There are countless things to do in Disneyland, and it can feel a bit overwhelming to plan the perfect Disneyland itinerary. Choosing between rides and restaurants can take up a lot of your planning time, but you shouldn’t forget about meeting Disneyland characters!
Just like rides and restaurants, you should take some time to plan out which Disneyland characters you want to meet and put together a plan on meeting them.
It would be a shame to go all the way to Disneyland and not meet your favourite character!
There are a number of obvious places you can meet your favourite Disneyland characters. They include Toontown, Main Street USA, and Royal Hall in Fantasyland.
But there are also a number of secret places to meet Disneyland characters.
This post will help you learn about the secret places to meet Disneyland characters, so you can track down some of the more rare characters and meet them while in Disneyland.
I’ll also cover a few tips and tricks to meeting Disneyland characters, so you can get the most out of every character interaction.
But that won’t be the majority of the article because, let’s face it, you’re here for the insider secrets!
1. The Plaza Inn Character Breakfast
In my opinion, the Plaza Inn character breakfast is one of the most underrated experiences in Disneyland!
It is normally pretty quiet, but it is packed with unique characters to meet.
In my experience, the breakfast at Plaza Inn is the place to go if you want to meet rare characters.
The last time I had breakfast at Plaza Inn I met Max (Goofy’s son), Rafiki, Fairy God Mother, Captain Hook, Chip, Dale, Tigger, Eeyore, and Minnie! It is incredible to be able to meet such a cast of characters at a character meal!
Normally you get a handful of characters that are friends. Like Pooh and gang or Mickey and friends. But not at Plaza Inn! You get to meet a wide selection of characters. Most of which you won’t be able to meet elsewhere in Disneyland!
The best part about Plaza Inn is that it is often so quiet that you get to interact with the characters more than once!
I hung out with all the characters twice last time I had breakfast at Plaza Inn, and Dale came over a third time to say bye before I left. I don’t think you’ll get that much character interaction at any other character meal in Disneyland or Disney World!
If Plaza Inn has such good characters, why isn’t it more popular?
That’s a great question, and one I’ve pondered quite a few times.
My guess is that most people don’t realize how many Disneyland characters they’ll get to meet at Plaza Inn. I sure didn’t the first time I ate there!
The website markets the breakfast as “Minnie & Friends- Breakfast in the Park”. It is reasonable to conclude from that description that you’ll be dining with the Fab Five.
With that description, the character breakfast at Plaza Inn doesn’t stand out against the other character breakfasts offered on Disneyland property. It is difficult for Minnie & Friends to compete with:
- Princesses at the Grand Californian Hotel
- Donald and friends in beach outfits at the Paradise Pier Hotel
- Mickey’s Tale of Adventure Breakfast at the Grand Californian Hotel (which is known to have unique and fun characters you can’t meet anywhere else)
- The classic Goofy’s Kitchen character meal that is similar in popularity and nostalgia as Chef Mickey’s in Disney World
Based off all the descriptions of the available Disneyland character breakfasts, Plaza Inn sounds the least exciting. If you only have the means to have one character breakfast, Plaza Inn doesn’t jump off the page as a top contender at first glance.
But you now know better!
You know that Plaza Inn is a top secret place to meet some of the most elusive of all Disneyland characters. So book that character breakfast and enjoy meeting tons of Disneyland characters with no waiting in line and great food.
Plus Plaza Inn is hardly ever booked full, so you don’t feel rushed or have to fight the crowds. That’s one of the most attractive features of the Plaza Inn character breakfast other than the characters.
It is so nice to be able to spend as much time as you want at a character breakfast without feeling like you’re being rushed out!
2. The Wishing Well
The wishing well is one of my all-time favourite places to meet Disneyland characters.
A lot of the Disneyland characters that hang out at the wishing well are more difficult to find but still very popular characters. You’ll be ahead of the game if you know where to keep an eye out for these characters!
The wishing well is located just off to the right of the castle when you’re walking down Main Street USA from the park entrance.
There is a small pathway just off the main walkway through the castle. Just follow that, and you’ll come across the wishing well.
Don’t forget to make a wish while you’re there!
Some of the characters that are known to pop up to meet guests near the wishing well are:
- Snow White
- Evil Queen
- Princess Jasmine
- Princess Aurora
That’s a pretty good list of characters you can meet! Where else are you going to run into the Evil Queen?!
An extra tip on finding some of these Disneyland characters (especially the Evil Queen) is to walk a bit beyond the wishing well into Fantasyland.
Follow the path behind the wishing well into Fantasyland, and that is where you’re most likely going to find the Evil Queen. She tends to hang out by the wall opposite the Alice in Wonderland washrooms.
She hardly ever has a line because most people don’t know to look for her there!
Take advantage of this opportunity to grab a picture with one of Disney’s most famous villains. Just don’t eat any apples she offers you!
3. At the Front of the Park
I’m not referring to meeting characters on Main Street USA when I say that the front of the park is a secret place to meet Disneyland characters.
You can meet some really fun characters on Main Street USA (like Cruella De Vil and Mickey and friends), but it is hardly a secret place to meet Disneyland characters!
I’m talking about the very front of the park near the entrance before you cross under the train station.
I often forget that Disneyland characters meet at the front of the park and am happily surprised to see characters meeting guests when I leave the park!
Characters aren’t always meeting at the front of the park, so you’re not guaranteed to meet any there. They most often show up to meet with guests in the afternoon and early evening when the park is busiest.
The most common character I’ve seen meeting at the front of the park is Ariel. She wears the most beautiful turquoise ballroom dress, so it is a great photo opportunity to meet her in a less common outfit.
The Disneyland characters that meet guests at the front of the park tend to have a longer line than at the other locations on this list.
The longer line makes sense though. Guests who are entering Disneyland see the characters when they enter and hop in line to meet them before heading deeper into the park.
The lines are still relatively short- especially compared to the lines you’ll stand in the meet Disneyland characters at the most popular locations.
4. Roaming Around the Park
The best secret (but not really secret) places to meet Disneyland characters is roaming around the park.
The most common place to find characters roaming around is in Fantasyland, but you can find them just about anywhere in Disneyland.
It isn’t uncommon to stumble across Peter Pan hiding from and taunting Captain Hook in Fantasyland. Or see Dr. Facilier walking through New Orleans Square.
Alice, Queen of Hearts, Mary Poppins & Bert, Woody, Chewbacca, and Prince Naveen have all been known to wander through different areas of the park meeting with guests.
It is so much fun to be walking through the park, turn a corner, and see a character you weren’t expecting to see! One of my favourite parks of the characters the roam around Disneyland is that they tend to be more rare characters, and you normally have some of the most fun interactions.
You might think that the Disneyland characters that roam through the park have long lines. It would make sense considering they tend to be rare, but they don’t!
Most people are so focussed on getting from one place to another that they don’t bother to stop and meet the roaming characters.
They look at the roaming characters but very rarely stop what they’re doing to take the time to meet them. Which is good news for you!
You can quickly jump in line, meet a character, and then continue on with what you were doing before without interrupting your plan too much. I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to meet a roaming character, and that is very uncommon.
Most of the time, there are only two or three people in line in front of me, and it takes less than 5 minutes to meet a roaming character and get my photo with them!
This is another odd one but hear me out! I’m not just running out of secret places to meet Disneyland characters. Trust me.
Adventureland isn’t a land people normally associate meeting characters. And for good reason seeing as basically no Disneyland characters meet there and characters tend not to roam around Adventureland.
So why is it even on my list then?! There is one very good reason Adventureland is on this list:
Moana is such a rare character to meet, but she is an extremely popular character to meet. You can meet her at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, in Hong Kong Disneyland, and in Adventureland in Disneyland.
That’s it. She doesn’t meet anywhere else.
The wild this is that most people don’t know that Moana meets guests in Adventureland!
For such a popular character, it is a fairly well hidden gem.
Where exactly you can meet Moana
Moana meets with guests near Tarzan’s Treehouse. She doesn’t meet everyday, and when she does meet with guests, it often isn’t for a long time.
So if you see her out and about meeting guests, jump in line right away or else you might miss your only chance!
If you’re wondering if Moana is meeting on a particular day and it isn’t listed in the times guide, I recommend asking a cast member at the Royal Hall in Fantasyland. These cast members are really knowledgable on what characters are scheduled to meet that day.
I’ve overheard the cast members at Royal Hall on more than one occasion help guests figure out when Moana is meeting next.
If you’re not interested in meeting Moana, Adventureland isn’t the place for you. No other character really meets in that area, and you’ll have more success heading over to New Orleans Square. A number of characters hang out there.
But if you love Moana and thought you couldn’t meet her in Disneyland, this may be the secret Disneyland character meeting place that makes your entire trip!
PS- While you’re in Adventureland, be sure to stop by the Tropical Hideaway to try some of the best ice cream in Disneylan!
Bonus: Mickey Mouse
The most obvious and common place to meet Mickey is at his house in Toontown, but it isn’t necessarily the best place to meet him! The line to meet Mickey at his house is normally 30-60 minutes, and that is a heck of a long time to wait to meet a character!
Lucky for you, there is a better and lesser known way to meet Mickey with little to no line!
In the afternoons, Mickey meets with guests just off of Main Street USA. He meets guests on the right-hand side of Main Street USA when you’re walking towards the castle.
He doesn’t meet in the centre of Main Street USA but off the side and often back by the door the characters come in and out it. It can be easy to miss him, and a lot of people do!
This is the perfect place to meet Mickey if you don’t want to stand in a long queue to meet him in his house.
He often meets at the same time as Minnie and Pluto, so if it shows on the time guide that those two are meeting on Main Street USA, there is a good chance that Mickey will be meeting guests as well.
Mickey Mouse is a very popular character to meet, so he will most likely have a longer line than any other character on this list, but the line on Main Street USA will be a lot shorter than the line at his house.
So if you want to meet Mickey while on your Disneyland vacation but don’t want to wait in an hour-long line, this is the solution for you!
General Tips for Meeting Disneyland Characters
Now that you know all the secret places to meet Disneyland characters, it is time to go over a few general tips and tricks for having the best possible interactions with all the characters.
These tips are perfect for people who are new to meeting Disneyland characters or people who are awkward like me and like to have a firm plan before embarking on a socialization journey.
You can use these general tips whenever you’re meeting Disney characters. Not just at Disneyland but at every Disney park around the world!
I wrote an entire post on meeting Magic Kingdom characters if you want to check it out. It is primarily focused on meeting characters at Magic Kingdom, but you can apply a lot of the information to meeting Disneyland characters as well!
Pick Up a Times Guide when You Enter the Park
A times guide will come in very handy when you’re planning your day. It lists when all the characters are meeting and the time of the shows and parades.
You can get a times guide as you’re entering the park or at guest services.
Be sure to refer to your times guide when you’re planning your day! It’ll help you decide what time of day you should dedicate to meeting Disneyland characters and when you should prioritize rides.
Monitor the App
The Disneyland app is the best place to look for real-time updates!
It lists how long the wait time for each ride is, where characters are meeting, and how long the line to meet the characters is. They only estimate the wait time to meet characters with a dedicated meeting spot like Mickey and the princesses.
The app will tell you when characters are meeting on Main Street USA and other lands, but it won’t tell you how long the wait is.
It doesn’t impact your planning that much, but it is a good thing to keep in mind!
Don’t be Shy
This is a difficult one for me as introvert, but it really helps.
All the Disneyland characters are trained to lead the conversation with guests who don’t take hold of the conversation themselves.
Face characters will ask you questions, and fur characters will carry on the conversation by pointing and gesturing (and the help of their character attendant).
I know it can be intimidating to meet the characters at Disneyland, but it isn’t as scary as you’re building it up in your head. You get used to it after meeting with a few characters, and it gets less awkward.
Or maybe it is only awkward for me because I’m so bad in social situations. So if I can do it, so can you!
Have Your Stuff Ready
I think this is one of the most important tips I can give you for meeting Disneyland characters.
Try to have all your stuff ready before you get to the front of the line and meet the character. This means having your autograph book out, your pen lid off, and your camera ready.
It saves so much time, and the people behind you in line will appreciate it.
It also gives you the potential of having a longer interaction with the characters. The less time you spend fumbling to get your stuff in order, the more time you had to chat with the character!
I know it can be difficult to have everything ready when you have small children, but it is worth it! Have a dedicated pocket in your bag that you can easily reach that has your autograph book and pen. Even that small action will save you a lot of time!
Not All Characters have Photopass with Them
If you frequent Walt Disney World, you’re used to characters always having a Photopass cast member with them to snap a professional photo for you. But that isn’t always the case in Disneyland.
A lot of Disneyland characters have a Photopass cast member with them, but it isn’t as common (yet) as it is in Disney World. And this doesn’t just go for the roaming characters.
Some of the most common and popular Disneyland characters don’t always have a Photopass photographer with them.
I’ve had many experiences where I had to use my personal camera when meeting Mickey in Toontown or the princess at Royal Hall. It was very surprising to me the first time this happened because I’m so used to the robust Photopass system in Disney World.
The good news is that the character attendants are happy to take a photo for you.
There are normally character attendants with each character, and they’ll happily use your camera to snap a picture for you! The only time I’ve met characters without there being a character attendant was at Royal Hall.
I highly recommend you have a personal camera (or phone) ready to go if there isn’t a character attendant with the character you’re meeting.
In fact, I suggest you regularly ask character attendants to take a photo for you with your personal camera even if there is a Photopass cast member there!
You never know which person will take the best photo and capture the best memories!
Meeting Disneyland characters is so much fun. No matter what age you are!
I personally don’t think any Disneyland trip is complete without meeting a couple of characters.
You’ll be able to track down and meet some amazing Disneyland characters now that you know these secret places characters tend to hang out. You’ll be checking characters off your “to meet” list in no time!
Plus you’ll meet some rather rare characters, so that is a huge bonus! Who doesn’t want to get a picture with a character who hardly ever meets guests? I know I sure do.
I go to Disney World a lot more frequently than Disneyland. I’m curious to know if you have any secret places you love meeting Disneyland characters.
If you do, drop them in the comment section. If you’re willing to share your secrets that is.