Ariel's Grotto

Character meet and greets are a big part of what makes a trip to Walt Disney World so special, and in recent months Disney has taken it upon themselves to make a number of improvements and changes to each park's character line-up, including adding new experiences, making changes to the lineup and more. 

This month, several long-closed character experiences reopen, the newest version of Ariel is readied for her in-park debut, plus some character dining changes are on the cards for the coming weeks! 

1. Character meet-and-greets return to Pete’s Silly Sideshow, but no PhotoPass photographers

Image: Disney

After a lengthy delay, Pete's Silly Sideshow at the Magic Kingdom has reopened with all of its familiar characters, including The Great Goofini, The Astounding Donaldo, Madame Daisy Fortuna and Minnie Magnifique. Currently, there are no PhotoPass photographers inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow, but there are automated cameras that can take guest pictures and character attendants can also take photos using guest devices. This experience is now open daily at the Magic Kingdom, and guests can check the official Disney app for more on when this attraction is open. 

2. Ariel's Grotto reopens at the Magic Kingdom, also without PhotoPass photographers

Image: Disney

And speaking of reopenings, Ariel's Grotto also reopened several weeks ago, with guests now able to meet Ariel for the first time in this location in nearly three years. Guests who purchase the Genie+ add-on can also make Lightning Lane reservations for this returning experience, which is now available every day in the Magic Kingdom, right next to Ariel's Undersea Adventure in Fantasyland.

Like Pete's Silly Sideshow, there are no PhotoPass photographers inside this character meet and greet experience, and guests will need to look at a diving helmet that contains a hidden camera for their photo with Ariel if they don't want to take a photo on their cellphone or other devices. 

3. New live-action film-inspired Ariel to appear somewhere at Walt Disney World in the near future

Image: Disney

Though the animated version of Ariel is currently meeting guests daily at Ariel's Grotto, it seems like some time in the coming weeks there will be a new meet and greet introduced somewhere for the live-action version of this character.

Several days ago Disney Live Entertainment posted via its auditions page that it is seeking Disney Character Look-alikes specifically for the upcoming live-action movie, which features Halle Bailey as Ariel. No news has been posted yet about when or where guests will be able to meet this alternate version of Ariel, but we should hear more as we move closer to the live-action film's May release date. Though Ariel's Grotto may seem like an obvious place for this character to meet guests, it seems more likely that Disney will reserve that area for the version of Ariel that is there now, and will either put this other Ariel in a different park or use her in a parade or show to help promote the upcoming film. 

4. Enchanted Tales with Belle will finally be reopening at the Magic Kingdom in just a few weeks

Image: Disney

After nearly a three-year wait, Fantasyland attraction Enchanted Tales with Belle will finally reopen on February 19. This Magic Kingdom character experience allows guests to walk through Maurice's cottage, see an enchanted mirror, and then take on several "roles" in an interactive live theater experience before meeting Belle herself at the end of the experience.

Like Ariel's Grotto, Enchanted Tales With Belle will offer Lightning Lane access when it reopens for those who purchase the Genie+ upgrade, allowing Belle's biggest fans to skip the standby line and go straight to the character experience. 

Currently it is unknown if this experience will open with PhotoPass photographers, but based on the other two attractions that reopened over the past few weeks, it seems reasonable to expect at this point that some kind of concealed, automated camera will be used at this location as well. 


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