Disney World in Florida is one of those places you may be dreaming of getting back to if you’ve been missing the fun of traveling with the kids. But with theme parks being naturally crowded places, you may be wondering—is it safe to go? If you’re planning a trip to Disney, you can expect to see many changes from physical distancing on all modes of transportation to mask wearing at the parks to temperature screenings in the parks and at table service restaurants. Here’s a little more on what you can expect at “The Most Magical Place on Earth”:
All four Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park are open. When you arrive, expect to have your temperature taken in addition to a security screening. Most rides are open and you’ll be seated with your own party. While character greetings and parades are on pause, there are still characters throughout the parks along with “special cavalcades”—or pop-up mini parades—down parade routes. Expect capacity limits at parks and reservations must be made in advance for entry. Visitors are encouraged to use cashless payment whenever possible.
HOTELS & TRANSPORTATION
The majority of Disney World’s hotels are open, with a few exceptions. Disney’s Beach Club Resort is scheduled to reopen May 30, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will reopen June 6 and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is scheduled to reopen Summer 2021. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn is closed until further notice. If you’re staying over in a Disney World resort, you’ll see increased cleaning protocols during your stay. There is physical distancing on Disney buses, monorails and watercrafts. Face coverings are required while boarding and using transportation. The Disney Skyliner loads one party per gondola. Self-parking is available at resorts while valet parking is suspended except for guests with disabilities.
Hitting up the hotel pool is an essential part of a Disney vacation and the good news is pools are open, though some may be operating with reduced hours and capacity.
The same thing goes for fitness centers and sports courts—they are open with reduced hours and capacity. Arcades, campfires, character experiences, marina rentals, spa and salon services are not available. In-room childcare service and a few other special classes and programs like Mermaid School and hula lessons are currently suspended.
THE MOMS’ TAKE
If you’re feeling nervous, read on for some firsthand takes on what it was like to get back to the parks.
Natalie F., mom of Elijah, 14, and Jayden, 10 from Atlanta, Georgia, recently visited Disney for the first time and said the mask requirements and dining precautions were strict and wait times for rides were what she expected. “The wait times at Magic Kingdom were pretty accurate overall ranging anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes long,” she says. “The longer wait times for rides like Splash Mountain were more like 75 minutes versus 90 minutes.” She and her family were kept together on the rides and separated from other parties for social distancing. “We were the only ones seated together except for boat rides, but everyone remained six feet apart as displayed on the floor.”
The “cavalcades” of characters were a big hit, too. “They had designated employees walk ahead of the parade to ensure everyone was on the sidewalk as the dancers and floats came through,” Natalie says. “We were able to see Winnie the Pooh, the Mickey and Friends Cavalcade, The Royal Princess Processional and Fantasy Friends Cavalcade led by Gaston from Beauty and the Beast who rode on a horse.”
Jenny E. from California, mom of a 2-year-old son, says the park was well organized. “Everything from ‘stand here’ floor stickers to ropes separating people in line to the way food ordering was done was according to protocol.” Jenny says.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Prep for your Disney World trip by keeping these tips in mind:
- Read any travel advisories for visiting Florida
- Make sure you have a confirmed room reservation
- If you’re not staying overnight but plan on dining, you must have a reservation
- Be sure you have a MagicBand, Key to the World card or the My Disney Experience app
- Make a theme park reservation in advance and ensure you have a valid entry for the day you plan to visit
- Face coverings are required for ages 2 and up and must be worn in all public areas except when swimming or seated for dining. (Mickey ears, while suggested, are not required)
Though some things are closed or at reduced availability, there’s still plenty of fun to be had and a Disney vacation is well worth the trip. Head here for more information.