All About Characters at Disneyland and California Adventure

Updated March 26, 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.

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 super quick bathroom breaks and wardrobe changes because he couldn’t actually be in two places at once because there’s only one Goofy. Got it?

Moving on……

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. 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, 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. 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 – 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 hear.

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 and Koda, 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.

***Again, characters are never guaranteed at these experiences, but these are the ones most people 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 11201107_764951273602518_5848380841227745618_nfor them and ask questions when needed. Look for this button on cast members. They are the character experts.

Occasionally, you’ll see Daisy Duck, Chip n Dale, Pinocchio (rarely) and others around this area. 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 here inside and in air-conditioning, rather than on Main Street in the sun.

Also note: Character lines get longer as the day goes on. Get in line as soon as possible.

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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 DLR, princesses handle their meet-n-greets often 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 be found near Snow White’s Grotto and Wishing Well, plus behind Dumbo in Disneyland.

Belle is harder to find. She makes less frequent 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. She’s also now rotating sometimes after her show at the Fantasy Faire Theatre. She, Rapunzel and Merida can be seen randomly under the umbrella near where you meet the princesses.

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 quite 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 be found in New Orleans Square in Disneyland most often and sometimes on the Mark Twain Riverboat during the Rivers of America transformation.

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 Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. As of March 2017, she’s now become a “wandering” charactere and isn’t normally set up for official meet-n-greets. She often comes out in the afternoon to give dance lessons near Jungle Cruise.

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 2016. If you see her, please let me know!

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 often 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.

Elena of Avalor was previously seen at California Adventure during her Grand Arrival during Holidays at Disneyland 2016. Since then, she’s most often located with the other princesses in Fantasy Faire. She’s often the “Princess Friend” listed on the sign. Ask a cast member when you arrive at the park for the best plan to locate her for your day’s visit. If you don’t see her on the app, don’t get discouraged. She hasn’t been listed lately, but is actually in Fantasy Faire.

***Fairy Godmother often roams Fantasyland.

Tinker Bell

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 walk upon it. 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 I encourage you to go to as soon as possible during your day.

Anna, Elsa and Olaf

Check out my post on Frozen for all things Frozen. (That was redundant on purpose.) You can now see Kristoff, too! More details in this post.

Star Wars

Definitely check out this post for all things Star Wars, including character meet-n-greets.


Super Heroes

Super Heroes can be found at California Adventure in Hollywood Land. The top floor of the Star Wars Launch Bay will no longer be Super Hero HQ. Here is what the set up looks like at DCA:


Get in line before they arrive at 10am 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 the experts:

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 and 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.


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.

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 often and also can be found at the Coca Cola Corner in Disneyland with the Mad Hatter and other friends playing musical chairs around 2pm every day. She also walks the park quite a bit.

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.

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!

Daisy Duck can often be found in the Town Square in Disneyland, but also occasionally in Toontown in Disneyland. She can also be found near Carthay Circle Restaurant in California Adventure.

Darth Vader walks through Tomorrowland in Disneyland randomly.

Doc McStuffins can be found with other Disney Jr friends near that theatre on Hollywood Blvd in California Adventure.

Eeyore, one of my favorites, can be found in Critter Country in Disneyland with Tigger and Pooh.

Fairy Godmother is most often see her 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.

Jack Skellington and Sally can most often be found near the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland between September and January.

Jake from the Neverland Pirates hangs out on Hollywood Blvd (that sounds wrong) in Hollywood Land in California Adventure.

Jessie can be found in Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland and sometimes at Paradise Pier in California Adventure with Woody.

Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde can be in Hollywood Land in DCA.

Kylo Ren used to be in the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Darth Vader has replaced him recently.

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.

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.

Peter Pan  loves to float around Fantasyland – often near Snow White’s Grotto, in Disneyland.

Pinocchio is a rare treat! I’ve seen him at both Town Square and in Fantasyland in Disneyland.

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. I have heard of him making rare appearances in California Adventure. He can be seen in the Mickey and the Magical Map show in Disneyland, but isn’t available to meet guests there.

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.

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 both Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland and sometimes in Paradise Pier in California Adventure. He’s often seen with Jessie and Buzz Lightyear.

Zootopia characters – Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde – can be seen at DCA in Hollywood Land, near the super heroes, at the end of Hollywood Blvd.

Other Tips

*Don’t be scared to act silly. I’ve made a lifetime out of it, and it’s worked for me.

*Characters love to interact and if you give them something to do, they’ll appreciate it. Sword fight (pretend) 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.

*For the Disney Visa meet-n-greets, know the following general schedule: DCA hosts Minnie, Stitch, Donald OR Daisy (typically) from 10:30am-1:30pm in Hollywood Land. This is for Disney Visa Credit and Debit Card holders. Disneyland hosts Darth Vader 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.

Posing Options:

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.

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.


LOVE the elves at Christmas time. I didn’t include these in my list because they’re seasonal. But, I recommend you go to Elias and Company in California Adventure for your Santa encounter. And, definitely find Lollipop the Elf.

Loved this! Impromptu visit behind the castle.


At Chip n Dale’s Critter Breakfast at the Storyteller’s Cafe at the Grand Californian.


With Hook at Minnie’s Breakfast in the Park.

This was back when we were doing Snowfest at Frozen Fun, but you can still see Olaf and ask to take a selfie. I couldn’t stop laughing because he kept pointing his carrot nose at my phone.





Minnie’s Breakfast in the Park – absolutely my favorite.


Cinderella grabs your daughter’s hand? Drop everything – except your camera – and follow.


My baby James showed up one day. So glad to see him.


Be creative. My sister suggested this photo upon Hook’s arrival in the room. It’s now one of my favorites.




Look for characters everywhere – including Officer Blue on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. Love him.

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.

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Seasonal characters show up at Disneyland sometimes. This was during the springtime, 2015.


Don’t limit yourself to just Disney characters.


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.


Ask Chip ‘n’ Dale for a kiss photo. They pucker up and it’s so cute!


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.


Have character interactions of your own to share? Please leave a comment!

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  1. I love this post! I’m a WDW expert, but have never been and my family is going for the first time in a few months and this is SO helpful! Your whole website is! Love all the pictures with the characters!

  2. Hello Casey
    I have been wondering but am I allowed to give “gifts” to the Characters? Like I go to Storytellers cafe every time I go to Disneyland and I have always have had great times with Kenai because I always wore a bear totem necklace that I bought online. I recently bought a new one that looks better, So I want to give my old necklace to Kenai to keep. But am I allowed to do that and what do you think will happen if I do offer the necklace?

  3. Hi Casey,
    I am wondering if Belle is ever in her blue town dress? Where/when? Coming to DL in a few weeks and my daughter would love to see her dressed in blue. Thanks!

  4. We don’t have smart phones – gasp! Is there another way to get the schedule of character appearances without the Disneyland app?

  5. Thank you, Casey, for all of this helpful info! We’re 17 days and counting from our first ever DLR visit and are using your site pretty much exclusively for planning. I’ve been playing with the Disneyland app to get a sense of wait time and fast pass ‘sell out’ patterns and to plan out some character meets. The app lists the same 3 princesses as being in the royal hall all day, but you mention here that they actually rotate. Do you have a sense of how long the intervals are for those rotations? We’re aiming to squeeze in every possible princess. Thanks!

  6. Casey,

    I’m sure your great tips will come in handy at our DL visit next week. But what I really wanted to comment on was how dapper YOU look in all your photos! One cute outfit after another. Clearly, I’m going to have to reconsider my outfit choices…


  7. Thank you for this post! I am taking my girls for their first trip in May. I’m making autograph books and it’s great to know who we might see. Do you know how much room the characters need to sign? Right now I have a space about 3 in. by 5 in. Do you think that will be big enough? Thank you!

  8. What about Carl, Russell, and Doug from Up? I’ve seen them a couple of times by Grizzly River Rapids, especially when GRR is closed and when that Grizzly Air Peak section was being redone. I have also seen Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog many times by the river in front of New Orleans Square. Just thought I’d add a couple 🙂

  9. My ONLY wish for character meet-and-greet is to share a photo with Zootopia’s Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps at California Adventure. It’s one thing to know they’ll be there starting in April 2016, but whether they’re available all days. Time of day doesn’t matter to me. I’d wait all day to find them both if necessary.

    • They’re actually already in the parks since this week! In Hollywood Land, off of Hollywood Blvd, in front of the Hyperion Theatre. Use the app for locating. I’ll be there this week to find more details and update this post. Will be posting on Facebook what I find out.

  10. Hi, we were just in Disneyland at the beginning of March. Now that the mark twain riverboat is “docked” for a while, we were able to find Tiana and also Dr Facilier on board. While we just saw Tiana as we were walking by, we stopped in and talked with the voodoo man. He was fabulous!! Very well cast and certainly stayed in character to the delight of my 15 year old daughter.

  11. We just saw Pocahontas (one of my daughter’s all time favorites) today on the covered bridge between Cinderella’s castle and Frontierland. We had park hopped from DCA just so my daughter could see her in Mickie’s Magical Map. One of the cast members there mentioned she was in the park today, but hard to find. We decided to head over to the Mark Twain Riverboat to wait and see if we could find get there. Luckily, my daughter was wearing her Pocahontas outfit I made her. As we walked through the bridge, Pocahontas came around the corner and see our daughter all dressed up. She stopped completely and spent five or so minutes of unscheduled time talking to my daughter and posed for several pictures with her (happy to share!) She even signed an autograph, even though her “handler” was trying to move everyone out.

    It was totally unplanned and absolutely lucky. My husband and I were totally star struck and blown away that she stopped for our daughter and not the other way around. She was absolutely lively and friendly.

  12. My mom told me that on my first visit to Disneyland(I was about 5, so I don’t remember that well) I tripped and got some cuts all over my arms. I started to cry and, unknown to us all, Peter Pan was by us. So he heard me crying and walked over to me, knelt down, and started to pretend to cry. That got me to stop, so he stopped and offered to let me be his favorite Lost Girl if I didn’t cry anymore(and didn’t tell Wendy). He was my favorite so of course I agreed. So we took pictures and then he took me to near where Cinderall was and told me he had to go check on the Lost Boys but that he’d be back and he thought I would love it if I would spend some time with another Princess like me. I’ll never forget that day.

  13. Hi Casey

    Amazing site. We were last at the park about ten years ago and I remember that at DCA there was a roaming Beaker (from the Muppets – may not have spelt it right) on a bicycle, and he would actually talk to guests. It was amazing to watch. Has this innovation continued, are there more talking characters (apart from the ‘faces’)? I also seem to recall seeing somewhere that Mickey, Minnie etc had blinking eyes and moving mouths now, am I right?

    Also, we’ll be taking our two young boys, our youngest will spend his fifth birthday in the park and he is absolutely crazy for Mickey Mouse. We’re coming all the way from New Zealand and have been saving for a few years to make it happen for him. Do you have any tips for birthday kids, any neat extra special experiences they might get or anything to make his big day extra special?

    Thanks so much!

  14. I have a unique story! I used to be an annual passholder, and I would often go to Disneyland with my ex. One night, we went dinner with his family and they were really rude to me. My ex and I were walking towards the exit and started to fight. I sat at the bottom of the stairs of the train station crying when I looked up and saw Pinocchio dancing to cheer me up. Although the reason for that experience sucked, I now have a completely unique memory that makes me chuckle when I look back on it!

  15. This was such a great post! I’ve been to Disneyland 3 times (2007, 2011, 2012), and in about a month I’m going back for my fourth! I’ve seen both Lilo & Stitch in California Adventure 🙂

  16. Do you have any advice for taking larger groups of kiddos to meet the characters? I’m going with my 5 nieces (ages 2-5) in September (when the crowds are smaller).

    Also what do you know about Tinkerbell? Is Pixie Hollow still a thing?

    • I can’t believe I left off Tinker Bell! Will add.

      Large groups should go through the lines just as the rest of the guests. I was just behind 20 girls on a school trip and the handlers did it well. They had autographs done first and then photos. Totally do-able.

  17. Hi,
    I was wondering if you could say which princess will most likely be at the royal hall first thing in the morning! I want to go there first thing at 8:00 to avoid the lines. Last time I was there, two years ago, it was Cinderella, Ariel, and Aurora. I wonder if they usually open the park and the princess change as time goes on?

    I really want to meet Cinderella and Ariel, especially Ariel (I’ve got the cutest Ariel shirt)!!


    • It’s so hard to predict and Disney won’t guarantee any specific characters to be out. I wish I could provide you with specifics! They typically at least have 2 of the classics – Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, , etc. etc.

  18. Went to DL last June with my twin DD who were 19. We spent the majority of our time hanging around Fantasy Faire. Saw Merida multiple times and she quickly became our favorite. We learned each morning to ask the character attendant at FF which character would be at the umbrella and what time. Had some amazing interactions with Rapunzel.

  19. Ah!! Love this! My favorite character meet was Stitch at Surf’s up. We were walking in outside the hotel and he spotted us throughout the big window from inside the restaurant. He ran up to the window and started banging on it like a little kid at the zoo. So I did it right back! It was fun and silly. Inside, he played with my son’s toy cars and made them crash. And he made it perfectly clear that he did not like that I took a picture with Mickey and not him. And gave me lots of kisses too. Stich is awesome!
    We also saw Captain Hook by Casey’s Train and Ariel behind Dumbo. Not many people saw her, so the line was short.
    My son wanted to focus on rides more, so we only did impromptu characters plus the breakfast. One suggestion to people going to character meals, is to please allow time for the other kids at the table next to you. The table next to us, the kids got excited, which was understandable, but rushed to them when they were interacting with my son and it cut his time short. But Stitch made up for it.

  20. Casey,
    Do you have any idea why the locations and times for characters is “top secret” at Disneyland, yet broadcast everywhere at WDW?

    • Hi, Lisa.

      I don’t know. But, with that little frustration, we counteract it with impromptu character meetings and free roaming characters. So, there are pros and cons to both set ups.

  21. This is great! On our next trip, we want to meet as many characters as we can. Thank you!!

    We love meeting Stitch at Surfs Up! He is so playful and will spend lots of time with the kids (and adults) and we have also learned he LOVES taking selfies!!

    Chip and Dale are another favorite. My daughter talks to them about them teasing Pluto in Mickey’s Christmas tree. This always brings laughter and relaxes my daughter so she is more willing to play with them.

    We were the 2nd to last group to see Tink on our last visit. This turned out to be a great thing as Silvermist joined Tink for some pictures. We were over joyed to have 2 Pixies in 1 picture. One of the Cast members said it was a rare thing for the 2 to join together.

    We have learned, that for my daughter, bringing up things she remembers from the movies and shows helps to get her past the shyness with most characters. However with some, like Elsa and Tinker Bell, she is just star struck no matter what! Which makes for some cute pictures.

    We are looking forward to more interactions in October.

  22. Can we talk about the dress you’re wearing in your picture with Mary and Bert?! I haven’t even read this post yet because I need to tell you RIGHT NOW how awesome it is!!

  23. Always fabulous tips, Casey! I love talking to my kids before meeting characters and asking them what they might like to talk about during their meet-n-greets. This came in handy when Alice and the Mad Hatter took my daughters for a stroll and asked where they were going; my oldest didn’t miss a beat and said, “To Wonderland of course!” Priceless!

  24. Great post! My kid’s favorites are the Disney Jr. characters over by the Disney Jr. theater. This year they saw Jake, Sophia, and Doc McStuffins!