Why Meeting Characters at Disney Is Important

Posted:  Parks Recreation

Is encountering Disney characters, particularly face characters, a significant aspect of your Walt Disney World experience?

 Growing up and visiting Walt Disney World over the years, meeting Disney characters, particularly the Disney Princesses, was always a highlight for me. Like many children, I dreamed of being a princess when I grew up, and those encounters with beloved characters remain cherished memories. Reflecting on my past trips to Disney World reminds me of why I fell in love with Disney in the first place. Disney brought characters and stories to life, allowing us to briefly become part of the narrative.

Belle in her blue dress standing in front of World Showcase Lagoon.

 I cherished watching classics like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Even now, these films hold a special place in my heart. Beauty and the Beast, in particular, remains my favorite princess movie, and my lifelong aspiration is to have a library akin to the one in the film. However, as a child, I couldn’t help but notice there was no representation of individuals like myself in Disney movies.

Asha from Disney's Wish standing in front of a faux-brick wall.

 In recent years, Disney has made strides in diversifying its characters and introducing more cultural representation in its films. Films like “The Princess and the Frog,” “Moana,” “Coco,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Encanto,” “The Little Mermaid (2023 film),” “Wish,” “Soul,” and “Turning Red” promote cultural awareness and inclusivity, showing that diversity is not only acceptable but also celebrated. These movies depict a diverse array of characters, teaching valuable lessons and fostering empathy among younger generations. Meeting these characters in the parks, at character dining, or seeing them in parades helps us better understand ourselves and others’ cultures.

During my most recent trip to Walt Disney World in February 2024, I had the opportunity to meet various characters, an experience that left a profound impact on me as an adult. Meeting characters like Tiana, Ariel (2023 film), and Mirabel provided deeper meaning compared to previous visits. Each character resonated with me in unique ways, offering valuable insights and connections.

 Tiana holds a significant place in Disney’s history as the first African American princess. Her story resonates deeply with me, as it emphasizes the importance of determination and the idea that one’s worth extends far beyond societal limitations. Tiana is a role model who shows how important working hard, determination, and realizing your dreams are.

Akershus Restaurant Check-In Sign in Epcot.

Mya and Tiana posing in Akershus Restaurant.

Our encounter with Tiana took place at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, where we shared conversations centered around our mutual love for food. Later, while exploring Magic Kingdom, I made a point to check on the progress of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Though the construction was still in its early stages, the exterior details hinted at a spectacular attraction in the making. I am eagerly anticipating the completion of the ride, eager to immerse myself in its enchanting ambiance and the lively rhythms of Zydeco music, transporting me to the vibrant atmosphere of 1920s New Orleans. While I have fond memories of Splash Mountain, I’m eagerly looking forward to experiencing Tiana’s story firsthand and discovering more references to her throughout the parks.

Tiana-themed caked in front of the construction at Tiana's Bayou Adventure in Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney Presents Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios with the headline for the Live Action Ariel Meet and Greet.

 Initially uncertain about meeting the Live Action Ariel, I realized the importance of embracing new interpretations, especially for the younger generation. The 2023 film was created for the new generation, allowing them the same magic and wonder I experienced as a child. Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel resonated with me, showing how Disney characters evolve alongside their audience.

Sign in the Entrance Area for the Ariel Meet and Greet.

Mya and Ariel posing in front of a beach scene.

Meeting Ariel proved to be an unforgettable encounter, ranking among the most memorable face-character interactions I’ve ever had. When it was my turn to meet Ariel, I was immediately struck by her warmth and enthusiasm. Her first words were a compliment on my hair, remarking how we could easily pass as sisters. We talked about dinglehoppers and their various uses, along with Ariel’s own struggles with tangled hair, which she navigates with remarkable patience until achieving her desired look. The significance of Ariel’s acknowledgment of our visual resemblance surprised me; it was a moment of feeling truly seen, accepted, and understood, as Ariel’s connection with me unexpectedly resonated on a deeper, more personal level. Had another character made similar remarks, it would not have carried the same significance or emotional impact.

Stone Courtyard where Mirabel's Meet and Greet takes place in Magic Kingdom.

Meeting Mirabel was an absolute delight, evoking the same sense of joy I experienced in encounters with Tiana and Ariel. She was super sweet and had a bubbly personality. I was touched by her thoughtful compliment on my glasses, which sparked a lively conversation about our shared experiences of growing up with them and our preferences for styles and colors, as well as how not many other characters wear glasses. It was heartwarming to connect with Mirabel over this seemingly minor detail.

Mirabel greeting Mya at her Meet and Greet.

We also discussed navigating life within a large family—a topic that resonated deeply with both of us, given my upbringing. It was wonderful talking to Mirabel and being able to relate and exchange stories about the diverse personalities within our respective families and how we all are unique and have our own gifts. Our exchange underscored the universal themes of love, acceptance, and understanding that permeate “Encanto,” further deepening my appreciation for the film’s enduring messages.

Mya and Mirabel posing while holding onto their glasses.

Overall, these character meet and greets serve as powerful reminders of the importance of representation and inclusivity in Disney’s storytelling. By providing diverse characters for audiences to connect with, Disney continues to spread the magic of imagination and creativity to people around the world.

Did you have a Character Meet-and-Greet experience that left a lasting impression on you? 


~ Mya


DVC Rentals Magical Hat