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Walt Disney World in Orlando certainly looks different compared to a few months ago in March of this year. The four theme parks opened up again in mid-July since closing due to COVID-19. My husband and I are Annual Passholders and since we were already going to be in town, we decided to try a short visit to the Magic Kingdom a week after its reopening.
Things are changing constantly, so for the most accurate and up-to-date information make sure to check out this website: Know Before You Go
The first step to planning a Disney trip now is checking the new Park Pass Reservation availability calendar to see if you are able to go to the certain park you want to visit on a certain day. Currently, there is no park hopping so you get one park per day. You can leave and come back to the same park on the same day if you want to take a break though. Make sure you select the correct view for the type of tickets you have (or will have)…tickets only, tickets with a resort reservation, or annual passes. You can learn how to make your Park Pass Reservations here.
So, what is it like going to the theme parks with all of the new health and safety measures in place? I’ll admit…it was a little strange, but there is still magic there. I may or may not have teared up when we walked down (an almost empty) Main Street USA to see the new paint job on Cinderella’s Castle.
To get here though, we parked at the Transportation and Ticket Center, masked up, and went through our first temperature check. It took a couple seconds and we were both good to go on the first check. If you (or anyone in your party) has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, you will be asked to wait under a tent and they will check your temperature again. If your temperature is still too high, you will not be able to enter the parks.
Next was the security screening, which was relatively similar to how it’s been in the past.
We rode the monorail to the park. Only one family was in each section of the monorail with new dividers in between each normally open section.
(Note: My husband’s face mask with the valve is no longer acceptable at Walt Disney World.)
To get through the park entrance, all you need to do is scan your Magic Band or ticket. They are not using the fingerprint scanners.
Our first stop was Starbucks and the line had two groups ahead of us. If you frequent this spot, you know this was a huge shock for us!
We got to see our first Character Cavalcade after we got our drinks with Winnie the Pooh and Friends. They are not currently doing any parades, but instead are doing different cavalcades around the park (basically a small parade but not at a particular time, they just happen randomly throughout the day as to not draw a large crowd).
Y’all Florida is hot in the summer, so wearing a mask all day outdoors is not fun. Trust me when I say, no one enjoys it. I definitely think if we continue to have park days with these restrictions, they will be short days where we can also enjoy the resort we’re staying at. I would recommend bringing multiple masks for everyone in your party to change out throughout the day. We got some of the Disney face masks (size large for adults) and they were comfortable and not too hot. There are cast members enforcing the new safety measures, as well as announcements every so often over the speakers.
Here’s Cinderella’s Castle in all of her new pink and blue glory! I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this but it is starting to grow on me.
We did one of the Magic Shots with a PhotoPass Photographer and I couldn’t believe how empty the park looked once we saw the photos on the My Disney Experience app.
We were able to ride several rides with minimal wait times. Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train with a 10 minute wait??! There are no Fastpasses, so you’ll need to check wait times in the app and wait in the line with everyone else. Make sure everyone in your party (and ride vehicle if another group is with you – spaced out) wear their masks for the entire ride or you will not get your ride photos on your account. They also did a great job sanitizing all of the ride vehicles on the ones we rode. Some of the queues have plexiglass dividers to block interaction with others in the line, as well as social distancing markers. There are hand sanitizing stands at the entrance and exit of each rides and also throughout the park.
There are several options for mobile ordering. We got lunch from Pinocchio’s Village Haus and it was ready quickly. Tables are blocked off inside to keep everyone spread out. You can also mobile order Dole Whip which was a win in my book!
There are a few relaxation stations where you are able to sit (spaced out) and remove your masks both indoors and outdoors. We checked out the one inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow by Storybook Circus and it was relatively empty and freezing cold. This is definitely a great spot to cool down!
So there aren’t any parades, fireworks, shows, character meet and greets…but Disney has found some fun ways to spread some magic safely. We got to wave goodbye to Goofy, Max, and some other friends over the train station on our way out!
I have seen several people say they felt “safer at Disney than the grocery store,” and while I don’t know that I would go that far, I did feel like the correct safety measures were in place and neither my husband or myself ever felt like we were in a situation that made us uncomfortable.
I’m not here to tell you whether you should or should not go to Disney right now, you need to make the decision based on what’s best for you and your family. I will say though, that I would not recommend taking your (or someone in your party’s) first trip right now. It just isn’t quite the same and you won’t understand what everyone thinks is so magical. If you’re an experienced park goer who has done all (or almost all) there is to do, you are more able to enjoy and appreciate the current situation and still get your Disney fix.
Stay tuned for a post on what items are currently in my park bag!