Disney to allow Mickey Mouse to hug park visitors again, after years of social distancing

FOX Business Flash top headlines for April 6

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Disney fans wanting to get up close and personal with their favorite characters will soon be able to do so again.

The Disney Parks Blog announced regular meet-and-greets will return to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney cruises and the Aulani Resort in Hawaii as early as April 18.

For nearly two years, costumed characters at U.S. Disney parks have kept their distance from visitors because of the pandemic. They haven't been allowed to give hugs, sign autographs or interact up close with fans.

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"Very soon, you will once again be able to hug Mickey Mouse, get an autograph from Mulan, and share a laugh with Goofy," the post said. "We know many of you have missed these special moments, and your Disney character friends have missed you, too!"

The parks closed temporarily because of the coronavirus in spring 2020. After the parks reopened that summer, costumed characters could only be seen waving from a distance in the parks or in parades. Last fall, the parks allowed the costumed characters to return to locations around the parks for individualized meet-ups with visitors, but they were only allowed to greet visitors and have their photos taken from a distance

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Not all the traditional locations for character greetings will be open right away, the company said. They will be reopened in phases.

During its 50th anniversary celebration, Disney World recently welcomed back fan-favorite shows, including "Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire" and "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular," along with the Disney "Festival of Fantasy" Parade and new experiences like "Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade," FOX 35 Orlando reports.

Mickey Mouse greets children at the Magic Kingdom on Nov. 11, 2001, in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Disneyland brought back several nighttime spectaculars this spring, including "World of Color," "Disneyland Forever," "Fantasmic!" and "Main Street Electrical Parade," according to FOX 11 Los Angeles

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Disney has come under fire in recent weeks after CEO Bob Chapek denounced a new parental rights law in Florida that prohibits teachers from addressing gender identity and sexual orientation in some classrooms. 

Fox News' Bailee Hill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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