Heigh ho! We have some hoppin' news! As of April 18, 2022, traditional Disney character meet and greets have started to return! No matter how old you are, you'll never get tired of hugging your favorite Disney characters in the parks. The trick is knowing where to find them, especially since things can change rapidly at Disneyland. We don't expect all character interactions to change overnight, but we do have Lily here telling us which characters she can't wait to squeeze next!
We frogs have jumped back into the parks to do "research" on meeting characters at Disneyland. So be sure to hop back for more updates and fresh hug pics coming soon!
The great thing about Disneyland is that characters unexpectedly appear, and that is pure Disney magic. They do, 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! We'll go over the places you should look when meeting characters at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure so you do not miss out.
Be sure to 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! If you hang out in the stretch between Pixie Hollow and "It's a small world," you'll run into all kinds of characters from princesses to pirates to Alice and The Mad Hatter, villains and so many more! We recently caught Mary Poppins and the Pearly Band riding by on King Arthur Carrousel. We love seeing a ton of characters in the Mickey and Friends Cavalcade. Our post on how to spot unscheduled Disneyland character cavalcades & performances will help you find more of those frogciting character appearances.
If you like to plan your character visits, you can once again view general times and locations in the Disneyland app. You can go to the teardrop on the bottom of the app screen to pull up the park map, and at the top pull-down menu, select "Characters." The Mickey icons on the map will show you character locations. You can tap them to see who is there and the time range! This does not cover all the characters and their locations, but it's a good start! You can type "meet" into the app and it will pull up some popular character groups you can meet.
On the other hand, you may be able to search for some specific characters such as Miguel from "Coco" or Raya from "Raya and the Last Dragon." Some days you can. Some days you can't. The app is always changing, and we expect it to evolve over time. Keep in mind that cast members will close the lines when they get too long and the character needs to take a break, but they will usually let you know a good time to come back. Some lines, such as for meeting Mirabel, fill quickly when they reopen, so you might have to be patient and strategize.
Unlike at Disney World, you cannot use Genie+ to skip the lines to meet characters. You'll have to hop in line or ask a traveling character for a photo. The lines to meet characters at Disneyland are, for the most, part much shorter that at Disney World.
Our Guide to Meeting Characters at Disneyland
We frogs love the unexpected. It's what makes Disneyland so magical to us! Disneyland has the general areas that you can expect to meet certain characters. And then there are those surprise moments when you find yourself walking next to a character in Fantasyland or see them playing with guests in new ways.
Some of the newer characters out and about. You can hop by Rancho del Zocolo in Frontierland. There you can meet Mirabel from "Encanto" or Miguel from "Coco."
Disney California Adventure Park
At Disney California Adventure, look for characters at:
- Carthay Circle and the surrounding area of Buena Vista Street — You never know who might show up here, from Mickey and Minnie (and pals), to Anna and Elsa, to Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is near the park entrance and exit.
- Pixar Pier Bandshell
- Toy Story Characters in front of Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Incredibles across from to the Incredicoaster entrance
- Cars Land — Lightning McQueen, Mater and Red brake for photos along Route 66.
- If you see some pots and pans on a cast member pathway to the Grand Californian, look for one of the Country Bears.
- At Pacific Wharf, watch Goofy and Max humorously fish off a balcony or wander amongst the guests.
- 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!
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!
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. Avoid times around character cavalcades or parades, since the characters are in the performances instead of being out and about meeting guests.
Another area these Disneyland characters frequent is Toontown. Toontown, however, is closed for refurbishment until some point in 2023. While Toontown is under refurbishment, Mickey and his pals have moved to the raised area in front "it's a small world" in the morning and afternoon. Look for them there for hugs and high fives!
When Toontown is open, 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. Keep an eye out for Horace Horsecollar or Clarabelle Cow along the street in doorways and other characters on the covered sidewalk to the right of Carthay Circle. 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. But you might run into Chip 'n' Dale (and Raya) at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Summon Star Wars Characters
You can meet Star Wars characters in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. But sometimes they also appear in Tomorrowland. Darth Vader is back in Tomorrowland (for a limited time). Captain Phasma and the Stormtroopers are on patrol in Tomorrowland for a limited time as well. But the rest of them are in Batuu. All guests can meet Darth Vader, but if you want free PhotoPass Photos, either have Genie+ or show a Disney Visa card. His hours are in the Disneyland app, but in the afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m. the meet and greet may be limited to just Disney Visa card holders.
Stormtroopers regularly 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.
New Star Wars characters have entered the land. Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand have recently joined the land. You can find them in the Marketplace or Boba Fett near the speeder garage, Droid Depot, or First Order Cargo. You may have to look up high to locate him. Sometimes he stays on the move. The Mandalorian and Grogu were announced as coming soon.
Pose with Super Heroes
You’ll find Captain America, Spider-Man and other 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
But you might also catch new characters from movies and Disney+ shows. Characters who have dropped by include:
- America Chavez
- The Eternals
- Hawkeye and Kate Bishop
- The Scarlet Witch
- Moon Knight (Steven and Marc in their suits)
- Shang Chi
- Ms. Marvel
You never know who you might see. During the Oogie Boogie Bash, Agatha was out.
Now that you can get get close enough to pose with characters, it's a lot more fun to interact with them. We saw Loki take someone by the arm and walk off with them! Avengers Campus was built on the former A Bug's Land, so sometimes Ant-Man carries around a miniaturized Bug's Land to show us that it's still there. The characters are now all over the land, so you never know where you might spot them.
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 but with reduced hours for now. Look up, "Meet princesses at Royal Hall" in the Disneyland app for the hours.
We have encountered 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, but their meeting area in the Animation Building is temporarily closed. Other princesses do make special appearances at Disney California Adventure during certain holidays. Mulan visits guests with Mushu during Lunar New Year and Elena sometimes 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 Tinker Bell’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. If more than one character is out, you get multiple character interactions by waiting in one line.
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." Fantasyland has the most wandering characters. You never know who you'll see. The parade route from "it's a small world" to Pixie Hollow is a popular spot to find them, but they can show up anywhere in Fantasyland!
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 all 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 certain 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. But we also spent some time with Bert there as 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.
- Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps greet fans in Disney California Adventure. They hop around to the right of The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure.
- Moana of Motunui used to welcome voyagers in Adventureland near the exit of Tarzan's Treehouse. But construction for a new experience has sent Moana traveling around the park.
- 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 or Fantasy Faire. 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? When characters return to this experience, you can once again 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. Keep checking to see if characters have returned to these locations, though. Last time we visited, we did not get to meet live characters. Instead we got Magic Shots of characters.
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. In 2021, Mirabel was there too!
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.
A really fun way to interact with characters is at the dance parties in Tomorrowland between 7 and 11 p.m. The latest party is out of this world — Stitch's Interplanetary Beach Party Blast. Learn new dance moves from Stitch, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar or others, along with an energetic DJ to keep the party going.
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,” or the cast member at the end of the closed line. They might be able to help you, or may even consult the Toon Finder to find out when and where you can meet them. They may offer tips for when to hop in line for a really popular character.
The Disneyland Park app can tell you where to find characters, but it is not always reliable since so many characters move. It's also more generalized at the moment, offering a broad range of times and general locations the character may be out rather than specific windows and spots. 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 Mickey, 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. You can also go with your child and hold them to help make them feel secure. 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. Eating a delicious and letting the characters come to you is a smart use of your time.
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!
Related: Disneyland Character Dining