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Chip 'n Dale in a new location in Frontierland where Donald Duck once hosted guests. Many character meet and greets are still scattered outside throughout the parks, but others are inside dedicated, themed locations. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


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A key component of the New Fantasyland is a number of new character meet and greets. Disney's intention was a more immersive experience for meeting some of your favorite characters. Today we want to showcase some of those new places, although not all of them are actually in the New Fantasyland. Some are located in previous places that have been improved upon throughout the Magic Kingdom.

The biggest makeover of all has been Pete's Silly Side Show. This tent was once the location of the Toontown Hall of Fame. Originally you queued and exited in what is now Storybook Souvenirs. You still exit, but the entrance is now right through the front.


Pete's arm moves back and forth inviting you to enter his side show. In front a calliope plays some great tunes that set the stage musically for this area of the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Originally guests would split among one of three queues. One set would have princesses, another set would have fairies, and still another set would have friends of the Hundred-Acre Woods, or some other grouping. Now the grouping is divided into half. One group goes to Daisy and Minnie and the other goes to Donald and Goofy. There is a lot of theming that goes into each of these meet and greet locations, even in the first part of the queue. Take the time to study it out.


This little corner of the queue gives a nod to Donald's efforts to control the PhilharMagic Symphony Orchestra. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Which direction you go is up to you. Unfortunately, they don't yet allow you to return and queue directly in the other line. You have to exit through Storybook Souvenirs, come back outside and then re-enter.

Daisy was once relegated to Town Square, where Pluto and others still remain.


Daisy Duck plays the part of Madame Daisy Fortuna, a gypsy fortune teller who greets guests outside her wagon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Minnie previously held court with Mickey at Town Square Theater. Now she joins others here in Storybook Circus.


Minnie Magnifique is the "Siren of the Seine," working as a Parisian poodle trainer. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Goofy is certainly highlighted in Storybook Circus, with his own attraction nearby, and now his own meet and greet location. You will want to note the motorcycle is still spilling smoke out of its exhaust.


The Great Goofini draws on the old Evel Knievel-type days of hurling over open spaces in a motorcycle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Last but not least is the Astounding Donaldo, who again, once was relegated elsewhere, but now has a home of his own here at Storybook Circus.


As a snake charmer, Donaldo could easily be put in a trance by the nearby Kaa-like snakes. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What really works here are the detailed props and settings that reinforce the Storybook Circus setting. What's disappointing is that they are so tailored, that I doubt any other characters will make an appearance soon. It would seem that this area would be fantastic for characters like Horace Horsecollar or Hyacinth Hippo. Perhaps in time they will appear outside. But I'm certain that operations wants to make sure that their investment in this side show pays off first.

When completed, it will be a short walk from here to the other parts of the new Fantasyland, but with construction still going on with the Seven Dwarfs coaster attraction, you will need to walk all the way around. Never mind, after all this gives you a chance to stop in and visit a couple of other new additions over the last year.

First is Merida from Brave. She holds court in the space that was once held by Rapunzel (who now flips back and forth between the princess meet 'n greet at Town Square Theater and the Guest Relations Gardens (seasonally held by individuals like Santa Claus).


Last I stopped by, the triplet bear brothers of Hamish, Harris and Hubert were not there. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Go around the corner and you'll also see a new meet 'n greet location themed to the Hundred Acre Wood. This space barely opened as a Tigger Bouncing area for the attraction's queue. Now you will usually find a pair like Tigger and Pooh greeting guests.


A place for friends to meet. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The most lavish of all the new meet 'n greet locations is now more of an attraction in itself. Enchanted Tales with Belle not only provides a chance to meet Belle, but also to visit with Wardrobe and Lumiere. You will probably spend more time waiting in line for this character experience than anywhere else. Look for a chance to get a FastPass to this one. It will definitely be worth it. My earlier article will also give you other details you may want to pay attention to.


You may want to sign up to be the Beast. It gets you an opportunity to dance with Belle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Along the path you may encounter Gaston. This is Gaston's first time in a meet 'n greet experience that I can ever recall, though most guests saw him in the Beauty and the Beast--Live on Stage show at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I first dismissed this as somewhat filler, but one day he came out while guests were waiting to enter the dress rehearsal of the new Fantasyland. his character and the dialogue was as funny as it gets, with the experience feeling more like a streetmosphere improvisational experience than a character meet 'n greet.


Self-centeredness now has no limit when you meet with Gaston. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

While you're out this way, keep an eye for the Beast at Be Our Guest restaurant. He has started to make appearances, but it's still uncertain as to the times. It seems at this point to only be during the evening hours.

With the success of The Little Mermaid, Ariel's Grotto soon opened in the '90s with a small water play area and an opportunity to visit Ariel. With the new Fantasyland, that space is now occupied by Belle, and The Little Mermaid now occupies what was the interior portion of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. There is no water play area, as it is now Casey Jr.'s job to provide that at Storybook Circus, but you can now visit Ariel on her clam throne once again. Don't be too discouraged by the line. What you see, is pretty much the queue, and once you turn the corner you'll be visiting Ariel. What was once the slowest line to visit her now takes half the time--if you know what I mean.


You'll find Ariel's Grotto under the magic Cinnabon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Ariel now reigns again at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Fantasyland isn't the only place where things are happening. It's worth noting two other locations. The first is the Adventureland Veranda that has played host to Tinker Bell since about 2008. This is probably the slowest queue at this time, and without a FastPass, you may be disappointed by the wait time. If this is important, you may want to visit this location early in the day. But if you haven't seen it, it is one of the most immersive meet 'n greet locations there is at the Magic Kingdom.


Look at the attention to detail. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What's new is that since September, it has added a touch of winter magic with the Secret of the Wings video that's out. Guests can now visit with Periwinkle.


Both Tink and her new-found sister are part of the experience here. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

We end back at the Town Square Theater. This location for visiting with Mickey and the princesses was established nearly a year and a half ago in 2011. But if you haven't been there lately, check out the additional theming that has gone into the entry areas leading to Mickey's dressing room. For months after it opened it was just blank walls. Now there's a host of wonderful trivia that pays tribute to the Disney gang.


The setting includes a mail department. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Art and Publicity Department has these drawings. Note the opening act by Fred and Ward--paying homage to Ward Kimball and Fred Moore. Photo by J. Jeff Kober


My Fair Minnie played with Donald Duck suggests that now no one will understand her either. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


McDuck's Safe Company has a vault here. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

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There are little nooks in the desk which pay homage to a number of Disney legends, both real and fictional. My favorite of all of these is to Bill Justice, an animator/imagineer who passed away last year. Scrolled inside his mail slot is a drawing many of you may remember from the Walt Disney Story days.


I'd prefer seeing the entire mural again, but I'm delighted that it's given recognition here. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

All this and we haven't covered all of the characters who are out and about or are in other dedicated locations My latest count includes:

Main Street:

  • Princesses at Town Square Theater
  • Pluto at Town Square
  • Mary Poppins at Town Square
  • Winnie the Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace

Adventureland

  • Peter Pan adjacent to Adventureland entrance
  • Captain Jack Sparrow near Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Aladdin and Jasmine near Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Frontierland

  • Woody & Jessie near Splash Mountain restrooms
  • Chip 'n' Dale at entrance to Frontierland

Liberty Square

  • Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen at entrance to Liberty Square

Fantasyland

  • Princesses at Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Alice, the Mad Hatter, and White Rabbit near the Mad Tea Party
  • Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters on the Fantasyland side of Cinderella Castle
  • The Fairy Godmother on Fantasyland side of Cinderella Castle

Tomorrowland

  • Pluto, Goofy, Stitch at Club 626
  • Buzz Lightyear near exit to Buzz Lighyear's Space Ranger Spin

If visiting with the Disney characters is an important part of your experience at the Magic Kingdom, know that there are some terrific places to visit. Indeed, you'll find that you could spend the entire day meeting different members of the Disney gang.



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J. Jeff Kober, (@MousePlanetJeff) president of Performance Journeys and CEO of World Class Benchmarking, is also a thought leader on best-in-business practices at the Walt Disney Company. He brings those ideas to organizations via keynotes, seminars, and workshops to organizations around the world. He has authored "The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney" as well as a "Disney at Work" series of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available via DisneyatWork.com. You can find out more about his newest book, "Lead With Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence" at LeadWithYourCustomer.com.