It’s been a long time coming, but the huge Disney Park news we’ve all been waiting for is finally here.
The COVID-19 pandemic altered a lot of the traditional Disney magic we’re used to at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks. From face masks and plexiglass to the new Park Pass Reservation system, the Guest experience at Walt Disney World and other Disney Parks across the globe was modified significantly for the health and safety of Guests and Cast Members.
And one of the most saddening changes stemming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines was the social distancing rules introduced for character meet and greets.
Now, however, Disney has finally revealed when hugs will return to domestic Disney Parks!
Traditional meet and greets between Guests and Disney characters were not allowed at Walt Disney World or Disneyland during the pandemic, with characters only seen in new “sightings” or on character cavalcades down Main Street, U.S.A.
Meeting characters often became an awkward experience for Guests with pandemic rules in place. Ropes were introduced at attractions like Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater and Princess Fairytale Hall, with Guests only allowed to take selfies with their favorite characters.
And a hug? Well, Guests could forget about interacting physically or having young children run to their favorite Disney characters.
Now, in fantastic news, Disney has revealed that normal meet and greets will be returning to the Walt Disney World Resort, Aulani Disney Resort in Hawaii, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland Resort on April 18!
It’s the massive Disney news that Guests have been waiting for. Disney Parks Blog revealed that “while not all locations will be available immediately, we anticipate reopening in phases throughout the spring and early summer”, writing:
As early as April 18, we will start reintroducing traditional character greetings at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, as well as aboard Disney Cruise Line and at Aulani Resort in Hawaii. That’s right! Very soon, you will once again be able to hug Mickey Mouse, get an autograph from Mulan, and share a laugh with Goofy. We know many of you have missed these special moments, and your Disney character friends have missed you, too!
This exciting milestone continues the recent, powerful momentum of returning entertainment across the Disney parks and resorts. As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World, we’ve welcomed back shows such as “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” and “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular,” along with the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade and new experiences like “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.” This spring, Disneyland will see the return of several beloved nighttime spectaculars, including “World of Color,” “Disneyland Forever,” “Fantasmic!” and “Main Street Electrical Parade,” celebrating its own 50th anniversary. And aboard Disney Cruise Line, we’re once again delighting guests with fireworks at sea and magnificent, Broadway-style shows on every ship.
We anticipate wait times for meet and greets after April 18 for Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Tiana, and all our favorite characters to increase as Guests get the interactions and photos they’ve been waiting two years to enjoy.
Disneyland Paris set the trend back in early March when the French Disney Resort removed social distancing completely, finally allowing Disney Guests to hug their favorite Disney characters. Disneyland Paris begins its 30th anniversary celebration on March 6, 2022, so normal meet and greets returned at the ideal time. It was a shame not to see normal character encounters return for Disney World’s 50th anniversary, but with the Omicron strain of COVID-19 spreading at the end of last year, “normal” for domestic Disney Guests was delayed.
The removal of the indoor locations face mask rule at Disney’s theme parks last month led to some sense of normalcy returning to Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And now, we finally get our character hugs back.
We know we can’t wait to run up to Mickey, Minnie, Pooh, and all their pals when traditional character meet and greets return across the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts!