There is no better way to get information than through first-hand experience. That’s why I’m sharing my experience with you! My July 2020 trip to Walt Disney World in Florida was just weeks after the re-opening. My trip allowed me to experience their “new normal” in all 4 theme parks. Let me start off by saying Disney has done – and will keep doing – a fantastic job to keep everyone safe and feeling secure. Not ONE time did I ever feel uncomfortable or feel I made the wrong decision by going. Below are my tips and opinions on visiting the most magical place on earth in what can only be called the most unusual travel time in the world. First off, the question everyone dying to hear the answer:
Is the heat unbearable with a mask on!?
I’m not going to lie… it was HOT and something I had to get used to. The first day was definitely the slowest and hardest day for us (I went with a group of my closest girlfriends), which we planned on purpose because we knew we would need a lot of breaks. It was an adjustment wearing our mask non-stop in very hot temperatures (the hottest day reached 102 degrees). The saving grace for the day was an hour break at a relaxation station with plenty of water. My suggestion for getting used to wearing a mask all day while in the parks, would be to begin at home. Wear masks even when outside if you haven’t been. Then, pick a park for your first day that you think you can accomplish everything you set out to do in a shorter amount of time. We chose Epcot. This way you will become familiar with wearing a mask while still feeling like you didn’t miss anything. It does take time to get used to the mask, but don’t be discouraged – by day 4, I felt like a pro wearing the mask in the heat!
Tip: Bring a cooling mask and make sure it is cool on your neck or head all day. Also, if you stick your damp mask in a bag and place in resort fridge the night before, it seemed to stay cooler longer.
How were the crowds?
The crowd level was so low that it helped with waiting times for each ride and allowed for easy social distancing. If you have experienced Disney parks before, even on low-traffic times, the parks seemed empty comparatively speaking. The only time I felt I saw a true crowd was right when the parks were opening, as people were lined up for temperature checks… 6-feet apart of course! Once inside, the crowds dispersed and went in any number of directions.
How were the ride/attraction lines?
A true misconception people have from looking at pictures is the lines. For example, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (one of the newest rides) was one of the longest lines I have seen in a while, even pre-pandemic. A cast member recommended we wait it out since in reality, the line seemed longer than it actually was due to 6-feet social distancing. We were so glad we did because at most it took us 20 minutes to get through the line (we rode it twice since it was so empty).
Tip: If you are a true Disney fanatic like I am, I truly feel like this is the best time to go. Less time waiting in lines (if there even WAS a wait, it was approximately 10 to 20 minutes per ride/attraction) freed up time to see and experience a lot more of each park.
How were the Disney Cast Members?
The cast members were nothing short of amazing! They all did a great job making sure everyone was 6-feet apart at all times, that masks were always worn PROPERLY while still managing to bring smiles and true Disney magic to guests’ faces! If someone had their mask under their nose a Disney Cast Member would kindly remind them about the proper way to wear the mask while in Disney. I even overheard someone speaking to a little girl, saying “you’ll need to pull your mask over your nose Princess” and the little girl giggled and did as she was asked.
We know how clean Walt Disney World is on any given day, but what additional cleaning procedures were done?
Because I always viewed Disney as being so clean to begin with, having additional cleaning protocols in place seemed like it would be hard to accomplish. But, as expected, Disney delivered. They would stop the rides for cleaning procedures for guest safety and you would always see cast members out and about cleaning and sanitizing. Additionally, there are sanitation stations in place at almost every corner. I brought so much hand sanitizer with me, but barely used it because of all of the automatic dispensers Disney had in place ALL over the parks and resorts.
Did they truly try to make it as close to a contact-less vacation as possible?
We went directly to our room and checked in virtually. At entrances, there was some contact with cast members, but it was done safely and securely. We scanned our own Magic Bands for contact-less entry into the parks. We paid everything virtually through the My Disney Experience app. The menus at the restaurants were either digital or able to be thrown away after each use. The quick-service restaurants all were mobile-order enabled. They wouldn’t let you inside the restaurant until your food was prepared and ready. Once the app told you it was ready, you were allowed in to pick up your food and take a seat. Of course, all dining seating was properly spaced 6-feet away from everyone else.
How was the park-to-resort and resort-to-park transportation?
Transportation was definitely different, but still very efficient for transporting large numbers of guests. The buses were more spread out timing wise, but seemed to have back-up buses in case one was full. It seemed as though they added more buses to each resort to accommodate the limited capacities for proper social distancing. There was one minor hiccup we had in traveling from our resort directly to another resort for a dining reservation, but was resolved timely by a cast member who went above and beyond to get us back to our resort.
Overall, the magic is still there!
I was thrilled with my experience at all the Disney parks and resorts we visited. I hope my experience helps you to understand what a visit to the NEW Disney experience is all about. When you’re ready to get back to the Magic of Disney, we have many options to chose, from individual packages to bundled charter trips. Contact your local Boscov’s Travel Advisor to start planning your next Disney vacation. You’ll be glad you did!