To say that this has been a crazy year would be an understatement. We have been through more things and experienced more than we ever thought possible in a matter of months. For me, one thing has remained a constant, and that is my love for Disney. It is truly my happy place and is always my number one choice for vacation. But this year, the Coronavirus pandemic hit and suddenly, going to Disney during a pandemic was not an option.
When Disney was closed, we canceled three different trips. The last trip we canceled was because we were worried about how safe we would be while in the parks. Even though the parks were open, it was not enough for us to head down to Florida. After a few weeks, though, we started to see that Disney during a pandemic was actually one of the safest places we could visit. That was all we needed to book a trip, pack our bags, and head down south. I was able to go over Labor Day weekend so here is everything we experienced and a few tips to help you maneuver through the changes.
Wearing a Mask Stinks. Period.
One of the biggest changes that Walt Disney World currently has implemented is that masks must be worn at all times. At first, I kind of liked the idea of getting a mask to match my outfit, but that quickly wore off. Disney is strict on this rule and are constantly ensuring that park guests comply. When we went in September, it was hot. The mask only made you feel hotter. Masks must be worn, and must be worn correctly. Cast members will say something to you if you are not following this rule and you can even be asked to leave the park for non-compliance. My 5-year old pulled her mask down, while in her stroller, to take a sip of water, and a cast member asked me to put it back on her.
The reality is, though, that this was a necessity for the parks to be open. Walt Disney World is always packed and a pandemic is no exception. We wore our masks, we did not complain, and we still enjoyed our trip. Who knows how long this change will stay in place, but at least I have gotten some cute Disney masks, in the mean time!
Prepare to get Scanned
At the entrance to every Disney park and property, prepare to get scanned. I am not talking about your Magic Band. I am talking about a temperature check. Licensed medical professionals are on site taking temperatures of every person that enters the park. This also includes Disney Springs, as pictured below. If you have a fever, you will not be allowed to enter. This change was quick and easy, and really just made us feel safer about our visit.
Mind Your Distance
If you are going to Disney during a pandemic, the last thing you want is to be near anyone. Luckily, Disney has implemented social distancing in all of their lines. What does this mean? Basically your lines to wait for attractions are going to long SO INCREDIBLY LONG, but in reality, they are just social distanced.
If you are familiar with the parks at all, you know that the line for Mine Train is at least an hour wait. When we got in the line it said it was a 45 minute wait. The line stretched all the way around to the back side of the ride when we got in it. Like we were literally standing in front of Ariel’s Grotto. I decided to time how long it took us, and even with the line seeming to stretch on for miles, we waited and were off the line in 25 minutes! That was all it took, I was a believer in going to Disney during a pandemic!
I will say, make sure that you pay attention while you are waiting. It is easy to bump into someone if you are not paying attention while the line is moving. Depending on who you bump into, they might get really upset. We are living in the middle of a pandemic and everyone just wants to be safe. Also, the wait times are usually shorter than the time posted. Don’t quote me on that, but that seemed to be the case for every attraction we were able to ride.
All. The. Space.
When we went to the parks in September, the one thing that I was constantly amazed by was the fact that the park was so empty. At this time, Disney parks are allowed to be at 25% capacity. This means that many of the normally congested areas where open and you could easily maneuver your way through the small crowds. Again, if you are familiar with Walt Disney World, you know that the area between It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight is absolutely insane. It is close quarters, their are so many people, and your really can’t make it through without bumping into at least one person. If you look at the photo that I have attached below, you will see just how open it was. I was literally shocked. I had to have a picture because I knew I would never see it like this again.
The same was true for Adventure Land. Our walk to get on Pirate’s of the Carribbean was like walking through a Ghost Town. I remember saying to myself, “This is Crazy!”
Cast members are also loading rides so that social distancing remains in place. If you look at the pictures below, you will see all the empty rows behind us. This does make the wait to ride a tad bit longer, but I would much rather feel safe on ride.
Keep in mind that as capacity changes and more people feel more comfortable coming into the park, the emptiness of the park will be the first thing that changes. Going to Disney during a pandemic seems scary at first, but many people are starting to see that they will be safe during their visit and are willing to take that risk.
A Seat to Yourself
Speaking of all the space, one place that you will definitely have extra space is on Disney Transportation. While I did not take a bus, I have heard that very few families can ride at a time. To ensure that social distancing procedures are met, the buses cannot be packed like in the past.
I did, however ride both the Skyliner and the Monorail. On both of those forms of transportation, we got an entire section to ourselves. While this is normal for the Skyliner, it was a first for the Monorail. This was so nice because we were able to take our masks off for a time.
Keep Those Hands Clean
Another new addition to the park is tons of hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers. They are literally every where. We cleaned our hands when we got on a ride and when we got off. It became habit to use while we were in the park. It wasn’t a huge change, and honestly, I hope it is something they keep if/when this pandemic is over. The reality is that theme parks are gross and full of germs. This is an easy line of defense to keep ourselves safe and healthy, while still having fun!
Goodbye Large Crowds
One of the things that people love about Disney is their parades and fireworks shows. I know that the Happily Ever After Fireworks show is one of my absolute favorite ways to end my vacation. Unfortunately, a parade or show at a set time would attract to many people and their would be now way to social distance. To make up for this, Disney has started having mini parades called Character Cavalcades. This cavalcades are at completely random times so a big crowd does not form. We were lucky enough to get to see Mickey and Minnie while we were waiting in line to ride Frozen. We also got to see all the Princesses after getting Starbucks on Mainstreet USA. This was so nice because character meet and greets have also been canceled at this time.
Disney wants to keep its actors safe at this time and meet-and-greets are just a little to close for comfort. If you are not able to see a cavalcade, their is usually characters at the Train Station in Magic Kingdom waving to guests. We also saw a few random characters like Pooh and Joy, playing near the different ponds around the parks, safely behind a fence.
The Magic Still Exists
For some people, all of the changes may not seem worth it. Either they don’t want to wear a mask, they want to see the characters, or they simply don’t feel safe. Whatever your reason, I can assure you that the magic still exists at Disney. For me, Disney during a pandemic felt like any other time at my Happy Place.
Did the masks stink? Heck Yes!
Did I miss seeing my favorite characters? Of Course!
But did I have an amazing time? You Bet!
If you are able to go, I strongly encourage you to plan a trip. This time at Disney is truly unlike anything we have ever seen before. For us, it was worth it and we were so glad we were able to go. We already have another trip planned for February and, if it works out, we want to go in December as well.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask! I hope that you will see that Disney during a pandemic, is really just like any other day at the house of the mouse! To book your own Disney trip, contact my personal Disney Travel Agent, Ears of Experience, and be sure to tell her that Being Mrs. Fowler sent you!
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out some of my other Disney blogs:
Being Mrs. Fowler Does Disney: 48 Hours with the Mouse
Being Mrs. Fowler Does Disney: Mickey Treats