First of course is the obvious. Book a character meal. While the appearance of certain characters is never guaranteed, it is guaranteed that you will meet all the characters making the rounds during your meal. If at any time you have finished your meal and a particularly allusive character has managed to miss your table, be sure to let your waiter/waitress know and they will ensure a meeting.
Second, each park has areas where characters are scheduled to make an appearance. Some meet and greets are actual attractions running pretty much throughout the day. Others are at scheduled times at different locations. When you enter a park, be sure to pick up a Times Guide. All the scheduled characters will be listed along with the where and when they will make their appearance. If you are ever in doubt or are struggling to find a particular character, simply turn to one of the many knowledgeable Cast Members and they will surely help.
Certainly stumbling across a character when you least expect it is one of the many magical moments you will be sure to experience. You don’t have to actually get in line to enjoy seeing a character. My teenage kids may not feel the need to get a hug and picture but it always gives a small thrill to spot a character along our way.
If your child is into the characters and getting autographs, do have them make their own autograph book as you anticipate your vacation. It makes a great souvenir to have hand drawn pictures of favorite princesses or characters which are then signed. These make better treasures than the standard autograph book found in every souvenir nook around the World.Perhaps turn your autograph book into a scavenger hunt. Before you leave home, each child can pick ten characters to draw in their book. Than as you walk through the parks, see who you find. This way you don’t have to stop for every one.
Do be respectful of other family’s time with a character. It’s not fair to carry on and shout out to a character when it’s someone else’s turn to interact.
Do respect the handlers. Their job is to keep the characters safe. This means helping with more “enthusiastic” guests but mostly keeping an eye on the time for regulated breaks. As you can imagine, it can get incredibly hot, incredibly quickly inside. When the handler says it’s time for a character to go, they need to go and when they say they will be right back in ten minutes, they will be right back in ten minutes.
Finally, many children are afraid of the characters. This is okay. The characters are great at dealing with this and you shouldn’t force them to get close or take a picture. If your child is afraid, perhaps start with the face characters, ones without masks like Cinderella or Mary Poppins. This may help them warm up. But if not, that’s okay too. Sometimes characters are more entertaining from afar.
Do let me know your child’s favorite characters when I book your next trip. Or perhaps you’re the one eager to meet a Disney celebrity. I will do my best to make sure you know how to navigate your encounter with the stars.