Walt Disney World has opened a new Character Spot location at Epcot as a relocated home for Mickey Mouse, Minnie, and Goofy now that the other side of Innonventions West has closed. In this post, we’ll take a look at the beautiful new backdrop, give you info about the location, and tips for doing this meet & greet with next to no wait! (Updated September 12, 2019.)
Along with Art of Disney, this new-look Character Spot location has a temporary reprieve from construction as Epcot gears up to transform Future World into 3 new neighborhoods. This area will more or less be the future home to the upcoming Moana: Journey of Water walk-through attraction.
Presumably, it’ll take less time to demolish this side of Innoventions West and build the Moana: Journey of Water than to demolish the other side and build the new World Celebration festival pavilion, which would explain the delay here. As for how long this new Character Spot will last? Don’t expect it to stick around too long…
Before we get into the timeline speculation, info about the new Character Spot at Epcot, and tips for experiencing the greetings with minimal wait, let’s start with some photos.
Here’s a look at this area with Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie and their new backdrop:
I love how there are individual backdrops for each character (in our PhotoPass photos, that’s all that’s visible) but it all comes together in a singular design. I’m also a fan of the art style, color choices, and specific details chosen.
The balloons from the Land pavilion are my personal favorite touch, but there’s a lot to like here. The detail and how the backdrops connect to the floor suggest to me this will be in use for more than just a few weeks. Perhaps I’m getting a bit too excited about the mural (I could normally take or leave the vast majority of character meet & greets), but I think this is awesome.
This Character Spot is in the same building as the Joy & Sadness and Baymax Character Spot, albeit through a separate entrance around the corner as you head towards the Land pavilion.
Previously, the ‘main’ Character Spot was across the Innoventions Breezeway from the Joy & Sadness and Baymax location.
Once these twin Character Spot locations close, Minnie Mouse will move into the World Showcase Gazebo, Mickey Mouse will appear in an all-new location in the Imagination Pavilion, and Goofy will venture out into the park to find a new home.
In terms of other meet & greets at Epcot, United Kingdom pavilion will welcome back Winnie the Pooh, who will greet guests at Christopher Robin’s bedroom. Daisy Duck will relocate to The American Adventure, while Joy will move to a “joyous new home.” No official word on Baymax or Sadness, but we’re guessing their meet & greets in Epcot will end once this half of Innoventions West closes.
We’re also guessing that this new Character Spot will close at some point in early 2020. Walt Disney World has already stated that several other locations will close this winter, but waiting until after the busy Food & Wine Festival and holiday seasons seems logical.
Moreover, debuting the new meet & greet locations during the 2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts makes sense. It gives Walt Disney World something marketable beyond the new films, and also gives Disney time to build the new character greeting spots.
Of course, this is entirely speculative on our part, and the new Character Spot could close sooner or later. If at all possible, we think Walt Disney World will hold out until 2020 to close the Innoventions West Breezeway. Assuming that the goal is to get Moana: Journey of Water and this whole Central Spine transformation project finished by 2022, it seems like early 2020 is a workable timeframe for this building’s closure.
Guessing again, we think that back in July when all of these closures were announced, Disney expected Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to significantly cannibalize Epcot’s attendance–and that definitely has not happened. Epcot has actually seen an “off-season” surge. Higher than expected attendance is obviously a good problem to have, but it somewhat restricts Walt Disney World’s options in turning Future World into an operational construction zone.
We visited this new Character Spot a couple of times earlier in the day, but the wait was too long and the area was too crowded for unobstructed photos of the backdrop, which was all that mattered to me, anyway. This entire queue was full, wrapping around out into the walkway. (The new Character Spot doesn’t have posted wait times, but I’d estimate it at over 30 minutes at that point.)
However, when we returned shortly after 8:30 pm, we found no other guests at this Character Spot (a couple of parties did line up after us–still, not bad!). We did get PhotoPass shots taken of us, but after racing around Epcot chasing a stunning sunset in the heat and humidity, yikes.
Suffice to say, we will not be sharing those. We will, however, go back to this new Character Spot on another evening when we are in *ahem* a bit more presentable condition for better photos. This backdrop is just too good to miss, and lines in the evening should be pretty much nonexistent.
There are a couple reasons no one was at this Character Spot when we returned. The first and most obvious is that Character Spot’s lines always shrink later in the day as families start leaving Epcot. That happens with virtually all meet & greets at Walt Disney World.
However, an explanation unique to this location is that it’s not on the map nor does it have a wait time in My Disney Experience, meaning it’s heavily reliant on foot traffic from guests heading to the Land and Living Seas pavilions.
That works during the day, as there are temporary signs up directing guest attention towards the building. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in your case) none of these signs are illuminated, nor is the building marquee for the meet & greet.
Below is a photo of the Character Spot at night, but it’s been heavily edited to bump up the shadows. Passing by, it simply looks like a dark building with some lights on inside. If you didn’t already know what’s there, you probably wouldn’t venture inside.
UPDATE: There have been a few common questions in the comments that I wanted to address here. First, this is temporary but there is no official closing date. This part of Innoventions West is slated for demolition (note that its counterpart is already gone from the map below!). As noted above, my guess is that this Character Spot will close in mid-January 2020, but that’s simply a guess.
Second, the location is on the map pictured below. The two ‘character hat’ symbols next to it on the map (in the same building) are for the Joy & Sadness meet & greet (they currently meet together) and Baymax. Currently, all three of these meet & greets are open from park opening until closing. None offer FastPass+.
As noted above, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge probably hasn’t been drawing people away from Epcot to the degree Disney expected. To the contrary, of the parks we’ve visited in the last couple of weeks, Epcot is the one that has felt busiest during the evening hours.
Despite the rest of Walt Disney World experiencing some slowness this month, Epcot has had some surprisingly busy nights. This is most likely locals coming out after work, and is only going to get worse as the end of IllumiNations draws nearer, Epcot Forever debuts, and the weather starts to get nicer.
If you don’t want to deal with the heavier crowds around World Showcase, heading over to this side of Future World (which was pretty much a ghost town during our evening here) is a smart idea. Heading here shortly after 8 pm still gives you time to head over to Cheese Studio for a quick, under $10 ‘grab & go’ meal before returning to Showcase Plaza to grab a planter seat for a relaxed view of the fireworks. This is all a much better way of spending your final hour in Epcot than camping out for an hour-plus for a railing location, in our estimation.
What do you think of this new Character Spot at Epcot? Are you a fan of the backdrops? Do you agree or disagree with our advice or commentary here? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!