I was asked today about the changes in visiting Disney World in our current climate. Therefore, rather than repeat here is a shortlist of the things I found most significant in my two visits in the past 6 months. This is based on my experience.
The Changes at the theme parks:
1. You must have a park pass to visit a theme park as they are capacity controlled.
Park hopping capability is now allowed at 2 pm – IF the park you’re wanting to hop to has availability and isn’t at capacity.
Hollywood Studios seems to be the park that books up the fastest and sells out the most because it’s the smallest Disney theme park therefore capacity is more limited.
2.Temperatures will be checked for every guest regardless of age (theme park and Disney Springs). This is provided by Advent Health
3.Bags and backpacks are no longer hand searched however you will walk through metal detectors and remove any metal from your backpacks (umbrellas etc)
4. All quick service dining is via mobile ordering via the MDE app (a welcomed change in my opinion) and you need to wait until you receive notification that your meal is prepared before you can enter the restaurant. There are still kiosks and carts to purchase snacks and drinks.
5. Social distancing is a must and the queue lines are marked on where to stand. (Respect it and don’t march on the heels of the guest in front of you)
6. Many times it will be only your party in the ride car, or if it’s a boat like Pirates or Small World then it was the 1st & last rows of the ride car. This can sometimes make the lines look really long (the worst on Na’vi River Journey in AK). **This is true for the Skyliner as well which makes the wait much longer.
7. There are relaxation stations throughout the parks where you can rest and take off your masks for a while. You may also do so in dining areas.
8. There are no character meet & greets – all the characters are at a distance.
The character meals are also from a distance. They will wave to you and say hello but nothing closer than 6′ away.
9. The parades are shorter and more like caravans of characters. You can see the Princesses in carriages throughout Epcot.
10. There are no Fast Passes at this time but that could change before your visit. All rides and attractions are old school stand in line and wait your turn.
11. Walking and eating or drinking is greatly discouraged as you must remove your mask which is only allowed in dining areas and relaxation stations.
12. Disney thoroughly cleans all ride cars and you will see them skip carts on the Skyliner because the crew will be inside wiping it all down.
13. Lack of Maid service – this was the most disappointing for me with both our recent visits. The maids will only knock on the door and provide fresh towels or remove the trash. For me, one of the nice things about going on vacation is not having to cook, clean or make my bed! If I’m paying “Disney money” for a vacation then I want the bed made by someone other than myself!
Some people like that the maids don’t enter the room, however, I prefer to have a cleaning service and make the blessed bed, because it’s already factored into the cost of the reservation. If the reservation cost was reduced due to lack of maid service then I would be good with that – but it’s not.
14. Lastly, the BIGGEST recent change – the crowds have picked up significantly from Aug 2020 to Feb 2021. Yes, the parks are at 35% capacity however when speaking with a Disney Cast Member about the plethora of people I was told that 35% capacity is a normal park day (pre-COVID) for Disney during this time of year.
I asked, “How can Disney allow this [so many people]?”
The response, “We say we are open and we are open safely. Guests can decide for themselves if they are uncomfortable with the crowd level and decide not to visit.”
Which is why you sign the park waiver when you sign up for a park pass, and why travel agents, like myself, aren’t able to do this for our clients.
Currently, from 22 March 2021 – 08 April 2021 is sold out on park passes. And, from APR 9-23rd at least one park is completely at capacity. See Park Availability
What about you… is there something I missed that you want to mention?
Let me know in the comments.
Until next time…