When I was a kid there was no such thing as Pixie Hollow or any of those other character meet and greet areas. Back then everything was spontaneous. You could turn the corner and run into a character. The characters didn’t even have handlers. Over time, people decided that wasn’t enough. They didn’t want a surprise. They wanted to know where and when they could see their favorite character. Thus the meet and greet areas were invented.
Hurry up everyone! We need to get to Pixie Hollow so we can wait an hour to see Tinker Bell!
How is that fun? You want me to stand in line for an hour with a bunch of grumpy kids and fanatic adults to have my picture taken with Goofy? Granted there are still a few places you might run into a character but they are rare. Most places are designated and even have a marker so you know where and when you can find someone. It’s just not the same. It really kills the moment. The only thing that is still in existence that is somewhat like the old character encounter is when a character is waiting at the end of a ride.
I understand that one of the big reasons the characters are scheduled is to aide in crowd control. More and more people are cramming into the parks and you’d have a mob if there wasn’t some kind of crowd control. I guess it’s like fast pass a necessary evil. I don’t like the idea of fast pass but without it I would have never ridden Toy Story Midway Mania and Test Track.
All considered, the meet and greet areas are a big reason why I didn’t have a single picture taken with a character on my last trip. I’d just feel like a freak waiting in a big line to get my picture taken with a character.