For the first time in forever, it seems, Walt Disney World and Disneyland guests will be able to get close to Mickey, Minnie and other Disney characters for photos, autographs and hugs.
Traditional character interactions are returning “as early as April 18” to both parks.
For nearly two years, costumed characters at U.S. Disney parks have kept their distance from visitors because of the pandemic.
“While not all locations will be available immediately, we anticipate reopening in phases throughout the spring and early summer,” Disney Live Entertainment’s Shawn Slater wrote in a Disney blog post.
Social distancing has been required for nearly all character interactions throughout the pandemic except on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which opened March 1. Guests have had to wave from afar since Walt Disney World, near Orlando, reopened in July 2020 and Disneyland, in California, reopened in April 2021, posing for photos while staying several feet apart.
Both parks slowly have been scaling back COVID-related restrictions, removing indoor mask mandates for vaccinated guests in mid-February and resuming pre-pandemic routines like daily parades. Disney World’s Festival of Fantasy parade returned on March 9. Disneyland’s parades come back April 22.
“Very soon, you will once again be able to hug Mickey Mouse, get an autograph from Mulan, and share a laugh with Goofy,” the post said. “We know many of you have missed these special moments, and your Disney character friends have missed you, too!”
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