Updated December 5, 2017
Characters are a big part of the Disneyland experience! Be sure to know how to find who you’re looking for during your visit.
Unlike WDW, Disneyland characters are often free roaming and without character attendants. Very few have official meet-n-greets.
Between this post, the Disneyland app, and well trained cast members, you should be able to meet who you’re hoping to.
Follow me to find out how.
In this article
- The Disneyland App for Characters
- Where (and How) to see A LOT of Characters All at Once
- Some Tips on How to Meet the Characters
- Ways to Minimize Your Line Time in the Parks to Meet Characters
- Who You Can Meet at the Character Meals
- The Main Characters and Where to Meet Them
- Tinker Bell
- Anna, Elsa and Olaf
- Star Wars
- Super Heroes
- Villains – My Favorite
- All The Others
- Disney Visa Meet-n-Greets
- Other Tips for Meeting Characters
The Disneyland App for Characters
The Disneyland app is an excellent way to find characters, so be sure to have that downloaded to your phone before arriving.
It’s simple to use. Go to the character option in the app. Narrow down your options by the park you’re visiting. Then, use the list or map to find who you are looking for. Click on the character for details on location and times.
Let’s walk through how to use it.
First, download the app. It looks like this:
Spend some time practicing on the app from home before your visit. Being familiar with it will help while you’re in the park.
Next, scroll at the top to where it says, “Characters”. That looks like this:
All those Mickey silhouettes note where characters are at the time you pull up this screen. So many to see! Let’s choose one. I’m going to hover over the one to the left of Dumbo. That looks like this:
Informative, yes? Let’s go a step further and click on that name. That will bring you to this:
Now you can see when she should be and when. If she were going to be located in two places, there would be a drop down arrow noting the other location with times, too.
To find her, I originally used the “map” option that shows up first when you scroll to characters. You can also find characters from a list. Click on the three lines in the bottom, right hand portion of this screen:
And, you’ll be brought to a list. It looks like this:
You can click on the characters here, too, for locations and times. See how Goofy has an arrow next to his name? As previously mentioned, that means he can be found in more than one location.
In between snack breaks and super quick naps because he couldn’t actually be in two places at once because there’s only one Goofy. Got it?
The app will also allow you to narrow down characters per park. See that flashlight looking icon to the bottom right of the screen above? Click on it and find this:
Click on the park you’re interested in and it will omit characters from the other. Click on “More Options” and find this:
Characters are rarely found at hotels, but I have seen Goofy wandering The Disneyland Hotel Lobby once or twice. And, I’ve seen Pluto at the pool at The Grand Californian Hotel. During Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, the fab five can often be found in the lobby of Paradise Pier Hotel. Can’t hurt to look!
I totally encourage you to know this app for your visit. It’s not fool proof and there are occasionally errors, but it’s an excellent resource overall for finding characters.
Where (and How) to see A LOT of Characters All at Once
Visit this post on Facebook to see exactly how all of this goes down, but essentially (during ‘normal’ days at the parks – meaning, not seasonal), you can wait in one spot – at the path parallel to the Pixie Hollow Path – around 12:10pm and see many characters walk by. They are on their way to join The Disneyland Band perform their show in front of the castle and then walk down Main to do the final show in front of the Railroad Station.
This is the path:
While The Disneyland Band sets up in front of the castle, the characters will walk down this path and then toward Snow White’s Grotto and into the Enchanted Chamber shop in the castle to wait until it’s their turn to join the show.
Here are a few walking by:
After they walk by, go set up to the left of the small Thumper statue that sits beyond the gate on the path to Snow White’s Grotto, facing the castle. From there, you’ll get to see them cross the bridge. It will look like this:
Then, move back into the hub and wait for them to walk by on their way down Main Street before stopping finally at the Main Street Railroad Station for their show. You’ll see them walk by like in this photo. Join them. It’s fun!
***At no point can any of these characters stop to take selfies, photos, or sign autograph books. They’re en route to perform. But, very few people know to set up in these spots for an up close view. Enjoy it. 🙂
Some Tips on How to Meet the Characters
- Try to relax. Remember, without telling your children, that there are people inside the costumes. I try to be gracious and silly and make them as comfortable as they’re trying to make me.
- With children, bring an autograph book. This gives the child some time to take in exactly what is going on. Even 30 seconds – while the character signs his or her book – will give him or her some time to breathe and realize that a real life chipmunk or mouse is standing inches away, ready to hug and take photos. The autograph book can be a great buffer.
- For children with special needs or cognitive disabilities, check out a previous post I wrote for advice on your park experience in general, with details on character interactions.
- Be silly and have fun. You’re never going to see these people again. Enjoy it.
Ways to Minimize Your Line Time in the Parks to Meet Characters
- If your budget allows, I highly recommend a character meal. This will allow you one-on-one time with the characters with almost no wait time, a more personal interaction and better photos. This will also allow you to cross all of the characters from your character meal from your list and that will allow you more time in the parks for attractions, shows and other characters.
- The best character meals for traditional characters are Minnie and Friends Breakfast in the Park at Disneyland (Minnie, Eeyore, Hook, etc) and Surfs Up! at PCH Grill Breakfast at the Paradise Pier Hotel (Mickey, Minnie and Stitch, etc). *****Characters are never guaranteed, but these are consistent from what I have seen.
Who You Can Meet at the Character Meals
Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel: Pluto, Chip n Dale, Goofy, and Minnie. See more from our visit, too.
Surf’s Up! at the PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier Hotel: Mickey, Minnie, Stitch, Pluto and Daisy. See more.
Minnie’s Breakfast in the Park at Disneyland: Chip n Dale, Minnie, Hook, Tigger, Eeyore, Fairy Godmother, Winnie the Pooh, and Rafiki. (By far the most I’ve seen at a character meal – and they have GREAT interaction.) See more.
Chip n Dale’s Critter Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel: Brother Bears (Kenai or Koda), Pluto, Chip n Dale, Meeko, and Brer Fox. See more. *****Note: this is the only character meal that is not included in the PhotoPass+ program.
Ariel’s Grotto Breakfast in California Adventure: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella and Aurora. See more. (This meal will go on hiatus early 2018. I’ll update asap with any temporary option if Disney provides one.)
***Again, characters are never guaranteed at these experiences, but these are the ones most people (and I) encounter.
The Main Characters and Where to Meet Them
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto can almost always be found at the Town Square, which is the space between the Disneyland Railroad Station and Main Street. The lines are long during busy times. Be prepared. And, often, the line will end because characters need a break (or need to switch with others ready to fill spots). If a cast member tells you that the line has ended, he or she should give you a time to return to see that character again – which is usually within a 15 minute time frame, so position yourself nearby and be ready to be first in line when that character reappears.
The fab five can also be found in California Adventure on Buena Vista Street, along with Chip n Dale. They’re often in less classic clothing – including more “dapper” wear and Minnie is often in her “flapper girl” dress.
Cast Members who know characters – and who want to help you with characters – wear buttons detailing such. Look for them and ask questions when needed. Try and locate someone wearing the button in the image to the right. They are the character experts.
Occasionally, you’ll see Daisy Duck, Chip n Dale, Pinocchio (rarely) and others in Town Square. Don’t count on seeing them there, but jump in line if you do.
For Mickey Mouse and possibly Minnie Mouse, visit Toontown for an easy meet-n-greet. Minnie isn’t always seeing guests, but Mickey is. Tour his house and then wait at the back for the special “backstage” experience. It’s nice to stand in line inside and in air-conditioning, rather than on Main Street in the sun.
Princesses can be found at the Fantasy Faire Meet-n-Greet. Check my princess post for full details on everything princessy and how you can make the most out of your visit. Princesses vary throughout the day at the meet-n-greet, so be ready for some change, but they’re all wonderful experiences.
If you are princess focused and want to skip the rest of the park to go straight there, follow this map:
I have also seen many princesses roaming the parks on their own. If you are WDW vet, this will be unusual for you. But, at Disneyland, princesses often handle their meet-n-greets solo. I’ve seen Aurora near Dumbo and also near Snow White’s Grotto. I’ve seen Snow White near the Disneyland Railroad Station, to the right, if you’re looking at the station, close to a souvenir kiosk. Snow White also seems to wander the front of the park, too.
Aurora can often be found near Snow White’s Grotto and Wishing Well, plus behind Dumbo in Disneyland.
Belle is harder to find. She makes fewer appearances, it seems, and causes quite a fuss when she does, so get in line quickly if you see her. She’s typically in front of the Flower Mickey at Disneyland. Belle, Rapunzel and Merida can be seen randomly under the umbrella near where you meet the princesses at Fantasy Faire, too.
Cinderella is very poised and polite, yet, she gets down to business. If your child is lucky enough for her to take his or her hand, follow them. She’ll be setting up for a photo op or she’ll be leaving the immediate area – regardless – it’s a rare privilege to walk through the park with a real live princess. This happens in Disneyland. She’s often in front of the Flower Mickey.
Ariel makes appearances in the front of the park, too, near the flower Mickey in Disneyland. She’s not out often and her timing is short, but if you see her, jump in line. She’s darling and makes for great photo ops.
Tiana can most often be found in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and is sometimes on the Mark Twain Riverboat.
Merida is seen with Rapunzel, typically outside Fantasy Faire, under an umbrella. She trades out with Rapunzel to see guests before they go into the Fantasy Faire official meet-n-greet.
Moana can be found to the left of the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, near Aladdin’s Oasis. If she’s not on the app and you cannot locate her, ask a cast member where to find her.
Mulan is a rare character to see. But, if she’s out, she’s most commonly near the Flower Mickey at the front of the park in Disneyland.
Pocahontas is a rarity, but has been seen in the parks more and more, as of fall 2017. She’s typically in Frontierland.
Rapunzel can be found walking through Fantasy Faire in Disneyland sometimes. She often sets up near the line to see the other princesses, under the umbrella, as I described Merida, above. They switch out spots to greet children before the actual meet-n-greet. And, randomly, you can see Flynn Rider with her after the Tangled Show in the Fantasy Faire Theatre.
Snow White can be found near the Disneyland Railroad Station, to the right, if you’re looking at the station, close to the souvenir kiosk. She also walks around the Flower Mickey.
Jasmine can be found with Aladdin and the Genie near Aladdin’s Oasis in Adventureland in Disneyland. She’s sometimes spotted with the same entourage under the umbrella near Fantasy Faire.
Elena of Avalor is back at DCA where she started in Paradise Gardens in Paradise Pier! She is on the app, again, too. To find her, walk down Paradise Pier past Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, past Goofy’s Sky School and into the restaurant courtyard in front of Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. She’s in a gazebo at the end, on your right, just before the restrooms.
***Fairy Godmother often roams Fantasyland.
Tinker Bell (currently with or without “friends of Tinker Bell”) can be found at Pixie Hollow, which is to the right of the castle, just before you arrive at it. If you’re facing the castle, look to the right, find the fountain and walk over to see it. It’s en route to the Matterhorn. This line gets busy fast and the interactions take a bit, so be ready to commit some time to this encounter.
Anna, Elsa and Olaf
Check out my post on Frozen for all things Frozen. (That was redundant on purpose.) Essentially, Anna and Elsa can be found in Animation Academy on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood Land. Olaf is typically seen outside of Stage 17, to the right of it. To find this building, head toward Monster’s Inc in Hollywood Land and look to the left of that attraction.
Definitely check out this post for all things Star Wars, including character meet-n-greets.
Super Heroes can be found at California Adventure in Hollywood Land.
Here is what the set up looks like at DCA:
Get in line before they arrive and see both Captain America and Spider-Man, one after the other.
Don’t be scared to act like a fool.
Spider-Man is super chatty. They both sign autographs, too.
Villains – My Favorite
So, Halloween Time will bring an entirely different set of villains, so for now, I’m concentrating on what you can see on a daily basis via the parks.
The two main villains that can be found at Disneyland are The Evil Queen (all hail) and Cruella de Vil. Note: Both characters STAY IN CHARACTER, so if you have a timid child, do not pursue this option. I’ve heard the following from these two:
The Evil Queen:
“No smiling, children. Stop it.” (she will not allow smiling in her photos)
“Who is Elsa? You’re wearing the wrong shirt.” (to a sweet, unsuspecting child approaching her)
Cruella De Vil:
“Oh, that rat would make a lovely rug.” (to my daughter, holding her stuffed animal – Cruella took it from her)
“I don’t have time for you.”
Both are amazing and entertaining, but not for everyone. You have been warned.
Both can also be found only in Disneyland and Cruella rarely stops moving. You have to track her down to stop her to take a photo. The Evil Queen, instead, will stand there disgusted with everyone in line. I love that about her. She once told me I looked like a sparkly rodent.
All The Others
Some of these are my favorites, so please don’t be offended with the title of this section. There are simply too many to categorize. I’m going to go in alphabetical order.
***I mention “wandering characters” in some descriptions below. This notes when a character doesn’t actually stop and allow guests to line up. Instead, he or she wanders, allowing guests to catch a glimpse and snap a photo. These guests are super popular and simply couldn’t handle the lines they would attract.
Aladdin, The Genie and Jasmine (my husband’s shameless crush) are typically near Aladdin’s Oasis in Adventureland in Disneyland. Since Moana recently crashed their party there, they’ve been spotted outside Fantasy Faire.
Alice in Wonderland is part of the 10am-ish band celebration at the front of Disneyland and also can be found at the Coca Cola Corner with the Mad Hatter and other friends playing musical chairs around 2pm every day. Early mornings often take her and the Mad Hatter into the small picnic peninsula just behind Edelweiss Snacks, which faces the Matterhorn in Fantasyland. I see them there a lot having tea parties with guests. This provides the most delightful photo op. Alice also walks the park quite a bit.
The Beast is a rarely seen wandering character. He can sometimes be found wandering Fantasyland with Belle. He also dances with Belle in front of the castle on occasion.
Bert and Mary Poppins wander the park often and also frequent the Jolly Holiday Bakery (obviously) in Disneyland. They’re lovely. Bert is my unofficial boyfriend. But, we keep that on the down low. (Character integrity – you understand.)
Citizens of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure are quickly become some of my favorites. They include Officer Blue, Millie or Molly the Messenger, Donna the Dog Lady, and Phiphi the Photographer. Stop and chat with any of these guys while you’re on Buena Vista Street. They are so much fun.
Buzz Lightyear can most often be found at Paradise Pier in California Adventure (after 10am – if not later). Occasionally, you can see him in Tomorrowland in Disneyland, too.
Captain Hook loves to roam. I’ve seen him throughout Fantasyland in Disneyland mostly. He seems to always be looking for Peter Pan for a rumble.
Chewbacca can be seen at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland in Disneyland.
Chip ‘n Dale are typically easy to find. They’re on Main Street and Town Square in Disneyland and in California Adventure on Buena Vista Street. I LOVE them. They’re so silly! If they’re both available for a photo, ask them to do a “kissy” picture. They’ll each kiss you on the cheek.
Clarabelle joined us during Festival of Holidays in 2017. She’s in DCA at the front of the path that goes through the festival, near Carthay Circle.
Country Bears come out for the Festival of Holidays. Shaker and crew are set up near Grizzly Peak’s water wheel, closer to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. They are complete fools and I love them.
Daisy Duck can often be found in Town Square in Disneyland, but occasionally in Toontown, too. She can also be found near Carthay Circle Restaurant in California Adventure.
Darth Vader walks through Tomorrowland in Disneyland randomly. He’s also sharing space with Kylo Ren in the Star Wars Launch Bay. He scares me.
Doc McStuffins can be found with other Disney Jr friends near the theatre on Hollywood Blvd in California Adventure.
Eeyore, one of my favorites, can be found in Critter Country in Disneyland with Tigger and Pooh. I love him.
Evil Stepmother and Daughters are rarely out to meet guests, but they’re easily seen in the Christmas Fantasy Parade during Holidays at Disneyland.
Fairy Godmother is most often seen in Fantasyland, near Snow White’s Grotto or behind the castle – all in Disneyland. Occasionally, she will have Suzy and Perla with her.
Farley the Fiddler is now near the Pioneer Mercantile at the front of Frontierland.
Flik can be found wandering Bugs Land (naturally) in California Adventure.
Flynn Rider occasionally hangs out in Fantasyland with Rapunzel under the umbrella in the middle of Fantasy Faire.
Gaston is a wandering character, marching through Fantasyland, reminding people how good looking he is. Take a photo quickly if you see him because he has other people to find and impress.
Geppetto is rare, but I’ve seen him walking around Fantasyland.
Jack Skellington and Sally can most often be found near the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland between September and January. It’s rare to see them during other months.
Jack Sparrow is rare. He appears when new Pirates movies come out. Find him around the attraction and into New Orleans Square.
Jake from the Neverland Pirates sometimes hangs out on Hollywood Blvd (that sounds wrong) in Hollywood Land in California Adventure.
Jessie can be found at Paradise Pier in California Adventure with Woody.
Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde can be found near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Paradise Pier.
Kylo Ren is currently horrifying guests in the Star Wars Launch Bay in Disneyland. He terrifies me.
Lightning McQueen, Red and Mater can all be found in Cars Land in front of the Cozy Cone Motel in California Adventure. Red can also be found by walking down the road into Cars Land and taking a left before it ends. Walk towards Bugs Land and you could find him on the left sometimes.
Loki arrived in Hollywood Land in DCA late 2017. He can often be found with Thor, wandering.
Mad Hatter is usually in so many places, you won’t even know where to look. He follows the traditional Disneyland Band at the beginning of the morning and he can also be seen with Alice at the Coca Cola Corner around 2pm for musical chairs and other mischief.
Oswald is usually very easy to find at the entrance of California Adventure, to the left as you walk in, not far from the store that shares his name. Sometimes, he’s on the opposite side of the path near the entrance. However, you will almost always see him at the front of the park. Why? As you walk down Buena Vista Street, you’re following a timeline, which starts at the front of the park, where Walt Disney arrived on Buena Vista Street. You’ll finish the timeline as you walk further into the park, near Carthay Circle. As you get closer to Carthay Circle, you’ll find Mickey Mouse. Since Oswald and Mickey existed in different times, they’re never seen together. Oswald is at the front. Mickey is further in.
Peter Pan loves to float around Fantasyland – often near Snow White’s Grotto, in Disneyland. He’s so friendly and approachable.
Pinocchio is a rare treat! I’ve seen him at both Town Square and in Fantasyland in Disneyland.
Queen of Hearts mostly comes out during Halloween, but I’ve seen her randomly terrorizing people throughout the year. Hold onto your spouse if you see her. She once pushed me out of the photo so that she could get closer to my cute husband.
Sofia the First can be located with Doc Mc Stuffins and Jake on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood Land in California Adventure.
Stitch is rarely seen in the parks. I’ve only ever seen Stitch at the Surf’s Up! Breakfast at Paradise Pier Hotel. He can be seen in the Mickey and the Magical Map show in Disneyland, but isn’t available to meet guests there. Find him at the Disney Visa meet-n-greet, too. (More on that, below.)
Storm Troopers often wander Tomorrowland in Disneyland scaring me because I was terrified of them as a child.
Sully can sometimes be found outside the Monsters Ride in DCA. Totally random, though.
Thor wanders Hollywood Land in DCA.
Three Caballeros arrive each year during the Festival of Holidays and can be seen in DCA in the Paradise Gardens section at the back of the park. Walk down Paradise Pier, pass Goofy’s Sky School, and enter the garden area to find them on your right.
Tigger can be found with other Hundred Acre Woods friends in Critter Country in Disneyland. He’ll be with Pooh, Rabbit and/or Eeyore.
Tinker Bell can be found in the Pixie Hollow meet-n-greet in Disneyland, to the right of the castle, en route to Tomorrowland.
Winnie the Pooh can be found with Eeyore and Tigger in Critter Country in Disneyland.
Woody can be found in Paradise Pier in California Adventure. He’s often seen with Jessie and Buzz Lightyear.
Disney Visa Meet-n-Greets
For the Disney Visa meet-n-greets, know the following general schedule:
DCA hosts Minnie, Stitch, OR Daisy from 10:30am-1:30pm in Hollywood Land. This is for Disney Visa Credit and Debit Card holders.
Disneyland hosts Darth Vader or Kylo Ren in the Star Wars Launch Bay at 4:30pm. This is for Disney Visa Credit Card holders ONLY.
Valid ID is required for both events.
Both events allow up to 6 people per card.
More information from Disney here.
Other Tips for Meeting Characters
Don’t be scared to act silly. Have fun. You’re on vacation!
Characters love to interact and if you give them something to do, they’ll appreciate it. Sword fight (pretend, please) with Captain Hook. Ask Chip ‘n Dale to kiss each of your cheeks. Act evil like any villain you encounter. Call them on their game. They’ll appreciate it very much.
I’ve spent some time with characters and have learned their “signature poses” or I have created my own. Take a look. Don’t be scared to ask characters what they prefer and how to pose like them. This is a great way to break the ice if you’re nervous meeting a character.
Some of My Own Character Interactions and Ideas for Yours:
Not much to do with Anna and Elsa except to just try to fit in. I love them:
Selfies – of any kind – are encouraged. Especially with scary Star Wars type people. I see you, smiler in the background.
LOVE the elves at Christmas time. Find them tending to Santa in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in DCA. More on this in my holiday post.
Impromptu visit behind the castle. What a treat.
At Chip n Dale’s Critter Breakfast in Storyteller’s Cafe at the Grand Californian.
Olaf! I couldn’t stop laughing because he kept pointing his carrot nose at my phone when I asked to take a selfie.
Minnie’s Breakfast in the Park – absolutely my favorite.
If Cinderella grabs your daughter’s hand? Drop everything – except your camera – and follow. It’s pure magic.
Be creative. My sister randomly posed for this photo upon Hook’s arrival in the room. It’s now one of my favorites.
Back to Storyteller’s Cafe – We can’t say enough good about this experience.
From Minnie’s Breakfast:
With Dapper Mickey on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure.
Seasonal characters show up at Disneyland sometimes. This was during the springtime, 2015.
Don’t limit yourself to just Disney characters. I miss the goats. 🙁
And, if you meet Bert – THIS BERT – try to remain composed. Please try and do better than I did. He is 100% perfection and I was a giggly school girl during this photo. Just look at him.
If you encounter a snow monster, protect the young.
And, if you are star struck. Be star struck. Pinocchio is so rarely seen. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Let your husband sit with Jasmine. Just let it go, as Elsa says.
And, always – ALWAYS – be ready for the first encounter with Mickey Mouse. There is truly nothing like it, friends.