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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, September 10, 2012

Indoor Character Meet and Greets: A New Trend at Walt Disney World?

Are more indoor character meet and greet locations being planned for Walt Disney World?  With the closing of Beastly Bazaar at Animal Kingdom to make way for an indoor character meeting location and the recently obtained permit for an indoor character meeting location to be added at the entrance to EPCOT, seems that this may be the wave of the future.  There are already indoor character meet and greet locations at the Magic Kingdom with Town Square Theater and Pixie Hollow.  The new Fantasyland Expansion has the previous location of Snow White’s Adventure attraction being deemed an indoor character meet and greet location.  And, there is EPCOT’s Character Spot in Innoventions offering guests an opportunity to meet the Fab 5.

Indoor character meeting locations make sense—all around.  The Cast Members portraying various characters get some relief from the elements.  I can just imagine how hot it gets inside the costumes in the afternoon sun!  And, because there is protection from the elements, the characters can be available for longer times and are more accessible to guests.  Being protected from the elements is an added bonus for guests, too.

The indoor meet and greet locations also means Disney can control the lighting and other visual effects.  No more worrying about someone being in a shadow or an unwelcome surprise in the background of your photo when you get home.  The indoor queues also mean Photopass photographers can be available to take photos—which may mean more selling of and purchasing of Photopass products!

Bringing the character meet and greets indoors also leads to guest safety.  We’ve seen how the sudden lines for random character greetings in the parks make for lines forming in walkways, even though Cast Members try to keep waiting guests out of the way of moving guests.  The line that forms for meeting Woody and Jesse in Frontierland comes to mind, as does the line to meet characters in the Fairytale Garden at the Magic Kingdom.  It takes a lot of work for Cast Members to keep the line going in an efficient manner in addition to handling the characters.

And, with the addition of more indoor character greeting locations, comes the opportunity for that location to include Fastpass for guests like at Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom.  Imagine waiting to see a character without actually waiting!

The indoor greetings also offer opportunities for more than one character to be in a single location making meet and greets more efficient!  And, the exact times and locations for the meet and greet can be published for guests in Times Guides and on park maps.

While plans are in place for indoor character meet and greets at the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom, I am wondering about Hollywood Studios.  Some indoor meet and greet locations already exist in the Magic of Disney Animation and Buzz and Woody’s Picture Shootin’ Corral.  And, there are covered character meeting locations for Mike and Sully from Monster’s, Inc. and characters from Cars.  But the recently added meet and play area for Phineas and Ferb is not under any cover and waiting in that area can be brutal in the afternoon sun—trust me, we’ve been there!

I’m all for the addition of indoor character meet and greet locations.  I will, however, miss some of the spontaneity of finding a Disney character when you least expect it and the joy of the find.  We stop for Disney characters—no matter where we find them!

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