Where to Meet Classic Characters in Disney World

by | Feb 26, 2024 | WDW Blog

Wondering where you can meet classic Walt Disney World characters you could meet back in the 1970s? Fiddler Pig, the Walrus from Alice in Wonderland, and Robin Hood’s Merry Men are just a few of the characters you would have seen when visiting Magic Kingdom in the 1970s. You’re not likely to see these characters today…bummer! But there are plenty of other classic Disney characters you can find chillin’ around Walt Disney World.

Character meets have always been a unique and important feature of Disney parks. Walt himself told one of his animators, Bill Justice, “Other people have their bands, thrill rides, and all this stuff, but we’ve got the Disney characters and don’t think they aren’t important! When you see people come in with their children and one of our characters appears, they run to them and get their cameras.”

And run to them, they did! Character meets were pure mayhem in the 1970s, with kids and parents crowding around the characters. No Genie+ reservations or zig-zag lines back in those days.  Today, you can still meet quite a few of the classic characters guests met in their plaid bell bottoms in the 70s. Check out our February 2024 edition of WDW Magazine to travel back to 1970s Walt Disney World and see pics of some of these rare characters.

Opening Day Disney Characters You Can Still Meet

The most well-known Disney characters, called the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald), were given to meet in the 1970s. These days, they’re called the Sensational Six, with Daisy on the list. But Daisy was not in Magic Kingdom in the 1970s like she is today. She’d waddle out for parades and stage shows, but not character meets. That changed in 1982.

We are NOT including these core characters or the Disney Princesses in this list. Each one of them could be their own blog with the amount of ways you can meet them at Disney World Check out our blog on finding Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, and more characters at Walt Disney World. Who we are including are classic characters you can meet today who were also wandering around Magic Kingdom in the 1970s.

Alice

Alice is getting back to her British roots at her meet and greet at EPCOT in the U.K. Pavilion. Her space is right in front of the lovely Tea Caddy shop. The look for Alice today is quite similar to her look in the 1970s: long blonde hair, bright blue dress, and signature black headband. Back in the 1970s, she was sometimes joined by the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter. These two can sometimes be spotted today at special events.

In many of the photos and videos during that time, Alice is one of the few face characters you can see greeting guests. It was more often characters in costumes that groups of guests swarmed.

Chip ‘n’ Dale

These two have my vote for one of the cutest meet-and-greets at Walt Disney World. In Animal Kingdom, you can see the two of them in dinosaur costumes. They’re tucked back in DinoLand USA on the Upper Cretaceous Trail. It can be tricky to find, so just get into DinoLand and ask a Cast Member. Chip ‘n’ Dale is out of the dino costumes and greeting guests in the Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios.

walt disney world characters

Photo by Trisha Daab

They are also up to mischief at the Garden Grill character meal at EPCOT. It can be tricky to get them together at this meal, so if you want a photo with the pair, try one of the other meets above. In the 1970s, these two were in parades and sometimes hung out in Frontierland. One vintage video event shows one of them giving a young guest a noogie!

Country Bears

Staying in Frontierland, it’s over to the Country Bears Big Al, Liver Lips McGrowl, and Shaker. These characters have the distinction of being developed specifically for Disney parks for their show Country Bear Jamboree.

It’s a beloved attraction and was my Grandma’s favorite. I know a few Disney fans that say the same thing! Check out the complete history of the Country Bear Jamboree and the latest updates on the refurb. In the 1970s, the bears would put down their instruments and wander around Frontierland, sometimes even with Chip ‘n’ Dale. You can still see them wandering Frontierland today and even doing a few dances at the Frontierland Hoedown Happening.

Dopey and Grumpy

Before their mine train ride at Magic Kingdom, the seven dwarfs had a much different costume when in Disney parks. The dwarfs of the 1970s had giant heads, almost 50% of their body, and very short legs. Today, their costumes are longer, with much more average-sized heads. I’m just over five feet and Dopey was about the same height as I am.

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Photo by Trisha Daab

You can meet Dopey, Grumpy, Snow White, and the Evil Queen at the Story Book Dining character meal at Wilderness Lodge. This is a unique character meal in that you meet a princess, a few of her friends, and the story’s villain. The food and drinks are all themed, and the space is decked out to be immersive into a magical forest. Get tempted with pics of the food and the menu in this post.

All seven of the dwarfs are often at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. Getting a pic with all those dwarfs is rare; lines often run over two hours.

Peter Pan

1970s Peter Pan was all about the parades, and in old parade videos, you can see him in Mickey’s 50th Birthday parade in 1978 and the Mickey Mouse Club parade in 1976-1977. In the Mickey Mouse Club parade, Peter is playing a tambourine.

Today Peter is still in parades and has an excellent float in the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. You can also meet Peter in Fantasyland, near Peter Pan’s Flight. He is searching for pixie dust in front of a large map of Neverland. No tambourine in sight.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio was a staple in the 1970s Walt Disney World. There are photos of him with Mickey Mouse and Donald, hanging with Gideon and Honest John, and skipping down Main Street USA in parades. Today he can be trickier to meet. He is in the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. We had one of our favorite characters meet moments with Pinocchio during a Character-palooza at EPCOT.

We were just having a breather on a low wall near the gate to backstage at the American Adventure pavilion. Suddenly, a bunch of characters appeared – Donald, Mickey Mouse, Gideon, Max, and Pinocchio.

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Photo by Trisha Daab

Character-palooza is something that happens randomly. We experienced it in May, and others have in January. It can also happen at Hollywood Studios. It’s usually a time when Disney is “warming up” certain characters and training the Character Attendants.

Winnie the Pooh

The character that looks very different from his 1970s version is Winnie the Pooh. The Pooh of the 1970s had a honeypot fixed to his head and his name in childish cursive on his knit sweater. In the early 1970s, Winnie the Pooh was busy running for president. This was his second presidential run. You can read about and see pictures of Pooh’s bid for the White House in our February 2024 issue.

Pooh kept his signature sweater so voters would remember his name, but he had a patriotic hat on his head instead of the honeypot. Today Pooh is hugging guests at multiple locations, sans honeypot. Of all the characters in this list, his look has changed a lot. He’s still in red, but his name is no longer on his sweater, and the honeypot on his head is replaced with rounded, fuzzy years instead of the floppy ones he had in the ’70s.

You can find Pooh with a few friends at a character meal at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. He’s also with a friend or two at the Thotful Spot near the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

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Photo by Morgan Flaherty

Over in EPCOT, Pooh has a lovely meeting in Christoper Robin’s room. This is a bit of a hidden gem at the very back of the shop The Toy Soldier in the UK Pavilion. The entrance to Pooh’s meeting spot is a door outside this building.

Hundred-Acre-Wood Pals

Pooh doesn’t want to go a single day without a friend, so many of his characters are with friends. At the Thotful Spot in Magic Kingdom, he will often be with Tigger. Tigger sometimes bounds over to EPCOT to also play in Christopher Robin’s room. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen them at EPCOT together, so Magic Kingdom is the safer bet. The place to meet many of Pooh’s friends is at the character meal at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger have all been spotted and love to give hugs. The great part is it’s a character meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Crystal Palace has been at Magic Kingdom since opening day in 1971. At that time, the restaurant was more cafeteria-style with no characters. Step outside Crystal Palace in the 1970s, you may find Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, and even Kanga and Roo in a parade. Pooh and his friends weren’t just making memories; they were having fun!

We may not be able to travel back in time to the days of Walt Disney World with only one park and just three resorts… but spending time with some of these classic characters you could also meet in the 1970s can give you a sense of nostalgia and those vintage Disney vibes.

Posts by Trisha Daab

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Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Trisha Daab

Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
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