It was a delight seeing the different posts yesterday from the different American Disney spots as people were able to walk up to their favorite characters, shake their hand, slap them five or even give them a hug!
That's right, HUGS ARE BACK! You can now visit a Disney Park in the United States or take a Disney Cruise and be able to hug your favorite character. Not only that, but you can also get an autograph from that character. A great souvenir that kids and adults have enjoyed for a long time now! It's been a long two years since the parks shut down and reopened with limited offerings. As we've seen those offerings slowly return, traditional character meet and greets have been a big topic among the Disney fan groups, Disney guests and Disney Cast Members. When will they return? Well, now they have and its glorious. I saw a video posted yesterday of a small boy, maybe around 4 years old, running up to Goofy. He stopped before reaching Goofy as if knowing he's not supposed to go up to him. Goofy squatted down and motioned for him to come over. The biggest hug between them ensued, and many tears were shed amongst the onlookers and video watchers. It was this type of encounter that Disney has been missing and people have been clamoring for. I'm so glad to see that the next time I get to a Disney Park, I'll be able to thank the big cheese himself with a hug, watch my daughters marvel at the princesses, shake the hands of Chewbacca, Buzz Lightyear and maybe even Pinocchio.
While this is a tremendous step towards nearing the end of this pandemic and seeing things get back to the way we remember things. We should pause and consider what this pandemic brought us during the pandemic. Let's consider the cavalcades, smaller parades brought by more often in the parks giving us a glimpse of the characters and the chance to say hello. They were - and are- still fun. We enjoyed hunting down the different character interactions, be it watching for flotillas in Animal Kingdom, relaxing in the hub watching the many different versions of cavalcades go by, or the neat interactions in Epcot, where Winnie the Pooh could be found hunting for butterflies or Chip and Dale having a picnic in Hollywood Studios. It was a treat seeing the creativity from Disney in providing different options for interacting and seeing the different characters. While we were vacationing in 2021 on Easter Weekend, we were able to see Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny have their own Easter Egg Hunt where Mr. Bunny would comically hide the eggs for Mrs. Bunny. My 8-year-old daughter had a blast watching this little skit take place. It came out of nowhere as we were enjoying some time in the Magic Kingdom hub. The music changed and out they came! In a small grassy area between the castle and Cosmic Rays, the Bunnys came out and provided a great bit of entertainment. This is something I don't think we'll see again, along with Pooh hunting butterflies, Joy frolicking in the field or Alice watering the garden. Yes, the character interactions that have just returned are by far the thing that is needed, but these little bits of storytelling is the bit of magic I'd like to see stay in the park. Many of the distanced interactions also provided the ability to interact with the characters without a long wait. I'm thinking of Cinderella's step sisters standing near the castle hilariously competing with each other for the next guests' attention. I hope Disney will go continue with interactions like that as well as continue with the traditional meet and greets.
It's a great time to be back in the parks, there is a lot of excitement around the returning experiences and new attractions (ahem, Guardians, I see you). I would love to know some of your favorite character interactions. Please let me know, we'll discuss them on an upcoming episode of the podcast. Now go find Mickey and give him a hug!