Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic happening around the world, Disney Parks have had to implement several different changes and protocols in order to operate safely during this time. These include social distancing measures, the requirement of wearing a proper face covering, increased hand sanitizing stations, the elimination of character meet and greets, parades and fireworks, and more.
Though I understand why Disney Parks had to implement these safety protocols, and am so thankful that Disney is taking this pandemic seriously, and is operating with Guests and Cast Members safety as their number one priority, I still miss some of the experiences we were able to have prior to the pandemic — Including hugging Mickey Mouse.
One of my favorite parts about visiting Walt Disney World was being able to run up to Mickey or Minnie and give them a big warm hug. We were able to have more intimate “conversations” about outfits, our plans for the day, etc. (even if some of the Disney characters couldn’t physically talk, we still knew exactly what they were saying).
Though Walt Disney World has brought Guests unique ways to spot Disney characters throughout the park in order to keep everyone safe yet still bring the Disney magic to the table, character cavalcades and pop-up character sightings just aren’t the same. I know the characters try to wave to every Guest and have that intimate moment with everyone from afar, but that’s also what they do during parades as well — before the pandemic hit.
It’s like comparing apples and oranges — Two different experiences that bring magic in their own unique ways. In my opinion, nothing can ever compare to the feeling of running up to your favorite character and being held in those big furry arms — No matter what your age is.
Again, I am so glad they brought the pop-up cavalcades and pop-up character sightings to the theme parks, but this experience just isn’t the same as being able to run up and hug them. There is something very special in a meet and greet and on my last vacation, I was really missing it.
As I mentioned earlier, I understand why Disney World currently cannot host character meet and greets, but that doesn’t make me miss this experience any less. One day I know I will once again be able to run up and hug Mickey, compare shoe styles with Daisy, and scratch behind Pluto’s ear, but until then, we will have to wave to our Disney friends from the side of the streets from a safe social distance.
If you are planning to visit Walt Disney World, please remember to follow the new safety and health protocols in order to keep you and others safe during this time. Keep your distance from others, wear your face coverings, use the hand sanitizer located throughout the resort, try to use paperless payment methods, and cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. For more information on Disney World’s safety protocols, visit their official website here.
Do you miss character meet and greets? Who will be the first character you hug when this experience returns? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: The opinions reflected in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.