Nice to meet you, again: Disney brings back non-distanced character meet-and-greets

Experiences were distanced due to COVID pandemic

Goofy at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club (Landon McReynolds, WKMG)

BAY LAKE, Fla. – It’s perhaps one of the last things that guests at Walt Disney World have been waiting to see return: an up-close moment, picture or autograph with Mickey Mouse and other popular characters.

The resort said Thursday that as early as April 18, leaders will start reintroducing traditional character greetings at Walt Disney World Resorts, Disneyland, as well as on board Disney Cruise Line.

“During the past two years, we’ve taken a very gradual, intentional approach to health and safety protocols,” Disney described on its blog. “Recent trends and guidance have provided opportunities for us to bring back some of our most beloved magic, like character greetings and dining experiences. While not all locations will be available immediately, we anticipate reopening in phases throughout the spring and early summer.”

Stich at Magic Kingdom (McReynolds)

Since the theme parks reopened after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, characters have been distanced from guests, often times being put behind barriers.

Earlier this month, Christine McCarthy, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Walt Disney Company, said that face-to-face meet-and-greets should be returning to Disney Parks “soon.”

The exciting milestone comes as Walt Disney World brings back more of its entertainment for guests.

Town Square Theater. Guests can meet Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell (WKMG)

Earlier this week, Disney announced the return of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

Over the past several weeks, the Festival of Fantasy parade and ”Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” returned to Magic Kingdom. Other shows coming back this year include “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue … and Beyond” at Animal Kingdom.

Use the form below to sign up for the In the Loop: Theme Park Scoops newsletter, sent every Friday morning.