VISITING DISNEY DURING THE PANDEMIC: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

We have Disney annual passes so when the parks opened up again we decided to give it shot with all of the new regulations in this wild new world. Honestly, at first I had my doubts that it would be as enjoyable with the Florida heat and having to wear a mask all day but we all agree that we had even more fun this trip than ever! Crazy right?!? Maybe it was because there weren’t as many people so we got to ride everything over and over with little to no wait times or maybe it was because we were so happy to be able to get out and do something normal that we weren’t sure we would ever be able to do again. While I probably wouldn’t have rushed out to by tickets to the park right now, I’m really glad we have our passes and decided to go.

Red Dress similar here // Vans // Mickey Tee similar here and Minnie version here // Liam’s Surfer Mickey Shirt on sale also available in Men’s sizes here // Nick’s Tie Dye Mickey Shirt on sale also available in Men’s sizes here // The Boys’ “Still Smiling” Masks are sold out but similar here in lots of colors too // Gucci Backpack (and similar budget friendly version here and here) // Minnie Ears // Boys sunnies 2/$12

The parks had what I would say was the perfect amount of people…definitely not crowded by any means but enough people to keep it from feeling creepy. Really we just felt like we were at some special event and Disney was closed to the public. We felt lucky….like we had won the Disney lottery. I mean you don’t see wait times without a Fast Pass on Space Mountain and Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train Coaster under 30 minutes very often.

The past 6 months have really flown by and so much has changed in our daily lives especially for our kids and sometimes it’s just nice to be able to get out and do something somewhat normal and fun. I know a lot of people are probably reading this thinking they would never go to a theme park right now with everything going on and if that’s not within your comfort level right now I can completely understand that. You do you. If you are still debating on the safety issue, I can tell you Disney has done an incredible job and I felt safer there than I do at the grocery store. Hand Sanitizing Stations before and after every ride and throughout the park, temperature checks before you enter the park, every time I went into a restroom there was someone in there cleaning, and employees throughout the park making sure everyone has their masks on and that they are social distancing.

I got a lot of questions on Instagram so I’m going to try to answer as many as I can. The parks we went to were Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (we will be going to Epcot and Animal Kingdom soon as well so I can do another post with some updates when we do).

Are all the rides, shops, and food establishments open?

For the most part everything is open. I didn’t see any of the rides closed down. Occasionally one would close for a few minutes while they clean but they always opened back within 15-20 minutes. Most of the stores at Magic Kingdom were open but there were a quite a few that were closed at Hollywood Studios and a few of the restaurants (Woody’s Lunchbox was closed and a lot of the cafeteria style restaurants). The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater was open but plan on getting a reservation 30-60 days in advance for that one. We always check when we go and they told us this time that you really have to book that far in advance. Disney Springs is booming and just about everything is open there. Masks are required there as well.

Nick’s Pizza Planet Shirt (Men’s sizes here) and Tie Dye Mask (comes in a 2 pack for $4)

Are all of the resorts open and what about the pools?

At this time, they are phasing the opening of the resorts so not all of them are open right now. You can get some really great deals on the ones that are open (especially if you are a Florida Resident) and they have some great Florida resident ticket deals as well. You are required to wear a mask at the resorts unless you are swimming (pools are open). They have a really easy no contact check-in that is all online so you don’t even have to go to the front desk. You just check-in online and they will let you know when your room is ready (we called when we were about 20 minutes away and they were able to have one ready early for us instead of the usual 3 pm check-in) and you use use your magic band to unlock your room.

Are they still doing character meet and greets and buffets?

They are currently not offering buffets or the traditional character meet and greets (or the traditional parades) but they do have characters pop up here and there throughout the day so you still get to see them from a distance. They ride by on floats, cars, and wave from balconies. When we first entered Magic Kingdom all of the characters were up on a balcony waving to us and then Tinkerbell rode by on a float. I also saw lots of the Pixar characters and Mickey and Minnie ride by in cars waving at everyone when we were at Hollywood Studios. Maybe a bummer for some of the kids that they can’t go give their favorite characters a hug but remember there are a lot less people so you can really interact with the characters from afar and they will see you and wave back which is pretty cool if you’re 5 and Buzz Lightyear drives by in a car and waves directly at YOU! The floats and cars go slow too and since there are not many people you could probably snap a pic of your child with the characters in the background without anyone else in the photo (there are no large crowds like the parades we are used to).

Alien Backpack is sold out but similar here, here, here, and here

Do you have to wear a mask when you are walking around the park?

Yes. At all of the parks, Disney Resorts (unless you are swimming), and Disney Springs you are required to have a mask on at all times unless you are stationary, social distanced, and actively eating of drinking (I will get to that in the next question).

My Pizza Planet Tank // Nick’s Pizza Planet Shirt // Liam’s Buzz Lightyear Shirt is sold out but similar here // Jonthan’s Alien shirt and Sunglasses // My Black Dress // Adidas Hat // Shell Necklace (use code Jennifer20 to get 20% off of your purchase) // My Mask (2 pack for $4) // Nick’s Mask (2 pack for $4) // Liam’s Mask (2 pack for $4) // Jonathan’s Mask (2 pack for $4)

How do you order food and are there places you can sit to eat without your mask?

Most places you can order food through the My Disney Experience app and then just send one person up to get it when it’s ready (with their mask on). The only place we couldn’t order through the My Disney Experience app was Starbucks (which never had more than 5 people inside at a time while we were there) and there are employees inside making sure you stand on your social distance dot to wait for your drinks (while wearing your mask). You might be able to use the Starbucks app to order there too. Once you get your food or drinks just find a table (there are employees everywhere making sure you are following the rules and are 6 ft apart) and once you are seated you can take off your mask and eat. I’m sure you are probably picturing a free for all trying to find a seat and nothing being available but I can assure you that it is NOTHING like before when you are getting lunch and have to wait around for 20 minutes for a table to open up. We never had anyone closer than about 12 feet because there were so many open tables. Also, if you are just grabbing something quick like a pretzel or a water and don’t want to go find a table to sit down because you’re just taking a quick break, you can find a bench or really anywhere that you are far away (at least 6 ft) from everyone else and stop there to take your mask off to eat your pretzel or drink your water. You can’t walk around the park without your mask drinking or eating anything.

Are the buses, monorail, and trams running?

The buses are running on limited schedules so check with your resort. Trams were not running while we were at Hollywood Studios (we took the monorail from the Contemporary to Magic Kingdom so I’m not sure if those trams are running right now) but you will not have a far walk since there are not nearly as many people at the parks. The monorail is up and running and we had a whole car to ourselves! Definitely better than when you have to stand next to 20 sweaty strangers!

Are there Fast Passes?

No. Fast Passes really aren’t necessary right now since there are a lot less people at the parks. Wait times were 5 minutes – 35 minutes for most rides. There were a few like the Slinky Coaster that had a 50 minute wait at one point but if you keep checking back you should be able to catch it around 25-30 minutes. We found that the really popular rides had longer wait times right after the parks opened and then by 2-3 pm things seemed to slow down a lot. There is no park hopping right now so there really isn’t a new influx of people coming in later in the day.

What is the Disney Park Reservation system?

To get into any of the parks you now have to make a park reservation (although I do know someone who got in without one if you want to wing it but no guarantees). The parks that are available for you to make your reservation depend on how far out you are looking and whether or not you are staying at a Disney Resort. If you are staying at a Disney resort, right now it’s pretty easy to get into any of the parks you want for the day without looking too far ahead. If you are only planning to go for the day or staying a a different resort then you will want to plan ahead because there is less availability if you are not staying at a Disney resort. I do recommend taking advantage of the Disney resort prices right now since they are a lot lower than usual and then you can easily get into any of the parks.

Was it weird?

We are all somewhat used to seeing people with masks on at this point and wearing them so that part wasn’t that weird. There were also a lot less people but other than that it just felt like a typical day at Disney and we got to ride A LOT more. Before the pandemic, some days we would go and barely get to ride 3 rides the whole day if I didn’t plan ahead and get fast passes. I planned this trip the day before and we were able to stay at the Contemporary for a fraction of what it would normally cost and since there were less people and no fast passes we really got to enjoy walking around and picking which ride we wanted to go on next and when we wanted to eat we stopped to eat instead of having to wait for the crowds to die down. There was no rushing to beat the crowds, we got to sleep in and still made it for park opening since they now have limited hours, rode our favorite rides multiple times, and were out in time for dinner. I asked my boys if they liked this trip better or our other Disney trips and they both said this one because we got to ride everything and it was really just so much less stressful. If you go expecting to have fun, you WILL have fun. And if the Florida heat is still a little much for you right now wait until late October or Early November when it cools down a little and hopefully the crowds will still be minimal.

Are the Disney Masks worth it?

In my opinion, yes. Ignore the bad reviews that people left online. They only left bad reviews because they ordered the wrong size and they didn’t fit. They do run small and will shrink a tiny bit when you wash them too so I would say size up one size from what you normally wear. I normally wear the child sized masks and so do my boys and we all got the large and they perfectly. They are really good quality and we all thought they were more comfortable than any others that we own. I have washed ours multiple times and they are still in great shape and not faded at all. The Pixar masks were sold out everywhere at the parks and most of the Mickey and Minnie ones in the larger sizes were too. I didn’t get ours until the last day we were there and I really wished I had gotten them earlier for photos but we planned our trip very last minute so I did’t have time to order them online. You can shop all of the Disney masks here. They also have a few different designs available at the parks that aren’t available online. I found some more cute Disney ones here! Make sure you bring at least 4 mask per day per person because they WILL get sweaty and gross. I’m personally not a huge fan of the disposable masks since they produce more waste but you might want to have a few on hand just in case your others get wet or you lose them etc. or you can buy a 10 pack of reusable plain cloth masks in various colors here for $16.99 so you have some extras on hand. And if you don’t want to spend a ton of money buying all Disney masks, you can just save those ones for the photos and wear your others the rest of the day so the Disney ones don’t get gross and you can re-wear them. Also, keep in mind Disney’s mask rules below.

Other Tips

If you want to limit the amount of people you are exposed to even more, head to the parks after 12 pm and you will miss that initial influx of people at park opening and you can stay at your resort and enjoy the pool all morning when no one else is there. We walked by the pool at the Contemporary on our way to the park at 9 am and there were only 3 people there! I know it might seem like you won’t have enough time with the parks closing earlier but I promise you will still have plenty of time since the wait times are so much shorter and seem to get even shorter as it gets later in the day. I also really loved the convenience of staying at the Contemporary Resort because you get to do bag and temperature checks at the hotel before you get on the Monorail and there are no lines at all and also that we could ride the Monorail straight from our hotel to Magic Kingdom or Epcot. You can even walk to the main gate at Magic Kingdom if you want! The rooms were a good size and the beds were extra comfy too! Usually I hate hotel beds but this one was perfect! (One of our other favorite Disney Resorts is Animal Kingdom Lodge where you can get a room with a Savannah view and watch the giraffes and bunk beds for the kids!)

Wear a good sport sunscreen like this one and I love this one for my kids faces because it’s so easy to reapply and small enough to throw in your bag. The sport sunscreens tend to stay on better when you are sweating (gross I know but it’s hot) and I always find that the mineral sunscreens just seem to work better. I always use this one on my face because it stays on really well and never causes breakouts.

You probably already know this, but you can get free ice water at any of the restaurants at Disney. You can walk into Starbucks and ask for 4 ice waters and order nothing else and they will put your order in just like they would with your coffee order. That is a huge money saver when it’s 95 degrees outside and you have to drink so much water.

I’m sure I’ve probably left out a few things but if you have any other questions leave them in the comments so I can answer them in my next post. Thanks for reading and have fun at Disney if you decide to go!

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