Meeting characters has always been one of my favorite parts of visiting Disney World. Now, as a parent, watching my kids hug and interact with their favorite characters is a very important part of our family vacations.
With social distancing guidelines in place, we knew our experiences with characters would be different this year. Fortunately, we found we were still able to have special moments with our favorite Disney characters.
Below are some of the reasons socially distanced character greetings are still magical!
Characters are Playful
As we walked around the parks, we caught some of our favorite characters playing in ways we haven't seen before. In Epcot, Joy was playing in a garden area next to the Imagination pavilion. She even brought a pinwheel to play with (it can be seen off to the right in the photo above).
The Country Bears were on a balcony in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom, waving at guests. When a character cavalcade came by, they were dancing along with the music and helping the guests get excited.
Back in Epcot, Alice came out with a watering can and watered the garden in the front of the UK pavilion. When she walked back behind the pavilion to head backstage, she playfully stuck her tongue out at my 3-year-old son several times, making him roar with laughter!
Character Cavalcades are Fun (without the wait!)
I respect that many people miss the traditional parades and that the cavalcades may seem like just a small piece of those, but we had a different perspective. We typically avoid parades due to crowds and the need to stake out a spot ahead of time.
As the parent of 2 younger children, I find there is no faster way to stop the flow of pixie dust then to ask my kiddos to sit on the curb and wait for the parade in order to have a good view.
For us, the cavalcades were an opportunity to see our favorite characters in their awesome vehicles and carriages without any waiting.
We found it very exciting to hear the music suddenly change and, moments later, to see beloved characters come by in a carriage, on horseback, on a float, in a boat, in a cool car, or, just on foot!
In addition, though nothing replaces the opportunity to hug Mickey, we were excited about the opportunity to see lots of our family’s favorite characters without having to wait in line for each one separately.
And, secretly, my husband and enjoyed a break from having to repeatedly rummage through the backpack for an autograph book and pen!
There are Unexpected Characters
We were excited to run across some characters we didn’t expect to see in the parks. For example, Wendy and Peter Pan were on the porch of The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, talking with guests as they walked by.
Pocahontas and Meeko rode by on a boat at Animal Kingdom. We were also very excited to see Santa at Animal Kingdom!
Characters Still Create Magical Moments with Guests
My biggest fear with socially distanced character experiences was that we would miss opportunities to make special moments of connection with the characters.
I'm excited to share that, despite needing to be at least 6 feet apart, we still felt like the characters took a moment to connect just with us.
We got to see Rapunzel on the first day she came out to chat with guests. My kiddos and several others got to chat with her outside Princess Fairytale Hall.
In Epcot, my daughter was so excited to meet Mary Poppins in the garden of the UK pavilion and show off her own jolly holiday dress. Despite having to meet Mary from across the garden, she was still able to chat with Mary, who told her how practically perfect she looked!
Because of the current crowd capacity, families were spaced out enough during cavalcades that characters could take a moment to connect with individual guests and families.
During an Epcot cavalcade, Goofy pointed at my daughter’s Mary Poppins dress then pretended to fly a kite. This is one of her favorite memories from our vacation.
So, even though our favorite characters have to follow social distancing guidelines just like we do, they still found ways to make magical moments with kids and adults alike.
Though I’m sure we all look forward to going back to more normal times when we can hug and get autographs from our favorite characters, I hope that you’re able to see the social distancing guidelines as an opportunity for some unique and special experiences with your favorite characters!