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Mickey and Minnie Mouse Crafts and Decorations for Christmas and Birthdays

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Crafts and Decorations for Christmas and Birthdays

Whether you’re getting ready for a kid’s birthday party, decorating for Christmas or Halloween, or just need a fun activity to keep your toddlers busy, you can create some fun by adding a little Disney! This post includes includes store-bought Mickey and Minnie Mouse Christmas, […]

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cupcakes Your Family Will Love

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cupcakes Your Family Will Love

What’s even better than dessert? How about a Disney dessert? Whether you’re planning a mouse-themed birthday party for one of your kids, getting in the mood for your family’s next Disney World Trip, or just want a fun activity to do with your kids, these […]

How to Make Easy Homemade Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cake Pops

How to Make Easy Homemade Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cake Pops

If you’re looking for fun activities to countdown the days til your family’s Disney World trip, then eating “Mickey Mouse food” is a great choice.

Even if you’re not planning a Disney trip anytime soon … go ahead and make some Disney treats anyway! It’s a great way to spend quality time together and let kids learn some beginner baking skills.

I searched for a bunch of ways to make Mickey (and Minnie!) cake pops, plus a few cake pop alternatives as well. Enjoy!

Mickey Mouse Cake Pops with Marshmallow Ears

These Mickey Mouse cake pops are a copycat version of the ones at Candy Cauldron in Disney Springs. They take some time to make, but a lot of that time is spent letting them chill, not actually working.

Bake a chocolate cake, let it cool, then crumble it with your hands and mix it cream cheese frosting. Spread the mixture in a pan and chill in the fridge.

When chilled, cut out circles with a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Place the circles on parchment paper (these pre-cut parchment sheets are great) on a cookie sheet.

Use marshmallows to make Mickey’s ear, then pour melted white chocolate over the heads and ears to cover completely.

Cover the white chocolate with colored sprinkles, then put in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened.

Flip over and repeat with more melted white chocolate and sprinkles. After cooling, insert a cake pop stick.

Ta-Da!


DIY Mickey and Minnie Cake Pops

These cake pops are a little more artistic, but boy do they look impressive!

After making the actual cake pop, you dip it into melted red candy melts, then use black candy melts for ears.

Using tweezers, place yellow sprinkles where you want Mickey’s buttons to be.

You can use a silicone bow mold for Minnie.

Silicone Molds for Minnie Mouse cake pops
Silicone Molds for Minnie’s Bow

Minnie Mouse Cake Pop Tutorial

Here’s another visual tutorial of a very similar idea. They used some thinned out white chocolate to make polka dots on the bottom half of the cake pop.

Tip:
Don’t use chocolate bars, chocolate chip morsels, pure chocolate or baker’s chocolate blocks when making cake pops! It won’t harden completely like candy coating.

How to Thin Candy Melts for the Perfect Cake Pop

 

Christmas Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cake Balls

Wow, these are a beautiful treat for a Christmas party or cookie exchange!

They used 2 Ghirardelli Chocolate wafers with each cake ball for the ears, piping various colors of cookie icing to decorate, and topped them off by placing Wilton holly leaves and sprinkles with a set of tweezers.

Wilton Holly Mix Sprinkles to make cake pops
Wilton Holly Mix Sprinkles

Ideas for Displaying Mickey Mouse Cake Pops:

You can use cute mug, a styrofoam block, and some shredded crinkle paper to make a real cute cake pop centerpiece for a party.

Mickey Mouse Mug
“Mickey Pants” Mug

You can also be a little more creative and experiment with not only the container, but with substituting candy, decorative stones, or beads for the shredded paper:

How to display Cakepops in a Gift Bouquet Arrangement

How to Display Cake Pops in a Gift Basket Box

Mickey Mouse Cake Pop Alternatives

If cake pops seem like a bother to try to make — OR, if you’d rather just be a little more creative — there are several cute and clever alternatives that are “kinda like” cake pops. (ie, they are sweet and they come on a stick)

Chocolate Dipped Rice Krispie Treats on a Stick

Who doesn’t love Rice Krispie Treats? I know my kids do! This is a really easy alternative and sure to please

Make Rice Krispie Treats like you normally would ((here’s the standard recipe if you’ve never done it before of just don’t remember), except put them in a 9×9 pan to make them nice and thick like the ones at Disney World. (Or you could always just double batch, which is always a good option.)

Once they’re cooled, cut them using a large Mickey Mouse cookie cutter, then insert popsicle sticks in the bottom, using some melted chocolate to help them stick, if necessary.

At this point, they are a perfectly respectable treat … BUT you can also dress it up by using a piping bag with melted chocolate, then topping with sprinkles.

Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter
Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter

Mickey Oreo Pops

Another easy cake pop alternative, using a food that is universally loved, these Mickey Oreo pops only require 3 ingredients:

8 “Double Stuff” Oreos
16 Mini Oreos
10 oz melting chocolate
8 Lollipop sticks

Arrange the Oreos into “mouse ears” shapes on a tray lined with wax paper, then carefully put the sticks through the double stuff filling.

Drizzle some of the melted chocolate onto the spot where the “ears” and the “head” connect, then put it in the freezer for 10 minutes until the chocolate is solidified.

Remove one stick at a time and use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over the whole thing. A spoon or rubber spatula is perfect so you can smear it around all the edges. (Don’t dip it directly into the chocolate or you might lose an ear!)

Place the chocolate covered Oreo pops into the freezer to solidify, and you’re done!

 

Mickey and Minnie Oreo Cookies:

You could even skip the cake pop angle entirely and just make these Minnie and Mickey Oreos. They’re decorated with red, pink, and white chocolate melts.

White chocolate chips are used for Mickey’s buttons, rounded white sprinkles are used for Minnie’s polka dots, and 2 heart sprinkles are used for Minnie’s bow.

heart sprinkles used for Minnie mouse cake pop
Heart Sprinkles Used for Minnie’s Bow

Mickey & Minnie Mouse Christmas Oreo Cookies

 

Mickey Mouse Marshmallow Pops

How to Make Mickey Caramel Apples

We love caramel apples! I think it has something to do with not only that great crunch you get from them, but also the taste combo of both tangy and sweet.

This pin image gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make them with a “Mickey Mouse” twist:

And here’s a simple way you can dress them up! These Mickey apples have marshmallow ears, are coated in both milk and white chocolate, and are decorated with yellow jelly beans and red sugar crystals. They would look totally cute for a kid’s birthday party.

How to Make a Mickey Mouse Apple at Candy Cauldron

I hope you’ve discovered some great ideas for Mickey and Minnie cake pops that you and your family will love!

How to make Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cake Pops

Disney Gift Ideas for Adults: Weddings, Christmas, and more!

Disney Gift Ideas for Adults: Weddings, Christmas, and more!

Looking for a gift idea for the adult Disney lover in your life? Whether it’s for a birthday, Christmas, or wedding, there is lots of fun stuff out there. Here are some great gifts for your favorite Disney fan. Disney Gifts for Teachers Personalized Disney […]

Disney Fastpass: Secrets, Strategies, and Tiers

Disney Fastpass: Secrets, Strategies, and Tiers

Honestly, a part of me kinda miss the old days of FastPass at Disney World. I have fond memories of striding into the Magic Kingdom in September 2005 with my parents, husband, and two little girls all obediently following me, since I was the only […]

The Best Places to Watch Epcot’s Fireworks (Restaurants, Fastpass, and more!)

The Best Places to Watch Epcot’s Fireworks (Restaurants, Fastpass, and more!)

Epcot’s fireworks show, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” is a tribute to the nations of the world, involving not just fireworks, but also lasers, dancing water, and music. Premiering on October 1, 1999, it is Walt Disney World’s longest running fireworks show and, according to Wikipedia, has received several awards over the years, including 11 straight Best Outdoor Night Production Show Golden Ticket Awards.

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the best viewing spots for Illuminations, how to get those spots, and the pros and cons of each.

 

What Time is the Epcot Fireworks Show?

Illuminations are at 9pm, and the show lasts 12-15 minutes.

However, it’s a good idea to double-check the time, because sometimes (not often) it varies slightly.

For example, during the holiday season, IllumiNations may be pushed back to 9:30 on certain nights due to the Candlelight Processional.

Also, Epcot closes an hour early (8:00pm) on Good Friday, so Illuminations that night is 8:00pm as well.

 

Illunminations fireworks show at Epcot
Illumination Reflections of Earth in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper

Does Epcot Have Fireworks Every Night?

Yes, weather permitting.

I did a little research to see what exactly “weather permitting” means.

Will they still have Illuminations if it’s raining? Yep. (You can read more about which Disney rides and fireworks get canceled when it rains.)

Even in cases of thunderstorms, they usually delay the show for an hour or two it before deciding to cancel it altogether.

So … does Epcot have fireworks every night? It sounds like the answer is “yes,” except in very, very rare occasions due to weather.

Touring Plans, one of my favorite Disney planning sites and the authors of my all-time favorite Disney World planning book, points out something important about the ending of the show, especially if you have young kids:

“IllumiNations ends the day at Epcot. When it’s over, only a couple of gift shops remain open. Because there’s nothing to do, everyone leaves at once …
More groups get separated and more kids get lost following IllumiNations than at any other time. In summer, you’ll be walking in a throng of up to 30,000 people. If you’re heading for the parking lot, anticipate this congestion and preselect a point in the Epcot entrance area where you can meet if someone gets separated from the group. We recommend the fountain just inside the main entrance.”

 

Is Illuminations Ending?

As of this writing (late August 2018), rumors have been picking up speed that a new night show at Epcot will be replacing Illuminations.

Nothing is official at this time, but in early June 2018 a user on the WDW Magic Forums by the name of marni1971 claims the new show will be called “Windows on the World” and (if I understand correctly) will be unlike Illuminations in that it will be involve Disney characters.

And last month the Orlando Sentinel reported that the World Showcase Lagoon was getting over $2 million of electrical work done.

Hmmm ….

So it seems almost certain that Illuminations will be ending before too long. But right now, exactly when that will happen and what it will look like when it does still remain to be seen.

UPDATE on October 2, 2018

Yup, it’s official.

Disney announced a couple weeks ago that Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will be ending in the second half of 2019. A new nighttime show on the World Showcase Lagoon will be taking its place.

On September 17, 2018, the Disney Parks Blog said:

“We’ve got big plans for our multi-year transformation of Epcot, with new experiences that will “Wow!” guests while keeping true to the original vision of the park. And the all-new nighttime fireworks spectacular coming to Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon will be part of the park’s exciting evolution.”

Some of Epcot’s upgrade will also include:
1) A “Ratatouille” ride (yay! Ratatouille never gets enough love) behind the France pavilion that will open in 2021.
2) “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which Disney is describing as “one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters,” will replace “Ellen’s Energy’s Ride” (which definitely needed replacing) in 2021.

So you still have roughly a year from the time of this writing to get it a last chance to see Illuminations.

 

New Fireworks Show: “Epcot Forever”

In April 2019, the Disney Parks Blog reported that the final showing of Epcot’s “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” would be on September 30 and that a new, limited-run show called “Epcot Forever” would begin on October 1, 2019, and continue to run into 2020.

(You folks that like Disney World trivia might know that October 1 is both the day that the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 and the opening date of Epcot in 1982.)

The new show will include fireworks, music, lighting, lasers and “choreographed, special effects kites.”

The show will take us on a journey through the past, present and future of Epcot. Featuring a stirring collection of songs that paint a colorful picture of the park, this nighttime extravaganza will offer both a trip down memory lane and a look towards the future and all the magical possibilities still to come.

 

Video — Preview of “Epcot Forever”

 

Will the viewing spots that work well for Illuminations also be good for Epcot Forever? I would guess so, but there’s no way to know for sure until it arrives.

 

Illuninations fireworks show at Epcot World Showcase
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing an Illuminations Viewing Spot

1) Unlike Wishes (the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom), Illuminations is more of a “light show” that also has low-level fireworks and a globe display on the World Showcase lagoon. So when evaluating any viewing spot, take a moment to look around and see if any trees, torches, or light poles are blocking your view of the lagoon. If you can see the center of the Lagoon, then you can see Illuminations, and if not … well, then you can’t. That’s how you know whether or not you have a good spot.

2) Illuminations can produce a lot of smoke, so if the wind is strong enough that you can feel it and that it’s blowing toward you from the direction of the lagoon, this is not a good thing. Not only will you get a bunch of smoke blown in your face, but the smoke could cloud your view so much that you may not even be able to see much of the second half of the show.

Because of those two things, there is no one “best place” to watch the fireworks in Epcot. A great place could be five yards away from a “bad” place because of a tree island blocking your view, or what was a good place last week could be a “bad” place tonight because of that wind.

With that being said, here are some general “best places to watch,” in no particular order:

 

Best Places to Watch Illuminations Around the World Showcase

1. The Bridge between the United Kingdom and France:

This bridge gives you a bit of elevation and great views of not only the lake and sky, but also of each of the pavilions as they light up during the show. The IllumiNations Fireworks Cruise typically parks their boats under or in front of this bridge during the show, so … you know it’s gotta be good.

Another nice thing about this viewing spot is that if you’re staying an Epcot resort hotel, like like the Yacht Club, Beach Club, or Boardwalk Inn, you can make a relatively quick and easy exit.

2. The Second Floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan:
The second floor, or restaurant level), deck of the Mitsukoshi Building in the Japan Pavillian gives you some beautiful views, as you can see from this photo from my friend Meg at The Mouselets. It also has a covered deck, which is a nice plus if it’s a little drizzly out.

View of Illuminations firework show at Epcot from Japan pavillion
View of Illuminations from Mitsukoshi
Photo courtesy of Meg at The Mouselets

If you didn’t already know, Mitsukoshi is a department store chain that originally sold kimonos when it opened in 1673. So make sure you arrive early to allow some time to check it out. They sell not only kimonos and kitchenware, but also bento boxes, snacks, and merchandise from Hayao Miyazaki movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away (some of my kids’ favorite movies).

3. Italy Isola:
The Italy Isola is a spot that juts out over the World Showcase Lagoon, giving you a great, unobstructed view, especially in you arrive early enough to get a spot right up against the railing.

(Once on a November trip we were, in fact, able to get a great spot against the railing here. Not because we got there early, but because of the weather: we were all wearing jackets and still uncomfortably cold. Hard to imagine, right?
Anyway, since most people had the good sense to not stand outside freezing, we had our pick of spots. I even said to the guy standing next to us, “We need to enjoy this, because it will probably never happen again!”)

Unfortunately, because Italy Isola is such a good spot, it’s often used for private Illuminations dessert parties and therefore isn’t available very often.

 

Best Restaurant to Watch Illuminations

Ah, doesn’t it sound lovely to enjoy a nice dinner in the World Showcase, then sit back and relax while you enjoy the fireworks show from your table?

Unfortunately, while that is a possible scenario, more often that not it doesn’t quite work out that way.

The problem is that none of the restaurants can guarantee you a decent view of Illuminations. Sure, you can request a table with a good view, but everyone else is going to be doing that too, so you very well may not get one — no matter how nicely you ask or even if you think you deserve preference because you’re celebrating a special event.

To make things worse, even if you are lucky enough to get a great table by the window, it is very possible that total strangers are going to come to stand right next to your table or, worse, try to wiggle up in front of you so they’re blocking your view.

Personally, I wouldn’t go to any Epcot restaurant for the purpose of seeing the fireworks show. Instead, I would pick up dessert from one of our favorite World Showcase bakeries and then find a good spot around the lagoon to watch.

Having said all that, if you still want to try viewing Illuminations from a restaurant, here are some of your options:

1, Rose & Crown — United Kingdom

The Rose & Crown is your best bet and probably the only place I would even consider eating with the intention of viewing Illuminations. It’s a table service restaurant with a pub atmosphere that serves dishes like bangers and mash and cottage pie.

Your best strategy is to make a reservation for around 7:30 or 8:00pm and arrive at the restaurant 10-15 minutes early to request an outdoor table. No, you still may not get one, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re willing to wait a little.

Epcot Fireworks view from Rose and Crown in United Kingdom

Photo courtesy of Kris from Nomad By Trade

Even if you end up having to siting indoors, you can still step outside “private viewing area” once the firework show begins. My friend Kris from Nomad By Trade took the photo above from that spot. If you plan on doing that, it’s a good idea to let your server know when you’re seated.

2. Tokyo Dining — Japan

Tokyo Dining is known for being a restaurant that offers a view of Illuminations, so I have to mention it here. But I don’t really think it’s a good choice, and here’s why: Remember when I said above that the deck at the top of the Mitsukoshi Department Store was a great place to watch the fireworks? Well, guess where those people are standing? Yup, outside the windows of Tokyo Dining (albeit slightly lower, but still at partially blocking the view).

Add to that the fact that at least 90% of the tables at Toyko Dining don’t even have a window seat, and … well, if you’re looking for a a great view of the Epcot fireworks, this may not be the best place to find it.

What does work for some people is telling your server at about 8:55pm that you’re leaving the restaurant to go see the fireworks and that you’ll will be returning when the show is finished. To me, that kind of defeats the purpose of eating there in order to see the fireworks, but it certainly is an option.

We’ve never eaten at Tokyo Dining, but I’ve heard that both the food and service are top-notch.

3. Monsieur Paul- France

Monsieur Paul is a gourmet French cuisone restaurant with classic French architecture and bright colors. The menu has items that I literally have no idea how to pronounce, but which sound delicious when translated, like Cassolette d’Escargots Cauderanaise (Escargot Cassolette with White Wine, Bacon, and Shallots) or Salade au Roquefort à la Poire et aux Noix de Pécan Caramélisées, (Salad featuring Bleu Cheese, Pear, and Caramelized Pecans).

And Monsieur Paul actually has a dress code (for example, no tank tops, flip-flops, or cut-offs). It is what my husband Robert would probably call “hoity-toity,” which would be his way of saying that he would never want to eat there.

Dessert at Monsieur Paul Restaurant in Epcot
Dessert at Monsieur Paul in France (Preston Mack, photographer)

So how is it for viewing fireworks? Same basic story: It just depends on your luck. The restaurant is on the second floor, so you could potentially get a good view, but many of the tables are not close to windows, and the windows are fairly small, which means the view you get from your table is likely to be very limited.

4. La Hacienda and La Cantina de San Angel – Mexico

La Hacienda de San Angel and Cantina de San Angel are sort of two restaurants in one, the first being table service where you need reservations, and the second being counter service where you don’t.

It has great ambiance, with soaring ceilings, warm-colored tile floors, and hanging lights shaped like metal star sconces and the paper lanterns. We’ve never eaten there, but is sounds the general consensus is that the atmosphere is amazing, but the food is … just okay. And surprisingly mild for a Mexican restaurant.

However, if you can get a table with a view, it’s supposed to be one of the best.

 

Watching Illuminations at the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party

Another option that’s kinda sorta like seeing the fireworks from a restaurant but that does guarantee you’ll get a good view is to get reservations for the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party.

Keep in mind that this is probably not a great option is you’re trying to do Disney on a budget. Priced at $79 per adult (ages 10 and up) and $47 per child, it would cost my family just under $400, which is a price tag that wouldn’t have been worth it for us, even when our girls were younger.

However, I’ve heard people rave about it in reviews, and if you love both a) Anna, Else, Olaf, and the gang; and b) Large amount of decorative sugar, then you might want to consider it.

Here’s how the Dessert Party works:

An hour before Illuminations begins (normally 8pm, although I’ve heard you can arrive even a little earlier than that), you’ll head to World Showcase Plaza East (the path that separates Future World and the World Showcase) and check in at the Disney Traders merchandise shop, located right before you reach Mexico.

You’ll receive an armband and be seated at your pre-assigned table. (If you’re in a smaller group, you’ll probably be seated with others as well.)
Your seats are assigned when you make your reservations, so the earlier you plan ahead, the better seats you’ll get. (Also worth noting: unlike making reservations at Disney World restaurants, reservations for the dessert parties are usually not available until 90 days beforehand. So don’t panic if you don’t see your trip dates listed just yet.)

The dessert buffet includes things like:
* Kristoff’s Kransekake Almond Cookie
* Wandering Oaken’s Eclairons
* Hans’ Key Lime Tarts with Orange Glitter Glaze
* Troll Rock Crispy Bon Bons
* Elsa’s Blue Velvet Cupcakes
* Kristoff’s No Sugar Added Lemon Curd with Blueberry
* Freeze Fried Salted Caramel Popcorn
* Olaf’s Warm Double Chocolate S’mores Pudding Cake
* Anna’s Warm Cottage Pudding with Salted Caramel Glaze
* Hand Dipped Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

There are also non-dessert options:
* Sven’s Fresh Fruits with Berries
* Grand Pabbie’s Mystical Winter Spiced Snack Mix
* Duke of Weselton’s Cheese Fondue—served with country bread cubes, broccoli, and grilled flatbread

In addition, they serve several beverages, including soda, margaritas, piña coladas, beer and wine, coffee and tea, and “melted snow.”

When it’s time for the fireworks to begin, you’ll be given a pair 3-D snowflake glasses. (I honestly don’t know if these actually improve the fireworks viewing experience or if they’re just cute. If you know, drop me a line in the comments.) Then after the show, you’ll be escorted to the Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway Pavilion for a special VIP ride.

Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot
Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
It’s important to note that the Dessert Party does NOT involve a Disney character meet and greet with Anna, Elsa, or anyone else.

 

Some Frozen from IMDB Trivia to impress people at your next cocktail party: The characters of Hans, Kristoff, Anna and Sven are a reference to Hans Christian Andersen, the author of The Snow Queen.

 

Review: Is the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party Worth It?

?

 

Watching Epcot’s Illuminations from the FastPass Viewing Area

Getting a Fastpass to watch Illuminations may sound strange at first. (It definitely did to me.) How do you get a Fastpass for a fireworks show?

But yes, there is a reserved viewing area at Showcase Plaza between Disney Traders and Port of Entry, the two tower gift shops.

See how it says “Disney Traders” smack in the middle of the map below? That’s where the Fastpass viewing area is.

I’ve heard that the view is a very good one, and certainly this photo is fantastic.

Illuminations Reflections of Earth from Fastpass Viewing Area in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

Illuminations View from Fastpass+ location at Epcot Walt Disney World

 

So is it worth it to use one of your precious FastPassses for Illuminations?

The short answer is “probably not.”

The problem is that Illuminations is considered a “Top Tier FastPass experience.” You can only get one Top Tier FastPass. That means that is you get a FastPass for Illuminations, you’re forfeiting the chance to get one for Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After.

Over on the DisBoards forums, some people had a good experience with Illuminations FastPass:

We did a fast pass for illuminations in November because we had a couple people with us who had never been. It was well worth the FP. We didn’t have to worry about finding a spot super early and fighting the crowds, and the view was great.. Typically we would not have wasted a FP for it but considering the fact that we had “first timers” with us and that was their first day so we didn’t have morning FPs scheduled for them it was well worth it.

However, it seemed like many more people had these kind of experience with it:

FP+ for Illuminations is an utter waste. About as useful as a FP+ for Pixar Short film festival. The World Showcase is massive, there are endless viewing spots. You can show up last minute and find a good viewing spot.

We were there on the 4th of July this year didn’t show up until 8:50pm and had no problem finding a spot. Yes, it was much more crowded than normal, but we still found space (we actually stood on the bridge next to Mexico and had a great view). On a normal night, a prime viewing spot is simple.

 

Not only is it not worth it, we find it worse than “standby”. The World Showcase is HUGE, so there are endless spots to see it. The FP+ viewing area is relatively small (by way of comparison to the WS itself) and they cram a lot of people into it. We found it much more cramped in the FP+ area than just finding another nearby spot on standby…5 minutes before the show starts.

 

If you’re still debating whether using Fastpass is the right choice for you and your family, here are some other things to consider:

* You could choose to ride Soarin’ Around the World the second you walk into the park and use the single-rider line for Test Track, which is a way to shorten your wait considerably without getting a FastPass.

* If you have toddlers and preschoolers, you could try this same strategy by hitting Frozen Ever After first thing when you arrive. (If they are under 40 inches tall, they won’t be able to ride Soarin’ or Test Track.)

* If you’ve already used you’re three Fastpasses for the day, you can get on the My Disney Experience app and check to see if there are still FastPasses left for Illuminations (which is very possible if it’s around 2pm). If so, you can snatch them then.

* If you are visiting Epcot at a super-crowded time, like New Year’s Eve, getting a FastPass for Illuminations may well be worth it to not have fight the crowds and stake out a spot early at the World Showcase.

 

 

Best Places to View Illuminations Outside of Epcot

1. Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

The Boardwalk isn’t a bad place to watch the fireworks, as long as you don’t mind missing some of the low-level effects of the show. One of the nice things about it is that there is a lot of “stuff” going on, like street performers, caricature artists, and midway games.

For the best view of Illuminations, go to the bridge just past the ESPN Club.

2. Disney’s Beach Club Resort

If you’re staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you have a few nice options for seeing Illuminations from your resort.

First, you can watch the high-level fireworks from Stormalong Bay.

Stormalong Bay at Disney's Beach Club Resort
Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Second, you could walk to the above-mentioned bridge connecting the Boardwalk and Beach Club and watch them there.

A third option is to walk over to Epcot at about 8:45pm, stand at the wall by France, and then leave through the International Gateway. Easy in, easy out.

Illuminations Seen from the Beach Club Lighthouse Pier

 

Orlando Hotels with a Great View of Epcot Fireworks

If you want to view the Illuminations completely outside of Disney property, here are two good options:

1. Hilton Buena Vista Palace at Disney Springs

This is a lake-front hotel that offers a Disney character breakfast, complimentary shuttle service to both the Disney theme parks and Disney Springs, and access to Extra Magic Hours. In addition, you could use the Pedestrian Skybridge to walk to Disney Springs.

You can choose to book a fireworks view, Disney Springs view, or resort view room.

2. Capa Steakhouse at the Four Seasons in Orlando

You can great a great view of both Illuminations at Epcot and Wishes at the Magic Kingdom from this rooftop Spanish steakhouse and bar, located on the 17th floor. This is a good option for people who are not traveling with little kids, both because of the price and the atmosphere.

In addition, the Four Season also has Park View rooms, where you can watch the Wishes fireworks show from your balcony. And they have a great Disney character breakfast as well!

 

And now I want to hear from you!

Have you watched IllumiNations from one of these spots? What did you think? Any other spots or secret strategies to share? Let me know in the comments!

Best Places to View Fireworks at Epcot in Disney World
The best viewing spots for Illuminations, the fireworks show at Epcot. Includes restaurants, Epcot resort hotels, and hotels in the Orlando area outside the park

Best Restaurants for Watching Illuminations firework show at Epcot

Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass

Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass
Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass

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5 Tips for an Awesome Disney World Character Meet and Greet

5 Tips for an Awesome Disney World Character Meet and Greet

I remember our family’s very first trip to Disney World, when little two year old Becca gave Chip (or was it Dale?) a great big hug and just hung on, so content and peaceful that it looked like she never wanted to let go.

Then there was the time we met Goofy, and I wasn’t sure what he was doing at first … but it turned out that he was “kissing” me, and kept on doing it! I couldn’t stop laughing (or blushing).

Or another time we met Chip and Dale and I told them that I could tell who was who, because Chip had a chocolate chip on his nose and Dale didn’t. Dale hung his head sadly, which made me burst out laughing and tell him, “Oh, it’s okay, Dale! We still love you even though you don’t have a chocolate chip!”

Yup, character meet and greets can be some of the most fun and memorable parts of your Disney vacation. Like my friend Loraine says, “I can go on rides anywhere, but when I go to Disney World, I want to meet characters!”

I did some research and combined it with our own experiences to come up with 5 tips to make your Disney character meet and greets awesome:



 

1. Interact and Have Fun with the Characters

Yeah, we’ve done it too — get to the front of the line, awkwardly say hi to a creature who you know can’t speak a reply, wait for them to sign their autograph, then smile for the camera. Character meet and greet done.

Not that there’s anything really wrong with that … but it’s a lot much fun (and for them, too) if you get a little playful and come up with some ways to interact.

Things to say to Disney characters

If you get stuck for an idea, you can always compliment a character on his or her outfit. And if your child is meeting their favorite character (for Rachael, it was Donald Duck), be sure they tell the character that.

Disney character meet and greet with princess Aurora
Rachael talking to Princess Aurora while Rebecca gazes in admiration

Objects can be a good conversation starter as well. A little toy like one of these is great for children to show to characters to start a conversation. If your child is wearing a Mickey shirt or hat, they can show it to the character. I’ve heard that the characters are quite complimentary (and truly appreciative) when children give them a character drawing they’ve done.

This book is a fantastic conversation starter for meeting characters — AND a good way to collect autographs!
Disney Character meet and greet at Chef Mickey with Minnie Mouse
Fortunately, my son Ben has toy cars on him at all times

The DisBoards forums have some great threads where people share things they’ve said to Disney characters that got a fun response.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Tell Captain Hook, “Tick tock tick tock!” (or ask him where Mr. Smee is);
  • Ask Snow White what the dwarves are doing in the mine;
  • Ask Ariel what Sebastian or Flounder are up to;
  • Tell Prince John he’s the phony prince of England;
  • Ask Tigger for a bouncing lesson;
  • Ask Eeyore if he’s sure he hasn’t lost his tail;
  • Ask Buzz Lightyear if he’s had any run-ins with Zurg lately;
  • Act alarmed and tell Woody there’s a snake in his boot;
  • Call Chip and Dale gophers or rats (or call them by Alvin and Theodore;
  • Ask Donald Duck where Mickey Mouse is;
  • Tell the Mad Hatter that it’s your unbirthday;
  • Specifically ask the Mad Hatter for his “autograph” and see what he does;>/li>
  • Ask Mary Poppins to say “the word” with your child — or ask her to say it backwards;
  • Ask Minnie Mouse how many dresses she has (preferably if Mickey or a cast member is nearby;
  • Ask Minnie to strike her best diva poses for the camera;
  • Tell Mickey that Minnie was waiting for her ring, and he’d better hurry before Donald snatches her up;
  • Call Mushu a lizard or Meeko a badger;
  • Bark like a dog when you see Cruella;
  • Ask Pocahantas to tell you how she says hello
  • Tell Tinkerbell that she should be nicer to Wendybird.
  • Whoever the character is — TELL THEM “THANK YOU”!

 

What NOT to say to Disney Characters


I probably don’t need to tell you this, but just a reminder, because unfortunately, it does happen:

Please don’t complain to the characters about how long the wait in line was, and please don’t start screaming and yelling if a character gets “pulled offstage” right before it’s your turn. I know it stinks when that happens, but they have strict rules about this that they have to stick to, and yelling at them isn’t going to help anybody.

 

Poses to Do with Disney Characters

I’m sorry to say that over the years, we’ve never come up with clever ideas for poses. And hey, that’s okay too! We still love the photos we have.

But if you like the idea of posing, here are some ideas from others who are more creative than I am:

* Curtsying with Minnie Mouse or Belle;
* Saluting or standing with hands on your hips with Buzz Lightyear;
* Patting your tummy with Winnie the Pooh;
* Asking Gaston to show off his muscle, then squeeze his biceps for the photo;
* Clasping your hands under your chin with Cinderella’s stepsisters;
* Kiss your favorite character or pretend to tell them a secret.

 

As a big fan of Monsters, inc, and particularly Mike Wazowski, I got a big kick out of this photo:

And this photo with Baloo from The Jungle Book is just adorable:

 

2. Decide What (if Anything) You Want to Collect Characters’ Autographs In.

There are two schools of thought on Disney autograph books. Most people get them because they make a fun souvenir and because kids are a little weird in that they love to almost obsessively keep track of and count their autographs as if it’s a type a scavenger hunt.

Other people see them as a waste of money and something that takes away from being able to actually interact with the characters (which we’ll get to more in a minute).

Walt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookWalt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookWalt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book - BlueDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book – BlueDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book - Blue2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with Pen2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with Pen2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with PenDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book SetDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book SetDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book Set

 

We always got the autograph albums for our girls, Rachael and Rebecca, but not for our son Ben, who had little to no interest in meeting the characters.

(Since my husband Robert ranks waiting in line in the Florida heat to meet an actor in a costume somewhere between silly and downright irritating, it worked out well. The two of them would go ride the Tomorrowland Speedway or something and catch up with us later.)

Disney Character Meet and Greet with Minnie Mouse
Rachael getting an autograph from Minnie Mouse

It’s worth noting that several months ago, my oldest daughter Rachael (pictured above with Minnie Mouse), who is now in high school, cleaned out the bookshelves in her bedroom and brought me a big pile of things to go to charity. I was stunned and sad to find the Disney autograph album from years ago in her pile.

Of course, I didn’t get rid of it, but put it on my own bookshelf. Who knows, maybe years from now she’ll stumble onto it again and it will bring back all kinds of great memories. (And she’ll say to me, “Oh wow, Mom … thanks for being so amazingly wise and not getting rid of that book. You’re the best Mom ever.” Well … maybe not, but we can dream.)

If you do decide to be like the majority of families and collect autographs, make sure you get the right kind of pen that is easy for characters to hold.

Sharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point MarkersSharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point MarkersSharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point Markers

 

And don’t feel limited to an autograph book. Some people like to have characters sign a special hat, t-shirt, or tote bag. Etsy has some great personalized Disney bags that work well for collecting autographs

 

Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys' Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys’ Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys' Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]

 

 

3. Prepare for long waits in line.

Depending on which character you’re meeting and what time of year it is, you could be standing on line for an hour or longer. The fine art of waiting in line at Disney World deserves a post all its own, but some ways you can make use of this time is to reapply sunscreen, play I Spy, or have one of the members of your family run over to snag cream cheese pretzels for everybody.

If you to be ultra-prepared, consider stocking up with a few little goodies to keep in your park bag:

Creativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsCreativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsCreativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsPlay-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)Play-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)Play-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)SNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles - Pack of 24 Party BubblesSNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles – Pack of 24 Party BubblesSNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles - Pack of 24 Party Bubbles

 

 

4. Consider Scheduling a Character Meal.

Character meals are a fun and efficient way to get to meet a bunch of characters at once. The up side is that you get to sit in an air conditioned building and chow down while you wait, instead of just standing around sweating bullets. The down side is that they can be pretty expensive and you have to plan ahead (usually way ahead).

We’ve done Disney trips both with and without character meals. We were on a smaller budget on our very first Disney trip, back when the girls were 2 and 4 years old and Benjamin didn’t even exist yet, and didn’t schedule any character meals.

Honestly, we didn’t miss it. The girls were so thrilled with the simplest things about the trip, like swimming in the condo pool and eating Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, that it didn’t occur to them that they should be disappointed about “missing out” on anything.

But on future visits, we were lucky enough to get the free Disney Dining Plan, and did enjoy several character meals, including:

Would I recommend character meals? Yes — if it’s in your budget and you do your research.

 

 

5. Do Your Research and Plan Ahead (but not too much)

I have mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand, a trip to Disney World and being in the company of young children are two things that, even when done separately, require some planning if you don’t want to be miserable.

On the other hand, though, there’s a lot to be said for seeing characters that not only did you not schedule for, but that you weren’t even expecting to be there. (I squealed with delight when we saw Mary Poppins and two penguins at the Magic Kingdom one morning.)

We were also completely taken by surprise shortly after we arrived at Hollywood Studios for the first time ever, we were all completely surprised to see Leo and Annie from Little Einsteins.

Character Meet and Greet at Disney Hollywood Studios
Surprise — these guys live at Disney World too!

So depending on your personality, maybe do some planning and leave some room for surprises. I would recommend, at the very least, scheduling time to see the one or two characters (or groups of characters) that your crew has it’s hearts set on to meet. And don’t forget that the My Disney Experience app — which is free — makes it easy to “plan on the fly,” so to speak.

My cheat sheet can help you with planning character meals:



Where to Find Characters at Disney World

In addition to meeting your favorite Disney friends at a character meal, there are places all over the parks where you can meet them. Be sure to check your My Disney Experience app, as the times and details can vary from day to day.

AllEars.net has a detailed “Characters at a Glance” chart for each Disney park. Here’s a quick list I put together from their charts:

Disney Characters at the Magic Kingdom

Princess Fairytale Hall — Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Elena of Avalor

Fantasyland — Anastasia & Drizella, Lady Tremaine, Fairy Godmother, Ariel, Gaston, Daisy & Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Peter Pan & Wendy, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger, Alice & the White Rabbit

Adventureland — Jasmine, Aladdin, Captain Jack

Town Hall Theater — “Magician” Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell

Town Square — Mary Poppins, Snow White, Pluto, Marie (from The Aristocrats)

 

Disney Characters at Animal Kingdom

Donald’s Dino-Bash in DinoLand USA — Daisy & Donald Duck, Launchpad McQuack, Scrooge McDuck, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto

Discovery Island — Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Pocahontas, Russell (from Up)

Rafiki’s Planet Watch — Rafiki, Jiminy Cricket, Doc McStuffins

In addition, you can meet Timon near Creature Comforts and see DeVine (if you look carefully) by the park Entrance, Oasis, or the pathway between Asia and Africa.

 

Disney Characters at Hollywood Studios

Great Movie Ride Courtyard — Daisy & Donald Duck, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie Mouse

Walt Disney Presents — Star-Lord, Baby Groot

Pixar Place — Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Green Army Men, Cruz Ramirez (from Cars 3)

Star Wars Launch Bay — Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers, Jawas, Greedo, BB-8, Chewbacca

Animation Courtyard — Sophia the First, Pluto, Doc McStuffins, Jake of the Neverland Pirates

 

Disney Characters at Epcot

Epcot Character Spot by Innoventions West — Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Joy & Sadness from Inside Out, Baymax from Big Hero 6

Legacy Plaza — Daisy Duck

World Showcase Ambassador Gazebo — Pluto

United Kingdom — Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Friends

Mexico — Donald Duck

France — Belle, Aurora

China — Mulan

Germany — Snow White

Morocco — Jasmine & Aladdin

 

I hope this post has given you some good ideas for your next Disney character meet and greets. I know I learned some new things I’m going to say to characters on our upcoming trip!
If you have any of your own suggestions or experiences you’d like to share, leave them below in the comments.

 



 

Are you and your kids planning to have some Disney character meet and greets on your Walk Disney World vacation? 

Whether you're meeting Mickey Mouse or face characters like Snow White and Elsa, you'll love these tips and tricks on autograph books, what to say to characters, and more!

The best tips for families about Disney character meet and greets, whether at a breakfast or dinner meal at a character restaurant or just out and about in the parks at Disney World or Disneyland. Includes funny things that kids can say to Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Chip and Dale, and other favorite characters to make the meeting awesome!
 Tips and Ideas for fun Disney character interactions at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and other Disney World parks. Have an awesome meet and greet with your kids on your families' vacation! Includes pictures.
Disney Character Meet and Greet and Interaction Tips
5 Tips for an Awesome Character Meet and Greet at the Disney Parks
Includes funny disney character interactions, which characters are at magic kingdom, the best pen for disney autographs, and what to ask Tinkerbell at Disney
Disney world vacation tips -- how to have an awesome time meeting Disney characters with your kids

Disney Character Meet and Greet Tips




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