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Modified Dating and Greetings We Loved – The Denver Post

We can forgive theme park fans who crave a group hug. Walt Disney World has announced that Close Encounters with Characters will return after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic. The return will take place at Disney parks “starting April 18,” the company says.

Over the months, attractions have devised non-traditional ways for visitors to stay (somehow) close to the characters without coming face-to-face with them, masked or not.

Initially, Disney introduced the Character Cavalcade, a kind of mini pop-up parade. The idea was to prevent people from gathering in groups and waiting long periods of time within a breath of each other. Some fans liked that it wasn’t a heavy time investment.

There were experiments while conditions remained changing. Some people on stilts were masked; some were not. Some wore costume masks and face coverings. The parks created several stations where simple barriers or raised platforms helped everyone keep their distance. Universal Studios opened DreamWorks Destination, which merged a continuous dance party with socially distanced characters for photo ops.

We’ve noted five dating variations that might be worth hanging out as pandemic conditions ease.

Space Suitcases

At Epcot, there were several buffer zones between the guests and the characters, especially the princesses. The formats are simple. Snow White stands behind a row of potted flowers in the Germany pavilion. The catwalks in the alcoves in Japan and China are closed to give Jasmine and Mulan a lot of leeway, respectively. It may have been infuriating for the younger ones to be so close and yet so denied, but overall it was an improvement over the carriage rides for the princesses. This idea sounds great, of course, but it caused confusion among pedestrians, especially on days when World Showcase was blocked.

Epcot also used the buffer system near its entrance with bushes adjacent to Spaceship Earth. A landscape patch featured characters such as Goofy, Pluto, and Daisy Duck. Even better and downright bucolic: Winnie the Pooh frolicking in a grassy, ​​fenced-in area near Journey Into Imagination With Figment.

To the adventure

One of the latest character cavalcades introduced by Disney sports an adventure theme. It was also one of the most heavily populated groups – around 30 cast on floats or on foot – practically preparing for the return of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which returned to Magic Kingdom on essentially the same route on March 9.

Adventurers included both old school and modern characters, from Clarabelle Cow to Princess Elena.

Scooby Snack Alert

At the start of the pandemic, Universal Studios guests could see the entire Scooby-Doo gang outside Mel’s Drive-In. Each of the five figures stood together on raised platforms, so people could spy on them from afar, and a line on the ground indicated how close they could get for a photo op (with a park employee at work) .

The background music gave it a groovy vibe at times and made it easier to ignore the face masks of Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy.

Just this week, Universal used bounded and gated sections for characters like Krusty the Clown, Doc Brown of “Back to the Future” fame, the Knight Bus driver outside Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Hashtag the Panda nearly race through New York with the Jimmy Fallon attraction.

Antiques upstairs

A recurring theme for Disney characters has been the use of upper levels, places that were not previously used in many cases. Visitors could spot Country Bears atop Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland porches, Cinderella’s stepsisters at the back of the castle, and various characters on a balcony above the restrooms – it’s cooler than it sounds air – near the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The star of the upper tiers may have been the Walt Disney World Railroad station near the Magic Kingdom gate. People can spend some quality time with various characters as they come and go, including royal princess walks and Dapper Dans concerts. Disney luminary arrivals and departures via a ramp on the Main Street side of City Hall has also become its own thing to experience and post on social media.

Not all wet

Of all Disney’s cavalcades, the version for Animal Kingdom was the most unique and refreshing. The park used flatboats on its Discovery River to transport safari drag figures plus a ship with beaters. It worked as expected: visitors heard a change in music, then walked to the nearest bridge or similar vantage point to see the figures floating around, so there was almost no time wasted waiting. but still lots of signs. Guests could then return to their park plan for the day.

He’s a keeper. Disney announced this week that floating interactions will continue at Animal Kingdom, sharing time on the water with the “Disney KiteTails” show.

Email me at dbevil@orlandosentinel.com. Want more theme park news? Subscribe to the Theme Park Rangers newsletter at orlandosentinel.com/newsletters or the Theme Park Rangers podcast on orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/theme-park-rangers-podcast

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