Visiting Disney World During COVID
Have you thought about visiting Disney World during COVID? After a lot of research and careful consideration, we decided to give it a try. It ended up being a wonderful, but different, Disney experience, so I thought I’d share some information and tips to help anyone else planning a trip.
Please note that rules and the pandemic situation are constantly changing, so you may experience some differences during your visit.
Differences in the Parks
We visited all four parks on our recent visit and even though things were different, we still had a great time!
The most important difference is that you need to have a park pass to enter a park. So, before you go, purchase tickets and then use My Disney Experience to book a park pass for the park you want to visit. You won’t be able to enter the park without the park pass – even if you have a valid ticket.
Right now, Fast Passes are also not available. That does mean that some of the more popular rides may have long lines. We did wait about an hour for some of our favorites. The best way to get around the long lines is to get to the park early (as in before it opens) and hit the newer rides first. We found we could successfully ride 3-5 rides in the first hour and a half of our visit before the lines got crazy.
You’ll have to wear a mask all day. The only exception is if you are eating or drinking while stationary. So no wandering around Epcot with a drink in hand, sipping as you walk. Even though it was HOT (in the 90’s most days), none of us found it difficult to wear the mask. Some days we had it on from 8 AM until 8 PM with no issues. There were signs scattered throughout the parks as well as frequent announcements reminding guests of the policies.
Before entering the park, you’ll undergo a temperature screening (this also happens if you go to Disney Springs). Instead of a full bag check, everyone goes through a screening device. We also just scanned our magic bands to get into the park instead of using the fingerprint screening.
Right now there aren’t parades or fireworks at the parks, but you will get to see random character “mini-parades.” At Animal Kingdom, they go through on a boat regularly and at the other parks, a few characters will come out at a time either walking or in small vehicles.
Dining is a little more challenging. For counter service, you’ll need to scan the menu and order via the My Disney Experience app. With table service, we found it useful to have dining reservations or at least be willing to wait a few hours before eating.
The lines look really long as Disney has marked them off in six foot sections to allow for social distancing. However, we found that the times stated were accurate (or in some cases less time than posted).
Even though the parks are not at full capacity, they DO feel crowded. So, if you aren’t comfortable with large crowds, don’t go. We felt the safety measures Disney put into place were excellent but there were still times we ended up leaving an area of a park (or even the park itself) because it just felt like there were too many people.
Differences in the Hotels
While at Walt Disney World, we stayed at two different Disney properties, the new Riviera and Boardwalk. We had a great experience at both places.
Instead of checking in at the front desk, Disney encourages you to do online checkin via the My Disney Experience App. We did that both times and were able to go directly to our room. It was very easy.
Elevators had signs posted asking that either four single people or one party ride. We were a party of four so just rode the elevators on our own each time. Everyone was very gracious about waiting if necessary.
Masks were to be worn at all times unless you were in your room. Even at the pool, we wore our mask down there and only removed it when we were sitting on our chairs or actually in the water.
We did notice that there weren’t really bell hops readily available, and in the past we’d never been allowed to use the carts to move luggage ourselves, but on this trip we were able to use them.
This Disney trip was definitely different, but once we arrived at the Disney “bubble” overall we felt very safe. Most people were following the rules (we did see a few masks being worn improperly but that was definitely the exception), and guests still seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The parks close earlier than normal and most open later, so in some ways, it was a more relaxing Disney vacation. We spent less time actually in the parks and more time relaxing in our room which was different.
Lines looked long but overall moved fairly quickly and efficiently. We definitely waited longer than we had on other trips, but with the distancing, it felt fine.
We didn’t visit anyplace while we were in Orlando outside of Disney World, so I can’t comment on how the rest of the area is handling the pandemic. I didn’t love being in the airport and the plane itself definitely felt crowded, so in the future, I’d probably prefer to drive.
Would I go again? Absolutely!
Are you looking for more information on Disney? Here are a few favorite and useful posts:
- Beat the Heat
- Table Service at the Parks (to help you with your dining reservations)
- First Time at Disney
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