“I wish that I could meet XYZ character…again!”
It may be a budget cutting situation, construction of a new land or just a movie release special engagement, but character meet and greets are held to a level of mis-understanding within the hallowed halls of the Team Disney building that I’m going to try to explain in a short post.
We need to look at how a character meet and greet experience comes into play. Usually, it’s out of a partnership between the studios and the parks in which a marketing budget is created to allow for a limited engagement of a character but every situation is a little different.
This brings me to the first entrant on the Top 10 Characters that we want to meet again at Walt Disney World:
Number 10 Character We Want to Meet Again – Cruela De Vil
When Cruela De Vil was meeting at Hollywood Studios, we got the opportunity to see one of the best Disney villains (hands down) one-on-one with guests who loved the quick wit and amazing personality that only she could bring. Overall, meeting Cruela was one of the highlights in my own personal Disney experience…and I wish that others could have the same!
Number 9 Character We Want to Meet Again – Meeko
My cat’s name is Meeko. My favourite character is Meeko. Can you imagine a day in the parks when I got the chance to meet Meeko? Every so often this little bandit is hanging out with Pocahontas in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but he’s such an integral part of the “BFF Pals” that it’s just frustrating that he’s not available more often.
Number 8 Characters We Want to Meet Again – Vader Goofy and StormTrooper Donald
Star Wars Weekends was an event that allowed fans to mix the two worlds together, with the outcome as hilarious as the above photo…
The concept on paper was an easy sell. Introduce Star Wars and their massive fan base to the Disney product and visa versa, with characters that we knew and loved like Goofy swapping a vintage look with a Darth Vader costume (and forgetting his pants in the process). Donald was meeting with guests while dressed like a stormtrooper, and let’s be honest, that was pretty epic.
It would be great to have this opportunity again, and in the coming years with such a large influence of the Force making its way to the Studios, maybe we’ll see Jedi Mickey and Pals in full Star Wars costumes soon!
Number 7 Character We Want to Meet Again – John Smith
Did you ever make it to a Pirate and Princess Party? Think “Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party” mixed with a “Long Lost Friends” D23 event….and throw in a New Orleans feel with music and beads.
In this party, you got the opportunity to meet our Number 7 character that we’d want to meet again…John Smith! Pocahontas was meeting with her beau in the current Liberty Square veranda meet and greet (Tiana was meeting there last we saw), but it was such a huge find for a character enthusiast. They were able to play off of each other in real form and it was so awesome to ask questions about Meeko and Flit…and see a true ad-lib sketch comedy session happen right in front of my face.
Number 6 Characters We Want to Meet Again – Captain Hook and Mr Smee
When was the last time that you got to meet the Ol Captain and his BFF? Smee and Hook are classic characters that need to be out more together. This was also at the Pirate and Princess Party in 2008, but since then I’ve met Hook separately at Not So Scary and Smee at the World Showplace one afternoon in EPCOT while wandering around the Showcase.
PS…look at my tan! This is what I looked like the last month of my contract after spending months and months in the Florida sun!
Number 5 Character We Want to Meet Again – Robin Hood
Have you seen Robin Hood lately? Great movie…immortal character…
This photo was taken in behind the old Toon Town train station during a Character Scramble, where guests were able to meet some of the classic Disney friends like Prince John, Mr Penguin, Launchpad and so many others. Let’s be honest though…Robin Hood is seriously under-represented in the parks and needs a little TLC in WDW;) Let’s make this happen, please?
Number 4 Character We Want to Meet Again – Jiminy Cricket
I need to point something out with this photo. See the autograph book? I’m an adult with an autograph book, collecting autographs from my heros and idols while walking around the most magical place on earth. You’re never too old to have fun…and you never have to grow up. Jiminy Cricket taught that to me!
He’s not in the parks often enough and even though he’s a secondary character behind Pinocchio…that presence was such an integral part of a the Main Street USA until they moved out the classic characters for the Fab 5.
Number 3 Characters We Want to Meet Again – Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable
Anyone who knows me knows that my favourite character from Disney Channel was/is/will always be Ron Stoppable. Meeting Kim and Ron on the Streets of America was always a part of a trip to the Studios and I wish that they were able to be seen in other parks. They don’t really have a home right now, but hopefully in the future we’ll be able to meet these awesome characters again!
Number 2 Characters We Want to Meet Again – Kenai and Koda
I’m from Canada, which you can tell by my unhealthy addiction to bacon, beer and dole whips. In 2007/08 I had the opportunity to be a Cultural Representative in the Canadian Pavilion and almost 10 years later…my passion for the brand still goes strong.
I had the opportunity to be the 2nd last guest to meet Kenai and Koda in the pavilion before they were unceremoniously booted from the Victoria Gardens…and I was literally in tears. For months, I worked closely with these characters and they were a part of my day. Koda would steal his plush almost daily…and Kenai would just be the big brother and make him give them back.
They were more than friends for me…they became family and I miss them to this day. Whenever I have the chance to see the stars from Brother Bear during random trips to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I just go back to this experience and it makes me smile from ear to ear:)
Number 1 Character We Want to Meet Again – Figment
This is an absolute no-brainer! During my contract in 2008, I had the privilege to meet a legend in Figment. In fact, I didn’t know about it until after, but the photo above was one of the last (if not the last) that was taken with him before the character spot closed forever.
The fact that the icon of EPCOT is no longer available for guests to interact with…well it’s so disheartening. I completely understand the reasoning why (Kodak and all), but this is by far and away the number one character that I want to meet again!