After two months of closure because of the COVID quarantine, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida reopened its gates and as soon as towards welcomed visitors to the Most Magical Place on Earth. It did so in fact with plenty of modifications and restrictions in place to make sure the well being and security of its forged members and visitors. Disney additionally reopened as Florida’s constructive COVID numbers had been rising at an alarming price, creating an ideal storm of dangerous luck and dangerous press. The very fact is although that different Orlando theme parks had already reopened earlier than Disney and the entire parks have taken extraordinary measures to make sure that they gained’t be the reason for the subsequent COVID spreading occasion. Though I wasn’t there throughout opening week, I did journey down just a few weeks later to see for myself what the expertise of visiting the parks is like after lock down and whether or not or not the magic remains to be there. That is what I found.
What to Know Earlier than You Go
As one would think about, so much has modified since Walt Disney World reopened and even if you happen to take into account your self a Disney professional, you’ll want to do a little analysis earlier than your go to. Previous to reopening Disney, and all different theme parks, needed to submit plans to the state outlining how they might make sure the well being and security of their visitors whereas nonetheless making a enjoyable theme park expertise. It’s a fragile stability for positive and it signifies that slightly extra planning is required earlier than you even e book your flights.
Like all theme parks in the intervening time, Walt Disney World is controlling the group dimension to round 20-25% regular capability. To keep up these numbers, a brand new parks reservation system has been put into place. The reservation itself is free, however it’s in fact essential to even have tickets or an annual cross with a view to entry any of the 4 parks. An availability calendar has been added to the Walt Disney World web page so you’ll be able to take a look at what remains to be open to visitors in your chosen dates. There are some things necessary to notice about this course of. There seems to be higher availability for many who keep on-site at a Disney Resort resort or one of many Good Neighbor Inns than for, let’s say, annual passholders. So if you happen to’re touring from out of state it must be pretty easy to go to the park of your alternative on any given day. Nevertheless, it is best to make these reservations as quickly as you’ve got locked in your journey dates and bought your tickets. There may be additionally no park hopping in the intervening time. So, you’re relegated to visiting only one park per day. There are in fact professionals and cons to this technique however, personally talking, I actually prefer it. Positive, it’s annoying that I can’t go to Animal Kingdom within the morning and Epcot for dinner, but it surely additionally forces visitors to decelerate and higher recognize the whole lot every park has to supply.
I’ll define the varied measures Disney has applied to make sure the well being and security of its visitors throughout this public well being disaster, however in my view the scariest a part of your entire expertise was getting there. Perhaps it’s as a result of I do know a big firm wouldn’t put itself at undo legal responsibility or maybe I’ve Mickey coloured glasses on and simply inherently belief Disney, however I knew my well-being can be ensured as soon as I arrived contained in the Disney Bubble. It was the whole lot in between that made me pause. Flying at its greatest isn’t at all times a enjoyable expertise, however add in a pandemic and it’s turn out to be type of depressing. Some airways although are doing a greater job than others and after plenty of analysis I made a decision that Southwest was the best choice for me. They’ve nonstop flights to Orlando from the DC space and have gone to nice lengths to assist preserve consolation and well being inflight. Along with their cleansing protocols, boarding is now achieved in teams of ten and they’re extending their coverage of no center seats so that folk don’t need to be on prime of one another in flight. The end result was a considerably snug expertise that, whereas not stress-free, didn’t terrify me. So I suppose that’s one thing.
We dwell in numerous instances with completely different guidelines which are all in place for everybody’s profit. The place I dwell, meaning carrying a masks at any time when exterior of 1’s dwelling, social distancing and common frequent sense measures. This isn’t the identical all through the nation and so some individuals could also be stunned by the foundations which are strictly enforced at Walt Disney World. It’s incumbent upon the traveler to do their analysis and abide by all the foundations. Disney isn’t a public service, we elect to go there by alternative. Due to this fact, don’t be stunned when forged members ask you to observe these guidelines which are there to guard you and others. A few of these new guidelines and protocols embody:
- Enhanced Cleansing – Groups of individuals now spend all of their time cleansing the whole lot all through the large resort, particularly excessive visitors areas like elevators, handrails, benches and extra. Within the resorts housekeeping providers have been modified to reinforce cleansing and cut back contact.
- Bodily Distancing – Signage and floor markings are all over the place, clearly delineating distances of six toes nearly at each flip. The place not doable to correctly socially distance, bodily boundaries have been erected to additional promote strict bodily distancing tips.
- Face Coverings – Necessary for all visitors above the age of two. The masks should be not less than 2 layers, absolutely cowl the nostril and mouth and be secured with ties or ear loops. Visitors could decrease the masks whereas consuming or consuming, however should stay stationary and away from others.
- Temperature Screenings – All visitors coming into the theme parks, Disney Springs and desk service eating places at Disney Resort accommodations should endure a no-touch temperature screening. These with a maintained temperature of 100.4F or larger is not going to be allowed entry.
- Plus rather more.
What I Thought In regards to the Parks Expertise
Making the choice to return to Walt Disney World wasn’t a simple one. I had taken a few quick journeys for the reason that finish of strict quarantine and whereas the experiences had been advantageous, they had been oddly hectic. I didn’t know what to anticipate from a COVID-era Disney expertise, particularly since I visited simply as a spike in constructive circumstances was introduced in Florida. Admittedly, I had horrible timing. I’m although a accountable citizen, not less than I prefer to assume so, and there have been a lot of precautions I took even earlier than leaving dwelling. This included testing adverse for COVID (and two extra checks upon my return), packing as many masks and hand sanitizers as I may and mentally making ready myself for the journey.
It could sound odd to say that I needed to mentally put together, however life isn’t what it was and that’s actually true within the journey expertise. For months we now have been taught what to do and to not do with a view to decrease the specter of contagion. That’s scary stuff and anytime we depart our properties we enhance the chances of one thing occurring. There’s a motive why so many individuals have reported panic assaults of their native grocery shops – life is horrifying at the moment. Then there’s carrying a masks all day daily. To be sincere, I didn’t assume this may be an enormous deal however after awhile it did actually turn out to be very annoying. Extra about that in just a few paragraphs, however let me simply say that Disney shouldn’t be your first post-lockdown journey. You must work as much as it. Sure, Disney is doing the whole lot exceptionally nicely, however it’s essential to be mentally ready for touring, being round different individuals and the whole lot else that accompanies the journey expertise in 2020.
Okay, the parks! The quick reply is that I had an incredible time visiting Walt Disney World even with the present restrictions. Actually, I’m a part of a rising variety of visitors who love among the new laws put into place and the consequences they’ve had on the general expertise.
Onsite transportation nonetheless exists, simply in another way. Buses have lengthy been the central transportation artery for Walt Disney World and even in the most effective of instances that they had their points. With COVID although, the bus system is safer however far much less environment friendly. The buses are divided into zones with Plexiglas boundaries, with every touring group allotted their very own area. It’s nice for social distancing, however horrible for effectivity. It’s a system that type of works when few visitors are there, however ought to these numbers enhance this will likely be a horrible choke level.
Transportation actually wasn’t a difficulty for me although because of the place I made a decision to e book, the Swan. This on-site property is a Westin, managed by Marriott, however enjoys the entire perks related to any Disney Resort resort. It’s additionally very conveniently positioned within the Epcot zone, which meant I may simply stroll to each Epcot in addition to Hollywood Studios. Once I did want a bus, they had been plentiful and customarily empty and the few instances I made a decision to as a substitute use an Uber, the wait was only some minutes. The Swan and Dolphin accommodations are my go-to picks at any time when I’m at Walt Disney World and staying there was the proper alternative for my large return to the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Because the parks are restricted to round 20% capability or so, the expertise is rather more nice than it has been in recent times. When Disney introduced the Quick Cross system wouldn’t be rolled out together with the reopening, there was plenty of skepticism because it has served as an necessary solution to mitigate lengthy wait instances for standard sights. Really although, with the lowered numbers, there may be little or no want for Quick Passes or another solution to velocity by way of the parks.
I began my return to Disney on the Magic Kingdom; I assumed it necessary to reconnect with the unique spirit of the Disney Parks and to get pleasure from some pure and harmless enjoyable. At first I rushed round, nonetheless caught in my outdated methods of making an attempt to beat the crowds however nearly instantly I seen one thing, hardly anybody was there. Not solely has Disney lowered the group dimension, however visitors have additionally been very sluggish to return for a lot of causes. With Florida’s doubtful response to the disaster and a prohibition on worldwide journey, for probably the most half Disney is leaning closely on those that can simply drive to the parks, particularly Florida residents. Within the first few weeks of reopening this has meant, on common, busy (ish) weekends and never very busy weekdays. That was my expertise as nicely and whereas I do not know how lengthy it is going to final, it was fantastic to get pleasure from.
Points of interest are on a strict cleansing schedule and a mix of Plexiglas boundaries and social distancing markers are in place to make sure visitors don’t by accident work together. Character experiences are on maintain for the second, however they nonetheless seem all through the parks from a secure distance. Whereas it sounds odd, I a lot want this and recognize the ingenuity that has gone into planning them. Unannounced quick cavalcades change parades and fireworks are on maintain, all to forestall crowds from assembling. The experiences within the parks are very completely different, however nonetheless plenty of enjoyable.
Within the Magic Kingdom the longest wait I encountered was for the park’s hottest attraction, Seven Dwarfs Mine Prepare, and that was just below 20 minutes. Longtime Disney followers will know this attraction often has a standby wait time of 2-Three hours, so the distinction is stark. I walked on to each attraction I needed to get pleasure from, had lunch and left so much sooner than I had deliberate. I didn’t depart as a result of I wasn’t having enjoyable, I had a good time, however I had achieved the whole lot I needed to do. This expertise was just about repeated throughout the opposite parks with one exception, Hollywood Studios. Because of the unimaginable recognition of a number of sights there, this park has been the busiest however it’s nonetheless actually very manageable.
I’ve plenty of ideas about my time spent within the COVID-era Walt Disney World. Many guests have all been repeating the identical line time and again, that the Disney Bubble feels safer than their native grocery retailer, and I agree. However that’s additionally not the purpose. I had little doubt in any way that when in Disney, I might really feel secure and that they might strongly implement their guidelines. No, the problem for me and hundreds of others like me is within the getting there. Whether or not you drive or fly, there are numerous contact factors in between leaving one’s dwelling and arriving on the Walt Disney World Resort, each doubtlessly harmful. Locals in Florida hold emphasizing the unimaginable well being measures in place not solely in Disney, however in the entire theme parks and that’s advantageous, however I had completely different considerations. The difficulty right here is the fact-based concern of going by way of an airport, flying, taking an Uber, checking right into a resort and so forth. I do know I’ll be advantageous in Epcot, it’s in that Uber backseat the place the true concern resides.
That being mentioned, if you happen to’re advantageous with the getting there, as I used to be, then the parks expertise proper now remains to be plenty of enjoyable and sure, the magic remains to be very a lot there. I admit that carrying a masks all day, significantly within the warmth and humidity of Florida, was more difficult than I had anticipated, however total it was advantageous and principally a psychological difficulty. I introduced sufficient in order that I may change them out in the course of the day and that proved to be important. Sure, snacking and consuming meals is completely different and nearly the whole lot is now achieved through cellular orders, aside from sit-down eating places, however that course of too was simple. However it’s completely different and if you happen to resolve to go to then you must put together your self for that truth.
If you happen to’re a Disney fan and have visited the parks earlier than then I do assume it’s a enjoyable time to go to that the majority will get pleasure from. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re contemplating your first ever journey to a Disney property now might be not the time. There are various lengthy cherished experiences on maintain in the intervening time and regardless that it’s Disney, there may be nonetheless a sure stress operating by way of the visitors and forged members alike, making it slightly extra uncomfortable than it must be. No, this shouldn’t be your first Disney expertise however if you happen to do resolve to go then do your analysis, acknowledge that it will likely be slightly bizarre at first but additionally enable your self to fall below the Disney spell and simply have enjoyable. That’s why I like Disney so very a lot, for the transient alternative to overlook actual world stressors and in 2020 that has by no means been extra necessary.