Universal Orlando’s Top 10 Character Meet & Greets
One of the many reasons people from all over the world visit Walt Disney World is to meet their favorite Disney character(s). For many, meeting a Disney Princess or Mickey Mouse has become a rite of passage. It is such an incredibly popular thing to do, that Guests will wait three to four hours just to meet a certain character. (I’m looking at you, Elsa.) But did you know that just down the street at another equally amazing theme park resort, Universal Orlando also has some pretty amazing character meet & greets? Even better is most of them rarely have a long wait time, if any. Many even just wander through the streets instead of having a specific location set up for them, which allows you to walk up and grab a quick photo! A few can even rival some of Disney’s!
Now, even though Universal Orlando Resort isn’t quite as big as Walt Disney World, they still have a decent number of meet & greets in both of their parks. If you count out all of the characters you can meet, meaning each one or grouping you’d have to wait for separately, there are more than 30 overall, which is actually pretty amazing considering there are only two parks!
Universal Orlando has a wide variety of ways to meet their characters. Some characters meet in large groups, such as the Simpsons, and others fly solo, like Beetlejuice; some all come out to meet together, but you have to meet each one separately, like the Marvel or Dr. Seuss characters, and some all share a single meet & greet area, such as the Transformers! Everyone has a favorite character but here are our picks for the top 10 best meet & greets at Universal Orlando Resort.
10) Gru & Family and The Minions – Superstar Parade
So I’ll be honest, it was actually pretty difficult for me to choose the #10 spot. I had it narrowed down to three, so there will be a runner up on this list later. The Despicable Me characters made the list because they are just incredibly fun characters and the attraction is arguably the most popular family attraction of both Universal parks. When Despicable Me Minion Mayhem first opened, Guests could dance with a Minion or two as they exited the attraction. This was a fantastic way to interact with and get some fun photos with the Minions. Universal has since discontinued this as a regular offering, but if you’re lucky, you might just catch one there. And if you’re really lucky, you might find Gru and his daughters outside of the attraction itself!
For all of the other times you aren’t riding Minion Mayhem, if you want to meet the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith, and/or Agnes, you can meet them right after the Superstar Parade! The Superstar Parade is Universal Studios Florida’s daily parade which travels around part of the park beginning and ending at the gate next the The Horror Make-Up Show! When the parade completes its route, the characters then meet with Guests for a short period by their respective floats before returning backstage. This is an excellent way to meet everyone from Despicable Me, as well as other characters in the parade. The Superstar Parade times vary, so be sure to check your times guide!
9) The Grinch and Thing 1 & 2 in Seuss Landing (Tied)
For our 9th pick, we actually have a tie because they are both in Seuss Landing and are both wonderfully wacky and sassy! Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to meet a Dr. Seuss character? Well, you can at Islands of Adventure! Right in Seuss Landing by One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, at specific times of the day, Guests have the chance to meet The Grinch, Thing 1 & 2, Cat in the Hat, Sam and more! We specifically picked The Grinch and Thing 1 & 2 because they are just so incredibly fun to meet. Everyone is aware of the Grinch’s personality. He can be a bit sassy with Guests. I’ve personally seen him pick on unsuspecting Guests walking through the parks as he was walking to and from his meet and greet location. And if you meet him, be prepared for a staring contest!
As for Thing 1 & 2, well, let’s just say you may need to keep your eyes on them when you go to meet them. These two hooligans constantly stir up some shenanigans with Guests and the character attendants have to keep them in line! They may steal your hat, or try to tie your shoe laces together. Good luck getting them to stand still long enough for a photo. Whoever the case, both The Grinch and Thing 1 & 2 will surely bring some laughs.
8) The Mystic Fountain in The Lost Continent
OK, maybe I’m cheating with this one, but The Mystic Fountain is still a character you can meet, grab a photo with and even talk to. Plus, it is truly a unique option for Guests to experience, so I just had to have it on the list. Universal Orlando’s website describes the fountain as “carved of ancient stone atop the mysterious underground geysers of a long Lost Continent, a mischievous Water Spirit lives, breathes, speaks… and almost always squirts unwary onlookers brave enough to talk back! Match wits with the mischievous Mystic Fountain in Sindbad’s Bazaar. The enchanted spirit within loves to tell riddles and jokes, but be sure to answer its questions correctly or you might get wet!” Sounds fun doesn’t it? It is!
The Mystic Fountain is a live interactive character Guests can actually have a real conversation with. He can be very witty and even sassy, but is always a joy to watch and listen to. He doesn’t have set times of when he talks to Guests, so there are times when he’s sleeping, but when he’s awake, have your cameras and even video ready because you can be sure to catch a funny moment or too. He especially loves to interact with children. But beware, he does squirt! If you aren’t paying attention, you might walk away a little wet.
7) The Green Goblin in Marvel Superhero Island
Superheroes are huge right now thanks to their successful movies and if you follow anything about theme parks, then you should know Disney now owns Marvel, but Universal owns the theme park rights for the Marvel characters East of the Mississippi. Therefore, Universal Orlando is the only place here in Florida you can meet a Marvel superhero (and villain). Now, you may be wondering why we chose The Green Goblin as our #7 pick. Of course, he isn’t the only character Guests can meet here. There is Captain America, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Spider-Man (who has his own indoor meet & greet location), even Dr. Doom, and more! All of these are great picks and fun to meet, but The Green Goblin just has the edge over the others.
Just like the other characters aforementioned (except Spider-Man), The Green Goblin meets in the streets of Marvel Superhero Island as specific times throughout the day. However, unlike the superheroes who stand politely to take photos and engage with Guests while they form lines, The Green Goblin takes it upon himself to interact with Guests in his own way. You might find him hanging out in a store window, ready to jump out and scare unsuspecting Guests walking by; or he may run up behind you as you’re walking and pester you. Whatever the case, The Green Goblin is a quick-witted character and perfect for Guest interaction. I’ve even witnessed a time of when my friend and I were talking to him and grabbing photos when another Guest rudely tried to cut in to take a photo of his own. The Green Goblin being his super-villain self quickly walked away from the Guest, pulling us along, and made some quick witted remarks of the situation. It was a very unique and fun way for him to react to that. So remember that The Green Goblin doesn’t wait around to take photos with Guests. You have to be quick and ready to take a photo if you can catch him, but if you’re lucky enough, it’ll surely be a memory for the books!
6) Doc Brown (and Marty McFly) by The Delorean Time Machine
If you’re any sort of classic movie fan, then you have to meet Doc Brown! He meets periodically throughout the day by his time machines, the Delorean and his Train Time Machine from BTTF III, which are now located at the entrance to Springfield U.S.A. He isn’t listed on the map with specific times, so you may or may not catch him while visiting the park. And if you’re extra lucky, you’ll catch Marty McFly meeting as well with Doc, but that isn’t nearly as regularly, unfortunately.
Doc Brown is perfect to get the iconic Back to the Future stance photo with and it’s even better if Marty is there. Sometimes, you may catch Doc wearing his brain-wave analyzer, and some days without it. On certain days, Doc Brown may not be meeting by his Delorean but in other areas around the park. For this, he travels on his bike which has a chest on the back for storage of some great props. One in particular is a clipboard which shows Doc Brown’s plans of how to get back the Institute of Future Technology, which was replaced with The Simpsons Ride. So if you see him with it, be sure to check out the details! Also, don’t hesitate to ask Doc about his time travels. He’s sure to have some fun stories for you!
5) The Knightbus Conductor and Shrunken Head in the London Waterfront
One of Universal Orlando’s newest meet & greets is the Knightbus Conductor and the Shrunken Head in the London Waterfront outside of Diagon Alley. If you’re unfamiliar with Harry Potter, the Knight Bus is triple-decker, purple bus which assists stranded individuals of the wizarding community through public transportation. The Knight Bus has a conductor and a driver who a talking shrunken head hanging by the driver’s seat. For this meet & greet, Guests can meet the Conductor and talk to the shrunken head (if he isn’t sleeping).
Why this is listed at #5 is because of the intense theming Guests experience with the characters. Even though this is technically the Diagon Alley/Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the London Waterfront is technically the Muggle world. Therefore, you’ll find it difficult to discuss the Wizarding World with the Conductor and Shrunken Head. If you mention what Hogwarts House you’re in, he’ll probably remind you to pipe down about it. And if you have your wand out? Well, it might be better to hide it (although no one does of course!) Both the Conductor and Shrunken Head are incredibly fun to talk to and a great addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because they add so much theming. Plus, any die hard Harry Potter fan will just need to get this photo op!
4) Raptor Encounter in Jurassic Park
Universal Orlando’s newest meet & greet opened last year for their new film, Jurassic World. Based on Chris Pratt’s character who trains raptors for the new Jurassic World park. Here, in the Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventure, Guests can now get a photo with a live raptor, but don’t worry, the trainer is there to protect you! This meet & greet has proved to be one of Universal’s more eye grabbing greets, so they actually had to block the viewing area with plants to keep Guest traffic moving. But I’ll tell you what, it is incredibly fun to watch people’s reactions when they first meet the raptor.
The wire fence is broken here and the raptor is able to come right up to your head. As you approach, you’ll hear the raptor breath and he may even howl/bark at you. But again, don’t worry because the trainer is there to keep him in line. If you’re brave enough to meet the raptor, I recommend filming your encounter because you may laugh at the other Guests ahead of you who wince when they are up close and personal with the raptor, but the situation quickly changes when it’s your turn. For the photo, the raptor will get very close to you, may too close for comfort, but trust me, it’s worth it! The Raptor Encounter is a great example of how Universal can expand and grow the theming of the Jurassic Park area; perhaps even change it to Jurassic World! Check out the video below. Credit to Mouse Ears.
3) Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey in Universal Studios Florida
Shrek has been at Universal for many years thanks to the Shrek 4-D attraction. Right outside of its exit, Guests have the ability to meet Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey. However, Donkey is only available at certain times and he is the real reason as to why this meet & greet is listed at #3! Shrek and Fiona are great to meet, but Donkey is the true star of this meet & greet.
Just like the Mystic Fountain and Shrunken Head, Donkey is highly interactive with Guests. If you’re familiar with the Shrek series, you’ll know Donkey is a sarcastic ass. And he’s no different here. I’ve personally witnessed him sass Guests as they have conversations with him. If you aren’t in the mood to wait to meet these characters, feel free to stand aside and listen in as Guests talk to all three. However, keep in mind, Donkey doesn’t meet as often as Shrek and Fiona do. So, since Donkey is really the star of this meet & greet, if you don’t see him visiting, you may want to skip this one.
2) Beetlejuice in Universal Studios Florida
Up until a few months ago, Beetlejuice had his own show in Universal Studios Florida, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash-Up/Revue, which prevented him from meeting Guests regularly in the park. The show closed earlier this year to make way for the new Fast and Furious attraction set to open in 2017 and since then, Beetlejuice has been meeting Guests in various locations throughout the park, such as the Hollywood streets area or outside the Monsters Cafe.
Just like Doc Brown, Beetlejuice is a staple character for Universal and one you should definitely have on your list to meet! And don’t think for one second he won’t be anything like he is in his movie. Beetlejuice won’t hesitate to pick on you, harass you, or just have a good time with you. Even if it’s a shame he lost his show to a new hotness attraction, it’s great Guests can now interact with him in the streets.
Runner Up – Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and the Gang in the Hollywood Streets
As I mentioned above, we have a runner up that didn’t quite make it on the list for us and it’s Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. Anyone who grew up watching cartoons was a fan of Scooby-Doo and here at Universal you can meet both Shaggy and Scooby with the Mystery Van for a fun photo op. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the rest of the of mystery solving gang, Fred, Daphne, and Velma; but they only come out on special days.
1) Transformers in Universal Studios Florida
Our #1 spot is easily one of the most impressive meet and greets I have ever seen in my lifetime and it has clearly raised the bar (at least for me) for what we, as Guests, should come to expect when meeting our favorite characters! The Transformers meet one at a time by the exit of their own ride inside Universal Studios Florida. Here, Guests can meet Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, or Megatron. Each Transformer has their own way of interacting with Guests which makes each character unique to meet. Optimus greets your heroically and with kindness, whereas Megatron may threaten, insult or shout commands at you. And of course, Bumblebee sings different song clips just like in the movies.
The shear size of these characters is impressive enough and easily leads to dropped jaws for first time viewers. Watching Guests meet the Transformers never gets old, and I’ve been observing for over two years now. I can’t tell you which is my favorite to meet because I don’t have one. They’re all great and anytime I bring new Guests to the park, I make sure to at least walk them by this meet and greet to see them standing there! The Transformers meet throughout the day but do not have a set schedule, so you can never be to sure who will be coming out of the gate next.
Whatever the case, it’s clear Universal has some impressive and incredibly entertaining characters you can meet at both of their parks. Whether its classic Hollywood with Marylin and Lucy or classic cartoons with Popeye and Betty Boop, they’ve got you covered. Want meet a real life dinosaur or maybe find out if aliens really do exist from the Men in Black? You can find it here! Universal is stepping up their game with their character meet and greets and with their most recent additions (Transformers, Raptor Encounter, and the Knight Bus) they even give Disney a run for their money for some of their characters. The best part? The lines are way shorter!! So next time you’re at Universal Orlando Resort, have your eyes open and cameras ready for some great new characters to meet!