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Meeting Disney characters can be one of the most rewarding activities for many guests who visit a Disney Theme Park. At Walt Disney World, you will find character meet and greets throughout each park and at many different times each day. A complete schedule can be found at the Disney website. For the most part, character meet and greets should run smoothly and efficiently, but then again the biggest factor is supply and demand.
With the addition of Anna & Elsa from Frozen, many guests have been in situations where they are faced with incredibly long wait times, several hours or more. My friend waited in line for 4 hours with her daughter to see Elsa. It seems like a test of endurance, a mental and physical challenge to do so. I know that if they ever made a Frozen dining package, it would be incredibly popular. Anna & Elsa seem to be the most popular characters right now. I am amazed by how most children are completely enthralled by Elsa.
Of course there is a history where the meet and greets can be a total utter disaster for guests. For example, in 2013, there was a special event at Hollywood Studios where all the Villains took over the park, Villains Night which was part of the Limited Time Magic concept that occurred throughout 2013. We heard that hundreds perhaps thousands of people were stuck out in traffic or denied entry to Hollywood Studios.
There were several photo-op stations set up around Echo Lake where you could wait to meet a random villain. They were swapping out the face actors at each position around the lake, so the guests didn’t even really know who they would ultimately meet. Problem was after waiting about 4 hours with our friends who really wanted to meet a villain, we decided to leave the park. It was late, and we were so exhausted, kind of mad, very disappointed. We found out later, they still didn’t even get to meet a villain.
There was such a backlash from this event. Commemorative souvenirs for the event, shirts, pins, etc. were sold out within less than an hour. It was nearly impossible to order drinks from the Tune In Lounge, the throngs of people filled the place blocking the bar area. People were handed Disney complaint cards left and right.
After that fiasco, I highly doubt I would ever wait like that ever again. I think 20-30 minutes is about the maximum that I would consider waiting. In the future, I would consider opting for purchasing a VIP dining event if available in order to avoid having to wait like that. There are several dining options which have character interactions, of course this doesn’t provide access to all the characters or rare characters. Character dining can be a very expensive luxury, which many people probably don’t want to consider. I’m mostly interested in the Star Wars breakfast which is a limited time event, but I don’t know if I could justify spending near $50 a person. But, then again, would I really want to wait roughly one hour per character if waiting in the standby lines throughout the park? Not really.
Just a tip, if you are a Disney Chase Visa card holder, there is a VIP meet and greet at Epcot for card members. Wait times vary, we’ve never had to wait longer than 10-15 minutes. The characters are usually Mickey & Pluto or Goofy & Minnie. AND you can pick up your complimentary 5×7 from the Photo Center right near Spaceship Earth at the end of the night a $15 value.
Ultimately, we each place a value on our time and a limit to how much we will endure, and it can vary greatly.
How long would you wait to meet a character?
Would you wait longer for your favorite character?
Would you consider paying out-of-pocket in order to dine with characters or just wait in line in the park?