Written by Jennifer Piccione (Webb)
Who is your favorite character at Universal Studios Orlando Resort? What’s that you say-there are characters at Universal Studios Orlando? ABSOLUTELY! There are over 65 different character meet and greet opportunities available at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and let me tell you the character experiences at Universal Studios Orlando are some of the most fun, personable experiences I have ever encountered. However, with that many characters available you could spend your entire day trying to catch them all and probably still not see every one of them! With a little bit of planning you can make the most of your meet and greet mission within the resort.
One thing to know right away is that the character experience at Universal Studios Orlando Resort is completely different than what you are probably used to at Walt Disney World. With a majority of the Universal characters, there is not wait line or queue, and you can often walk down Hollywood Boulevard while chatting up some iconic celebrities in a casual environment. This makes the character experience much more personable and memorable.
When you arrive at Universal Studios Orlando, get a park map guide. This map can tell you what characters are available (there are some that are surprises and not listed on the map) and the times they will be available in their areas. The majority of the time, if you have to wait to get up close and personal it will only be a few minutes (I have never waited more than 15 minutes and that was for Transformers and the Raptor Encounter).
If you are more of a power planner extraordinaire, you can also go to the Universal Orlando website, click on the showtimes tab and find these times as well. Just keep in mind that you will only be able to access times up to 30 days in advance and they could change as you get closer to your actual travel dates, so you will need to check back when you get closer to that date.
OK! Let’s get started!
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS CHARACTERS
1. Despicable Me characters- you can find Gru, the Minions, Agnes, Edith, Margo and Vector either at the exit to the Minion Mayhem attraction or on the street by Mel’s Drive In during the Character Party Zone parade.
2. Shrek and Donkey can be seen at the exit of Shrek 4-D
3. Hashtag the Panda can be found in numerous locations outside or inside the Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon attraction.
4. Pharaohs from The Mummy (you know the cool looking Egyptian guys on stilts we see in the commercials and pictures) can be found roaming around this favorite attraction.
5. Transformers “More Than Meets The Eye” (Come on you know every time you hear the name Transformers you sing that song in your head) - Bumble Bee, Optimus Prime (my personal favorite) and Megatron rotate times outside this attraction. This meet and greet does have a queue but as soon as one goes inside a new one is readily available.
6. The Knight Bus Drive from Harry Potter is located outside the entrance to Diagon Alley. Take the time to have a conversation with him and the shrunken head, you will be highly entertained!
7. Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees have a great show inside Diagon Alley. This is an enjoyable stage presentation that you can watch while taking a break from the craziness of the day. Grab a butter beer, take a seat on one of the benches and relax while their musical entertainment brings a smile to your face!
8. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Krusty the Clown, and Sideshow Bob rotate throughout the day randomly.
9. Spongebob and Patrick can be found in the Spongebob store.
10. Poppy, Branch and Guy Diamond (the infamous troll that farts glitter) can be found over by the Kid Zone Entrance.
11. Barney can be found towards the back of the Barney shop.
12. As you stroll down Hollywood Boulevard you can run into some Hollywood Icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Beetlejuice, Doc Brown, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang, Lucille Ball and other surprise characters that will sit and chat with you, join you in a walk down the street and create a most memorable experience.
13. Hello Kitty is usually outside the Hello Kitty store throughout the day.
14. The Blues Brothers have daily shows in the New York area and can be seen driving down the street unexpectedly.
15. Dora, Diego and Boots can be met at the Character Party Zone parade.
16. Various characters from Secret Life of Pets are in the Character Party Zone parade and area available for photo opportunities afterwards, however they do not leave their float like some of the other characters do.
17. I have run across some of the Penguins of Madagascar once in a while over behind Cafe LaBamba however they aren’t always available.
ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
1. Po from Kung Fu Panda can be found as you enter the Port of Entry towards Hulk roller coaster.
2. Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue, Storm, Doctor Doom, and Green Goblin are found wandering around Marvel Super Hero Island. Spider-Man does have his own queue line also.
3. Over at Toon Lagoon, get into an arm wrestling competition with Popeye or have a girl to girl chat with Olive Oyl. Sometimes Betty Boop wanders over here as well.
4. Raptor Encounter - this is a VERY popular meet and greet experience and usually has a long wait time. Please also keep in mind this could be too intense for little ones.
5. The Frog Choir performs daily in Hogsmeade and is often available for pictures afterwards.
6. While wandering though Hogsmeade, stop and talk with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express and get a picture.
7. Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Sam I Am, The Grinch (probably one of my favorite character interactions) and the Lorax have scheduled appearances throughout Seuss Landing.
A FEW TIPS REGARDING CHARACTER MEET & GREETS:
1. Ask the attendant to take your picture
2. Photo packages are available through My Universal Photos as well
3. Some characters do sign autographs but this isn’t as big of a deal at Universal, unlike Walt Disney World.
4. The great thing about the characters at Universal Studios Orlando is the informal encounters...it makes every experience so personal. You never know who might join you as you take a break on a park bench or grab your hand and start skipping through the park with you.
5. Not all characters are listed on the park guide so keep your eyes peeled as you are enjoying the day.
6. Whatever you do engage when the opportunity presents itself...you are going to have a one in a million experience!
7. Character dining experiences are also available and we will post those in a separate article.