A big part of Disney World for children and adults alike is meeting some of the most beloved characters we all grew up with knowing. I recall when I was little, Disney characters were just wandering the park and did not have set locations or times to meet them. However, this is not so much the case anymore. You aren’t likely to just stumble upon a character wandering down Main Street U.S.A. that you can wave or get a quick autograph from. Today, you need to be more strategic.
As with anything Disney, you must plan out your trip before coming in order to make the most out of your trip and avoid any unnecessary sadness by missing out on some of the critical things you wanted to achieve such as getting autographs. I will map out my top ten tips for getting the most sought over autographs at Disney World.
Know Where Characters Will Be
The most important part is researching where characters will be on your trip. For example, if you have your heart set on meeting Belle you would want to know where the best locations are to find her.
Each park has its own line up of what characters you can find there and their location in the park. Some characters are also only at set locations at certain times of the day whereas other characters are stationed at set locations all day. Be sure to find out who is at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom,
Decide What you Want to Get Autographs On
There are autograph books you can buy at each park and they are of great quality and have fun covers. The books open wide so it’s easy for all characters to sign. Additionally, the park sells fun autographs pens that go nicely with the books.
Some families create their own autograph books prior to coming to the park. You can create a custom autograph book on Shutterfly for example. By doing this you can leave places to add pictures or fun quotes. Another great way to collect autographs is to have your kids create their own by picking out paper and binding it together yourself.
Other fun ways to collect autographs are bringing items like t-shirts or canvas bags to get signed. That way you can actually use your items to show off your autographs rather than just keep them in a book that you don’t look at often. Another fun way to get autographs is to make ornaments for the Christmas tree. Each ornament you can paint the color that represents a character and has that character autograph it. For more inspiration check out this article.
Find FastPass+ Character Experiences
Each character loves spending time interacting with their guests. As a result, lines can get very long. On a hot day the last thing you want to do is wait an hour in line for a meet and greet. Some outdoor meet and greets such as those along the World Showcase in Epcot, you are unable to gain FastPass+ experiences for. However, there are many other locations you can meet your favorite character in under 20 minutes.
For example, you can see Belle at Enchanted Tales with Belle at the Magic Kingdom and gain a FastPass+ for this experience. Other princesses can be seen at Princess Fairytale Hall and that also has a FastPass+ opportunity. Keep an eye out for all the FastPass+ opportunities to meet your favorite characters so you don’t waste precious time during the day at the park.
Dine at a Character Meal
In my opinion, the most efficient way to meet characters is by booking a character meal. These can be booked 180 days off. By booking one of these meals you avoid lines for characters and instead sit comfortably in the air conditioning while enjoying delicious food. Each character will come up to your table to chat, take pictures, or sign autographs. There are character meals within the parks but also at the resorts as well.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is within Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom and is one of the most sought after meals since many of the princesses grace guests with their presence at this location. Chef Mickey’s is at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and is a fabulous way to meet Mickey Mouse. The Crystal Palace has delicious breakfast and is home to Winnie the Pooh and his pals. There are many other locations to meet your favorite characters so make sure to do your research to find which one suits your needs the best.
Have a Writing Tool
Although this may seem like common sense make sure you have a writing utensil to provide to the characters. Some characters that have big paws need big pens or markers to hold in order to give you a great autograph. Also, make sure to bring a few pens or markers. It is very common to misplace one or two so it is important to have a backup so you don’t have to try to borrow one from someone else in line.
Pack Some Fun Toys for Kids
As I said, lines for autographs can grow very long. Waiting even 30 minutes can seem like a life time for children. Imagine having to wait that long or longer multiple times throughout the day to see characters. When children start to melt down it is a great time to pull out a fun toy or play a exciting game such as I Spy in order to keep their attention so they forget they are waiting in line.
Be Kind and Patient
This goes without saying that most of the time it is the children who want to get autographs. As a result you need to be prepared for characters to have to give some children extra time to warm up which does make the lines longer. There will also be the occasional tantrum that characters will try to work through in order to get the child to feel comfortable. So it is important for you to be patient and help your children be patient as you all wait for your turn.
Don’t take up too much time
As I went over in the last tip, shy kids and tantrums always tend to happen. It is important to give your children a minute or two to collect themselves. Yet, if your child does not calm down it is important to not force them to keep trying or take a picture with the character. Instead kindly take your children out and know that it may be better to pass on character meet and greets for another year.
Disney Visa Cardholder Meet & Greets
Did you know about this special Disney Visa perk? There are special meet and greets at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. All you have to do is show your Disney Visa Card to gain entrance.
You do not always know what character you will be meeting, however you can’t beat this experience to meet a character without waits and large crowds. You will also get a free 5×7 photo.
Family Magic Tour
One last way to obtain autographs that many people do not know about is by booking a Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom. This tour is more of a scavenger hunt which has you hunting all around the Magic Kingdom. You get to ride a few rides without waiting in line and also get to meet Peter Pan. Mickey Mouse is also sometimes on the to-do list at the end of the tour.
We hope this helps you on your autograph quest at Walt Disney World. Let us know in the comment section
I have a background in elementary education, biology, and travel. Disney has always been a passion of mine since I was first there with my family when I was three years old. The joy and happiness it brings to people is just magical. As a result, we became Disney Vacation Club Members which has allowed us to visit often and with our large extended family. I hope to pass on my knowledge and experience of Disney World to others in order to make their trip flawless and one they will never forget.