Meeting Disney World Characters With Toddlers
One of my favorite parts of a Walt Disney World vacation is the character meet and greet locations. It’s so much fun having PhotoPass photographers take our family photos with characters we love. However, I was a bit apprehensive of how my shy toddler would react. He did AWESOME! If you have a shy little one, here are my 7 Tips For Introducing Your Toddler To Disney World Characters.
7 Tips For Disney World Characters Meet & Greets With Toddlers
One of my biggest frustrations for our Disney World vacations is when we wait in line, with toddlers, only to be disappointed because an experience didn’t go as planned. Luckily, as the parent, you have a lot of control when you introduce your toddler to Disney World Characters. There are definitely things you can do to help it go smoothly!
Plan Ahead & Grab A Daily Character Schedule
Disney World guests who are staying on property are allowed to book Fast Pass+ experiences 60 days ahead of their trip. Guests who have Fast Passes get to bypass the longer queue lines, you’re allowed 3 per park per day. This is a great opportunity to grab Fast Passes for any character your child “has to meet.” Mickey is always popular since everyone wants a vacation photo with him.
Upon entering the parks, grab a schedule for the characters that are making an appearance for the day. This will tell you what time they’re out and where you can find them. Arrive about 10 minutes ahead of time, before their scheduled appearance, to be one of the first guests in lines. Since my child struggles with queues, this really helped out.
Plan Your Days Around Characters
You can find pockets of characters that are in close proximity in the parks. For example, Animal Kingdom has a special Donald’s Dino-Bash for the 20th anniversary of the park. If you arrive early to one character, in the morning when they first arrive, you can quickly hop around to the other characters in that area.
So five characters all popped up, for Donald’s Dino-Bash, at 10am in Dinoland USA. We were able to grab photos with all of them within 30 minutes! Epcot has the Epcot Character Spot. Hollywood Studios has the Star Wars Launch Bay, which has Star Wars characters all nearby each other. Definitely look for close pockets of characters.
Ask PhotoPass Photographers To Capture Their Reaction
This is one of my favorite tips and I got it directly from one of the PhotoPass photographers: ask them to capture your toddlers reaction when it’s their turn to meet the characters. It’s such a great candid opportunity. Also, just in case your child doesn’t do well next to the character, you can still capture a genuine response to their favorite characters.
Accompany Your Toddler To Meet Disney World Characters
As much as you’d love a photo of them alone with the characters, it’s best to be the lead. You’re showing them that it’s a fun experience and helping them relax about it. So definitely plan to be in some of the photos. Older siblings also help out. If they open up after a few character meet & greets, then let them try to experience it alone.
Let Character Handlers Know About Any Disabilities
With every character, there is a “character handler” (typically they wear blue shirts and khakis) and a PhotoPass photographer. My toddler is behind on his speech and doesn’t speak. So I let them know that my son won’t communicate with words.
Disney is very experienced to handle disabilities and special circumstances. Some of the characters have been known to speak American Sign Language with guests. I promise that your child is in good hands with the Cast Members.
Book Disney Character Dining Experiences
One of the most relaxed ways to meet Disney World characters is to book a character dining experience. You can avoid long queue lines and children feel comfortable staying in their chairs. Have your own camera ready as the characters walk around the restaurants.
We always found this to be a relaxing way for the kids to meet characters. It doesn’t feel rushed and the characters make rounds to every table. They can also see the characters walk around the restaurant before their turn. I think that really helped to mentally prepare my toddler.
Character dining restaurant reservations book up fast. Be sure to use your 180 day window to book them right away. You can look up which characters appear at the different restaurants.
Be Prepared For The Best Experience
If your child wants autographs, be ready with your book and marker. You can also be prepared with your own camera. If you don’t want to purchase the Memory Maker photography package, or don’t have an Annual Pass, then your best option is your own camera. Cast Members are happy to use your own device, just be sure to have it ready when it’s your turn.
I like to grab video and let the PhotoPass photographer take the photos. It’s the best way to capture the entire experience.