I wanted to take a moment and share with you my recent travel to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The photo below was taken during our visit in early August.
Wait – what? You traveled outside of your home area?
Yes, indeed I did. Now, there are mixed feelings and opinions on this and some folks weren’t happy with us going on vacation when there is a pandemic – now epidemic – going on. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am not trying to convince anyone to travel until they are absolutely comfortable doing so. Still, allow me to quote the CDC below on the current status of the Epidemic at the time of writing this blog post.
“Nationally, levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) are below baseline but higher than typically seen at this time of year. Indicators that track ILI and COVID-19-like illness (CLI) and the percentage of laboratory tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 have continued to decrease nationally since mid-July. Regionally, from week 31 to week 32, indicators that track ILI and COVID-19-like illness (CLI) were decreasing or stable (change of ≤ 0.1%) in all regions of the country, and the percentage of laboratory tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 decreased or remained the same in nine of ten HHS regions. Weekly hospitalization rates and mortality attributed to COVID-19 declined during week 32 but may change as more data for admissions and deaths occurring during recent weeks are received.” HTTPS://WWW.CDC.GOV/CORONAVIRUS/2019-NCOV/COVID-DATA/COVIDVIEW/INDEX.HTML
This was a mixed purpose trip. A trip to celebrate my daughter’s sweet 16th, a business trip to research for current clients traveling to Disney World in the fall and winter, and a visit with family as my son lives in Orlando and it was wonderful to see them!
I included a lot of information, including day overviews of each park, on my social media accounts of Facebook and Instagram. If you weren’t following along then check out my posts from the trip by clicking your preferred account below.
Overall we felt very well cared for during our visit to Disney World and when flying on Southwest. Our plane wasn’t full on any leg of the trips, and Southwest still has the middle seat empty – unless your party wants to sit together. There are many safety and health precautions in place for both Southwest Air and Disney World.
Orange county, where Disney World is located, has lower numbers of positive COVID results than other areas; add to this that my daughter-in-law is the lead COVID/ICU nurse for Advent Health in Orlando (this is the hospital taking temperatures at the entrance of each park). We would not have traveled without her advice and information. If you’re interested then you can follow her/them on Instagram @thedailydoseofmagic.
How was the experience? Really and truthfully?
I can tell you without hesitation that it was the best Disney World experience we’ve had since the late 90’s. I usually visit once a year to keep up to date and this was truly magical. Even with the face coverings – which we did sweat a bit, …it is August …in Florida after all, Disney was really enjoyable. Why?
Without the Fast Pass system and the dining plan with the dining reservation it was a relaxing trip. We didn’t have to worry about missing a FP window and rushing to a ride. We experienced far more rides than the 3 guaranteed with a Fast Pass. We rode EVERYTHING – even rides we never intended to ride, like Flight of Peter Pan or It’s a Small World. We rode on Ariel’s Under the Sea Enchantment just because we could.
We could easily get a dining reservation, with the exception of the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater in Hollywood Studios – we missed the mark on that one. That’s okay though because we dined at Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge instead, that was fun and interesting.
I easily changed our dining reservation times for any table service. We had a great dining experience at Skipper Canteen in Adventureland. The menus are all on a QR code or on the My Disney Experience App.
All quick service dining is done via the mobile ordering on the My Disney Experience App, except Sleep Hollow in the Magic Kingdom that was still walk up, and still so yummy. It’s a great spot to see the 2 quick parades go through.
We took AC breaks and mask-free breaks with a cool drink in the “relaxation stations” which are areas of the park that have tables acceptably apart so you can be mask free for a while. You can stay as long as you like. There is no eating or drinking while walking so it’s important to find this area or a dining area that allows you to consume your eats and treats then resume your fun.
The Magic Kingdom was by far the busiest of all 4 theme parks and was the ONLY park where we saw two families being disrespectful in terms of face coverings. The Disney Cast Members did a fabulous job with asking guests to remain in face coverings, even with photos, throughout the park. Everyone around these two families in line (Seven Dwarfs and It’s a Small World) kept their distance beyond the markings on the floor. There is always someone who thinks they are above the rules, and you can’t make decisions for them but you can make choices for yourself and we were very aware of our surroundings. Still, two families out of so many people. MOST guests followed the rules and were very respectful to stay on the social distancing markers, the bus seating numbers, and more to follow the protocols.
Epcot was the park with the lowest crowds – almost no one there, we walked onto Soarin’ 3 times and had a 15-20 minute wait on Frozen standby line. The Food and Wine was still happening and some of the “booths” are in the air conditioned building next to the Canada village.
Also it’s important to note that Epcot is having some major renovation so there are barriers up in the main courtyard of future world. It’s very exciting to see what it in store for Epcot. As we glided over Epcot on the Skyliner we could see the construction for the new Ratatouille ride. There is also the Guardians of the Galaxy coming to Epcot. Read more Here. You can see all the upcoming changes at the attraction the Epcot Experience.
Not all dining options are available, many table service restaurants are still not open, but we enjoyed the meals we did have. The good thing about Mobile Ordering is that you can order a kids meal if you don’t want the larger entree meal and no one questions you.
What About Health and Safety Protocols?
I created a post on my Facebook and Instagram accounts detailing all the health and safety protocols in place for our visit. You can it here(FBK) or in the related post at the bottom.
Character meet and greets are not happening, but there are opportunities to see the characters in other spots. Above the train station in the Magic Kingdom, or by horse drawn carriage in Epcot, or Winnie the Pooh frolicking in the fenced grassy area of Epcot.
Any attraction or entertainment that would create a crowd has been suspended, such as the shows at Hollywood Studios (Indiana Jones, Beauty & the Beast, Fantasmic) or the Fire Works shows in Magic Kingdom and Epcot. That was fine by us; with the low crowds and short lines for the rides we were okay with missing those few things.
There is so much to talk about with this trip and again I did my best to post on social media and will continue to do so – for those who have specific questions please reach out to me.
I can’t promise any future Disney World trip will have the same experience as we did as people are beginning to travel. A colleague recently shared with me a photo of her flight to Cancun which was completely full. Cancun is another great destination where I would feel comfortable traveling at this time. I fully believe there is a happy medium where you can travel and be safe and healthy.
As for the new colors on the Castle… I didn’t want to like it, but seeing it in person I actually do!
*UPDATE – I recently had clients visit Disney World over a weekend, Friday – Monday and they stated it was busier than they had expected, especially the Magic Kingdom. It could be because our trip was a week day trip (Mon-Fri). So there is a tip for your trip… to visit during the week as the weekend draws in more people to the parks. With that said, you still need to make a park reservation and there is a park capacity limit.
Until next time…
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