You stated Mickey still wanders the park. I wish this was true. When I was a kid all the characters could be seen walking around. Now you need a fast pass to see them. I don't know if they can't do this any more because the maximum number of guests have been raised over the years and that the parks are just too crowded or if disney just thinks it easier to provide a more uniform experience for every guest the way they do it now. The best way to see characters today is go to a character meal. Maybe limiting guest exposure sells more character meals.