Figment’s meet & greet has made its triumphant return to Walt Disney World, with the character now greeting guests daily inside the Journey into Imagination pavilion. The not-so-little purple dragon is once again incredibly popular, with the longest line and wait time in all of EPCOT. (Updated September 11, 2023.)
This should surprise exactly no one. In fact, this isn’t even the craziest crowd for Figment (yet) in recent memory. At last year’s EPCOT Festival of the Arts, the Pop Eats booth was home to the Figment Popcorn Bucket and initially used a standby line (for some odd reason), with waits eclipsing 5 hours. The line literally snaked all around Future World, and eBay pirate prices ranged from a few hundred dollars to almost $1,000.
The story was so big it spilled over from the Walt Disney World fan community into “real life,” making national headlines and prompting a lot of confused reactions. “Who is that Barney knock-off and why is he so popular?!” Yadda yadda yadda. Now the whole world loves Figment, and has demanded that this “dope dinosaur” get a reimagined attraction and his own feature film from Seth Rogen. Mission (almost) accomplished on one of those fronts.
Before we delve into the long line, let’s cover basic details for the Figment meet & greet at EPCOT. The character appears in a dedicated space in the ImageWorks area of Journey into Imagination, which is essentially the ride’s post-show as well as a meet & greet area, gift shop, and entrance for the Disney Vacation Club Member Lounge.
ImageWorks is accessible by riding Journey into Imagination and simply exiting the attraction, or entering through the gift shop. If you’re planning to do the Figment meet & greet anytime soon, you’ll almost certainly want/need to do the latter.
Figment’s posted meet & greet schedule is as follows as of September 11, 2023:
10 am to 1:30 pm 9 am to 12:30 pm
2:30 pm to 5 pm 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
The strike-throughs were the opening day hours, which I’m preserving above for posterity. While the earlier start time is definitely welcome, losing 30 minutes from Figment’s total set time is an odd move. This is literally the longest line in EPCOT, with the queue closing early yesterday.
We’ll cover some strategy for meeting Figment at the end of the post, but for now, let’s turn to debut day crowds…
I had a busy morning (due to Destination D23 weekend), so I couldn’t get out to EPCOT at or before park opening for opening day of the Figment meet & greet.
Upon entering the corridor behind Spaceship Earth, my jaw dropped at how long the line was already. But then I quickly realized that was for Moana’s Journey of Water previews–the second longest line in EPCOT!
I was actually a little surprised that the approach to Journey into Imagination was so quiet. I fully expected the line to be out past the marquee and monorail track.
Instead, it was nicely organized into a couple of areas.
The outdoor queue is pictured above and below, by the jumping fountains and upside down waterfall that’s above and across from ImageWorks.
When I visited, there were a few switchbacks here, but the queue was pretty loosely organized. Meaning that there’s plenty of space for more switchbacks, and there is (mercifully) no shouting at guests to fill in all available space.
If you’re going to wait in the blazing sun for hours, at least you’re not being packed in like sardines and yelled at! (Well, for now.)
This stretches down to the outdoor vending cart at the bottom of this ramp, where the outdoor line ends.
There’s a pause here for ingress and egress, which is very much necessary given that this is an attraction, gift shop, lounge, and so forth. I’m glad Walt Disney World Operations thought this through, as I was half-expecting them to be totally blindsided by the demand, and for there to be complete chaos. But to their credit, the line was incredibly well-managed both outdoors and inside.
Speaking of which, here’s the end of the indoor line–which is also the resumption of the outdoor line.
This starts back at pretty much the start of ImageWorks, as soon as you ‘clear’ the exit to Journey into Imagination and round the corner. Again, Cast Members are here to manage the line and facilitate crowd-flow. All was going smoothly.
Although I didn’t see this happen during my visit to EPCOT on September 10 for the Figment meet & greet’s debut day, I assume that Cast Members will walk segments of the outdoor line inside from time to time as space allows.
We’ve seen setups like this in a multitude of other scenarios, and it’s logistically the only way this could conceivably work. So it’s really only an assumption in the sense that I didn’t see it firsthand. It’s how the Figment meet & greet line will work.
I know this makes some Walt Disney World fans uneasy. There’s often a palpable sense of discomfort and restless in long meet & greet lines like this, as guests (understandably) worry that they’re going to be cut or cut-off from meeting the character.
It didn’t seem likely to be an issue here, as there are currently tons of Cast Members assigned to the Figment meet & greet. They’ve been pulled from all around former Future World, with Test Track, Mission Space, and the Land pavilion costumes all making appearances. (I didn’t see the Seas.)
Depending upon when you visit, this could change.
But it won’t change until demand dies down. In which case, there won’t be this many Cast Members because there aren’t this many guests. Either way, the crowd control should match the chaos caliber.
Above is a video of the line as of about 9:30 am, which was 30 minutes after EPCOT opened to the general public and 30 minutes before Figment came out to meet the first guests of the day.
This might make the setup easier to visualize…or not.
I asked several Cast Members for an estimated wait time and the responses were all over the place–as low as 1 hour 45 minutes and as high as 3-4 hours.
Obviously, that’s a pretty wide range…and honestly, I don’t know why I asked in the first place. The return of Figment’s meet & greet is an unprecedented event, and doesn’t follow the normal “rules” of this type of thing.
With that said, I can say definitively that the lower end of that range was wrong. That would’ve been too low based on an average meet & greet wait time calculation based on the number of guests in line. This line would be longer because there’s a disproportionate number of single meeters and couples, as opposed to larger families. It also presumably would take longer because the day-one diehardss are going to take longer per party than average tourists.
My guess is that the average wait time for the Figment meet & greet is closer to 3-4 hours for people who arrived after park opening.
I could see it being even longer for some unlucky guests, as that hour-long break is going to automatically increase the wait time by 60 minutes for some superfans caught on the wrong side of it. So if someone told who arrived at 10 am or later told me they waited over 5 hours, I’d believe it. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the line for the entire day is cut before Figment returns from his break.)
In an ideal world, the Figment meet & greet would run from park opening to park closing for the next few months, with no hour-long midday break. After all, imagination never rests. (Well, except for that one decade-plus that Figment decided to temporarily retire from meeting guests!)
I really don’t know what anyone was thinking with these hours. My hope is that Walt Disney World actually planned on debuting this September 22 or October 1, but pushed it forward as a Destination D23 ‘surprise and delight’ type of thing. In which case, maybe staffing is an issue and hours will get longer once Disney100 starts or EPCOT’s anniversary rolls around.
The alternative is someone (or rather, several someones) within Walt Disney World thinking Figment’s meet & greet operating for half the day is sufficient to satisfy guest demand. If so, the plus side (I guess) is that they’re going to be blown away by actual guest demand. In the meantime, the limited hours are going to make this more than a little challenging to experience. Still better that than the alternative of only a few superfans wanting to meet Figment, though!
As noted above, the Figment meet & greet is unprecedented, so it’s difficult to offer crowd predictions or strategy at this point. My gut reaction is that a lot of diehard demand is going to burn off rather quickly, and Figment will not have perpetual 3-5 hour lines (or anything close to that) for months on end.
However, there are several reasons why Figment could continue to see elevated crowds. First, this was just announced yesterday and it was overshadowed by a bunch of bigger (debatably) news. So the turnaround time was quite quick and awareness might still be fairly low, especially among Walt Disney World guests who are currently on vacation and aren’t following “the news.”
Second, a lot of the superfans who would otherwise be interested in this are attending or paying attention to Destination D23 and tons of Annual Passholders are blocked out today, so it’s actually a pretty slow day at EPCOT. (Not to rehash it, but see Why Are Weekends So Slow at Walt Disney World?)
Finally, it’s the heart of the early fall off-season at Walt Disney World. Strategically, this was actually a great time to bring back Figment’s meet & greet, as a lot of demand can burn off during a historically slow time of year before the busy fall break, Moana’s Journey of Water opens, and the holiday season starts at EPCOT. All of those things will draw longtime fans to the park, and will likely keep the wait time for the Figment meet & greet elevated.
At this point, it’s really a question of what “elevated” means in this context. That’s where it’s important to stress the unprecedented nature of this. Figment could drop into the 30-45 minute range or stick to 90+ minutes and neither would be hugely surprising to me. Who knows, maybe they’ll add an Individual Lightning Lane for Figment costing $83 and the standby wait will jump to 300 minutes!
My guess is that the balking point for a meet & greet–especially a character of minimal interest to most casual guests since his current ride sucks–is a lot lower than an attraction. Yeah, there are a ton of day one diehards who will wait countless hours for anything Figment, but this will burn through those pretty quickly.
I’d be (pleasantly) surprised if the average wait time for this is over an hour starting October 5, 2023. I think the 30-45 minute range with the entire wait indoors is more likely, even during the heart of the holidays. I’d love to be wrong and for this to average a 2+ hour wait time for years to come and Walt Disney World need to remove more from ImageWorks to expand the indoor queue space. I’m skeptical Figment has that much interest among regular guests beyond the big fans, though. Maybe if the attraction were better.
For the next few weeks, you should consider rope dropping ImageWorks or even going during Early Entry if Figment is high priority but you don’t want to wait in an interminably long and slow-moving queue for it. Alternatively, jumping into line before it’s cut for the day (likely between 3 and 4 pm going forward unless/until meet & greet hours are extended) is another good option.
All of these wait times might sound crazy to those of you sitting at home, especially if you’re more of a casual fan or have “only” been visiting Walt Disney World for the last 25 years or so. If your only exposure to Figment is the current incarnation of Journey into Imagination, you might (very reasonably) be wondering what is so special about that character.
It’s not the character from today’s ride. You are correct. Current Figment is nothing special, at least not compared to the 1983 original, who was pure magic. That is who everyone loves…including people born in the 2000s who only know of him thanks to YouTube. (To be clear, we are absolutely not here to gatekeep. If the youngsters want to love Figment, we welcome them with open arms. There’s strength in numbers, and Figment’s Faction can use all of the help we can get!)
As long time readers no doubt know, Figment is my favorite Disney character. Has been since the 1980s, and always will. Not because of the current attraction or his personality today, but because of what he was in the original Journey into Imagination from 1983 through mid-1990s. He was whimsical and inquisitive, funny and endearing.
Figment embodied the best things about childhood curiosity and imagination, and deeply appealed to adults who saw a little bit of their kids in Figment (or vice versa), and both kids and adults who saw qualities of themselves in the character. The reason for the original Figment’s success is profoundly simple: he showed us all the best of ourselves.
More than any other character, Figment embodies what it means to be a kid at heart. In a world that is so polarized, on edge, and bursting with negativity, Figment is an antidote to all of that. The character is arguably “needed” more than ever, and resonates increasingly with each passing year because of the ideal he represents.
As exciting as it was to be there with my fellow fans for Figment’s triumphant return, I didn’t meet him today. But only because I met him last night at Destination D23’s “An Evening at EPCOT” where he was the surprise guest!
Even after all these years, Figment still stirs up my emotions.
No matter how cynical I might be about anything else related to Walt Disney World, that melts away when it comes to Figment and Journey into Imagination. I’m instantly 8 years old again, seeing the character for the first time when we both shared similar senses of childlike wonder and innocence. I truly cannot explain what it is–as it defies logic or objective reasoning.
Figment may “only” be a costumed character, but meeting him was like a visit to the fountain of youth. I don’t know how else to describe it. I was on cloud nine. It stirred up so many memories and nostalgia, and filled me with optimism and excitement for the future of Journey into Imagination, EPCOT, and Walt Disney World. It’s such a simple thing, but it was reinvigorating for my fandom.
That feeling was also short-lived, since Sarah wasn’t there. Even though the original Journey into Imagination is my childhood, we have formed so many memories together at EPCOT and Walt Disney World. Figment has become our character, so it was bittersweet to be meeting him for the first time again by myself. That feeling was also short-lived, as the “why” of Sarah not being there sunk in again. HOLY &@#&$, OUR DAUGHTER IS GOING TO MEET FIGMENT NEXT YEAR.
Obviously, this is something I’ve thought about many, many times. Almost every single day this year, and even before that as a vague down-the-road daydream. But being there in his presence last night–and again this morning–made it so much more real. Since I have a reputation is a big time tough guy, I’ll never admit to getting choked up a couple of times…but I also could not deny it under oath. (In my defense, Sarah started crying the other day when I was talking about Megatron’s first visit to Chef Mickey’s.)
Without a doubt, Megatron meeting Figment is the thing I’m most excited about at Walt Disney World in 2024. It’s not even a remotely close call, either. (Keep in mind, they’re probably going to bulldoze more of Dino-Rama next year. In a normal year, that carnage would be pretty tough to top for me!)
Ultimately, my sincere hope is that Figment’s meet & greet line is perpetually the longest at Walt Disney World for the next several months, surpassing even the popularity of the popcorn bucket. There is nothing I’d love more than having a 2-hour wait in line for Megatron’s first meet & greet (…he says now, never having endured waiting in line with an infant before).
More than anything, I want to keep demonstrating to Walt Disney World that Figment still has serious popularity, drawing power, and merchandising potential. I’m not naive enough to think that a long line for a meet & greet will be the one little spark that it takes to get a new Journey into Imagination greenlit imminently (I’ve gotten my hopes up for nothing too many times in the past), but it’s certainly a positive for the longevity of the character and his future prospects!
Will you be meeting Figment live and in-person at EPCOT this year or in 2024? How long would you wait in line for this–or how long did you wait in line for the Figment meet & greet? Were you at the debut day of the purple dragon’s triumphant return to Walt Disney World? Planning on seeing Figment in the coming weeks, perhaps as part of a Moana’s Journey of Water preview? Thoughts on Figment or anything else discussed here? What are you looking forward to trying at the Food Studio booths? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!