Elena of Avalor
A Cast Member and Disney performer playing Elena of Avalor Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Quietly Changes Character “Meet & Greets” to “Sightings” to Imply Distancing

We have been loving all of the news coming out of Walt Disney World focused on the return of fan-favorite experiences that disappeared upon the parks’ reopening last year, especially when it comes to character meet and greets and entertainment.

Credit: Disney

While characters returning in more places around the parks, most recently Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, has been very exciting for Guests with trips coming up, it is important to note that all character experiences are still appropriately distanced. This includes character greetings in the theme parks and resorts, as well as character cavalcades (which have effectively replaced previously offered parades and dance parties), and character dining, where Guests are now encouraged to take distanced selfies with characters in the background of the photo while remaining seated at their table.

More recently, Disney has quietly changed the name for what these kinds of experiences are called on their website from character meet and greets to “character sightings,” seemingly to imply just what that sounds like; that Guests will be able to see the characters but they may not be able to meet them up close. In some locations however, Guests will have one-on-one time with the characters, they will just not be able to get close enough for hugs or autograph signing.

Credit: Disney (Topolino’s Terrace)

Additionally, the continued distancing of character sightings means that fans who collect character autographs are still out of luck when it comes to getting signatures by favorite characters. If Guests are unable to have close up interactions with the characters, collecting autographs is also logistically off the table. In fact, Walt Disney World has even taken character autograph books off the shelves in retail locations for the time being.

With more character sightings, especially indoor ones at permanent locations designed just for character experiences, opening up later this fall, we are expecting to learn more details of what meeting the characters will be like for the remainder of the year at Walt Disney World.

Credit: Disney

And, while we are still experiencing distanced character greetings in the parks, the ability to spend personal time with characters at select locations (like Princess Fairytale Hall for instance) is a new development that are are hopeful is a sign of more “normal” times to come.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."