In August, I did what I thought was impossible just a couple of months before: I booked a Walt Disney World vacation during COVID. We decided to go to celebrate my daughter’s 8th birthday. Since her birthday is during summer, we always avoid Disney because of the hot weather and the crowds. However, after being at home for 5 straight months with limited outside contact, we felt that we needed a joyful vacation. I know it may sound like a crazy thing to do during a severe pandemic. But let me tell how safe and happy our experience turned out to be.
As a Disney family ourselves, I feel that I have plenty of knowledge and experience in the parks. However, during this time, it took a little bit of extra planning to be ready. The first significant change at Walt Disney World during COVID is that you have to make daily reservations for the park that you want to attend. Since the parks’ capacity has been reduced, not only is it required to reserve your attendance to each specific park, but park hopping is also temporarily suspended. For our visit, I first bought our tickets and then secured one day for Magic Kingdom and one day for Hollywood Studios.
Mickey ears are always the first item in my luggage. However, on this visit to Walt Disney World during COVID, the masks were more vital since they must be worn in the parks all day long. Even when taking pictures in your favorite spot. This safety measure is accompanied by temperature screenings before entering the park, marked separated space in the lines, and hand sanitizer widely available before and after enjoying each ride. We also witnessed how some rides were stopped once every few minutes to be hand cleaned by cast members.
Where to eat and relax
Eating is always a big deal for my family. I have a tween in a constant growth spurt, so I always need to have food available. Because of COVID, some dining experiences are canceled at Walt Disney World, and many snack stations are closed. So planning ahead is essential. I packed my kids’ favorite snacks in a backpack, and we enjoyed them during the day in specific “relaxation zones” where you can sit and remove your mask for a while. I also used the My Disney Experience App on my phone to make reservations at table-service restaurants or make mobile food pre-orders to be picked up and enjoyed at quick-service restaurants.
The Magic never goes away!
Being at Walt Disney World during COVID is, for sure, a different and limited experience. However, being such a magical place for my family, the joy is still there. The cast members make an extra effort to make you feel welcomed. They make sure that you don’t forget that under their masks there is still a smile. And even though character meets, parades, fireworks, and some attractions are closed/canceled, they were substituted by cavalcades. Cavalcades are spontaneous, small parades that occur multiple times during the day. We got to see our favorite Pixar characters at Hollywood Studios, and Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto made a special appearance at the end of the day at Magic Kingdom to say goodbye to all the guests.
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World during COVID, I hope this answers some of your questions. We had a joyful and safe time celebrating my daughter’s birthday. And I’m sure you will have a happy experience as well. If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask in the comments! I’ll be glad to help you plan your next vacation to the happiest place on earth!