We’ve all seen the commercials – the cute little kid spots Mickey Mouse and runs into his arms for a truly magical moment.

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Those magical moments do certainly happen, but what a first-time visitor may not know is that Mickey Mouse does not randomly roam the parks.  However, with a little planning, you too can have picture perfect Mickey moments.  And let’s face it, a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without seeing the Big Cheese himself.

Here is where to meet Mickey at Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom

Character Meet:

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (located on Main Street immediately to your right after entering the park)

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If you only plan to meet Mickey once on your trip, go here!  Through the magic of Disney, Mickey actually speaks and interacts with guests. Only a few groups at a time are admitted into Mickey’s meet and greet dressing room (so your child doesn’t have to wait long once Mickey is visible), and PhotoPass photographers are present. Mickey will also sign autographs here. This meet and greet is open continuously during park hours, and FastPass+ is available.

Tip: If meeting talking Mickey is high on your list and your little one is low on patience in line, get a FastPass+.  Fourth FastPasses are also frequently available, though they are usually for later in the evening/night.

Shows/Parades:

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show – Every morning, 20 minutes before the official opening time, a Main Street official comes out on the train platform in front of the park to welcome guests for the day.  He/she is then joined by other Main Street citizens/dancers, and after a couple of songs, Mickey himself makes a grand entrance via train with a variety of other Disney characters to officially open the park for the day. He is also joined by the Family of the Day, who get to be up on the platform with him. There are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities during the show. If you can make it to the Magic Kingdom that early with your little ones, though, it really is a magical way to start off your day. (Note: there are different versions of the Welcome Show, for example, if the train isn’t running, but the show always goes on.)

Dream Along with Mickey – A 20-minute show with Mickey and friends that takes place on the stage in front of the Cinderella Castle.  This show is offered several times throughout the day, so check the Times Guide (pick up a copy near the park maps at the front of the park on your way in), official Disney website or the MyDisneyExperience app. Mickey does not directly interact with guests, and there are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities.

This show will be replaced with Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer, which will still feature Mickey, but with additional characters from The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen.

Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party – Offered a few times a day (see Times Guide, website or app), a few floats parade down Main Street and then stop around the main hub in front of the Castle for a street party with park guests.  While Mickey and some other main Disney characters remain on top of the giant gift box floats, you are more than welcome to dance with the cast member entertainers and some additional characters (last time we were right by Phineas and Ferb getting their groove on in the middle of the street).  The dance party only lasts about 15-20 minutes, and you can’t really get any posed photographs or autographs, but it’s a great opportunity for little ones who love to dance to get some energy out.

Festival of Fantasy Parade – Mickey and Minnie ride in the final float of the 3 p.m. parade, which begins deep in Frontierland and works its way down Main Street to the front of the park.  While you can’t get posed photographs or autographs, Mickey and Minnie seem to do their best to wave to everyone (and occasionally, other characters walking in the parade may very briefly interact with children – give them a high five, kiss, etc.).  Plus, it’s just a really, really, really good parade.

Tip: If you are visiting during a very busy time and want a prime spot on Main Street, you will need to arrive at least an hour early.  FastPass+ is also available for a reserved viewing section.  However, we prefer to watch the parade in Frontierland (usually somewhere between the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade and Pecos Bill’s) and can usually easily find a front row spot half an hour before the parade starts.  Mickey ice cream bars usually help pass the time.

Main Street Electrical Parade – If your little ones can make it, this parade runs once or twice most nights (unless there is a special party – see below).  This parade goes the opposite direction of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, starting on Main Street and ending in Frontierland. Mickey is on the second float, and again, no posed photograph or autograph opportunities.

Special Parties – During the fall and winter, the Magic Kingdom also offers Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights.  You need to purchase tickets separate from your theme park tickets for these events, and the Magic Kingdom usually closes to other guests not attending the party at 7 p.m.  During the Halloween party, there is a Mickey meet and greet opportunity (photos and autographs), and he also appears in the holiday-themed parade.  During the Christmas party, Mickey appears in a holiday-themed stage show and a parade.

 

Epcot

Character Meet:

Epcot Character Spot (located in Future World in the breezeway between the main fountain and The Land Pavilion)

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Here you not only get to meet Mickey, but also Goofy and Minnie – without having to wait in separate lines!  Each character has its own spot and background in a large room, and you go assembly-line style from one character to the next, starting with Mickey.  PhotoPass photographers are at each character, and you can get autographs.  This meet and greet is open continuously during park hours, and FastPass+ is available.

Tip: Go earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid longer lines, or get a FastPass+.  Lines here can typically be around 45 minutes during peak times, and although there are TV screens playing cartoons overhead, it really is a boring line to stand in (and hard to entertain a toddler in).

Character Meal:

The Garden Grill (located in The Land Pavilion)

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Even though it’s called Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast, Farmer Mickey and Pluto also show up.  Food is served family style, and the characters stop by your table throughout your meal. You can get autographs, but no PhotoPass photographer is present.  This restaurant also very, very slowly revolves, which allows you to see scenes from the Living with the Land attraction (Keep in mind that that ride typically closes at 7 p.m., so if you dine later, it may be hard to see much. Don’t let that deter you, though, as it is still a great experience).  The restaurant uses some produce grown in Living with the Land, so try to visit that attraction right beforehand to see where your food comes from.  The food is all-you-care-to-enjoy, and we found the food at dinner to be pretty good (and got seconds on a few things). The restaurant now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here.

Tip: Children under 3 dine from free at Walt Disney World buffets and all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurants.  The Garden Grill is a great option for dining with little ones over a buffet because they bring the food to the table.  They also provided Tater with his own drink and separate kid’s cupcake dessert at no extra charge.

 

Animal Kingdom

Character Meet:

Adventurers Outpost (located on Discovery Island right before the bridge to Asia)

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This is the only character meet and greet where you can get photos with both Mickey and Minnie Mouse together. It is also a very cute setup, and we have had nothing but great interactions here (they seem to spend a little more time with the kids than the other Mickey meets).  Mickey and Minnie are in their safari gear (except for Christmas time, when they are in holiday sweaters), and the waiting areas have photos from their safari adventures. A PhotoPass photographer is present, and you can get autographs from both characters here.  FastPass+ is also available, and the meet and greet is available continuously from park opening until 30 min. before park close.

Tip: We usually get a FastPass+ here because the only other one we really need is Kilimanjaro Safaris (the other rides with longer lines have height restrictions).  Also, Mickey and Minnie were in their holiday sweaters the week before Thanksgiving, so if you need ideas for a cute Christmas card…

Character Meal:

Tusker House (located just over the bridge into Africa, before Kilimanjaro Safaris)

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While this is described as “Safari Donald Duck and friends,” Mickey was most certainly there during our last visit.  The characters visit your table throughout your meal in their safari gear, and buffet stations are set up in the main room. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served here, and the food is a variety of traditional favorites, as well as some African-inspired cuisine. It is a great option if your group has both picky and adventurous eaters, and we really enjoyed our breakfast. You can get autographs, but no PhotoPass photographers are present. You need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here.

Tip: Kids under 3 dine free, as this is a Disney buffet.  Also, if you make a late breakfast reservation, you can enjoy breakfast as well as a few of the lunch options as they are brought out (but still pay the lower breakfast price).

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Character Meet:

Mickey Avenue (behind the Chinese Theater/Great Movie Ride, tucked between Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream and Toy Story Midway Mania!)

This is Mickey’s current Hollywood Studios home after being evicted from the former Magic of Disney Animation building by those Star Wars guys. Here he is dressed as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and you can get autographs.  A PhotoPass photographer is also present, but FastPass+ is not currently available.  Also, check the Times Guide, app or website, as he seems to be available for most, but not all, of the day.

Starting in the spring, Mickey will have a new location off of Commissary Lane.

(Tater hasn’t actually met Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, so that’s why there is no photo.  This is the park we spend the least amount of time in.)

Character Dining:

Hollywood and Vine (located by Echo Lake)

Starting this year, Minnie’s Seasonal Dine is taking place for dinner only at Hollywood and Vine. Mickey is there with the rest of the main gang, and the current seasonal theme is “Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine,” now through March 20 (with “Minnie’s Springtime Dine” up next). You need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here. We haven’t yet gone to Hollywood and Vine, so no personal reviews on this experience.

Tip: This is another Disney buffet, so kids under 3 dine free.

Shows:

Fantasmic! (located in its own theater at the end of Sunset Boulevard)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios long-running nighttime spectacular is usually shown one or two times each night, and  Mickey has a role in it. He is also joined by a number of villains, so if your child is easily frightened by any of them, you might want to reconsider or view first on YouTube. There are also a few firework elements (but not many), so just a heads up if your child isn’t a fan. As Mickey’s part of the show takes place across a small body of water, posed photographs and autographs are not an option. FastPass+ is also available, as well as a Fantasmic! Dinner Package, which both offer reserved seating sections.

Tip: If your child is a night owl and there is a second showing, it will be less crowded.  You can also frequently get a Fantasmic! FastPass+ as a fourth FastPass from a FastPass kiosk after using your original three.

 

 

Character Meals at Walt Disney World Resorts

(We have not dined at any of these yet, so no personal reviews are available.)

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Chef Mickey’s – This may be the best-known character meal, where Mickey appears in his chef’s hat along with his main friends. The characters come to the tables, and you can get autographs. This is a buffet that serves breakfast, brunch and dinner, and you need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here. Remember, kids under 3 eat free at Disney buffets.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

‘Ohana – Here Mickey joins Lilo, Stitch and other friends for breakfast only. The characters come to the tables, and you can get autographs. Breakfast is served family-style, and you need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here. Remember, kids under 3 eat free at Disney all-you-care-to-enjoy meals.

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – Offered on select nights only, this all-you-care-to-enjoy BBQ dinner takes place under a covered open-air pavilion with Mickey, his friends, and a live country-western band. You need to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) if you want to dine here, and remember, kids under 3 eat free at Disney all-you-care-to-enjoy meals.

 

Disclaimer: All of the above information is to the best of my knowledge. Please confirm all times/availability via the park Times Guides, the official Disney website, or the MyDisneyExperience app.  Disney specifically states on their official website, in regards to character meals, that “character appearances are subject to change.”