I was inspired to write this article after listening to a Disney podcast where they debated the pros and cons of meeting characters randomly around the resort versus seeing them at organised meet and greets. It made me think about what I prefer and I began to wonder what other people prefer and just how important seeing the characters around Disneyland Paris is to someone’s holiday experience.
There are three types of organised character meet and greets. Firstly, there are those that have their own permanent location around the parks; like the Princess Palliation in Fantasyland and Duffy the Disney Bear On Main Street USA – though lack of popularity has seen him being dumped until Halloween, in favour of a random rotation of other characters. The second type are those who are scheduled to be in certain places between certain times; like Goofy in the Front Lot of Walt Disney Studios. The third is a character meal such as Cafe Mickey or Inventions. No matter when you book your meal you are guaranteed to see characters, and usually the same ones; Mickey and pals, with some 100 Acre Wood characters thrown in for good measure. In contrast, the random meets can come anywhere in the parks at any time and are when you bump into a character who is not advertised as being anywhere.
As I’ve mentioned previously, and as was discussed on the IMDO Podcast, the random character meets and are becoming fewer, as Disneyland Paris seem to moving all character interaction towards permanent location meet and greets. For me personally, this dramatically cuts down on the number of characters we’ll meet and have photos taken with on our trips. Meeting characters is not a big deal for us, to the point where we simply will not queue up and therefore the random meets were perfect and were usually the only time we would have a photo taken with one, aside from the few character meals we had almost a decade ago. They are a nice occurrence when you bump into one, but worthy of our time waiting in queues.
Back in the early – mid 2000s we had one trip which saw my wife getting a photo with around 30 different characters during our trip to Disneyland Paris, almost all of them from random character meets. The others were from meals at the aforementioned Inventions and Cafe Mickey. The one and only time, in 11 trips to Disneyland Paris, that we have ever queued up to see a character was back in 2003 when we had a photo taken with Mickey outside his trailer, as you used to be able to do in Walt Disney Studios. It was our honeymoon so we had to get one photo with the big mouse on campus. This was made easier it being early December, so the queue wasn’t that big anyway.
Fast forward a few years to 2007 and we had just finished a yummy Pizza in Bella Notte when we noticed not one, not two but three characters milling about outside, with nobody near them. This then became the perfect opportunity for me to get photos with Snow White, Ariel and Stitch. If I wanted to get a photo with a Princess these days I’d have to wait in the line at the Princess Pavilion for between an hour to 90 minutes, and that’s not going to happen, not on our holiday anyway! I guess we’re lucky in that our 4 year old doesn’t like the characters from closer than 10 feet away, but he does like seeing them around.
So for us, meeting the characters is quite low on our list of priorities, though for our child’s sake it’s nice seeing them out and about. When we look at photos from recent holidays to Disneyland Paris, very few have us with characters in them due to the dramatic decrease in random character meets. How about you – do you like meeting characters? Do you prefer random meets or do you like the swing towards more organised meet and greets that we’ve seen. If you are not bothered about actually meeting them, do you still like seeing them around the resort? Just how important are seeing the characters to you, not including shows and parades of course?