I had the lucky opportunity to visit Walt Disney World on Thursday, July 9th, 2020 - two days before the official re-opening! I spent 10 hours in Magic Kingdom and witnessed so many great measures Disney is taking to protect their visitors from Covid19. Throughout the entire day at Disney I felt very safe. The limitations Disney has put in place restricting number of attendees entering the park really helped allow people to social distance and stay safe.
I'm sharing my overall experience at Disney World's reopening after Covid19 below with my personal travel tips.
Disclaimer: I understand that covid19 is not over - post covid19 is used as a reference for when the parks re-opened after closing due to covid19.
Overview of Changes Disney Has Put in Place
Face Masks are required in the parks at all times for anyone over the age of 2 (you can remove your mask while dining or in a relaxation zone)
Temperature Checks will be required before entering the parks
Markers were placed in queues to indicate 6ft social distancing
Cast members strictly monitor number of guests inside shops & restaurants
No fireworks, shows, or full parades in order to prevent crowding
No physical interaction with characters - characters are only seen from a distance
Rides are sanitized throughout the day periodically
Hand Sanitizer is available at the entrance & exit of every ride (I found it to be sticky - I would bring your own)
Buffets are no longer offered.
Quick service restaurants will be Mobile order only - your food must be ready for pick pu before you can enter the building
My Full Experience
Arrival & Parking
Magic Kingdom officially opens at 9AM now (all parks have adjusted hours). We arrived around 8:15AM and were not allowed to enter the parking gates until 8:30AM. We were then told where to park - Cast Members were skipping every other car to allow for social distancing while guests got out of their car. Then, once an entire row had finished unloading, they would fill in the gaps for parking.
Typically, Disney offers a tram service to take guests from the parking lot to the security check point. Trams are currently not being offered at any of the Disney parks which means you'll need to walk from your parking spot all the way to the gate.
Temperature Check & Security
Upon walking up to the entrance, the first thing we saw was a Temperature Check tent. There were stickers on the ground indicating where guests should line up (6ft apart) for their temperature to be checked. The process took 5 seconds, if that, and we were on our way! Guests who did not have proper face masks (ie bandannas or gators) were stopped by Cast Members and asked to purchase an appropriate face mask.
Next up we headed to security. Typically, there is a bag check for each guest. Now, they have metal detectors to eliminate security touching your bag. However, if your bag does not pass the metal detector test, you will need to have your bag thoroughly searched by security.
Personal Travel Tip: Bring more than 1 Mask! You'll sweat a lot and it gets kinda gross throughout the day. It's so nice being able to switch it out and have a fresh feeling!
After security, guests need to board transportation in order to get to Magic Kingdom park. Typically guests have the choice between Monorail or Ferry. Disney is now offering a third choice for guests who want to ride a bus to the park.
We chose the Monorail and were instructed to wait on a dot with a number until it was our turn to queue up for the monorail. Once it was our turn, we boarded the monorail with 1 other family in our car (1 family per bench - no one was standing in the monorail). They put dividers in the monorails to section off the cars as well.
Personal Travel Tip: The line for the buses was empty! Guests who rode the bus said it was the quickest way to get to the park! Give it a try and let me know!
All rides featured a Hand Sanitizer at the front of the line and the exit of the ride. Guests are not required to use it (like they are in Universal Studios) but it is always available should you need it. All ride queues had markers on the ground indicating where to stand to ensure 6ft distance (or more) was adhered. Everyone followed these guidelines.
Disney has a few different methods to ensure social distancing on the ride itself. Some rides had 1 family per car, some rides skipped every other seat, etc.
The rides were not wiped down after each guest, but Disney did have cast members spraying them periodically. I only saw this once personally, but I've seen others say they saw it frequently.
Lines for rides may look very long, but keep in mind everyone is standing 6ft apart so it stretches further. I went on over 15 rides in one day at Magic Kingdom and never waited for longer than 10 minutes.
Personal Travel Tip: Bring your own hand sanitizer. Disney had lots all over the park, but I found theirs to be very sticky. I prefer my own!
All Quick Service restaurants will require you to Mobile Order food prior to entering the building. This can be done on the My Disney Experience App on your phone. You can order the food as early as you want and select a time to pick it up. Once your food is READY a Cast Member will let you inside to pick it up. When you are seated, you can officially take your mask off and dine. Tables are marked to ensure guests do not sit side-by-side. There are also a large number of Cast Members specifically dedicated to wipe down tables after each guest gets up.
Note: You are not able to go into the Quick Service Restaurants to cool off and take off your mask unless you are eating. If you'd like to take your mask off, you'll need to go to a Relaxation Zone.
Most shopping locations were open and available. Doors were marked to indicated entrance only and exit only. When entering, Cast Members diligently marked it down on an iPad to track number of people inside the store. Because of this, shops were never crowded or packed.
Each park has a handful of dedicated spaces called "Relaxation Zones" that allow you to take your mask off while sitting 6ft away from other guests. You can enter these at any time throughout the day and relax and cool off. Some are shaded while others are in the sun so be mindful of your choice.
You may not be able to take a picture hugging your favorite Disney character but you CAN still see them from afar! Disney has placed a few favorite characters around the park to wave and say hello from a distance.
Frequently Asked Questions about My Experience at Disney World:
Did you feel safe in the park?
I felt far more safe in the park than I do in a grocery store. Everyone was very attentive to social distancing guidelines put in place and respected all rules and guidelines.
Can you eat/drink while you walk around the park?
Technically, yes... but I wouldn't. There's really no need to eat/drink and walk at the same time. But, there were some people who would do this and remove their mask to eat, then immediately put it back on while they chewed... this would be the best option.
Was it crowded?
NO! Disney has placed a limitation on number of people allowed in the park each day. It felt so empty and there was no one around. Lines were under 10 minutes for everything and people could comfortably social distance.
Was wearing a mask all day difficult?
I'm not going to lie... it was hot. But, you get used to it. The first hour or two was the worst and then I forgot I even had it on!
PS: Check out my clip from NBC's Nightly News with Lester Holt on the reopening of Disney!
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