My family LOVES Disney World. We’ve taken three family vacations there, including our recent trip during Spring Break. After having COVID-19 back in February, we were in desperate need to get out of the house and have some fun. With limited crowd capacity (35 percent of pre-COVID crowds) and affordable nonstop flights to Orlando, we decided another trip to Disney World was the way to go.
We knew this trip would be different, but there was still plenty of magic and fun. I’m here to give you all the details about visiting during the pandemic and a few tips we learned along the way.
Disney has invested a lot of money and effort into responsible reopening of their parks. There is signage for masks, markers on the ground, plexiglass and sanitizer stations everywhere. When you enter the parks, everyone goes through a temperature and security screening. Parks have limited capacity so you won’t experience huge crowds. We felt comfortable throughout our visit at both the hotel and the parks. The only time we didn’t was at Disney Springs, which still had big crowds.
Disney strictly enforces the mask policy. Make sure to bring a variety of comfortable and breathable masks. We wore disposable ones to the parks and our cloths ones to dinners and around our hotel. I purchased mask chains from Modish Design Co so the kids wouldn’t lose track of their masks while eating. Don’t forget to pack extra in your park bag as we had some break from wearing them all day. I ordered some cute Disney masks from local maker Carisa + Shae.
This was probably the biggest change I noticed and the trickiest I found to navigate. On our past trips, we had planned well in advance, booked the Disney Dining Plan (not available currently) and had reservations for sit-down dining everyday. Since this was a last-minute trip and restaurants are limited capacity, reservations were harder to come by. Thankfully, Magic Mouse Travel was able to book some great options as I wasn’t having much luck. Restaurant tables are spaced out to allow for social distancing. Character dining is limited to a few spots and they do not come directly to the table for meet and greets. There are still plenty of quick-service options and snack carts throughout the park and you can still bring your own food in.
Attraction wait times
Without the fast pass system right now, everyone waits in the standby line. You can check how long wait times are via the park map on the My Disney Experience App. Lines seemed longer than they actually are because Disney spaces everyone out. There are also plexiglass dividers if you’re waiting indoors.
Parades, Nighttime Spectaculars and Fireworks
Instead of a full-fledged 20 minute parade that gathers crowds, Disney has created Character Calvacades. These are miniature parades with a few characters passing by with music. I actually prefer them over the longer parades! Disney doesn’t publish the times, but they happen about once an hour. We were able to see some characters we hadn’t seen before – Moana, Peter Pan, Aladdin and Gaston. At this time, there are no evening shows and fireworks. I suspect Disney will bring them back later this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, Disney World was still magical. Just walking down Main Street and admiring the castle in all its 50th anniversary celebratory garland gave me chills. There’s no denying that things have changed at Disney like everything else, but they have done an amazing job making you feel welcome, safe and still able to make some treasured memories with your family.
KCMC Tip: Get a travel agent…STAT!
Utilizing Magic Mouse Travel is my No. 1 tip. First, it’s a FREE service to use. I repeat. It doesn’t cost you a thing and gives you so many benefits and reduces your time, effort and stress of planning your own vacation. I worked with Maralee Striker, owner of Magic Mouse Travel. She has been to Disney over 300 times and knows all the ins and outs. She helped reserve park passes, hotel, transportation, advanced dining reservations. She was able to get us last minute dining reservations, a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and helped me create a park strategy to lessen our wait times. Here are a few other services that Magic Mouse Travel can help with:
- Airport Transportation – Maralee arranged a car service to take us to/from the airport. Disney has changed the transportation during the pandemic, so this was a big help. Our driver was waiting for us both times and ready to load our luggage in a spacious van.
- Magic Mouse Nannies – Need an extra hand in the parks or break from the kids for a date night? Magic Mouse has a nanny service with CPR and First Aid certified caregivers for extra help so you can enjoy the vacation too.
- Magic Mouse Memory Maker – A personal photography service that captures the candid moments on your magical vacation. Exciting update- you can now remove your masks for photos while stationary and socially distant!
- Other Travel Destinations – Magic Mouse Travel can help with trips to Universal Orlando, Disneyland and many other vacation spots.
KCMC Tip: Be flexible and open to new experiences.
On our past trips, everything was planned down to the minute; from fast passes to dining reservations our day was a full schedule. I knew things would be different in Disney this time around, so it helped going into it knowing we had to be flexible.
We took breaks from waiting at the parks in the heat to lay by the pool for some much-needed downtime. We tried some new adventures like riding the Disney Skyliner and enjoyed treats from various countries at Epcot. None of these things were planned ahead of time…but all of them were enjoyable and some of my new favorite Disney memories.