Going to Disney World's Reopening During COVID-19
DEC. 2020 UPDATE: I have visited Disney World once a month since July and the safety aspect of it still holds true. However, even though the capacity is still capped, it does feel more crowded. But I personally still feel that it does NOT take away from the magic and I thank all Cast Members for doing their best to keep us safe!
Back in may, I listened to Orange County’s live task force meeting where Disney, along with other theme parks in FL, announced their plans for reopening. My friend and I were logged into our Disney accounts, at the edge of our seats, ready to change one of our various modified reservations due to the closure.
As soon as Disney’s VP of Operations mentioned 7/11, we finalized our reservation. The purpose of this blog post is to give you a little insight on what you might expect while visiting WDW during COVID-19.
I don´t like keeping people in suspense, so I am going to start by addressing three of the MOST asked questions: 1) We NEVER felt unsafe at Disney during our trip 2) YES the magic is still there! and 3) We used between 2-3 of these blue face masks per day in the humid FL Summer (we tried a couple different ones from Amazon and Walgreens and these were our favorite).
The first day we packed like 10 each, but quickly realized that we did not need that many. DO bring a clean Ziploc so you can put your face mask away when you are eating.
Most importantly, going to Disney is your decision and you do whatever YOU feel the most comfortable with. Disney will always be there to welcome you when you are ready!
– Our original reservation was for a Savannah view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but got a call a couple of weeks before to let us know what we had been changed to the Contemporary since AKL was not open yet.
1) Getting to Disney
Y’all! I missed that view SO SO MUCH!!! Southwest is keeping all middle seats open until 10/31/2020, boarding passes are paperless and can be downloaded when you check-in. We boarded in groups of 10 at a time and there were stickers on the floor so you knew where to line up 6ft apart. Face masks were MANDATORY and everyone was compliant and we all spaced out throughout the aircraft. LUV SWA forever and ever.
We pretty much wore a face mask the whole time since we parked our cars at the airport until we got to the hotel. We only took it off to eat Chick-Fil-A (a must) at the airport before our flight and while drinking water during our flight. Honestly, it was super fine and you kind of forget about it.
Yes, I got teary-eyed when I saw this sign. It had been a long 4 months! I am super happy to report that EVERY SINGLE Cast Member we encountered during this whole trip was super happy to welcome Guests back!
Plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizers EVERYWHERE!
After you check-in the first time for the Magic Express, you go to your designated line and there are dividers for each party.
When it is your line’s turn to board the Magic Express, as they scan your bracelet, they also assign your sits on the bus. The lines on the photo are EMPTY seats and the “X” are people. Only people from the same party can seat in the same row. Note row 11 only had a party of 2 so the 2 seats on the other side where blocked. And row 14 and 15 were a family of 4.
Keep in mind that these are the HUGE buses, so good job Disney at
making us feel SUPER safe from the get go. Also, face masks are
mandatory on all Disney properties EXCEPT in your hotel room (duh), inside a pool or eating at a restaurant. THAT IS IT. No eating/sipping and
2) Disney Resort
The BEST thing about the Contemporary Resort is that it is walking distance from Magic Kingdom and the monorail runs through the resort.
The monorail makes 5 stops: Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village resort, Grand Floridian Resort, and Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center where you can transfer to the EPCOT line.
Currently at the resorts, even though there are Cast Members working at the lobby, all check-ins are contact-less and you will get a notification through your Disney app. If you got there too early and you haven’t gotten a notification, you can certainly check with the Cast Member, and if they confirm that your room is not ready yet, just leave your luggage with the Concierge and go play!
If you are staying at the Contemporary, once the fireworks resume at the Parks, make sure you request a Park view room (on the highest floor allowed under your rate) so you can see the fireworks and the amazing sunsets from your room!
The other side of the resort also has amazing views of the lake, and after a short Florida thunderstorm, we were lucky to have caught a double rainbow from our balcony! Pictures do not do justice to the formation of the double rainbow–it was breathtaking.
They did not make our room during the 4-day stay to limit exposure. However, they did leave new towels and toiletries for us everyday. Of course, if for any reason you want your sheets changed, you can request it.
These are different times and we were totally OK with limit exposure in the resort rooms for the time being.
3) Disney Resort - Animal Kingdom
Hakuna Matata Y’all!
Disney requires all guests to have a reservation to the Park they wish to visit that day. There is no more Park hopping for now. We decided to visit Animal Kingdom the first day they opened to the public.
Disney added dividers in the shuttles and there is a max. of 6 parties per bus. They left various seats empty in between sections in order to provide safe distance between the parties. All the back row is section 6!
These are the contact-less temperature checks for Animal Kingdom! If one person from your party has a temperature above 100.4 degrees F, the whole party is denied entrance. They understand that this is Summer in Florida so if your high temperature is due to sunburn (not sure if that is a thing), you can chill for a bit in a designated AC area and they will take your temperature again.
My favorite part is that Disney invested in contact-less scanners!!! No more waiting for them to look through your purse and no more metal detectors!!! You just walk through, and they still stop you if you have anything suspicious on you!
But first… Coffee. I lie. When in AK, it is always first FLIGHT OF PASSAGE! Then coffee. Yes, Starbucks was this empty!
They also had some tables set outside where you can take off your mask and eat while seated. Once a party leaves a table, a Cast Member will disinfect it and you have to wait 2 minutes for the disinfectant to sink in before you seat.
5 minutes for FOP!? Is this even real life!? All rides are doing an amazing job to distance your party from all other parties. For example in FOP, there were 3 seats in between us and the next party, also the other two times we rode, it was so empty that we got our own section.
We also counted about seven hand sanitation stations between the entrance of FOP and its exit to the gift shop!
When we went in July, Parks were kept at 20% and I asked around so see if any Cast Members knew when this cap will be increased and they did not. They just shared that they have never seen the Parks so empty and that this will probably go on for a while.
There are floor markings throughout the whole queue on every ride and throughout the Park! See how there are no markings on the right side the queue? that is because when there is a curve, no one is allowed to wait beside anyone and I just love that for everyone!
No wait for Kilimanjaro Safaris!
Ok so.. how are unicorns not real and giraffes are? Unicorns are just horses with a horn, however, giraffes have 40ft necks and only sleep 30 minutes a day. HOW!?
We rode every ride at Animal Kingdom 3 times. We have never been able to do that. Ever.
Disney Parks - Magic Kingdom
Am I the only one who always has as an iced coffee in hand or is everyone else normal?
We decided to take the monorail from the resort to Magic Kingdom since it is right there at the lobby! At the entrance of the monorail, they will take your temperature.
You are assigned a monorail door and will be the only party in that area.
We were assigned the “wall” side of the monorail wagon and as you could see above, they had dividers behind the set of seats that we faced.
There is nothing like sipping coffee on Main Street USA!!!
Have you ever seen the Starbucks entrance for Magic Kingdom so empty!?
6ft markers on the floor and plexiglass everywhere!
If you made dining reservations, you can check-in through your Disney app as you walk to the restaurant, and when your table is ready, you will get a notification. Once you are seated at your table, there is a QR code for the contact-less menu.
Leave it up to Disney to surprise us with birthday ice-cream! (This was originally my birthday month trip in May!)
Even though there are no more parades at Magic Kingdom for now, they do have smaller parades throughout the day! There will be one caravan every hour or so. I actually loved this set-up because the low crowds allowed the characters to really interact with the guests and I saw a ton of really excited kiddos!
Also, it is not a huge time commitment and you will not get stuck on one side of the Park because of the parade.
Cannot wait to go back to Hollywood Studios and EAT EVERYTHING at EPCOT!!!
We were so happy to see all the precautions taken by Disney. It was so easy to socially distance due to the reduced capacity, we felt very safe with the social distance rules during the rides and its queues, loved the amount of hand sanitation stations throughout the Park, and the experience of walking around an uncrowded Park was unbeatable.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this post!