Disney Character Meet-and-Greets to Return to Parks for First Time Since COVID Closure

The "quintessential Disney entertainment experience" will be reintroduced to U.S. parks in phases beginning as soon as April 18

Character meetings are coming back to Disney World and Disneyland this spring for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down two years ago.

Disney's U.S. theme park locations will begin reintroducing the "quintessential Disney entertainment experience" as soon as April 18, according to a blog post from Disney Live Entertainment's senior communications manager Shawn Slater.

The return will be conducted in phases scheduled to begin in the spring and last through early summer, meaning not every location will have them immediately.

"This exciting milestone continues the recent, powerful momentum of returning entertainment across the Disney parks and resorts," Slater wrote in Thursday's post.

Walt Disney World, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Disneyland both shut down with much of the world in late March of 2020 due to "uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19." Walt Disney World began a phased reopening that July, while Disneyland remained closed until April 2021.

Disney character meeting

When the parks did re-open, many of the attractions and experiences were modified or temporarily halted to accommodate safety guidelines like social distancing. Guests over age two were required to wear masks and there were temperature checks upon arrival.

Other changes include requiring visitors to make reservations for each park online prior to admission, significantly lowering the number of guests allowed in, and reducing capacity on rides, various modes of transportation, and in restaurants and retail stores.

Disney World masks
Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty

All character meet-and-greets and shows (including parades and fireworks) were canceled and replaced with alternatives like "cavalcades," in which characters would pop up unannounced in various locations and keep a safe distance from guests.

Disney took a "very gradual, intentional approach to health and safety protocols" regarding COVID-19 over the last two years, Slater wrote in his post. Disney World began easing its COVID-19 restrictions in May 2021 in line with public health guidelines.

What Walt Disney World Will Look Like Upon Reopening; Courtesy Disney

In addition to character greetings, Disney World has brought back attractions such as Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Festival of Fantasy Parade as part of its 50th anniversary celebration.

More beloved attractions will be returning soon, too, including World of Color, Disneyland Forever, Fantasmic! and the Main Street Electrical Parade, which is celebrating its own 50th anniversary this year.

Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration runs through the end of 2022.

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