I literally cried tears of JOY when it was announced that character hugs would be returning to Walt Disney World in April of 2022! I hadn’t hugged Mickey since February 2020 and was SO excited to plan a visit back to the parks so I could hug my favorite mouse again 🙂
Disney announced it would be slowly bringing back the classic character meets so I decided not to rush down to the parks right away. I knew that character lines would be crazy long AND that many characters would still be meeting from a distance for a while.
Our Disney Rental Home had availability May 9th – 11th so I grabbed the booking and decided to let the girls miss school for a couple of days to head down to the parks. Our annual passes needed to be renewed in May anyway so the trip made sense.
I let the girls know that my purpose in going to the parks was to SEE MICKEY and they were all about it! So much so that we decided to do a CHARACTER CHALLENGE.
Kye had no interest in meeting characters and Spear would notttt be able to handle the lines so the girls and I were all about a girls-only trip with a mission!
I checked them out of school on May 9th and we headed down to Disney Springs to eat dinner and renew our passes. We’ve never eaten at D-Luxe burger because the line is always crazy long so it was a fun treat to have NO crowds and be able to walk right in. The perk of going down on a Monday!
It was an absolutely GORGEOUS evening – 77 degrees and perfection.
The burgers were AMAZING and the s’mores milkshake was THE best milkshake ever (aside from the cardboard straws of course).
The girls wanted to sleep with me and I was being a super-cool mom in being down with it. I surprisingly didn’t sleep too horribly 😉
I did a bit of research in advance and mapped out a decent game plan as to which characters were meeting and where and at what times. I booked our park pass for Magic Kingdom because Mickey was the MAIN goal. I assumed we’d leave there and park-hop to Epcot. I made reservations for Hollywood Studios for the next day and figured we’d be able to do all of MK and Epcot on Day 1.
I was anticipating crowds to be pretty low at MK since it was a Tuesday. My plan was to go straight to Mickey first thing but his line was already insane so we opted to go to Princess Hall first.
Our ultimate hope and goal was to meet EVERY character but with the crowds the way they were and the long amount of time we waited in line at the princesses…we quickly accepted the fact that it may have to be just “meet as many characters as we can.”
We waited over an hour at Princess Hall and the girls did FANTASTIC with the wait. It made it easier that Princess Hall is so beautiful to look at and we haven’t been in there in ages.
Finally we got our FIRST CHARACTER HUG!!! Rapunzel was so adorable and sweet as was Tiana! We were soooooo pumped and excited and Disney World instantly felt like DISNEY WORLD again after SO LONG!!!!!
We brought along autograph books and the girls had characters sign each page and then we planned to get a picture printed at each meet and greet so their autograph books can double as a photo album too 🙂
Mickey’s line wasn’t dying down and other characters didn’t start meeting until 10:30 or later so we went ahead and went to the other side of Princess Hall.
I will admit – I was extremely tempted to pay for Genie + but the girls kept encouraging me to save the money. They stayed positive and upbeat and reassured me that they were content to wait in line and didn’t mind at all!
I seriously have the best children 😉
We arrived AT park opening and it still took us over 2 hours to meet 4 princesses. Thankfully this ended up being the worst wait time situation we encountered the entire trip!
Cinderella was INCREDIBLE. She took such a long time to visit with us (and the guests in front of us as well…we realized why her line took so long haha).
We’ve never watched Elana’s show but she always has been a fun meeting – I love that she had us dance with her!
I got very well-versed in the Disney App and the character locator! When we finished up with the princesses Mickey’s line was still super lengthy and we were just ready for some fresh air and a bit of a break!
We headed over to Enchanted Tales with Belle where I heard that Belle was doing meet and greets since the attraction was still closed. There was a cast member at the attraction letting guests know it was not operating.
I asked him about meeting Belle and he said, no, that she was not doing meet and greets. We were a bit early for her first scheduled meeting time…and even the app says the times are not guaranteed.
Sometimes Cast Members don’t know everything either! So we hung around a bit and, sure enough, Belle was meeting inside the cottage!!!
We were the 2nd ones in line to get to meet her and it was SUCH a cool experience to get the chance to see her in her blue dress inside the cottage. Such a rare meet-and-greet opportunity!
When Enchanted Tales with Belle IS operating you are able to meet Belle at the end of the show…BUT she’s always in her yellow fancy dress AND the meeting is done inside the showroom while the cottage area itself is the line for the attraction. Blue Dress Belle is adorable!
And big bonus – a photopass photographer was on hand too!
We swung by the area where the step sisters were supposed to meet but their line was very long and we decided skip it and come back.
In looking at the app times I saw that Jack Sparrow was going to be meeting in about 25 minutes and decided to head over to his area instead as I’d rather wait in NO line and be among the first to meet rather than be at the end of a long line and most likely have to wait until the NEXT meet time to actually get to meet them.
On our way we passed by some Country Bears hanging out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never pass up ANY character meeting but the distance thing just AIN’T IT.
For over two years we did distance sightings and characters on floats and after getting to give some hugs that morning it was clear that nothing can replace or come close to comparing to the experience of true interactions and real hugs!
We got to Jack’s meeting spot and it was the perfect spot to chill a bit and eat our pre-packed lunch. The trick is to arrive 15 min PRIOR to the character’s expected meeting time!
We’ve NEVER waited in line to meet Captain Jack at Magic Kingdom. Again, we were second in line and he was ammmmmazing. SO funny and had the girls cracking up telling stories with them.
They asked about the shrunken head hanging from his belt and he said it is his MOM and had them tell her how pretty she is. HILARIOUS. When it was my turn for a hug he said “Let’s make Daddy wish he’d come along shall we.” CLASSIC.
I’m super glad we started the day with the Princess Hall meetings. The lines for them were long and a bit boring so I was worried that we’d not get through all the characters and that the challenge would be kinda lame.
BUT. The Princesses at Princess Hall are ALWAYS there. It’s their designated spot and they meet ALL DAY LONG. Belle? Captain Jack? Other characters have appearances that come and go so it was MUCH more thrilling and exciting to meet them.
It was an adrenaline rush trying to race from one character to the next to be there early for their meeting time. We went from Jack to the step sister’s spot and had some more time to finish up lunch and hang out a bit.
The meeting locations themselves can also be a bit of a challenge – I’ve seen the stepsisters meet in all sorts of places throughout Fantasyland over the years. Luckily we’d happened to pass by them earlier so we knew the exact spot to chill and wait. Notice there was no cast member or anything else to signify that it’s a meet and greet location. We just had to KNOW!
Britt loved every single second of our time together. She said she LOVED getting to have an “Emily” Disney experience rather than a family/Mom one 😉 This challenge is something I’d totally do solo and she felt special to get to be part of it!
It not only was a beautiful spot to wait, with stunning back castle views. BUT we also got to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade go by!
Anastasia and Drizella are always super fun to meet! We were first in line and they spent SO much time with the girls. They danced with Britt and got onto Tess. Being sisters themselves they were drawn to my sister set too.
While for Britt this was a special trip because she’s missed character meetings so much, for Tess it was almost a FIRST experience in meeting characters. She was just 5 when character meets stopped so she doesn’t have as many memories of meeting them and her sweet face was lit up with such joy!
We headed deeper into Fantasyland in order to catch up with some of our more classic buddies. Pre-shut down there were character meet and greets in Big Top Circus and even then it was Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Minnie.
Getting to meet Chip and Dale at Magic Kingdom and especially at the train station was a rare opportunity and one we were excited about!
We LOVE Chip and Dale and Britt has always especially had a special bond with Dale (who always seems to want to steal her away anytime he meets her!).
Of course no trip to Magic Kingdom would be complete without castle pics! We had a super sweet photo pass photographer who snapped our pictures in the hub. She was really funny and had us lay down and do all sorts of poses – including sleeping.
Finally we made the decision to just GO for it with Mickey. When the park opened it was a 60 min wait and we kept checking all day for it to go down, but it just kept going up. The wait time was still posted at 80 minutes and we resolved ourselves to just wait it out. We couldn’t leave the park without having finally gotten a Mickey Hug and Mickey at Magic Kingdom is just something special. I wanted HIM to be my first Mickey Hug for sure!
While we waited the girls drew in their journals. Britt worked on writing in Star Wars First Order secret code and Tess worked on drawing me from her perspective (so my legs haha). The time passed by pretty quickly and it wasn’t too bad getting to sit inside and to watch the magical pictures change designs too. Plus the 80 min posted time only ended up being about 60 which wasn’t terrible either!
And finally. It was time to see MICKEY.
I let the girls go first and they are just SO excited. Mickey was excited too! I’m sure he felt so special getting to see so many friends again after so long.
And then it was my turn. I knew I’d get a little teary-eyed. I expected to feel emotional, but after having been at the park all day and after hugging so many characters I assumed Mickey wouldn’t feel like AS big of a deal. I actually thought I might not have any major emotions at all because so often we build stuff up in our heads and then the reality of it isn’t all that big of a “thing” ya know?
Never did I anticipate FULL ON CRYING. Mickey was just so sweet with me. He held my face in his hands. He wiped my tears. And he gave me a nose kiss. He didn’t let go and he promised he’d never leave me again!
I was so thankful to have this moment with Mickey and to share it with my girls. My little Disney besties who I knew “got it.” They got the bigness of the moment and wouldn’t make fun of me for my emotions. The cast member was so sweet too and she snapped away with my phone for me, capturing every second of my Mickey reunion.
I was so filled with emotion that it took me AWHILE after we exited to be able to get my baring back. For me it was more than just hugging Mickey, it was this weight being lifted. Like the world was finally, truly, HEALED!
We finished up ALL the character meet and greets at Magic Kingdom whoop whoop! We had done ’em all and it was only 2:30! Park hopping was allowed after 2 pm so it was PERFECT timing to scoot on the monorail and head over to Epcot and see who we could find.
Right at the entrance to the park we were able to meet two of our favorite pups – Goofy and Pluto!
Tessie made a promise to Pluto to help get him returned back to Mickey 🙂
Even though the park is open late, the majority of the character meetings end pretty early at Epcot so we knew we were on limited time. Majority of the meetings are around World Showcase so we hustled there to hop in line for Minnie Mouse.
I LOVE that the characters at Epcot are CLASSIC. I will say though that I wish Donald was classic too. Why classic for everyone else except him? I get that he is part of the ride in Mexico so the theming makes sense but I’d also just LOVE a classic Donald meet and greet spot!
Minnie at Epcot was one of the last characters we got to hug (even though we didn’t know it at the time) in Feb 2020 so getting to be back with her was very special.
My big moment was to get to hug Mickey. For Britt? It was to get to be reunited with DONALD. He has been her favorite since her very first Disney trip and she was so overjoyed to be able to see him again.
We let her go first and take all the time she needed. Donald was PRECIOUS and he loved getting to see her little Donald Nuimo. He even tried to trade places with the Nuimo so he could come home with us 😉
Much like I felt all the feelings with Mickey, my little Disney bestie was filled with all the feels over her time with Donald. She held it together better than I did though ha! She only let those happy tears flow after we finished up our time with Donald 🙂
Alllll the happy Disney tears!!!!
I had ZERO regrets over bringing along the stroller for the trip. We did a TON of walking and it was so great that Tess was able to rest. I really wanted to make sure the vibe stayed FUN and the girls did too.
They NEVER complained and we all three were just so HAPPY the entire trip. Everything was fun and exciting and we were the best kind of exhausted!
There is NEVER such a thing as too many Mickey hugs! I wanted to go ahead and meet the classic Mickey at Epcot on Day 1 of our trip since we all had on our Mickey themed outfits.
Even having already met him earlier in the day at MK, we were all three still super pumped about getting more kisses from our fav mouse!
In looking over all the characters we still had to meet we opted to switch up our plans for the next day and start the day at Epcot instead of Hollywood Studios.
We also opted NOT to hang out until Epcot closed and instead finished out the meet and greets and decided to call it a day so we could get plenty of rest for the next day ahead. We still had quite a challenge ahead of us in order to meet everyone!
We headed over to meet both Vanellope Von Schweetz and Joy! They were both so cute and it was fun to do our driving poses and super mega joyful smiles with them!
We also hit up the Disney Chase Visa spot to see if there were any secret characters hiding in there…while there weren’t any characters meeting (yet!) we were able to get some fun photos taken. I love having rare moments at the parks and getting these sorts of photos were a unique opportunity that we gladly took advantage of!
NINETEEN CHARACTERS IN ONE DAY!
We started the day at park opening (9 am) and finished at 5 PM and met (and hugged) NINETEEN characters! Not too bad for one day huh?
To celebrate we hit up Club Cool and did a little shopping too, of course before jumping back on the monorail and going back to MK to our car!
On the way I mobile ordered CFA for dinner and we scooped it up and then went to the house to eat and chill and hop in the pool to get off all the sticky icky feelings after a busy fun-filled Disney park day!
There is NO ONE in the world I’d rather have had this experience with than my girls. We had SO MUCH FUN and were all excited at the opportunity to hopefully complete the challenge the next day!