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Donald Duck

The author of a report which claimed that the Disneyland Resort was set to ban free-roaming "atmosphere" characters from its theme parks says that management has backed down - at least in the short-term.

The original report by renowned Disney author David Koenig claimed that the change would be implemented imminently with the aim of increasing PhotoPass sales at fixed character "meet-and-greet" locations. Disneyland has since denied the story, and Koenig now credits this to the level of complaints from irate fans received following his article.

However, Koenig has reiterated his claim that Disneyland management had presented plans to ban "walkaround" characters during the next few months. If true, the public reaction would seem to have triggered a rethink, as illustrated by the resort's denial of the plans - reported by Orange County Register's Twitter account.

Any decision to constrain characters to predefined meet-and-greet locations would potentially increase sales of the PhotoPass professional photography service. PhotoPass photographers are positioned at meet-and-greet locations around Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and take pictures of guests with Disney characters that can be purchased later. It is still possible for guests to take pictures with their own camera.

The Disneyland Resort merged its PhotoPass and Entertainment departments in late 2009, making the same unit responsible for both photography and character interactions. Koenig says that the number of walkaround characters has been reduced since the merger, although it is still possible to see "atmosphere characters" wandering freely on occasion. The resort is also said to have banned characters from riding attractions in the theme parks.

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