Hugs are coming back to Disneyland: ‘My inner child is so happy’

Hugs from Mickey, high-fives from Pluto and autographs by Mulan – part of the Disney experience that was interrupted by the pandemic – are coming back.

Walt Disney Co. announced on social media on Thursday that its Disneyland and Disney World theme parks will end interactions on social distance as early as April 18.

They were adopted when the parks reopened after the closure of covid-19 last year, forcing characters including “Frozen” Elsa and Anna to wave to guests behind cordoned off areas or elevated stages.

On Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Chewbacca and Stormtrooper’s visitors greet from platforms several meters away.

“The latest trends and guides have given us opportunities to take back some of our most beloved magic, such as character greetings and food experiences,” the company said in its Twitter feed. “Although not all seats will be available immediately, we expect to reopen in stages in the spring and early summer.”

The immediate response on social media was mostly positive. “My inner child is so happy,” a Disney fan responded on Twitter. “I can not wait to get hugs from my favorite Disney character Mickey Mouse,” wrote another fan on the Disney blog.

The pandemic forced unprecedented changes in the world’s most popular amusement parks, such as capacity constraints, a new booking system, mask requirements and extra cleaning at attractions and eateries. Parades and nightly fireworks were put on ice.

Among these changes was the requirement that costume characters no longer hug, touch or physically interact with guests. In recent months, Disneyland has slowly released many of these restrictions, including capacity limits, and has begun adding parades and fireworks.

Later this spring, Disneyland will relaunch its night attractions, including World of Color, Disneyland Forever, Fantasmic and Main Street Electrical Parade.

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