Updated May 10, 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
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?
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 for 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.
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, near Aladdin’s Oasis. As of April 17, 2017, she’s back on the app in a dedicated space to see guests.
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. 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 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 is back at DCA where she started in Paradise Gardens in Paradise Pier! She is on the app, again, too. As of 4.23.2017. 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 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! Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff are all located in the Animation Academy. More details in this post.
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. 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.
***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 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.
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.
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.
Gaston is a “wandering character”, marching through Fantasyland, reminding people how good looking he is. He’s not currently listed on the app.
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 found near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Paradise Pier.
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.
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 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.
More information from Disney here.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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!