No matter how old you are, you never get tired of meeting your favorite Disney characters in the parks. The trick is knowing where to find them, especially now that things are a little different at Disneyland. Everything we know about meeting characters at Disneyland has changed ... and dare we say for the better in some cases?! We had so much fun watching the characters during Disneyland's reopening and getting to chat with them or watch them interacting with each other.
Even before the theme park closure in March 2020, characters would unexpectedly appear, and that was pure Disney magic. They did, however, tend to frequent their favorite spots in the parks. If you know where characters might be, you can increase the likelihood of meeting your favorite Disneyland characters on your next trip! Even with physical distancing measures in place, you can still have a ton of fun with your favorite Disney pals during the Disneyland reopening period. We'll go over the places you should look when meeting characters at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure so you do not miss out.
That being, said, keep an eye out for characters at Disneyland at all times. We are still being surprised by characters when we least expect to see them! Catching Stitch in Tomorrowland was a rare treat.
Our Guide to Meeting Characters at Disneyland Right Now
We frogs love the unexpected. It's what makes Disneyland so magical to us! That's the bright side of heading back to the Happiest Place on Earth. We've been delighted by seeing the characters in new areas and doing things we've never seen them do before. We hope that some of these new character experiences stick around — they are so much fun!
Of course, traditional meet and greets are off the table for now. All interactions will be from a safe distance. You can wave and even talk to the characters, but you cannot get close enough to hug or touch. But we still had fun talking to characters and seeing several characters at once. We also experienced characters interacting with other characters from different stories, and that was pretty special. Alice got into a whole discussion about tea with Tigger. Evidently, his tea had a lot of caffeine as he was bouncing around!
The new way of viewing characters avoids long lines. It also allows more people to interact with them than just the people in line. For a family on the go, getting to see characters without having to wait made our day! Here's what we know so far about getting your character fix at Disneyland.
Keep an eye out for characters in these locations:
- Main Street, U.S.A. Railroad Station — Look for Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip 'n' Dale or Pluto greeting guests as they enter and exit the park.
- Mickey's Toontown — Wave at characters outside of their homes (or their friends' homes or the town gazebo).
- Royal Theatre in Fantasyland — Give a royal wave to princesses such as Mulan, Belle, Anna, Elsa, Cinderella, Aurora or other princesses. You can chat with them and take pictures.
- Fantasy Faire Balcony — We caught up with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider on and near the balcony. But you never know who might pop up, such as Anna and Elsa (or even the Evil Queen)!
- The Path to the Left of the Castle — This is Lily's favorite location to spot her favorite princesses. The outside path allows you to get fairly close and enjoy engaging in conversation with chatty princesses.
- New Orleans Square Balconies — Keep an eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow, Redd or Tiana.
- Rancho del Zocolo in Frontierland — Catch intermittent appearances by Miguel from Disney and Pixar’s “Coco." He delights people in line as they wait for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is not the Miguel puppet but the real character Miguel!
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge — Rey, Chewbacca and Vi Moradi can be spotted above or in the speeder garage at Black Spire Station. Watch out for Stormtroopers, along with Kylo Ren, patrolling the platform in front of the TIE Echelon starfighter. You may even catch Chewie repairing the Millennium Falcon!
- The raised area in front of "it's a small world" is the place to chat with Alice, Mary Poppins and Bert, or blow kisses to Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. Be sure to say "hi" as you pass by.
- In Tomorrowland, look to the railing above Star Wars Launch Bay as you walk to Autopia. You might catch a character there.
Disney California Adventure Park
Look for characters at:
- Carthay Circle — You never know who might show up here, from Mickey and Pluto (and pals), to Anna and Elsa, to other Disney princesses, to rare characters such as Dopey with Snow White or Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar.
- Pixar Pier Bandshell
- Next to the Incredicoaster. We got to have Mrs. Incredible help count us off when we rode the Incredicoaster. Toadally cool!
- Stage of the Disney Theater in Hollywood Land — Disney Junior stars, from Vampirina to Doc McStuffins, may say hello from the stage.
- Cars Land — Lightning McQueen, Mater and Red brake for photos along Route 66.
- Along the path of Grizzly Peak, watch Chip 'n' Dale have a picnic.
- If you see some pots and pans on a cast member pathway to the Grand Californian, look for one of the Country Bears.
- Paradise Gardens — Meet the Miguel puppet or catch up with other Disney friends at the stage.
- Avengers Campus — Meet Super Heroes such as Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Loki, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, The Wasp and others as they strike heroic poses. Catch shows with Spider-Man, the Dora Milaje and Doctor Strange. See the Super Heroes jump into action and leap from the rooftops!
- At Pacific Wharf, watch Goofy and Max humorously fish off a balcony.
This is not a complete list of places for meeting characters at Disneyland at this time, since every day is filled with new surprises. As we mentioned, expect the unexpected. Pay attention, because characters could pop up anywhere!
During the Disneyland reopening, we watched Chip 'n' Dale make mischief on Donald's boat. We do not know if they had permission to board.
So, how can you interact with characters from afar? With many of them you can talk. Be sure to ask questions. There's waving, of course, but you can also try out gestures (such as drawing a heart or blowing a kiss), interacting with small props or even DisneyBounding. You can have verbal conversations with princesses, some villains, Super Heroes and pirates. While it's not quite the same as a hug, we've had toadally magical interactions with characters from a safe distance and we love it! We'll continue to update this guide as we know more and discover more characters.
Our Guide to Meeting Your Favorite Disneyland Characters During a More Normal Time
Obviously, we look forward to a time when Disneyland returns to normal operations. While we have no crystal ball to look into the future, we often make our best guesses by studying the past at Disneyland. The next section is our trusty guide for meeting characters at Disneyland when there are no restrictions and physical distancing rules in place. Maybe some of these meet and greets return, and maybe new and better ways to meet or interact with characters come out of this experience. Here's a look at what character interactions looked like when we could give hugs and high fives.
Meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto
If you are going all the way to Disneyland, you can’t get by without meeting the big cheese himself: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! Mickey and his friends Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Chip 'n' Dale are often at the top of everyone’s must-see list. You can find these classic characters at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.
In Disneyland Park, most of them are almost always near the entrance to the park. After you walk through the tunnels, you can find them in the middle of the circle in front of the train station, by City Hall, near the Mad Hatter and in front of other stores and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The morning and early afternoon are popular times to find them here greeting all the guests coming into the park.
Another area these Disneyland characters frequent is Toontown. Mickey and Minnie greet guests and pose for pictures in their houses, and their friends are often out and about on the streets of Toontown. Keep your ears open! When you hear clock sounds and music, a new character may be arriving. You'll see them emerge from a doorway in Toontown City Hall. Follow them to their meeting spot for the shortest wait.
At California Adventure Park, you can meet these same classic characters on Buena Vista Street. They'll be dressed in vintage wear. Pluto is sometimes near the airplane by Soarin'. At times, we have run into Oswald the Lucky Rabbit near the park entrance. When he's out, he's usually the first or last character you see when you either come in or exit the park.
Summon Star Wars Characters
You can meet Star Wars characters in both Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and in Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland. Chewbacca and Darth Vader (and sometimes Boba Fett) see guests at Star Wars Launch Bay.
Stormtroopers patrol all of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Sometimes Supreme Leader Kylo Ren joins them. They will decide if they want to stop and talk to citizens (unlike other characters in the park who can’t wait for guests to visit them). There is no official line or location or greet for the characters in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. This is their world and they have things to do. You can hop over to our guide to the roaming characters of Galaxy's Edge for more details on where to meet Chewbacca, Rey, Vi Morada the spy, R2-D2, stormtroopers and Kylo Ren. If you want the warm and fuzzy meet and greet, look for Chewbacca. He's always good for a hug! The First Order characters are bit more intimidating but can also be hilariously rude.
Pose with Super Heroes
You’ll find Captain America, Spider-Man and other Marvel Super Heroes in Disney California Adventure. Hop over to our super guide to Avengers Campus to learn where to meet the following Avengers:
- Members of the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gamora and Groot)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp
- Thor and Loki
- Doctor Strange
- Iron Man
- Captain America
- Captain Marvel
- Black Widow
- Black Panther and his Dora Milaje, including General Okoye
Meet the Princesses
Lily recently shared how to meet the Disneyland princesses (and even some of their friends, such as Flynn Rider). You can find all that detailed information in her tips for meeting princesses at Disneyland. Most Princesses stay in Disneyland Park. Several can be found in or near the Royal Hall in Fantasy Faire. There are exceptions. We recently came across Pocahontas near the Rivers of America. She says she is usually off exploring with John Smith, but when she is in the area, she visits guests at Disneyland. Merida strolls around Fantasyland. You might run unto princesses near "it's a small world" or the Wishing Well. Tiana frequents New Orleans Square and the Mark Twain Riverboat.
Anna and Elsa (sometimes along with Olaf and Kristoff) are in California Adventure. Other princesses do make special appearances at Disney California Adventure during certain holidays. Mulan visits guests with Mushu during Lunar New Year and Elena greets guests during the Festival of Holidays.
Tinker Bell and her fairy friends flit about in Pixie Hollow. Beware! Captain Hook has been known to lurk about near Fantasyland. Keep an eye out for Tinkerbell’s friend, Peter Pan. He rarely stays still but is awfully fun if you do find him.
Where Are Winnie the Pooh and Friends?
You can meet Winnie the Pooh (plus Eeyore and Tigger too) after exiting Splash Mountain or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Critter Country.
Meet Pixar Pals at Pixar Pier
Throughout the day, various Pixar pals pop in to see visitors to Pixar Pier. They tend to stay in their neighborhoods.
- You might encounter Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone or Edna Mode near the entrance to the Incredicoaster.
- Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear and Bo Peep welcome friends in front of Toy Story Midway Mania!
- You might Meet Joy and Sadness, Mike Wazowski and Sulley, Russell and Dug, Ian and Barley or other Pixar Pals across from the Pixar Pal-A-Round.
Encountering Other Favorite Disney Characters
Most other Disneyland characters can be found scattered throughout the parks. Here are a few favorites you might see. The rarest and most unusual characters are often wandering about in Fantasyland. We’ve recently run into Geppetto and John Worthington Foulfellow from "Pinocchio." Here are a few favorites you might see:
- Alice and the Mad Hatter make appearances near the Tea Cups and the Alice in Wonderland ride. This duo is quite humorous, and the two love to have funny chats with guests. We've hopped by to play games with them in front of "it's a small world" or at Refreshment Corner, as well.
- Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother flits around Fantasyland near the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (inside you can be magically transformed into a princess or other Fantasyland attractions.
- Gaston and the Beast have been known to wander around Fantasyland. Gaston also frequents Fantasy Faire, always on the lookout for Belle. If you run into Gaston looking for Belle, shhh … don’t give her location away. She is usually safe inside the Royal Hall with her princess friends. Sometimes she (or Rapunzel) will greet audience members after their respective shows at the Royal Theatre. Belle also likes to wander about and has been known to hop on a horse to take a spin around the King Arthur Carrousel.
- Aladdin and Jasmine have been spied in Fantasy Faire and near the Wishing Well.
- The residents of Radiator Springs also drive out to meet people in Cars Land at California Adventure. You'll find them driving down Route 66 or parked in front of the Cozy Cone Motel.
- Sometimes Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps greet fans in Disney California Adventure. They hop around near The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure.
- Moana of Motunui welcomes voyagers in Adventureland, hidden near the exit of Tarzan's Treehouse.
- Pirates Captain Jack Sparrow and Redd may wander about New Orleans Square. We've also had a run-in with Jack at Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
- Dr. Facilier and Tiana greet guests in New Orleans near the Rivers of America.
- The Evil Queen from Snow White has been lurking about near Fantasyland, often between Pixie Hollow and Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes she's near the castle entrances. She's wonderfully wicked. Be sure to bow before greeting her!
- The Citizens of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure are hidden gems that might not be your traditional Disney characters, but they are a lot of fun, and quite chatty.
- Do you have a Chase Disney Visa card? You can meet characters at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that others cannot access. The location at Disneyland is in Star Wars Launch Bay (it's usually Darth Vader). In Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure, you can usually meet Stitch or Daisy or Pluto. It's always a surprise, and it is fun to get private time with the character.
There are always other characters popping up. Mary Poppins — the best nanny ever — sometimes appears near the castle and Pixie Hollow. You'll also find her and Bert strolling past the castle, around Main Street and through Fantasyland. They do not stop for photos, but they welcome guests to stroll along and have a chat with them! We have also caught them posing with guests near the entrance or at Refreshment Corner before it opens. Some days, they dance along with the pearly Band in front of the castle. At times, Mary and Bert will hop on the King Arthur Carrousel for a spin. They like to keep you guessing, and that is part of their magic.
There are often other characters just inside the park entrance, but you never know who you will find there. It could be a princess, a villain, a classic favorite or a surprise obscure character. It is always best to look around when entering or exiting the park to see if you can spy a special character.
You never know which Disneyland characters you are going to meet in either of the parks. The parks update character experiences all the time. Disneyland is much more spontaneous than Disney World when it comes to characters, and we've noticed a growing number of wandering characters. Disneyland is full of surprises — all the better to keep you hopping and entertained! Be sure to keep your eyes open for opportunities to meet characters. You may find them simply walking next to you!
It is fun when you come across a toadally unexpected character. You just can’t plan this type of thing, but when it happens just go with it and enjoy the magic.
Make a Plan to Find Seasonal Disneyland Characters
Some characters only make appearances during certain seasons.
Jack Skellington and Sally are some of the more popular “villains” to greet during Halloween Time, but you can also find Cruella de Vil, Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, the Evil Queen, Maleficent Dr. Faciller and others. We've met a few hitchhiking ghosts and other prominent ghosts from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Halloween Time, as well. Additional villains appear during the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween party.
During ¡Viva Navidad! in California Adventure, you may see members of the Three Caballeros, Princess Elena of Avalor or other characters.
Mulan, Mushu, Mickey, Minnie, Chip 'n' Dale celebrate Lunar New Year in California Adventure by taking photos with guests. Classic characters will also be wearing their New Year’s best during this celebration.
During the Holidays at Disneyland you can meet Santa Claus in either park. He just might be replaced with Santa Goofy after Christmas — Santa does need to rest.
More Tips for Finding Characters at Disneyland
Most characters are out (on and off—they do need to take breaks) from the park openings until late afternoon. If you are having trouble finding your favorite character, check the Disneyland app. The best sources of information about characters are the Disney cast members wearing buttons that say, “Ask Me About Characters.” They might be able to help you, or may even consult the Toon Finder to find out when and where you can meet them. The Disneyland Park app can tell you where to find characters, but it is not always reliable since so many characters move. If you see character cast members standing still and there is no character nearby, remain close. A character is on his or her way to this exact location, and you can be one of the first in line to greet them. Keep that camera and autograph book handy!
Small Children and Disneyland Characters
Sometimes meeting a character is overwhelming for toddlers and small children. Lily loved hugging some characters as a baby, and then suddenly the idea of posing for a picture with Mickey Mouse at age two made her cry. Now she is back at it, always searching for her favorite princesses. This is completely normal and very common.
If your child suddenly fears a life-size Goofy, don’t worry. A little stranger anxiety is a healthy and normal stage, and it can be very emotional meeting your favorite Disney star. The characters are much bigger in person than on TV. You will find many characters get down on the ground to greet their smallest guests eye to eye for this reason, but don’t force it if your child is afraid. Wave to the character from afar (visiting from the stroller always feels safer) and limit your character experiences to rides and parades. We promise they will grow out of it and will be happy to meet them again soon.
Another way to meet Disneyland characters either in or out of the parks is to make a reservation through Disney Dining for a character dining experience. You will be sure to meet many different characters at Disneyland this way without having to look for them or wait in lines.
No matter where your character experiences take place, they will make for hoppy special memories indeed. Have questions about meeting Disneyland characters? Share them in the comments below!