Taking The Kids to Disneyland? A Guide to Meeting Their Favorite Park Characters

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Favorite Park Characters

From a kid’s point of view, “We’re going to Disneyland” are perhaps the most exciting four words parents can utter for kid’s Favorite Park Characters.

For 66 years, Disneyland has captured the imagination of children and adults alike with a clean, fun, delightful world of fantasy, adventure, and innovation bursting at the seams with rides, attractions, and food that delight the senses and bring a genuine smile to all who participate. 

Disneyland Resort complex and Favorite Park Characters

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, comprises two theme parks, three hotels, shopping, entertainment, and a dining district called Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort’s two theme parks are:
Disneyland Park (“original” Disneyland): Opened in 1955 in Anaheim, Calif., less than 30 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, it now comprises 101 acres with nine themed “lands” – four more than when it opened – with 53 rides and attractions and more in the works.

Disney California Adventure Park (also called California Adventure or DCA): Opened in 2001 on 72 acres adjacent to the original Disneyland. DCA integrates themes and characters from Disney and its partners Marvel and Pixar to celebrate the history and culture of the State of California. DCA features eight “areas” with 34 rides and attractions.

Many visitors look forward to the rides at both Disneyland parks. Some rides are designed for kids, but young children are restricted from many rides for safety reasons. So, for many kids, the Disney experience is all about meeting Disney movie characters, who represent real-life incarnations of the heroes and heroines depicted in beloved Disney movies and cartoons. 

Disneyland’s parks and kid’s Favorite Park Characters offer abundant opportunities for visitors to interact with Disney characters, old and new, whether it’s a chance meeting on theme park walkways, scheduled meet-and-greets throughout the park, or in a more intimate dining setting.

Characters meander throughout the park, but some stay anchored to a particular location. Visitors just need to know how, when, and where they have the best chance to meet their favorite characters.

In this article, we’ll focus on Disneyland’s California theme parks and how, when, and where to meet park characters there. For the tech-savvy, refer to the Disney smartphone app for information about which characters are active and where they are located at any particular time.

Meeting Disney characters during COVID-19.

Disneyland implemented social distancing measures to combat COVID-19 when it reopened on April 30, 2021, after being closed to visitors for 13 months. Interactions with Disney characters are different than pre-COVID-19 when park guests could exchange hugs, take selfies, obtain autographs and generally get up close and personal with their favorite characters. 

Disney characters sometimes appear on stages or balconies to maintain safe distances.

Character dining experiences curtailed

The popular character dining experiences, where guests enjoy a meal with their favorite characters, were suspended at Disneyland due to COVID-19 but recently were reinstated on a limited basis.

At Disney dining experiences, characters move around the dining room during a meal, assuring everyone present savors a moment of personal time with all their favorites. Disney hopes to fully restore character dining experiences after the pandemic subsides.

Here are some character dining experience options currently available as of late January 2022 (confirm with the restaurant):

  • Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park: An all-you-can-eat buffet is sure to please everyone. In addition to Minnie Mouse, other Disney characters circulating the room have included Winnie the Pooh and his friends (Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Rabbit), Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Pinocchio.
  • Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storyteller’s Café, inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel: Wake up with Mickey Mouse (often joined by Minnie Mouse), as well as Pluto, Goofy, and Chip, and Dale.
  • Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel: For a royal start to the day, this three-course breakfast is sure to satisfy aspiring princesses. Many Disney princesses – from long ago and recently – have been known to attend.
  • Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel: Dinner is served, with Goofy helming a cast of characters that has included Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Chip and Dale.

Where to meet park characters at Disneyland Park

Let’s take a closer look at each of today’s nine “lands” at Disneyworld and the characters that are likely to be roaming the park or hosting meet-and-greets:

  • Main Street, U.S.A.: Situated at the park’s main entrance, Main Street, U.S.A. is designed to resemble a typical Midwestern downtown of the early 1920s. None other than Mickey Mouse himself often welcomes guests as they arrive at Disneyland. Other iconic Disney characters recently spotted on Main Street include Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck.
  • Adventureland: With attractions related to Indiana Jones, Tarzan, and Swiss Family Robinson, Adventureland conjures up a remote, tropical jungle. Who better than Moana, courageous star of the 2016 animated adventure film of the same name, to anchor Adventureland? She has met fans near Tarzan’s Treehouse in the past.
  • Fantasyland: Home to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, movies such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and their characters are also featured in this land. Look for princesses holding court at Royal Theatre or Royal Hall near Fantasy Faire. Recent sightings include Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Ariel. Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh and his pals have been spotted. Also, look for Aladdin or Peter Pan. Of course, Alice and the Mad Hatter frequent the space near the Mad Tea Party attraction. At Pixie Hollow, you might see Tinkerbell.
  • Frontierland: Pioneer days in the Old West and American frontier are the themes here. Miguel from Coco often entertains park visitors waiting in line to ride on the Thunder Mountain Railroad. Past sightings include Woody or Jessie from Toy Story in the same vicinity; or Captain Jack Sparrow at the pirate’s lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
  • Tomorrowland: Tomorrowland imagines living in the future. The iconic Space Mountain ride can be found here, as well as Disney’s first monorail. Star Wars Launch Bay here presents an opportunity to meet characters from the famed movie series. Look for Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Captain Phasma, and others.
  • New Orleans Square: Recalling New Orleans in the 19th century, New Orleans Square opened in 1966. Attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, based on the movie franchise, and the Haunted Mansion. Captain Jack Sparrow often appears here, as does Tianna from The Princess and the Frog.
  •  Critter Country: Originally known as Bear Country, this land opened in 1972 and was rebranded in 1988. Splash Mountain, a log flume ride, is the main attraction here. A popular children’s ride here is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Pocahontas has appeared in the past near the Hungry Bear Restaurant, and Winnie the Pooh characters congregate near Pooh’s Thotful House.
  • Mickey’s Toontown: Open since 1993, Mickey’s Toontown references the hundreds of cartoons produced by Disney. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy have a house in Toontown, and characters from Who Framed Roger Rabbit are also featured. The park’s newest attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, is expected to open in 2023. Marie from The Aristocrats also appears here. 
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: The Force is with you here – the newest themed land inside the park (2019). Attractions include Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run. Look for Chewbacca, R2-D2, Kylo Ren, and the First Order Stormtroopers near the Black Spire Outpost or the TIE Echelon Assault Shuttle. 

Where to meet favourite park characters at Disney California Adventure Park

Let’s take a closer look at each of the eight areas inside Disney California Adventure Park and the characters that are likely to be spotted wandering the park or hosting meet-and-greets:

  • Avengers Campus: The park’s newest area, which opened in mid-2021, features attractions based on characters from Marvel comic books, including Avengers, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy. See Spider-Man gliding among the rooftops in WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Also, look for Captain America, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Black Widow, Ant-Man, The Wasp, and Doctor Strange.
  • Buena Vista Street: Located just inside the park’s entrance, Buena Vista Street recalls Los Angeles in the 1920s. Visitors may see any number of Disney characters at Carthay Circle. Regulars include Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Goofy, Elsa, and Anna.
  • Cars Land: This area is based on Pixar’s animated film Cars and its sequels. The main attraction here is Radiator Springs Racers. Many favorites from Cars are reincarnated here, including Tow Mater, Lightning McQueen, and Red the Firetruck.
  • Grizzly Peak: Intended as a tribute to California’s national parks, including Yosemite and Redwood, Grizzly Peak has a rustic theme, reflected in its main attraction, Grizzly River Run a water rapids ride. Look for Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree characters along Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. 
  • Hollywood Land: This area is inspired by Hollywood’s golden age. The Disney Theater Stage in Hollywood Land is where you might see Doc McStuffins; or catch Vampirina at the Disney Junior Dance Party.

Pacific Wharf: Pacific Wharf resembles the waterfront in Monterey, California, from a century ago. This area is primarily a food court with 10 restaurants and just two attractions. Goofy and his son Max often perform their wacky antics at Pacific Wharf.
Paradise Gardens: The largest area within DCA, Paradise Gardens sits in the center of the park. Check near The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure attraction to find Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia.  

  • Pixar Pier: Characters from the Toy Story and The Incredibles franchises, along with others from Inside Out and Up, tend to congregate here, along with other superheroes. You might also see Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl. Sulley and Mike from Monsters, Inc., Ian Lightfoot from Onward, and other characters such as Joy, Sadness, Dug, and Russell have all appeared here.

Meeting Disney favorite park characters is a joyful memory for children

Children will cherish a lasting memory when they interact with their favorite characters at one of Disneyland’s theme parks. Since you now know how, when, and where to find these characters in their element, isn’t now the right time to arrange for that special meet-and-greet? 

 

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