Greetings! A little different content on the blog today, but also…I can write about anything! Back in August, my family and I took a trip to Walt Disney World in the middle of a pandemic, and I wanted to share how I actually felt about the trip and give a real summary of my experience traveling during this time.
Why Did We Go?
My family and I are BIG Disney people. We have traveled to international parks, I have gone multiple times per year, and we never get bored. After watching some of my favorite Disney Youtubers, my family and I decided that it seemed safe enough to go, and therefore, we chose to book a quick and cheap trip just so that we could go in a few weeks. This was mainly to avoid the start of school, but also to make sure that the crowd levels did not get too high. We went at the beginning of August.
Where Did We Stay?
Since we did not have time to plan, we chose just to stay at Pop Century. Mainly because it is cheap, we only sleep in the room, and it is on the Skyliner line which is a huge benefit. I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit more hectic around the resort than I expected, and due to reduced capacity on buses, you found yourself waiting a little longer than normal. The line for Hollywood Studios most mornings was over an hour wait, even when the Skyliner was running at full capacity.
Speaking of the Skyliner, take it to Epcot was a great experience. Since the opening of the parks is staggered, you did not have too much of a cluster of people, but if you took the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios, you not only had to wait in line at Pop Century, but you had to enter another line to board the Skyliner circuit to Hollywood Studios. The line seemed extreme, but it was around fifteen to twenty minutes at 9:30AM.
What Precautions were They Taking?
Entering the parks looks a little different now. You will first encounter a contactless temperature check. If your temperature is over 100.4, you will be denied entry into the park, even with a valid ticket and reservation. Bag check is also quite different. Instead of taking everything out of your bag, you hold any electronics or metal in front of you and simply walk through a scanner. Disney Springs also has the same system.
By the time we went, the crowds were slowly starting to come back to Walt Disney World, but due to the pandemic, nowhere near what we usually saw during August. The park had tons of social distancing markers that were clearly marked for every ride. They also had tons of hand sanitizing stations, as well as some full-on hand washing stations available in certain areas. In some areas or rides, there were multiple. They also had them before and after most rides.
As for the rides, there were a lot of rides such as Frozen Ever After and Test Track, and Splash Mountain where we had our own ride vehicles. For other rides that you shared with a party, they had plenty of room between you and the other party, as well as a plexiglass partition to keep you separated.
When we went to the parks, the feels-like temperature was almost 108 degrees Fahrenheit every day. In all parks, they have relaxation areas where you can sit either inside or outside without having to wear your mask. The tables inside are spread far apart, and they also keep a tally on how many people are inside to avoid overcrowding.
How Were the Parks?
Some parks such as Epcot and Animal Kingdom were essentially empty. You had plenty of space to walk around and you could stand pretty much anywhere without having someone come near you. Other parks such as Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom were significantly more crowded with less opportunity to social distance from other groups.
Something that I enjoyed were how vigilant the employees were to keep guests adhering to guidelines that the parks had in place. Multiple times I saw people telling groups to stand on their markers in line, to cover their noses with their masks, and to stand to the side if they were eating or drinking.
How Was Shopping and Eating?
Many of the shops both in the parks, Disney Springs, and at the resorts had similar practices. Not only were they limiting the amount of people inside of the stores, but they also had only one entrance and one exit. While this was slightly annoying to have to find the correct door, I liked that they were adamant about adhering to guidelines.
Contactless payment was encouraged at most places. They offer multiple ways to pay including your Magicband. We typically always use these sort of payments, so it was not too big of a change of pace for us. When we went, the only large line we waited in was for World of Disney in Disney Springs, but it was only about fifteen minutes. Stores also had social distance markings, hand sanitizer, and less fixtures to create more space.
One of the main downsides of eating when we went is that not many restaurants were open. We were able to get reservations at a few places for dinner, but if you are going for the food, then getting a reservation may be tough. Some places such as Garden Grill still have socially distanced character meetings, but they no longer come to your table and interact with you like you may be used to.
As for walk-ups, many of them are basically requiring you to do mobile order. If you do not have a phone to order with, there are cast members who can help you place your orders. I did notice some of the menus were limited across restaurants. Now, more restaurants are opening up which is always good news!
Would I Go Back Right Now?
During our stay, we all felt safe. Where I live, many people are no longer following guidelines. I felt safer at Walt Disney World during this pandemic than I do most places in the town where I live. The fact that Disney was so on top of ensuring people are following their parameters made me feel great. I do think the crowds were a little too high in some areas, it is still much better than it typically is.
Funny enough, we have already booked our next trip. We are taking my boyfriend’s daughters at the end of October, and we are all looking forward to it. We are staying at Riviera, but the crowds are higher than they were in August. If you are interested, I will give you an update on how that trip compared to this trip!