Peter Pan's Shadow
Welcome to this second in a special series of articles looking at the top 10 best places for meeting the Disney Characters at the Disney Parks and Resorts. Our first edition looked at Walt Disney World in Florida.
In this second edition we look at Disneyland Paris's top ten. Throughout the article you can click the links to the specific places mentioned to find more detailed information about meeting characters there. At the end of the top ten, be sure to check our links to other hints and tips pages on this site!
Ok, here we go! First up, Disneyland Parc...
1. Main Street USA - Main Street USA has some fantastic character meeting opportunities, which are both structured and random.
There are regularly scheduled appearances by Mickey and Duffy in Town Square at the Boarding House, and also Pooh up at Casey's Corner. Although, Mickey will soon be leaving for his new home in Fantasyland come the spring - but Duffy will remain.
Throughout the day in Town Square you can quite often find a random selection of pretty much any character! These appearances aren't always announced, but if they are there once, there is a good chance they'll be out again later in the day - good to know if you miss one of your favourites!
In the past we have seen everyone from Stitch, Piglet, King Louie, the Wonderland characters (any or all of them), Peter Pan, any combination of the Big 8 and more!
At Christmas, Santa Goofy makes regular appearances at the gazebo, and you can sometimes find Elves wandering around too!
Early in the morning you may find Mickey riding around Main Street on his Mousemobile, which can be fun to see.
2. Fantasyland - Fantasyland in Disneyland Paris is probably one of the best places to meet random and cool characters at Disneyland Paris, if not anywhere.
Let's start with the scheduled appearances. The Princesses meet all day at the Princess Pavilion, and can include Aurora, Belle, Tiana and any number of the other main Princesses.
Soon, Mickey will start greeting his fans at his new home at the Fantasyland Theatre. This is expected to be somewhat similar to the Town Square Theater experience at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
Throughout the day, and unannounced, you can nearly always find any number of random characters throughout Fantasyland, but namely near the "it's a small world" gates. Character do roam though, so be sure to keep an eye out. Fantasyland in Paris is probably one of the best places at any Disney Park, in our experience. We have met everyone from Maleficent, the Pooh friends, Big 8/VIPs, Alice friends, Peter Pan gang, Chicken Little, Abby Mallard, Princes and Princesses, other random classic characters and many, many more. The list is quite extensive to say the least!
3. Adventureland - Adventureland, like Fantasyland and Main Street offers it's own fair share of cool characters.
Making regularly scheduled appearances (listed on the times guide), are normally Aladdin and friends, Jungle friends and Jack Sparrow.
Throughout the day you are also likely to encounter other random pals, such as the Big 8/VIPs in safari outfits, other random critter or jungle characters, or classics such as Peter Pan or Hook and Smee.
We love to wander through Adventureland to see who we can find, and some of the backdrops of the land make for some excellent pictures!
Be sure to check near Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost or near Adventureland Bazaar for the best selection of random characters.
Next we step into the Disneyland Hotel...
4. Inventions - Despite being a very high end restaurant, Inventions does offer probably the most diverse character dining experiences of any Disney Park or Resort. Based in the Main Street Lounge area of the fabulous Disneyland Hotel, and with stunning views over Disneyland Park, you cannot beat the setting. The food is amazing, and consists of a fantastic hot and cold buffet. The theming is superb, and the service very good.
Of course, we're here to talk about characters though! On any given evening, characters join guests for dinner, and can vary wildly from the Pooh friends, Villains, Big 8/VIPs to Launchpad, Clopin and others!
Aside from the dinner mentioned above, Inventions offers Sunday Brunch, usually with a theme of the week. We know for sure they have French, Italian, British, Hawaiian, Princess and African to name but a few. It isn't just the food that is "themed", the characters are too, and you'll find the VIPs in their special costumes (African, safari, royal - you name it!) to mark which ever Brunch it is, as well as characters from that theme too - so for the Italian Brunch they had the Pinocchio characters, for example. We LOVE these Brunches, and definitely recommend them as the character variety is excellent and the dining experience fabulous.
5. Disneyland Hotel Main Lobby & Main Street Lounge - I had to mention the other areas of the hotel separately as the restaurant experience is quite different (and is a pay service of course), but for those who just want to meet characters, you can stop by the Main Street Lounge at the Rotunda every morning from early 'til just before lunch, and meet a whole manner of friends. We love to check out this area every morning before venturing into the park, as it can vary wildly from day to day. From the VIPs, Pooh friends, White Rabbit, Friar Tuck and even Hyacinth Hippo, you never quite know who you'll find at the Rotunda!
Later in the day (check location for exact times), usually after lunch, there are some rotating sets of characters in the main lobby. These are a little less random than the Rotunda, but can again vary a lot, and include Princesses.
In the late afternoon, during weekday peak times, and weekends, there is something called a "Magical Moment" down in the lobby. A random selection of characters will come and sing and dance to some music, before taking the time to meet their fans. It is a cute ceremony, and just adds a touch more Disney magic to your day! As with everything else at DLP, these can be fairly random, and the theme can also change from day to day. We have seen everything from Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's and Alice in Wonderland versions of these musical happenings, so they are well worth checking out!
So as you can see, a days' character hunting at the Disneyland Hotel alone can be quite exciting!
Now it's off to the Walt Disney Studios Parc...
6. Toon Studio - Toon Studio in Walt Disney Studios offers a random variety of characters throughout the day as well as some scheduled ones. In the past we have encountered Jafar, Abu, Big 8/VIPs, Rafiki, Sulley, Buzz Lightyear, Stitch and more. Check on the day of your visit to see who is about as it tends to change quite a lot!
7. Production Courtyard - Across the other side of the park from Toon Studio, in Production Courtyard, again you will often find a random selection of friends near the Stitch Live! attraction. In the past we have seen Stitch, Friar Tuck, Big 8/VIPs, Villains and more! Again, check on the day of your visit to see who is about as it tends to change quite a lot!
We leave the parks now, and head to Disney Village...
8. Café Mickey - I don't like to have two character dining options on here really, as I prefer to provide hints and tips for the Parks and other "free" areas (those already included in your vacation, not "extra"), but DLP is so diverse in it's character range - and that includes dining - that Café Mickey in Disney Village deserves a mention also.
In the past we have had some very interesting character meals at Café Mickey, and you should go there expecting the unexpected! The food is pretty good for the relatively cheap price as they offer a menu, so potentially you can choose the cheapest option and still sit there all night - unlike other character dining. The restaurant is very popular and busy, and can be very noisy also. There are always a multitude of birthdays going on, which causes mass eruptions of dancing and music from everybody - cast, guests and characters alike - as well as regular, lively, dance parties around the room, and on the furniture. It is not uncommon to see Goofy table dancing in Café Mickey - so be warned!
The variety of characters has admittedly become more static these days, but can still be quite varied (VIPs, Pooh pals, Stitch, Villains) as with the rest of DLP, and for the price and sheer experience of the crazy place, it is well worth it!
Finally, we take a look at some additional options for character hunting...
9. Seasonal Celebrations - Disneyland Paris loves to celebrate the various holidays throughout the year, even more so than the US Parks to be honest.
In February for the days surrounding Valentine's you can expect to find the VIPs in special outfits, and special Disney "couples" out and about, sometimes in special dress too.
In March, Disneyland Paris likes to celebrate both St David's Welsh Festival and St. Patrick's Day. The Big 8/VIPs can be found wearing special outfits, and special entertainment is offered.
Come October and Halloween Season again sees special outfits during the day, and special characters - namely the Disney Villains, including the hilarious Witch from Snow White (who in DLP is a face character. Trust me, she is amazing!).
Be sure to attend Disney's Halloween Party on the 31st of October. In recent years there have been some truly amazing characters including Hades, Philoctetes, Pain, and Panic, amongst other really rare ones!
From November through January Christmas Season brings a sprinkling of extra magic, and you can find the characters in special costumes, as well as seasonal characters such as elves, and Père Noël himself!
10. The other Disney Hotels - I tried to resist putting this in it's own category, as I had already mentioned the Disneyland Hotel, but I felt that the DL Hotel was in a league of it's own really, and so the other hotels also deserved a mention.
As with the Disneyland Hotel, you don't have to be a guest staying at any of the Hotels around Lake Disney to be able to experience some of the cool characters they have.
All of them offer the VIPs, but usually in themed outfits for that hotel (Hispanic/Mexican at the Santa Fe, Cowboy/Indian the Cheyenne etc), as well as a mix of other characters appropriate to that "destination" (maybe Jessie at the Santa Fe, or if you're VERY lucky Robin Hood at the Sequoia Lodge, etc).
Though the range may not be as diverse as elsewhere across the Resort, we do think that the morning hotel meet 'n' greets offer some nice interactions and different costumes - with relatively short lines - and so it is worth checking them out before park open.
I hope you all found that useful!
You might also want to check out our special Hints and Tips Blog Post here, and join our members discussion about hints and tips for meeting characters here on our Forum. Other users have posted some great tips, so be sure to check those out and maybe make your own contributions!
Stay tuned over the next few days for my next in this series which will be Disneyland Resort in California's Top 10!
Back to the blog entry...
edited by DisneyDan on 2/11/2012