Characters: Who, When, Where and How?
August 23, 2018
Some would argue that character meet and greets are the life-blood of Disneyland; helping to create that truly immersive atmosphere. Indeed the ability for guests to meet his most famous characters was essential to Walt’s original plan for the Park.
Over 60 years and many movies later we now have hundreds of potential characters we could meet/see at Disneyland. But how do we navigate this maze in order to tick off our character bingo cards?
Fixed Schedule Characters
Unlike Walt Disney World where a truck load of characters have “official” meet and greet time windows and locations, Disneyland and DCA consists of more characters of the wandering variety. That being said many of the most popular characters do have regular time slots and areas where you can ensure to get an autograph and photo, as in Toontown. Others also have a bit of a show to go with their meet and greets, including characters from Guardians of the Galaxy and the Green Army Men from Toy Story. To see a list of these shows check out my Disneyland and California Adventure Entertainment posts.
For me, while it is great to nab a guaranteed photo with Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang, there’s nothing better than a spontaneous photo with a random, and sometimes rare, character. Due to their sporadic appearances, lines to meet these characters are always a lot shorter. This not only means you save on time but I’ve found that characters with shorter queues tend to be a lot more silly and playful.
Below is a list of some common (and uncommon) characters you may meet on your trip, based on location. For Daily Appearance Times and locations, check your app.
Note: The app isn’t always the most reliable with times and locations but it is still very useful.
List of Disneyland Characters
Minnie, at Christmas, on Main Street USA.
Main Street USA
In Main Street you will typically see the Big 6; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto and on the odd occasion, Daisy. Other traditional cartoon favourites such as Chip and Dale can also be found wandering Mainstreet, while Mary Poppins and Bert frequent the area around the Jolly Holiday Bakery (Obviously).
Very lucky to get a snap with Mary and Bert, before they headed backstage!
Royal Hall at Fantasy Faire Village
For all you lovers of everything princess, head on over to Royal Hall. Here you can meet a number of your favourite princesses including Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora and Rapunzel. What? No Elsa? No Ana? How could this be? Relax, they like to chill at California Adventure.
The Little Mermaid herself.
Princesses in the Royal Hall rotate throughout the day so if your favourite isn’t there check back later in the day. Or, if you’re lucky, you may just be able to catch a princess wandering the village before their shift starts at Royal Hall.
You know the old adage, “If you can’t find a character you like, go to Fantasyland”? No? Well, it’s true. Plenty of characters roam the fair streets of Fantasyland and you are sure to find someone you like. On a good day you can catch Alice, The Mad Hatter, Captain Hook, Peter Pan and the Fairy God Mother.
The Mad Hatter was brilliant when we met him!
If you tend to like villains better than heroes The Evil Queen (Snow White) and Cruella De Vil are the most common. They are extremely entertaining but may not be the best option for young kids, as they tend to insult.
A number of your movie favourites can be found down at Adventureland. Since the release of her film, Moana is commonly sited wandering around, while Princess Jasmine, Aladdin and the Genie can be spotted at Aladdin’s Oasis. If you’re super lucky you might even get a chance to meet Baloo, from The Jungle Book.
Managed to catch this guy hanging around Aladdin’s Oasis.
New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square features quite an eclectic group of characters. Most commonly sited are Princess Tiana and Captain Jack Sparrow. If your trip coincides with Halloween or Christmas the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington, can be found with his gal pal Sally, near the Haunted Mansion.
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, where Splash Mountain soaks the guests…You’ll find some of your favourite Winnie the Pooh characters. Most commonly: The silly old bear himself, Tigger and Eeyore. Other than these critters you can very occasionally see the Country Bears from the defunct Country Bear Jamboree Attraction.
Just like Main Street you can find the Big Six here. For more information please check out my Mickey’s Toontown Rides and Attractions Post.
In the Galaxy Far Far Away, otherwise known as Tomorrowland, there’s a variety of ways to meet and greet your galactic friends. Whether it’s at the Star Wars Launch Bay, at the Jedi Training Show or just wandering the land; you can catch Darth Vader, Kylo-Ren, Chewbacca, BB-8 and a storm trooper or two. All of these interactions are quite entertaining and realistic, especially with the villains.
There were a whole lot of these guys walking around during the Season of the Force a few years back.
In this quaint little garden next to the entrance of Tomorrowland, who else would you find here but Tinkerbell and her friends? One for the younger kids.
Not really a hotspot for characters, especially since Woody, Jessie and Bullseye found another home in DCA. However, there have been increased sightings of Pocahontas so you might be lucky!
List of California Adventure Characters
Buena Vista Street
The idea of the characters of Buena Vista Street is that you gradually make your way through Walt’s animation creations, beginning with Oswald the Rabbit and ending with the classics we know and love. What’s the difference between seeing Mickey on Main Street and Mickey on Buena Vista Street? Not much, but in the latter they wear 1920s/30s attire.
Goofy looking more dapper than usual!
In addition to the above you will also see some very entertaining people wandering around, known as the Citizens of Buena Vista Street. Their names are Officer Blue, Millie or Molly the Messenger, Donna the Dog Lady, and Phiphi the Photographer. Great for a bit of a chin wag and a laugh.
The biggest area for character Meet and Greets in DCA, Hollywoodland features a host of Superheroes, Disney Junior Stars and, as promised above, Anna and Elsa. The two most popular princesses in the Resort have a special meet and greet location inside Animation Academy, while their good friend Olaf is gives free warm hugs to the left of the Monster’s INC Ride.
There are also a multitude of Superheroes to meet around the backlot area of Hollywoodland. Currently, they include: Black Panther, Thor, Loki, Spiderman, Captain America, Doctor Strange and some of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
In one of my favourite lands of the park, you can grab a photo with Lightning and Mater. To save embarrassment, don’t ask for an autograph…they’re cars.
DJ the dance car also does his show here.
Ok, not exactly a character but hey, I didn’t have to wait in line!
No guesses as to who you might find here. Plenty of characters from the Incredibles meet near the Incredicoaster (including Edna Mode), along with a variety of Toy Story Characters (Woody, Buzz, Jessie) near midway mania. Inside Out characters are also often around and this will probably increase once the new ride is constructed.
As part of the Wilderness show in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.You can see Russell and Doug from UP! Otherwise there’s not much else in the way of character experiences at Grizzly Peak.
Paradise Gardens Park
Very few characters roam this quiet corner of the park. On the rare occasion (especially Halloween) you may meet Coco and friends.
Top Tips for Meet and Greets
Characters will usually hang around for 15-20minutes before taking a break or swapping over. If you have lined up and 15 minutes is up by the time you get to the front they will usually still let you take your photo.
Probably the most important one is to have fun and actually interact with the characters. If you treat them as people in costumes that’s what they will be. If you treat them as the real deal, then a lot of fun can be had. Start a sword fight with Captain Hook or take a selfie with a Storm Trooper. The characters will love it as much as you do.
Get cast members to take your snaps for you. They are more than happy to do so and you won’t pay through the nose for souvenir pics.
Download the App! Seriously, if you haven’t done so by now I may as well shut down the blog.
Another great way to meet characters is through a dining experience. This is a bit of a take on the old dinner and a show concept but dinner is breakfast or lunch and the show is a personal meet and greet with a host of different characters. Basically, as you eat your meal, characters (generally themed to the restaurant) come to your tables. You can then take a photo, have a quick chat and get an autograph. They do cost a bit of cash (Around AUD $80 a head) so you will need to decide whether you believe “time is money” or “money is money.”
Reservations for these experiences are essential and can be made up to 60 days out from your arrival. Bookings can be made over the phone, through the App or by physically visiting the restaurant.
My last character experience was at Ariel’s Grotto with the Princesses. Great fun and really good food! Unfortunately this experience and the restaurant no longer exists, as of 2108.
Below is a list of restaurants in the resort that have Character Dining options:
Surf’s Up! at Disney’s PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel)
Apart from a good feed you’ll see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Daisy and it’s the only place you’ll see Stitch!
Minnie’s Breakfast at the Plaza Inn (Main Street USA)
Probably the most diverse character experience going around you will most likely see Chip n Dale, Minnie, Hook, Tigger, Eeyore, Fairy Godmother, Winnie the Pooh, and Rafiki. Definitely recommend this one!
Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel)
A smaller character dining experience but nothing to turn your nose up at. In Goofy’s Kitchen you can see Pluto, Chip n Dale, Goofy, and Minnie.
Chip n Dale’s Critter Breakfast at Story Tellers Café (Grand Californian Hotel)
A nice brekfast featuring some of your favourite critters: Chip n Dale, Meeko (Pocahontas), Brother Bears (Kenai or Koda), Pluto and Brer Fox. I don’t like that there’s no Pooh Bear but you can’t have everyone.
Note: These are the most common characters you will see at these breakfasts. When you go it may be slightly different. At the very least you’ll get guaranteed quality time with a host of characters.
Characters and Parades
You all know how I feel about spending time watching parades (apart from Paint the Night) but if you are short on time and simply want to see as many characters as possible, this is your go. Obviously the downside to this is that you can’t actually meet them but if you are just after a quick snap, or find it awkward talking to people in mouse costumes, it’s perfect.
In a rush? See all your favourites at a parade. This was the Christmas Parade in 2015.
If you are lucky you can even get a really good close up of characters prior to the parade as they walk through the park to take up their positions. Again, you can’t stop and chat to them as they need to be somewhere but there’s a good chance for a close up photo.
There you have all the info you need about the characters of the Disneyland Resort. Remember for these experiences to be enjoyable you have to put in as much as the cast members do!