What happens to the Happiest Place on Earth when a pandemic hits?
As moms, keeping our kids and families healthy and safe is one of our top priorities. While there are no guarantees, Disney World has taken extensive measures to ensure the safety of its guests. If you haven’t been to Disney since COVID, here’s what you need to know.
DISNEY AFTER COVID | PRECAUTIONS
TEMPERATURE CHECKS. Before entering the parks or Disney Springs, they check everyone’s temperature, including children, using a contactless thermometer.
MASKS ARE MANDATORY. Everyone ages 2 and older is required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times, including on rides — even roller coasters. Guests can only remove masks when actively eating and/or drinking while stationary. In other words, there’s no wandering down Main Street sipping on your Starbucks or munching on popcorn anymore. Cast Members (politely) enforce this and do not hesitate to ask guests to properly wear their masks.
This did not seem to be an issue for guests. In my experience, guests followed protocols and I never witnessed any confrontations between guests and Cast Members.
HAND SANITIZER. There are countless hand sanitizer stations throughout the parks, including at the exit of every ride as well as throughout the queues for guests to use while waiting in line.
SOCIAL DISTANCING. Because crowds are at limited capacity, it’s not challenging to maintain your distance from other guests while exploring the parks. Queues for rides, dining and store entrances are clearly marked providing at least 6 feet apart between waiting parties. Shop doors are also marked with “Entrance” or “Exit” to ensure incoming and outgoing traffic moves one way.
Disney has added plexiglass partitions in queues where the lines zigzag back and forth in a tight space.
Some rides naturally provide social distancing with parties each on their on vehicle (think: Haunted Mansion). On rides where social distancing is difficult (like the rows on Frozen Ever After, Jungle Cruise or Pirates of the Caribbean), there are plexiglass partitions between rows, and guests are never seated with other parties.
DISNEY AFTER COVID | ENTERTAINMENT
PARADES, FIREWORKS, CHARACTER MEET & GREETS. All shows, parades, meet and greets and fireworks at the parks have been on pause since the parks reopened in order to avoid large congregations of guests at any one location. However, guests still have opportunities to see their favorite Disney characters!
They can often be spotted on balconies of buildings waving and there are frequent (though unscheduled/unannounced) cavalcades with characters driving by in cars or on floats (or on boats in Animal Kingdom). We also spotted Gaston and Merida on horseback!
DISNEY AFTER COVID | TRANSPORTATION
MONORAIL, BUSES, FERRY RIDES. Disney transportation is still running. They’ve lowered the capacity for each to ensure social distancing. On the monorail, each party has its own space and there are partitions dividing each car.
We were boarding the monorail around 8:30 a.m., about 30 minutes before the park opened, and although there was a decent size crowd, we didn’t encounter any major delays. We’ve had much longer waits pre-COVID when the park was at full capacity.
DISNEY AFTER COVID | DINING & SHOPPING
SOCIAL DISTANCING, LIMITED OPTIONS, MOBILE ORDERING. As I mentioned, social distancing is observed at all shops and dining spots. Presumably because of the limited capacity at the park, some shops and restaurants remained closed.
Any other Casey’s Corner fans sad to miss out on their favorite corn dog nuggets?!
For dining, I highly recommend using the Mobile Order option on the My Disney Experience mobile app. Though various locations offered this pre-COVID, some spots are now taking orders exclusively through the app and will not accept in-person orders (like Woody’s Lunch Box at Hollywood Studios). The pick-up time for these orders can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half later. So be sure to plan ahead and order your meals in advance. No one wants to wander the parks with hangry kids (or husband)!
DISNEY AFTER COVID: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN PLANNING YOUR VISIT
A few things to note:
- Purchasing tickets and park reservations need to be made in advance.
- The Fast Pass system is currently shut down (in my experience, wait times were not bad).
- The Park Hopper option is available again as of January 1, 2021 but begins at 2:00 p.m.
- Not all Walt Disney World Resorts have reopened yet.
DISNEY AFTER COVID | OVERALL EXPERIENCE
My family and I felt safe throughout our entire visit and still very much enjoyed it. Though it was disappointing to find some of our favorite dining and shopping spots at the parks still closed, it didn’t ruin the fun. Disney after COVID is a slightly different experience, but the magic is still there if you’re open to it!
DISNEY AFTER COVID: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW | Do you have any questions about visiting Walt Disney World in 2021? Let us know in the comments!
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