For some people, especially kids, going to Disneyland isn’t just about the rides. It’s also about the characters! After all, it all started with a mouse. Mickey Mouse that is!
There’s truly something magical about meeting your favorite Disney characters, even with the pandemic-related changes, whether you’re alone or with a group. But, with tons of characters and so many places to find them, it can all be a little overwhelming.
That’s why we put together this handy-dandy guide. So, if you and your crew are hoping to hobnob with Disneyland characters in 2021 and 2022, read on as we break down everything you need to know.
Meeting Disneyland Characters During Covid-19
Before Covid-19 came to town, meeting characters at Disneyland was a joy. Guests could get up-close-and-personal with their favorites as they wandered about Disneyland and California Adventure or table-to-table at a Disney character meal, posing for pictures, scoring autographs and getting hugs.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic’s social distancing recommendations, much of that is no longer possible, at least not in the same way as before, including for Disney character dining. However, while you can’t meet the characters the same way you could before, guests can still have amazing Disney character interactions, even during 2021 and 2022.
While you can’t currently give Mickey a hug, wrap your arm around him for a photo or get his autograph, you can snap a socially distanced selfie and say ‘hello’ from afar. Plus, since no longer doing all those things frees up a lot of time, you can also watch the characters do some things they weren’t necessarily able to before, like talking to other characters, including ones from different stories, and getting into amusing situations.
Best of all, these fast-paced character interactions save you precious time, a hot commodity during a vacation plagued by lines.
Everywhere You Can Find Disneyland Characters Right Now
Unlike at Walt Disney World, characters largely roam freely throughout the parks, although they do tend to stick to a particular area. For the most part, this is still currently the case, even with the pandemic.
So naturally, the key to meeting characters at Disneyland is knowing where to find them. If you take stock of which characters your family would like to meet and check this guide to where they like to hang out, you’ll be even more likely to see them and snap your pictures of Disney characters.
Remember, all appearances by Disneyland characters are subject to change, especially during the pandemic. Given that, we recommend referring to the Disneyland app for information on what kinds of characters you can find and where they’re usually located. Since all sorts of characters have shown up before, this comprehensive guide discusses where to find Disneyland characters, both now and in pre-Covid times.
Characters at Disneyland Park
When visiting the original Disney Park, be on the lookout for Disneyland characters at the following locations:
Main Street, U.S.A. Character Meet-and-Greets
Who better to welcome guests to Disneyland than Mickey Mouse himself? Catch the big cheese and other classic Disney characters, including Cruella De Vil in the past, hanging out at the entrance to the park on Main Street, U.S.A. near the Disneyland Railroad and other parts of Town Square.
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Donald Duck
Fantasyland Character Meet-and-Greets
From Disney royalty and wicked villains to beloved characters from your favorite storybook tales, you’ll find them all in Fantasyland.
Disneyland Princesses, Villains & Other Fairytale Friends at Fantasy Faire
There’s no doubt that some of the most popular characters to meet are the Disneyland princesses. Luckily, if you’d like to meet these charming heroines and their pals, it isn’t too difficult to track them down, as most of them tend to hold court around Fantasy Faire at either the Royal Theatre or Royal Hall.
Your destination for both classic Disney princesses and more modern additions.
- Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
- Elena of Avalor
- Snow White
Anna and Elsa tend to cover a lot of ground, so don’t be surprised if you spot them here too, along with these other Disneyland characters:
- Flynn Rider
- Evil Queen
Storybook Characters Near “it’s a small world” Terrace
Meet some of your favorite British Disney characters on the small, elevated platform between “it’s a small world” and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
- Mary Poppins
- Winnie the Pooh
Other Places You Could See Disneyland Characters Around Fantasyland in the Past:
While there aren’t as many characters roaming Fantasyland as there used to be, we wouldn’t be surprised if you catch these Disney favorites wandering the areas surrounding Sleeping Beauty Castle, next to Mad Tea Party and near Pixie Hollow.
Around Sleeping Beauty Castle
Regal Disneyland characters have been known to frequent much of the paths surrounding Sleeping Beauty Castle, like those near the Wishing Well and the Fantasyland Path to the left of the castle.
- Snow White
- Evil Queen
- Mary Poppins
- Peter Pan
- Captain Hook
- The Beast
- Fairy Godmother
Near Mad Tea Party
We’re all a little mad here, especially when it comes to tracking down your favorite Disney characters. Look for this dynamic duo near Mad Tea Party:
- Mad Hatter
Shrink to the size of Tinker Bell as you meet this famous pixie at her home of Pixie Hollow, as well as some of her other fae folk friends.
- Tinker Bell
Mickey’s Toontown Character Meet-and-Greets
If there’s anywhere at Disneyland that’s made for character spotting, it’s Mickey’s Toontown. Mickey and his most famous pals tend to greet guests from their houses (or friends’ houses). However, you may also find other iconic animated Disney characters occasionally hanging out around the town gazebo even if they don’t officially own property in Toontown, including Roger Rabbit, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar and characters from The Aristocats like Marie.
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Donald Duck
- Daisy Duck
Frontierland Character Meet-and-Greets
Currently, you’ll find Miguel from Coco – the person, not the puppet – entertaining guests around Rancho del Zocolo while they wait in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Previously, you might even spot Toy Story’s Jessie and Woody hanging out around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Captain Jack Sparrow regaling wannabe swashbucklers at Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
New Orleans Square Character Meet-and-Greets
A fun selection of characters come out to greet guests on the balconies in this charming corner of Disneyland, from swashbuckling pirates to favorites from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Past characters making an appearance here also include Prince Naveen and Dr. Facilier.
- Captain Jack Sparrow
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Character Meet-and-Greets
For all the Star Wars fans out there, there’s no better place to geek out than Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Black Spire Outpost, especially when it comes to characters. While character interactions tend to feel relatively organic throughout the park, this is especially true at Galaxy’s Edge, where character experiences here are intended to feel like you got to participate in a snapshot of their lives. In fact, even when the pandemic isn’t happening, Galaxy’s Edge characters still don’t sign autographs.
To meet Star Wars characters, keep an eye out for them around the speeder garage at Black Spire Outpost, near the TIE Echelon Assault Shuttle neighboring the Milk Stand or even doing some maintenance on the Millennium Falcon.
- Vi Moradi
- First Order Stormtroopers
- Kylo Ren
Other Places You Might Spot Disneyland Characters Prior to Covid-19
Due to Covid-19, the following character meet-and-greets are largely unavailable. However, things have been known to change – sometimes even from day to day. So, it’s always possible that Disneyland characters will pop up here again sometime in the future:
Star Wars Launch Bay Character Meet-and-Greets in Tomorrowland
If you’re looking for a more formal Star Wars character meet-and-greet experience with autographs (and lines), then Star Wars Launch Bay is for you. You may even spot a pair of Stormtroopers on patrol around Tomorrowland.
- Boba Fett
- Kylo Ren
- Darth Vader
- Captain Phasma
Adventureland Character Meet-and-Greets
No Disney princess does adventure quite like Moana. This courageous character has previously met guests near Tarzan’s Treehouse.
Critter Country Character Meet-and-Greets
While characters aren’t really roaming around Critter Country at the moment, that wasn’t always the case. Pocahontas has been known to rove the area near the Hungry Bear Restaurant. Plus, you could also find the following friends from the Hundred Acre Wood greeting guests at Pooh’s Thotful Spot:
- Winnie the Pooh
Characters at Disney California Adventure Park
You won’t just find characters at Disneyland Park. There are also many characters at California Adventure Park, including those from Marvel, Pixar, Disney Junior and more.
Buena Vista Street Character Meet-and-Greets
In normal times, the Citizens of Buena Vista Street are an unexpectedly delightful departure you’re your typical Disney characters. So, be sure to stop and watch for a while the next time they’re out and about.
You’re currently apt to see almost anyone greeting guests around Carthay Circle, even ultra-infrequent characters like Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow or Snow White and Dopey. If you’re lucky, you may even see Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (visit around Easter for the best chance). Other regular characters holding court around the Carthay Fountain include:
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Donald Duck
- Daisy Duck
Hollywood Land Character Meet-and-Greets
This is where all the Marvel characters used to greet guests before Avengers Campus opened. And prior to the pandemic, it’s also where everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf, entertained his adoring fans.
If you’ve got little ones, make your way to the Disney Theater Stage in Hollywood Land for the Disney Junior Dance Party, where characters like Sofia the First once said ‘hello’ to pint-sized admirers. There, your kiddos can wave at their television favorites like:
- Doc McStuffins
- Mickey Mouse from Mickey and the Roadster Racers
- Minnie Mouse from Mickey and the Roadster Racers
Avengers Campus Character Meet-and-Greets
For everyone that has ever dreamed of meeting their favorite superhero, this is your chance. Avengers Campus allows guests to see many of their Marvel characters in everything from up-close encounters to thrilling shows.
Watch your favorites from afar as they battle enemies from atop Avengers Headquarters or spot your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man (in animatronic form) as he hurtles over the rooftop of WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Then, party with heroes during the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off or learn about the mystic arts at the Ancient Sanctum.
- Black Widow
- Captain America
- Doctor Strange
- Black Panther
- The Dora Milaje
- Captain Marvel
- The Wasp
Cars Land Character Meet-and-Greets
Cruise through Radiator Springs along Route 66 as you come face-to-grill with some of the stars from Disney/Pixar’s Cars.
- Lightning McQueen
- Tow Mater
- Red the Firetruck
- Cruz Ramirez
Pixar Pier Character Meet-and-Greets
If there’s a one-stop shop to meet Pixar characters at California Adventure, it’s Pixar Pier. Here you’ll find characters from several Pixar franchises, including The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out, Up and more. While you’re there, keep an eye out for Toy Story’s Green Army Men for their Operation: Playtime! percussion show.
Supers at Incredibles Park
Power up for your trip on the Incredicoaster by coming face-to-face with Pixar’s most heroic characters. (super-suit not included).
- Mr. Incredible
- Edna Mode
Playful Friends at Toy Story Boardwalk
Feel like one of the toys at Toy Story Boardwalk. Just be sure to keep an eye out to see if Andy’s coming.
- Buzz Lightyear
- Bo Peep
Other Pixar Pals on Pixar Promenade
Consider this the catchall spot for any Pixar characters you haven’t seen yet. Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. and Barley and Ian Lightfoot from Onward have been known to appear here in the past, as do these following characters:
Grizzly Peak Character Meet-and-Greets
At one time, Pluto would make an appearance near the Grizzly Peak Airfield. However, you’ll currently only find these characters around the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area:
- Country Bear Jamboree characters
Pacific Wharf Character Meet-and-Greets
Here you’ll find an especially endearing Disney character sighting: the lovable father-son duo, Goofy and Max. Watch them as they get into adorable antics like trying to fish from a balcony.
Paradise Gardens Park Character Meet-and-Greets
When January rolls around, this auspicious spot also tends to be where Mulan and Mushu wish guests good fortune in the coming year during Lunar New Year. You can currently find this Zootopia duo near The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure:
- Judy Hopps
- Nick Wilde
Disneyland Character Dining
The only thing better than meeting Disney characters is getting to do it from the comfort of a dining table with a tasty plate of food in front of you. Character dining at Disneyland allows you to combine two theme park highlights, characters and food, saving you time to do even more.
These are the current character meals happening at Disneyland Resort:
Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park
With a bottomless buffet of breakfast dishes and a parade of both common and rare Disneyland characters, this character breakfast is a deliciously memorable way to start the day. Aside from Minnie, past Disney characters to mingle with guests over breakfast include Chip, Dale, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Rafiki, the Fairy Godmother and more.
Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel
Catch classic Disney characters like Goofy, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale as you tuck into endless American-style eats. An excellent choice for a Christmas dinner or other special meal with character.
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storytellers Café in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
Savor all the AM favorites you can manage at this breakfast buffet starring Mickey alongside other popular characters like Minnie, Chip ‘n’ Dale and Pluto.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
For a regal character breakfast with kids in mind, make a reservation for Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose, a 3-course meal featuring fun activities and a take-home keepsake.
Tips & Tricks for Having a Memorable Disneyland Character Experience
Follow these simple steps to make your Disneyland character interactions as magical as possible:
- Play around and engage with characters for magical interactions. Don’t just pose for pictures, get your Disney character signatures, then leave. Instead, take some time to talk to characters. Ask them about something from their story or compliment them on their outfit, anything to get the conversation going.
- Remember your camera, autograph book and a permanent marker. Pictures of Disney characters and Disney character signatures will be the only tangible memories you have left from your interactions, so be sure you’re prepared. Permanent markers you can click are preferred as you get a dark, crisp signature with less risk of leaving a mark on characters’ costumes.
- Use the Disneyland app to keep track of where characters are located. This will help you keep character locations straight and tell you what times they should be out and about.
- Be patient with kids meeting characters for the first time. Just because your little one loves seeing Mickey and Minnie on TV doesn’t mean that they won’t be terrified by the sight of these massive mice for the first time. Consider placing an older sibling or yourself in between your kiddo and the character as a buffer, but whatever you do, don’t force the interaction.
- Don’t get discouraged if a character leaves – there’s a good chance they’ll be back. Disneyland characters need breaks too. So, don’t be upset if your favorite walks off-stage before you can meet them. Chances are they’ll be back after a breather and snack.
- Come back for special seasonal Disneyland characters. The holidays and during special celebrations are some of the best times to look for characters at Disneyland. This is when rare characters appear, and some regular characters get decked out in special costumes. For example, popular Christmas Disney characters include Jack Skellington at Disneyland Park, The Three Caballeros at California Adventure and even Santa Claus.
Well, folks, that’s everywhere you can find characters at Disneyland. Which Disney characters do you like to meet? Let us know in the comments!
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.