughts and experiences? Let’s chat in the comments! ~Amy ºoº