Disney In The Time Of COVID

I Quit 2020

I woke up one morning and decided I was done with all the crap 2020 had thrown at us. Times are strange and I was feeling the 2020 burn out big time. I logged on to the Disney website and booked a trip for the next week. I have never planned a trip to Disney that close, but why not? Things in WDW are definitely different: there is no park hopping allowed, once you book your tickets, you’ll need to reserve your days at the parks, our days were wide open but I was told weekends tend to fill up. I reserved our room and our park days and off we went!

Mask Up

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Let me start by saying, if you or your kids are unable to tolerate a mask on a trip to Target, then Disney is not for you. Masks are very strongly enforced, unless you are stationary and actively eating or drinking. Cast members will stop you and remind you that masks are to be worn over your nose and mouth, on rides, during pictures, and in line. Wearing a mask wasn’t terrible; yes it got hot, but it was manageable. We saw people of all ages and walks of life wearing their masks all day long, and I never once saw a child cry or fight the mask, even littles were wearing them without a battle.

Disney requires masks for ages 2 years and up, in all areas of the park, unless stationary eating or drinking. Below are the mask requirements as posted at Disneyworld.

mask requirements at Disney

Keep It Clean

I packed several packs of wipes and bottles of sanitizer, but of course Disney was more than prepared. All through the parks and at the beginning and end of each ride were automatic hand sanitizer dispensers. There were also stand alone hand washing stations throughout the park.

hand washing station

There were also several times during the day when rides will be paused so that the ride vehicles can be sanitized. The cast members spray the vehicle down and then it goes through the ride to dry before guests are allowed back on. I observed cast members diligently wiping handrails, dining tables, and seating areas.

cast members spraying down carts

Temperature screening is done prior to entering parks and Disney Springs.

temperature screening

Getting Around The World

Although it hasn’t been officially published, I was told that park occupancy is about 25% of what it normally is. Buses continue to run from the resort areas, there is no magic number of people that can be on at one time. It depends on party size, layout of the bus, electronic vehicles, and strollers. We did not utilize the bus system, so I did not personally see inside a bus for reference.

On the Monorail, seating is two parties per car and one party per bench. The Skyliner was one party per gondola.

We drive to Disney and park at the parks, unless we do the Skyline. Parking in the park was plentiful, however trams to the gates were not running.

Disney Skyliner

Food For Thought

There are currently no dining plans, as many restaurants and snack booths are still closed. Dining reservations are being accepted at most sit down restaurants. We were able to walk in without reservations to some historically hard to book restaurants in the parks. Seating was distanced with one to two tables between parties. Menus are replaced with QR codes at both sit down and mobile ordering for quick service. Cast members are filling and handing out drinks at the pick up stations. We did pack a lot of our own snacks, single serve drinks, and water bottles and with the limited dining options, it helped a lot.

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Can I Meet Mickey?

Character greetings are very socially distant. The characters showed up around the park, on horse back, in cars, and on floats. I did run into Stitch while waiting for my kids to ride Space Mountain and was able to grab a selfie from 6ft. So you will see your favorite friends, but in a much different way.

character greeting selfieWe did not have a character dining experience planned, I asked a cast member about how they are happening and he told me that the characters are present and do walk the restaurants, they pose for safe distance pictures if space allows, and present an autographed card to the diners at the end of the meal.

Disney characters

I also asked about the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – it has been canceled this year, but the parks will be decorated, Halloween treats will be out, and costumes will be allowed on select days.

Lines and Rides

These were the two things I had the biggest concerns about when making this trip. I know how Disney lines typically are; kids climbing everywhere and being moved as close to the party ahead of you as possible. In true Disney fashion, they mastered the socially distant lines and rides. Lines are separated by “Please Wait Here” stickers on the floor and constant moving through the queue. Instead of waiting in large rooms, like in Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror, guests are moved through quickly.

There are no fast passes, but they aren’t needed. We waited about 30 minutes at the longest times, but most rides we walked right on. The lack of wait times was amazing, however we did ride every ride we wanted to, multiple times in both Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before 2pm both days. We took advantage of the extra time by taking swimming and nap breaks (we have never done this, even when the kids were little!) and went to play Fantasia Miniature Golf one afternoon. You are able to leave and re-enter the same park during the day.

Most rides are one party per vehicle, but on larger rides like Jungle Cruise or Tower of Terror, guests are strategically placed to maintain a safe distance from other parties. Plexiglass is placed between parties. There were at times one vehicle between parties and rows that were skipped between groups.

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It Was So Worth It

The crowds are much less than typical, even the typical off season crowds. We were able to walk through Fantasyland without being run down by strollers, walk at a safe distance from others, and even find places to sit alone to rest. There were times when we felt like we were the only ones at the park. It was a strange time, but also a very special and memorable experience.

The magic was there, but as most of 2020, it was very different and I think it will be the new Disney normal for some time.

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Nikki was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she has lived in Seattle and Portland. After visiting New Orleans, she fell in love with the city, and she and her husband decided to take a chance and move from the PNW to NOLA. Nikki has two kids, Amaya (15) and Tyson (12), she and her husband Dave have been married for 16 years, they live on the Northshore. Nikki works full time as a NICU nurse. Nikki and her family have fully embraced the culture of New Orleans, while they live on the Northshore, they play in New Orleans as often as they can. As a member of New Orleans Mom, she hopes to bring the perspective of the veteran mom and life with big kids and teenagers.

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