As the Walt Disney World Resort continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary — The World’s Most Magical Celebration — more changes have come to the Central Florida theme park.
Despite having been absent from the list of Disney Park experiences for quite some time, character meet and greets are officially being renamed. For now.
Beginning on October 1, 2021, the 50th anniversary celebration at the Disney World Resort brought together Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a huge moment that marked the longevity and love for the popular theme park destination. Embued with Disney magic, The World’s Most Magical Celebration saw the debut of two new nighttime spectaculars, Disney Enchantment at Cinderella Castle and Harmonious in the World Showcase, as well as the new — albeit comically divisive — Disney KiteTails.
Most recently, the Disney Resort debuted Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and the new FastPass+ replacement attraction entrances, Lightning Lane, meaning Guests can now skip the standby lines at rides like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for an additional cost.
However, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, meeting fan-favorite Disney characters at places like Princess Fairytale Hall and Town Square Theater, as well as at dining locations, are yet to return, and an update to the Walt Disney World website suggests they still won’t be back as Guests are used to quite yet.
Earlier this month it was announced that Guests will soon be able to see the Disney Princesses in Fantasyland’s Princess Fairytale Hall and Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theater sometime in November.
Disney Parks Blog shared the news which said, in part:
Although the environment is not right just yet for hugs and autographs, you’ll soon be able to have individualized time with some of your favorite characters, getting to visit with them in a themed location and snap a photo or two.
Joining returning entertainment at other Parks like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fans weighed in on the meet and greet return news but now it seems, despite their announced return, meet and greets are now being called sightings.
As we can see on the Disney website “Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater” has been renamed “Sighting with Mickey at Town Square Theater — Returning November 2021”. Again, over at the Princess Fairytale Hall information for Cinderella and Tiana, the Disney website is now calling the beloved experience “Sighting with Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall — Temporarily Unavailable” and “Sighting with Cinderella at Princess Fairytale Hall — Temporarily Unavailable”. It is interesting to note that the new language only references Cinderella and Tiana, who are known to also appear with Elena and Rapunzel, respectively.
Meeting Disney characters from afar shouldn’t be that much of a surprise for Guests on their Disney vacation. At present, all character experiences are at a distance. This doesn’t mean Guests won’t still have a magical time as we have seen by the hilarious interactions recently happening at the theme parks.
Earlier this year, one Guest was spectacularly roasted by Gaston while on their Walt Disney World vacation, and another Park visitor had Cinderella’s Wicked Stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella, try on some new shoes resulting in comical chaos. Over on the other coast at the Disneyland Resort, one Guest asked Tinker Bell a rather “controversial” question while greeting the character from a distance at Pixie Hollow in Fantasyland.
While “sightings” doesn’t necessarily capture the same type of Disney magic a pre-pandemic meeting did, it shows that the Orlando Disney Resort is still considering Guests and Cast Members’ health and safety as paramount during these times.
What do you think about character meet and greets being officially renamed as sightings? Let us know in the comments down below!