It seems as though we have been waiting for ages, but the time has officially come! Pre-pandemic character meet and greets are finally back at Disney! That’s right, you can now run up to some of your favorite Disney characters — like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and more — and give them a great big hug. And don’t forget to bring your autograph book, because they will also once again be signing for any Guest who asks.
Walt Disney World Resort has been open since the summer of 2020 but, until now, all character interactions have been socially distanced. Any character meals have also been altered, with characters simply walking through the restaurant and waving to Guests as they go by. Disneyland has been open since April 2021, and its character meet and greets and character meals have been much the same.
Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are not the first Parks to see the return of traditional character meet and greets. Disneyland Paris began allowing pre-pandemic interactions all the way back in early March. That was mainly due to the fact that Guests visiting Disneyland Paris were required to provide either proof of a negative COVID test or proof that they were fully vaccinated. Such a rule was never in place at Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
Character hugs at Disneyland Paris made US Guests jealous, and anxious for Disney to make an announcement that the same thing would happen in its stateside Parks. Not long after Paris started allowing hugs, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy informed fans that hugs would be returning to the US Parks “soon.”
While some characters meet and greets at Walt Disney World will use a traditional standby queue, there will be some that Guests will be allowed to book Lightning Lane access to. Guests can book the Lightning Lane to meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall, to meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater, and to meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess also at Princess Fairytale Hall. Standby queues will also be used for those Guests who do not wish to book or do not have Disney Genie+.
Disneyland Resort will not be following in the footsteps of Walt Disney World when it comes to character meet and greets. Disneyland Resort will use regular standby queues for all of its character interactions. Disney Genie+ will only be used for rides and attractions.
What character are you looking forward to giving a big hug to?