Disneyland Updates

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This had been a big year for Disneyland with the Diamond Celebration! So we have collected all the updates, news and scoops for our favorite Disney destination on the west coast!

Disney Parks

Disneyland and Disney World now ban all selfie sticks in the parks. They have stated this is for the safety of guests and cast members. Do not bring them into the parks – this is as of June 30th. This includes all extender poles.

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Disneyland Diamond Celebration

In May, Disneyland began its Diamond Celebration to mark Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. Here is a round up of all the additions and changes at the park for this momentous occasion –all changes will remain through the end of this year.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle Theatre are decked out in faux diamonds and decor for the 60th birthday

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“Paint the Night” new electrical parade through Main Street and surrounding areas. This new parade uses 1.5 million LED lights and it is the most vibrant parade in Disney history. Tinkerbell leads the processional along with other characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel, Lightning McQueen, Anna & Elsa, and many more. Of course, Mickey and friends complete the finale.

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Part of the new fireworks includes digital projection throughout Main Street

“Disneyland Forever” new fireworks display each evening over Sleeping Beauty castle and throughout Main Street with the use of digital projection screens throughout the park. This new fireworks show features two new songs, including one written by Richard Sherman.

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New World of Color presentation: “Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” – the magical water canvas is still part of this amazing nighttime spectacular show which now tells the story of Walt Disney and the happiest place on earth. The show is narrated by Neil Patrick Harris and intertwines fireworks, lasers, special effects and wonderful music. Still a must-see at California Adventure!

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Mickey and Minnie get some new costumes for the celebration! Don’t miss seeing our favorite pair in the Diamond celebration duds!

Some attractions have received some new enhancements and renovations for the celebration:

  • Haunted Mansion has a new ghost added although this isn’t really a “new” ghost – The Hatbox Ghost is now in the attic scene of this attraction. The original Hatbox Ghost was in the attraction for the opening over 45 years ago but was removed although cartoons of this character continued. Imagineers reimagined this happy ghost and he is now part of the ride with some new tricks!
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  • Matterhorn Bobled has a new snowman, and we don’t mean Olaf! The abominable snowman has been replaced with a much scarier version similar to the Yeti figure on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. They have also added some projection moments along the way similar to Expedition as well. The ride is still a bit bumpy though – that hasn’t changed!
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  • Grizzly Peak Airfield is a newly re-themed area around the Soarin’ Over California attraction. Most of the changes are cosmetic – new signs and decor. The biggest change is the rocket is now a water tower named after John Muir (Mt. Muir Lookout). The restaurant has been changed to Smokejumpers Grill but the menu is fairly similar with burgers and fries.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight will have special effects added to the nursery scene when the attraction begins when the Darling children discover how to fly. They will add enhancements to the London night and Neverland scene as well. Peter Pan’s Flight is still set to be reopened with these enhancements.
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Diamond Mad T Party – A new Mad Tea Party is rocking California Adventure this summer! The show is redesigned with new decor, interactive fun and dancing, and new food and drinks!

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New “Made With Magic” merchandise – A magic slipper is the newest addition to the Made With Magic fun (formerly Glow with the Show) – in addition to the newly designed ear hats, wands and paint brushes. Made With Magic items work at Fantasmic, fireworks and World of Color.

Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes – daily and weekly prizes are awarded to guests although theme park admission purchase is not required, winners have to be present to collect daily prizes. Daily prizes include in-park experiences and weekly prizes include VIP experiences for fireworks and pirate party. Daily entry requires a text-in of the word of the day. Sweepstakes will end on September 11, 2015. For more details, visit the Disneyland website.

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Storybookland Canal Boats have a new castle! While this was technically released in December, we wanted to make sure everyone knew about this Frozen fun at Disneyland. Arendelle has been added to Storybookland – this is one of our favorite little rides at Disneyland and now guests can see Anna & Elsa’s beautiful castle on the magical boat ride.

So much going on at Disneyland this year – it’s hard to keep up! Please keep following Preschoolears for all the latest Disney parks updates and news.

Photos credit courtesy of Disneyland news.

Disney Parks Update 2014

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This is our last update of 2014 for the Disney Parks and news! Hard to believe that 2015 is almost here! If you will be at the parks this holiday or soon after, here are all the news!

Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

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New “Frozen Christmas Celebration” – On Christmas Day, millions of viewers will be watching the Christmas Day Parade at Disney Parks on ABC. This year, the characters from “Frozen” have been added to the parade which moves several characters around on floats. Filming has already begun at Disney World and musical guests this year include Train, Trey Songz, Lucy Hale, and Trisha Yearwood. Disney hasn’t announced all the hosts of the parade but one of the co-hosts was recently announced: Tim Tebow. Tune in on Christmas Day for all the parade fun!

New! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Sold Out Dec 19: The very last Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of the Season is now officially sold out.  Tickets are still available for December: 11, 12, 14, 16, and 18 2014.

New! Meet Santa at Magic Kingdom Park During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Santa is available to meet guests at Town Square Courtyard on Main Street, U.S.A., during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Epcot

New! United Kingdom Pavilion Receives New Entertainment Offering: The Paul McKenna Band debuted last week in the United Kingdom as one of the new World Showcase entertainment acts. The Paul McKenna Band is a traditional four-piece group from Glasgow, Scotland who will perform in the courtyard of the United Kingdom. The band’s contemporary approach to songs never strays too far from their Scottish, folk music roots. Show times for the Paul McKenna Band are 11, 11:50 a.m., 12:45, 1:40, 2:35, 3:35 and 4:50 p.m.

Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre, with show times at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. While some of these dates have passed, we wanted to share with you the entire list of narrators that are part of this program. Narrators include:

  • Jodi Benson – November 28 – 29, 2014
  • Neil Patrick Harris – November 30 – December 2, 2014
  • Jonathan Groff (NEW!) – December 3 – 4, 2014
  • Whoopi Goldberg – December 5 – 6, 2014
  • LeVar Burton – December 7 – 9, 2014
  • Edward James Olmos – December 10 – 12, 2014
  • Joe Morton (NEW!) – December 13 – 14, 2014
  • Chita Rivera – December 15 – 17, 2014
  • Ana Gasteyer (NEW!) – December 18 – 20, 2014
  • Marlee Matlin – December 21 – 23, 2014
  • Isabella Rossellini – December 24 – 25, 2014
  • Blair Underwood – December 26 – 27, 2014
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – December 28 – 30, 2014

Candlelight Dining Packages are available for Guests. With these special dinner packages, Guests receive dinner at a restaurant of their choice, guaranteed seating at America Gardens Theatre for a booked Candlelight Processional show time and viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Note: Dinner packages do not include park admission. Limited availability.

New! Meet Santa at Epcot:  Santa is available to meet guests at The American Adventure, during Holidays Around the World.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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Disney Forms Relationship with Turner Classic Movies for The Great Movie Ride: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced a new strategic relationship with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and The Walt Disney Studios to broaden its reach in family entertainment with joint efforts centered on classic film. The relationship features include new TCM integration into The Great Movie ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on-air showcase of Disney Treasures. TCM branding will be integrated into the attraction’s marquee as well as banners, posters and display windows outside the attraction. In the queue line, families will enjoy new digital movie posters and will watch a new pre-ride video with TCM host Robert Osborne providing illuminating insights from the movies some of which Guests will experience during the ride. The finale will feature an all-new montage of classic movie moments. After Guests exit the attraction, they will have a photo opportunity with a classic movie theme. Changes are expected to be seen in The Great Movie Ride by Spring 2015.

Disney’s Star Wars Weekends Dates Announced and Dining Available for Booking: Attention fans of The Force – get ready to plan your trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in spring 2015! Star Wars Weekends will be held every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 15-June 14, 2015. Once again, the Star Wars Character Dining Experiences will be available and they are open for booking now. Choose from Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at $49.99 per adult and $31.99 per child ages 3-9 or Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, Including Fantasmic! Dining Package at $57.99 per adult and $34.99 per child ages 3-9. Prices include tax, but not gratuity. Star Wars Weekends dates are as follows:

  • Weekend I: May 15-17, 2015
  • Weekend II: May 22-24, 2015
  • Weekend III: May 29-31, 2015
  • Weekend IV: June 5-7, 2015
  • Weekend V: June 12-14, 2015

Animal Kingdom

Flame Tree Barbecue to Close Temporarily Starting Jan. 5: Beginning Jan. 5, construction will start at Flame Tree Barbecue, which will result in an approximate three month closure. During the refurbishment, which is anticipated to last until early April, we will enhance the location by adding additional covered seating areas, covering choice Guest walkways to some pavilion seating areas and extending the roof over the main building to offer additional cover for Guests waiting to place their order. Since the food offerings at Flame Tree Barbecue are favorites amongst Guests, a selection of them will be offered at existing kiosks throughout the park during the downtime.

Disney World Resort Hotels

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Front Desk Reopened: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has reopened the front desk of the Great Ceremonial House, and it’s beautiful!

Resort Holiday Decorations have Returned:

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort:  The all-new “Frozen” gingerbread ice castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is adorned with sugar snowflakes, gingerbread shingles and chocolate-coated trees – Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are decorated with sugar, chocolate and candy.

Disney’s BoardWalk Resort: Also all new is a life-size replica of a Jersey Shore Boardwalk concession stand serving holiday treats – ice cream cones, gingerbread houses and cookies and stollen bread. Sweet wreaths and Mickey- and Minnie-shaped gingerbreads decorate the stand.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: The life-size gingerbread house celebrates 16 years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – the pastry chefs use the same building plans to re-create a fresh masterpiece each year, using a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria (they estimate 400 hours of baking).

Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Check out the 14th annual Holiday Carousel, a life-size, spinning carousel with ponies made of chocolate and fondant, handcrafted poinsettia and gingerbread snowflakes – look for 14 hidden Mickeys, one for each year!

Disney’s Yacht Club: Find an adorable holiday village with miniature train adorns the lobby, surrounded with sugar rock mountains.

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“Frozen Fun” at Disneyland

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Frozen is invading Disneyland in 2015! All the new Frozen attractions will officially open on January 7th but they will begin select sneak peaks starting December 20th.

  • For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – The Muppet*Vision 3D theater in Hollywood Land has been transformed for this event into the beautiful Crown Jewel Theatre from Arendelle. You’re invited to step inside and join the Arendelle Historians – along with special appearances by Anna, Elsa & Kristoff – for a fun and comedic retelling of the unique history of their kingdom, filled with delightful, sing-along moments from “Frozen.”
  • Olaf’s Snow Fest – Stage 17 in Hollywood Land plays host to an immersive winter wonderland straight out of the Kingdom of Arendelle, complete with a giant snow play area and musical performances by The Frolicking Fjords and The Tubadors. You can glide down a snow slide, build a snowman of your own and visit everyone’s favorite snowy pal, Olaf and give him a warm hug.
  • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post – Head back outside, and nearby you’ll find Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, where you can pick up the latest “Frozen”-inspired apparel, plush, toys, mugs and more.FrozenOlaf
  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome – Anna and Elsa meet & greet will move from Fantasyland to an elegant new location inside the Disney Animation attraction at Disney California Adventure park, where you can meet them as part of a special royal greeting. You may also get a chance to meet Olaf! The colorful and varied display in the Animation Courtyard will also now include scenes and music from Disney’s Academy Award-winning blockbuster hit, “Frozen,” and at Animation Academy, a Disney artist asks, “Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?”
  • Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party – Each evening, you’re invited to “chill out” in Hollywood Land with music, dancing, interactive fun and more in this new, family-friendly experience. You’ll arrive at the party through an icy archway to find wintry décor, dazzling lighting effects, cool photo spots, yummy treats and frosty beverages for all ages. Throughout the night, a giant thermometer registers the drop in temperature, as things get so cool they ultimately reach the freezing point when everyone lets it go in a spectacular “Frozen Fun” crescendo!
  • Mickey’s Soundsational Parade resumes January 7th and Anna & Elsa will once again be on their pre-parade float.
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats returns later this month with a new addition to this charming and beloved Fantasyland attraction, with excursions through the world of “Frozen” offering views of the fjord-side village of Arendelle, including the stately castle where Anna and Elsa grew up, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, and Elsa’s mountaintop ice palace. The miniature locales of “Frozen” will find a new home among the familiar scenes of some of Disney’s most enduring and timeless fairy tales.
  • Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink will be continuing through February 22, 2015 at Downtown Disney District
  • Anne & Elsa Boutique is open now at Downtown Disney District.

We will soon be posting a look into what is happening in 2015 for Disney parks and Disney news so stay tuned for our next post!

Happy Disney travels!

Top Disney Parks Interactive Experiences

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Disneyland and Disney World offer many fun attractions, shows and amazing dining for families during their vacations. But there are some interactive experiences at both parks that occastionally get overlooked and missed that we want to point out to our readers. We are calling them “interactive experiences” because your participation with them actually is the attraction. If you are visiting the parks for a short time, like 1-3 days, you will probably miss these and try to fit in as many attractions and characters and dining as you can. But for a longer stay at either coast, we think it is well worth finding some time to have a little fun with these great programs. It adds something unique and special for your kids, and they can make amazing memories. Here is our list of the Top Interactive Experiences that we think you shouldn’t miss! And they are all FREE with your park admission!

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1. Animation AcademyHollywood Studios, Walt Disney World AND Hollywood Land, California Adventure (Disneyland). This experience is one of our favorites and it is easily missed at the parks. At Disney World, it is located in the Magic of Animation and at Disneyland, it is in the Animation Building at California Adventure. Both experiences offer a drawing session with a Disney animator that teaches kids and adults how to draw a favorite Disney character. It is so much fun and you leave with your own drawing as a souvenir! Limited space in each session and sessions are at specific times.

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2. Jedi Training AcademyHollywood Studios, Walt Disney World AND Tomorrowland, Disneyland. Your future Jedi can signup to learn how to be a Jedi and then fight Darth Vader! This experience will provide (for the show) a Jedi robe and light saber for each child (these items are returned at the end of the show). At Disneyland, children are chosen from the audience to participate, and at Disney World, children must sign up before the show to participate. Space is very limited and shows are at specific times.

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3. Sorcerers of the Magic KingdomMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. This is a scavenger hunt style game with cards and keys that take you all around the Magic Kingdom to defeat the villains. There are multiple hidden screens all over the Magic Kingdom and it is so much fun to play! You can stop at anytime and start again the next day. The cards are great collectors and kids love trying to solve the mystery and fight the villains! See our post on Sorcerers for all the details.

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4. Wilderness Explorers AdventureAnimal Kingdom, Walt Disney World AND California Adventure, Disneyland. Both experiences were born from the movie “Up” where Russell is earning his Wilderness Explorer badges. Kids can follow maps and earn badges as well throughout Animal Kingdom and the Redwood Creek Trail (Disneyland).

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5. Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate TutorialMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. Do you have a big pirate fan at home? In this show, kids are brought on stage and taught how to be a pirate by a group of Jack’s crew as well as Jack himself. Some kids dress as pirates for the occasion. Sign ups are done ahead of time at the park and shows are at specific times only.

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6. A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven SeasMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. Similar to Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom, this treasure hunt involves helping Jack complete set missions and clues and treasures are collected throughout the park. This experience runs all day and night. Signups are in Adventureland.

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7. Agent P’s World Showcase AdventureEpcot, Walt Disney World. A scavenger hunt style experience through the countries of the World Showcase. Kids can sign up throughout the World Showcase and then they receive an electronic device to help them work through the clues and complete their mission. Kids who love Phineas and Ferb will love the hidden characters throughout the pavilions.

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8. Kidcot Fun StopsEpcot, Walt Disney World. While these are the least flashy of all the interactive experiences, they are very interesting and fun. Kids can visit a stop in each country and get a stamp in their passport, autograph book or anything else they are using for souvenirs. They can color something at each stop – it used to be Duffy but recently has been Agent P. At each Kidcot Stop, there is a Cast Member from that country that usually writes or stamps something in that countries language for the child. It can be a fun learning experience for kids and they will enjoy collecting all the pavilions. You can purchase an Epcot Passport to put stamps in and keep as a souvenir.

There are other fun experiences at all the parks, but these are some of our favorites. If your family has time to take part in any of these, you won’t regret it as they can be so much fun. The scavenger hunt games are lots of fun for the kids and they can work on it alongside their parents.

Happy Travels!

Character Greets at Disneyland

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There are many character meet and greets at Disneyland, many of which don’t have schedules or set spots. This can make character spotting a little harder than at Disney World but also a little more magical and fun. One special thing about Disneyland is that characters sometimes just walk around and stop to take pictures occasionally. We have had many spontaneous encounters with characters that have been so much fun. Once we were making a wish at the ponds near the Wishing Well, and one of Cinderella’s mice, Perla, just came up and hugged my kids and took a sweet picture with them. It was very magical.

Tips for Meeting Characters

  1. Be prepared for unplanned character meetings. This means that you sort of need to keep your eyes out for characters and be ready to stop to snap pictures at any time. Since a lot of characters don’t have specific areas or schedules, there sometimes isn’t a long wait to get your picture with them.
  2. Visit set Meet and Greets early in the morning, right when they begin. The Princesses, Merida, Rapunzel and Tinker Bell can get a long wait later in the day, so plan on seeing them first thing in the morning.
  3. Many characters who walk around instead of have a set area, don’t have a Photopass photographer with them. Make sure to have your camera ready for the picture.
  4. If you plan to do autograph books, be prepared while waiting in line with page and pen ready. Characters are always ready to sign autograph books while they interact with your kids. For how to make your own autograph book, visit our popular DIY Disney post on Autograph Books.
  5. Take pictures of your kids interacting with them as well as posing. Some of my favorite pictures are the candid pictures.

Below is our list of character greets in the places you can usually find them. Some characters have set Meet and Greet areas, which is noted with an asterisk. Usually there is a schedule for when then will be there and Disney has that posted on their Times Guide or on their website calendar. Many characters do not have a schedule that Disney releases, so if it says you can find a certain character in Fantasyland, it could be anytime during the day. If you are looking for a specific favorite character, don’t be afraid to ask at Guest Relations on Main Street and see if they can point you in the right direction at the right time.

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(all these characters have been known to stop on Main Street to take pictures and walk around greeting guests but there isn’t a published schedule)

Cruella

Mary Poppins
Bert
Mad Hatter
Alice
Captain Hook
Cruella de Vil
Eeyore
White Rabbit
Pluto
Goofy
Pinocchio

Fantasyland

Merida

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Fantasy Faire*(Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Ariel) – princesses rotate who will pose for pictures, located left of castle
Rapunzel and Flynn Rider* – next to Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure
Pixie Hollow (Tinker Bell and one other fairy – they rotate who it will be) – right of castle near Tomorrowland
Mad Hatter
Peter Pan and Wendy
Fairy Godmother – usually in front of castle or near Fantasy Faire
Merida* – located near Small World

Adventureland

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Jasmine & Aladdin* – area just past The Enchanted Tiki Room

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Pocahontas

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Critter Country

Area right next to Winnie the Pooh attraction is where Pooh Bear and one other friend take pictures; friends rotate between Tigger and Eeyore usually

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Winnie the Pooh*
Tigger*
Eeyore*

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Mickey Mouse* – inside his house (our photo he was outside for that day but that isn’t normal)
Minnie Mouse* – in front of her house
Donald Duck – sometimes he is walking around and sometimes he is inside his boat
Goofy – sometimes he is in front of his house and sometimes he is wandering around
Pluto – he likes to wander around mostly

California Adventure

Buena Vista Street

This street has some fun, unusual characters that mingle among the guests. You can usually spot them as they are dressed in vintage Hollywood costumes. They are very entertaining to interact with so don’t be afraid to say hello.

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Donna the Dog Lady
Molly the Messenger
Officer Calvin Blue
Phi Phi the Photographer

Carthay Circle

Chip and Dale
Pluto
Goofy
Mickey Mouse

HollywoodLand

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Mr. & Mrs. Incredible
Frozone
Sulley
Disney Junior Characters*: Jake or Sophia the First – located right outside the Disney Junior Live theater

Bug’s Land

Flik (He’s a hard one to find as he comes out for Greets less and less)

Paradise Pier

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Duffy the Disney Bear* – located across from Ariel’s Grotto
Woody and Jessie – usually across from Toy Story Midway Mania
Buzz – usually across from Toy Story Midway Mania

Condor Flats

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Minnie* – dressed in pilot attire, she takes photos next to her plane after the Minnie’s Fly Girls show

Redwood Trails

Dug (from the movie Up)
Russell (from the movie Up)

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Lightning

Lightning McQueen
Mater
Red the Fire Engine

Always be ready to snap pictures with characters at Disneyland since you may bump into one without even trying! Some of our favorite encounters with characters have been at Disneyland. It is one of the magical parts of Disneyland!

For more character information, please visit our Disneyland page on the Preschoolears website!

New Sofia the First Meet & Greet

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Does your house love the new “Sofia the First” show on Disney Junior? My kids love this new show, and Disney has just announced there will be a Sofia the First meet and greet starting at Disney California Adventure park at HollywoodLand, outside the Disney Junior Live! Show.

She won’t be arriving at Disney World until late summer where she will have her own meet and greet area outside the Disney Junior Live! show as well with a backdrop that looks like Enchancia. Disney Junior Live! is located at the Hollywood Studios park.

My five year old was so sad she wasn’t there when we just went to Disney World, but if you are heading to the parks this summer, you may get a chance to get a picture with the newest princess-in-training!

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