I want to offer my own personal experience in visiting the Walt Disney World Resort during the pandemic. The ins and outs, the good, the bad, and the MAGICAL!
I need to mention that the rules at Walt Disney World and the rules set forth by the state of Florida are two different things. Walt Disney World has much tighter restrictions and they make their own policies that must be followed to enter and to remain in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and theme park.
Pack Your Patience
Now. Let’s talk about patience. Please make sure you pack plenty of it in your suitcase. Put it on each morning along with your smile. Be kind to others and especially to the Disney Cast Members. While the Parks are at limited capacity, you will still be standing in lines. Even where lines didn’t exist before! An example of this is that you can no longer just walk into the Emporium on Main Street U.S.A. to do some shopping. There is only one entrance and only one exit. You must stand in line and be allowed entry by a Disney Cast Member to keep capacity inside the store within the safety guidelines.
On arrival at Disney’s Magical Express, I was guided to my bus as usual by a friendly Disney cast member. I was given an assigned seat on the bus to ensure social distancing. Piece of cake!
Once I was checked into my resort hotel room, I was able to take off my mask. If I left my room, I made sure my mask was in place. Friendly reminders were given by Disney cast members if you had forgotten to put your mask in place.
At the entrance of each theme park, there were small tents where a temperature check was done. In any line, you were expected to maintain social distance. Security has changed in that they no longer go through each person’s bag. However, you may be asked to remove any metal objects (metal water bottles, batteries, metal drinking straws, etc.), put them into a bin, and go through a metal detector. If the metal detector went off then they would go through your bag. Then off to the touchless gate to enter the theme park. Easy peasy!
When you first see the incredibly long lines for the attractions, it’s enough to make you want to turn around and leave! But please keep in mind that social distancing measures are in place. So lines are stretched far beyond anything you’ve ever seen. But they also move faster than you would have ever expected! So don’t be intimidated.
It’s very important to know that posted wait times can be inconsistent. For example, the posted wait time for the Haunted Mansion was 60 minutes. But I was actually seated in my Doom Buggy in 20 minutes. The reason for this discrepancy is they are allowing a window of time for cleaning cycles. Attraction vehicles are being wiped down and sanitized for your safety. So you may find yourself standing in a line that isn’t moving for several minutes. Don’t panic! It will be moving again soon. My advice here is to be patient and just roll with it. And like my experience in Haunted Mansion, you may find that you’ve arrived between those cleaning cycles so your wait is much shorter!
Weekends vs. weekdays
I do want to note that weekends in the Parks are busier than weekdays, by far. So plan accordingly if you can. The Parks are currently operating at 35% capacity. But it will feel busier than that! The reason for this is that under normal operating conditions, you don’t actually SEE as many guests. Guests are normally in restaurants – right now a few of those restaurants are closed and those that are open have limited capacity. Guests are normally standing in indoor queues for the attractions – right now many queues have been pushed outdoors for social distancing and to limit the capacity of those who are indoors following safety guidelines.
At the entrance and at the exit of each attraction, you’ll find touchless antibacterial gel stations. Use them! Every time you see one, just use it. That’s what it’s there for.
When using the restrooms, go to the far end of the bank of toilet stalls if you have that option. Most people go for the stall that’s closest to the door so those are the stalls that are used most often. Instead, walk just a few steps more to find a stall towards the back that isn’t used as often. And of course, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after using the restroom.
Wear Your Mask
Masks! Everyone over the age of 2 MUST wear a mask. So coordinate your outfit with your mask! Make it fun! It’s required so you may as well go with it. Disney sells lots of masks and they are quite breathable, soft, and comfortable. But before you leave home, be sure you try wearing a couple of your own masks for an extended period of time. Tightness, breathability, and ear discomfort are all things you want to know about your mask well before you end up wearing it in the heat and humidity.
Even the best masks can get really irritating after a while. So be sure to look for the relaxation stations scattered with the theme parks. There, you can sit down, take off your mask, eat, drink, and just enjoy not having something strapped to your face! If you find yourself overheating and getting kinda crabby, then head for a relaxation station.
These days, mobile ordering is required for entry into a quick-service restaurant. In order to keep the people inside a restaurant to a minimum, only those guests who have a blue screen confirmation on their mobile device showing that their order is ready for pick-up will be allowed to enter the restaurant.
Walt Disney World is OPEN! And the characters and the cast members are very glad to see you. More than ever before. The magic still exists!!
Feel free to contact me if you need help planning your Disney Vacation.