Prioritizing the Animal Kingdom Characters – Locations, Pictures, Wait Times, Best Times to Meet etc.

by josh on December 9, 2013

12/5/13 Update: Updated characters, removed retired characters, updated meet times, and added a link to verify times.

This is the fourth part in the Character Prioritization Series.  Epcot is here.  Hollywood Studios is here.  And Magic Kingdom here.

The Magic Kingdom edition provides a little color about what you’re looking at below as well if you haven’t read over the previous articles. Basically, the point of this article is to identify where the various characters are located and create a plan to minimize waits as much as possible. While even the “lowest priority” characters will have afternoon waits of 10 to 15 minutes, it simply isn’t possible to meet every character first thing in the morning when waits will generally be shortest. Because of that, we need to identify the characters that will have the longest afternoon waits and visit them first. Then we can move on to the “less popular” characters later in the morning or whenever we can expect their waits to be shortest.

Overall Strategy: Mickey and Minnie at the Adventurers Outpost in Discovery Island is the top priority. They also offer FastPass+.  Unlike the other three major theme parks, there really aren’t any characters that must be done in the morning or you’re doomed to find a 40+ minute wait.  At Magic Kingdom, we have Rapunzel, Merida, Tinker Bell, and Ariel, each of which can see 45+ minute waits virtually from Park open.  At Epcot, each of the princesses in World Showcase have waits of 40 to 60 minutes when you include the lengthy breaks.  At the Studios, we have the Toy Story characters, Sofia the First, and Phineas/Ferb.  At Animal Kingdom, we’ll still want to prioritize Mickey and Minnie, but it isn’t the end of the world if we don’t get over there in the early morning.  Other than that, there are fewer character meet and greets in Animal Kingdom than the other major theme parks and no characters see absurd wait times.  Let’s have a look at what we’re dealing with.

Minnie and Minnie – Safari Gear, Christmas Sweaters from Mid-November through First Week in January

Priority: Highest

Location:


Adventurers Outpost is located in the old Beastly Bazaar building in Discovery Island near the entrance to Asia.

Usual Meet Times:

Process:

Adventurers Outpost is the only Animal Kingdom Meet and Greet that offers FastPass+. With FastPass+, you’ll skip most of the queue and walk right into the the meet and greet area. The posted standby wait is above the entrance.

Standby users line up inside the air-conditioned room outside the meet and greet area. The queue winds around outside if it gets that long.

Then it’s inside to meet the fabulous duo just back from an exciting adventure.

Interaction: Above average. For non-speaking characters, they spend a lot of time with each group and make a better connection than most. It’s also rare to meet both Mickey and Minnie together these days.

Wait Times: Peak waits are typically 25 to 50 minutes. With FastPass+ users receiving priority, the standby line moves painfully slowly even with just 20 or 25 people in line. FastPass+ waits are typically less than 10 minutes.

Best Time to Meet: Arriving one hour before close is best to minimize waits as much as possible. Most people will want to take care of the priority rides first thing in the morning. You can certainly head here first thing in the morning if you’re not interested in riding Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, etc. or plan to use FastPass+ at those attractions. You can also plan to use FastPass+ here later in the day when standby waits are longer.

Character Greeting Trails – Donald, Chip, Dale, Pocahontas, Baloo, King Louie – Wilderness/Normal Attire

Priority: Moderate. Pocahontas typically sees the longest waits.

Location:

The Character Greeting Trails are located in Camp Minnie-Mickey near the entrance and exit to Festival of the Lion King.

Each trail leads to a hut that houses a different character or set of characters.

Usual Meet Times:

Process: Each of the characters has a separate line.  Donald and Pocahontas meet individually.  Chip/Dale and Baloo/King Louie greet together. In all cases, you simply wait your turn and proceed to meet/greet the character.



From the middle through the first week in January, characters dress up for the holidays.

Interaction: Average to above average. The non-speaking characters do their best and Pocahontas is more personable than most princesses.

Wait Times: Typically 10 to 20 minutes per character. Pocahontas can hit 25 to 40 minutes if you have to wait through a break.

Best Times to Meet: Arriving five minutes before the characters are scheduled to first appear is best.  Check to see when Pocahontas first appears and be ready to get in line five minutes before that to reduce waits as much as possible.  The other characters will see much shorter lines.  If you have other priorities in the morning, like riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and/or Expedition Everest, then you’ll want to avoid arriving after a Festival of the Lion King show.  The exit to the show is right near the Character Trails and the show lets about 1,000 people out into the area once per hour.  If possible, try to arrive before the first Lion King concludes and waits should still be short.  After that, try to arrive about five minutes before a Lion King show begins.  Most people that exited from the previous show will have moved on and you’ll have about 40 minutes to spend with the characters before another wave hits.  Other than that, the best time to visit is in the final hour that the characters appear.  A lot of people leave Animal Kingdom in the afternoon after the 3:45pm Parade because they feel like they’ve run out of things to do.  Lines at the Character Trails and everywhere else will only get shorter as it approaches the official close.

The scene outside the Character Trails immediately after a Festival of the Lion King show gets out.

Other Meet Locations:  See the Magic Kingdom Edition for a detailed list for Donald, Chip, and Dale.  This is the only location where you can ordinarily meet Pocahontas, Baloo, and King Louie.

Russel and Dug – Wilderness Adventurers

Priority: Moderate Low

Location:

Russel and Dug meet in Discovery Island to the left of the entrance to It’s Tough To Be A Bug.

Usual Meet Times:

Process:

Russel and Dug’s queue is located directly in front of them.

Interaction: Above Average. Russel and Dug are a lot of fun and because their line is usually short, the interaction is usually long and varied. These wilderness adventurers definitely know how to have a good time.

Best Times to Meet: Getting in line about ten minutes before their afternoon set is best. Otherwise, wait until closer to the end of the day when waits are shorter. Most people will have higher morning priorities when they first appear in the morning.

Other Meet Locations: None at this time.

Goofy and Pluto – Crazy Outfit and a Collar, Respectively

Priority: Moderate Low

Location:

Goofy and Pluto meet in DinoLand USA in between the large Chester and Hester Store and Restaurantosaurus.  TriceraTop Spin and Primeval Whirl are just behind us.  Here, their gas station is spruced up for the holidays.

Usual Meet Times:

Process: The queue is located to the right of where the characters greet guests.  Hop in line and wait your turn.

Interaction: Average.  It’s about what you can expect from these two.  Both are always ecstatic to see you and will try to fight over which one of them gets to try to knock you over.

Wait Times: 15 to 20 minutes.  It’s not the most obvious meet and greet location and the characters are available all over Walt Disney World. The line typically looks long because it’s condensed in a small area.

Best Times to Meet: Arriving about five minutes before the characters are scheduled should guarantee the shortest waits. That gives you plenty of time to hit the priority attractions and characters first. Otherwise, try to arrive about an hour before Park close.

Other Meet Locations:

Goofy:

  1. Animal Kingdom – For guests dining at Tusker House Restaurant in Africa, he appears in a  third safari outfit.
  2. Animal Kingdom – Goofy meets guests outside the main entrance near bag check.  His appearances here can be spotty, so it isn’t your best choice.
  3. Epcot – He meets in his classic outfit at the Character Spot in Future World, where you’ll also have the opportunity to meet Mickey and Minnie. Afternoon waits are typically 15 to 25 minutes, but are shorter before 11am and after 7pm.
  4. Hollywood Studios – Goofy meets at the Sorcerer’s Hat intermittently from the morning through the early afternoon.
  5. Magic Kingdom – Goofy meets in Storybook Circus as the Great Goofini alongside Donald. Waits are typically 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Beach Club Resort – Goofy meets diners at Cape May Cafe’s breakfast in a lifejacket and otherwise ridiculous beach outfit.
  7. Contemporary Resort – Goofy meets at Chef Mickey’s in a chef outfit.
  8. Fort Wilderness – Goofy meets at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ in a cowboy-ish outfit.
  9. Mickey’s Halloween Party 2013 – Goofy greeted near the Barnstormer.
  10. Mickey’s Christmas Party 2013 – Goofy hosted a dance party along with Pluto, Chip, and Dale in his Santa outfit at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

Pluto:

  1. Animal Kingdom – Pluto may also meet in the Oasis or out in front of Animal Kingdom in his usual outfit, but this is rarer.
  2. Epcot – Pluto meets just inside the main entrance on the right. Waits are typically 5 to 15 minutes.
  3. Epcot – Pluto greets diners at Garden Grill in Future World alongside Mickey, Chip, and Dale.  He appears in a slightly different collar.
  4. Hollywood Studios – Pluto meets at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat through the early afternoon.  He usually appears with Goofy.
  5. Magic Kingdom – Pluto meets in a similar state of nudity just inside the main entrance.  Waits are usually the same or slightly longer there.
  6. Contemporary Resort – Pluto greets diners at Chef Mickey’s in a chef hat and apron.
  7. Polynesian Resort – Pluto meet alongside Lilo, Stitch, and Mickey at ‘Ohana Breakfast.
  8. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2013 – Pluto hosted a dance party alongside Chip, Dale, and Goofy at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in his jingle collar.

Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger – Classic Outfits

Priority: Low

Location:

This is an odd one because the entrance to meet the characters is so far away from where the characters seemingly meet.

The queue entrance is located directly across from Flame Tree Barbecue on the walkway that connects Discovery Island and DinoLand USA.

Usual Meet Times:

Process: Find the entrance to the queue as pictured above.  Once it’s your turn, you’ll meet each of the Pooh characters individually one after the next.



You may find one, two, or all three characters appearing depending on the time of day and who’s taking a break.  The characters currently appearing are listed on this sign in front of the entrance to the queue.  In the picture with the arrows above, it’s sitting behind the custodial staff.  Note that this isn’t necessarily a guarantee that those characters will be present when it’s your turn.

Interaction: Average.  It’s the same gig as you’ll find at most of the other Winnie the Pooh meet and greets.  At several of their other meet and greets, you’ll have the opportunity to meet two characters together rather than separately, which usually adds to the fun a bit.

Wait Times: Because it isn’t at all obvious, wait times are ordinarily 5 to 15 minutes.

Best Times to Meet: Sometime in the afternoon is best.  Most people won’t be in any hurry to get here and will have higher priorities like the Character Greeting Trails, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, etc.

Other Meet Locations:

  1. Epcot – Winnie the Pooh and Tigger meet in the Toy Solider shop in the United Kingdom Pavilion.  It’s way in the back of the store, which is way in the back of the Pavilion.  Lines are ordinarily 5 to 15 minutes.
  2. Magic Kingdom – Winnie the Pooh and Tigger greet guests to the left of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Fantasyland. Waits are usually much longer, in the 25 to 35 minute range.
  3. Magic Kingdom – Winnie the Pooh meets diners at Crystal Palace Restaurant with Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore.
  4. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2013 – Winnie the Pooh met with Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger in their Halloween costumes next to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  5. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2013 – Winnie the Pooh met with Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger in scarfs next to their ride.

Rafiki – Baboon Tail Affixed

Priority: Lowest

Location:

Rafiki meets in the middle of the Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  The only way to access this area is by the Wildlife Express Train in Africa and then continue walking up to the Conservation Station.

Usual Meet Times:

Process:

Rafiki appears casually in the middle of the Conservation Station.  His line, which is usually just a handful of people, patiently waits off to the side.

Interaction: Average.  It would be better if he had a stick to hit people with, but he does his best with the tools provided for him.

Wait Times: It’s extremely rare to see waits any longer than ten minutes.  Usually, there are just eight or so people in line.

Best Times to Meet: Unless you’re headed to Rafiki’s Planet Watch early in the morning to have a better opportunity at seeing some of the veterinary procedures, most people will want to save this one for after lunch.  Getting out here on the Wildlife Express is time consuming and nothing here really warrants an early visit for most guests.

Other Meet Locations: None at this time.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

RebeccaMcK April 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

You might want to confirm this with Kenny the Pirate, but I read on wdwmagic recently that there is a rumor (some seemed to confirm it on their forums, and some said part was true and part was not, etc.) about Pocahontas, Thumper, Miss Bunny and I guess Meeko (maybe other characters, too) leaving AK soon. Not around for meet’n'greets any more, which will be sad if that’s true. Changes are taking place April 15th, with character shuffling (maybe nothing too major) at all the parks. My kid still needs to meet Miss Bunny, Thumper, Baloo, King Louie, Timon (I didn’t know he had a m&g), Meeko, Rafiki, Turk and Flik if she wants to and if they’re still around next time we go there.

Rich3677 April 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Awesome info as usual, thanks.

featherface April 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I’m really bummed about Flik being gone. We will arrive in WDW on 4/16, hope Baloo & Thumper will still be there.

Mike April 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Good stuff. Is DiVIne still there? on the Times Guide?

Tricia April 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I’m glad Dug and Russell are out!! I thought they would be at HS with the Pixar stuff, so I was very sad when I did not see them there. On the last day of our trip we were at AK and I asked a CM where I could find them. She pointed me in the right direction and as we arrived… they were coming out and we were the only ones there. It was great to have a few minutes for hugs and pictures before anyone else arrived. Great way to end the trip since UP! is my favorite movie :)

Graceesmom April 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Is Rafiki the only character at Planet Watch since Jiminy Cricket left?

ScottKN April 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I, too feel bad that Flik is gone. I understand, but am bummed nonetheless. In my son’s autograph book with every page used, Flik is the only one who personalized the autograph to my son. He obviously overheard me speaking to my son (probably something like “Brad you’re up next”), picked up on his name and personalized the page. Although even more impressive was a trip where we saw Mary Poppins twice (on different days and different parks). She called out to him the second time we saw her “Oh, there’s is Master Brad. How are you today?”

Ferg April 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Thanks for your work on all 4 of these charachter prioritizations. It is so helpful to have a plan with priorities for each park! Thank you, Josh!

featherface April 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

I dont see why they keep letting the same charactors that we see at every park stay, and keep taking away the ones that are rare. We can see Pooh at every park and he has a charactor meal, same for same for the Fab 5 & Chip n Dale.

K- April 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

@ Mike – FWIW, DiVine wasn’t on the times guide when we were there last week.

jcarwash April 5, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yes, too bad Flik is not currently appearing at AK.

Lilo and Stitch are gone too. But it’s easy to find Stitch at Epcot.

@Graceesmom Pocahontas was appearing at Planet Watch but it seems she has moved to the camp instead.

Magic79 April 5, 2012 at 9:37 am

Hi Josh,
Just curious, is Brer Rabbit no longer appearing at AK?
Thanks.
MIke

Holly April 14, 2012 at 4:52 am

Josh, You rock! Thanks so much for this info.

Tracy June 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I didn’t expect to hear them take Flik out of the meet ‘n greet schedule at Animal Kingdom. And I am very sad….because *sniff sniff* “A Bug’s Life” is my favorite Disney movie and Flik is my favorite character along with Mickey and Minnie. And he is my best friend too. He is the best character I ever met. Seriously, they shouldn’t take him out of the park. No no no no no no!!!!!!!! PLEASE Tell them to bring him back if they can make it out.

Gisela Zetuna July 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Hi!
Do you think there is a chance to meet Koda and Kenai? My daughter is a super fan!…

Melissa February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

At AK today. Sadly, Meeko is no longer appearing.

Anonymous April 15, 2013 at 11:57 am
Anna March 14, 2014 at 6:16 am

Hi are there Narnia or Frozen characters. If yes where? (Magic kingdom,Epcot,Hollywood studios or Animal kingdom etc.)
Thanks.

Lisa March 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

Frozen characters are moving to the Magic Kingdom in April. I hear wait times could be up to 5 hours.

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