What Is It Like To Visit Walt Disney World Since The Reopening
Many have asked us what it is like to visit Walt Disney World since the reopening and we took it upon ourselves to check out all 4 of the Walt Disney World theme parks to help you understand just what you can expect when you make your
own journey to the most magical place on earth. First and foremost, all of the magic that you remember is still there and maybe even more. It’s time to take a step back and travel back to a simpler time when you could allow yourself to live in the moment and take in all that each of the parks has to offer.
Gone are the days of crowds and waiting in line and having to decide six months ahead of time where you think you might want to eat lunch and stressing out trying to get the most coveted of FastPass selections sixty days in advance all while conjuring up all of your advanced mathematical abilities trying to figure out if you can make from here to there and back again with enough time so as not to topple your detailed and carefully planned itineraries.
Replacing it is the joy and surreal feeling you encounter when you enter ANY of the parks, and looking around and it sinks in that this is like having the entire park to yourself and a handful of friends and the world, the world of Disney that is, waiting just for you.
Whether it’s riding your favorite attraction over and over and over again or finally getting that much sought after photo of you and the family in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom or in front of the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with not a single person in the background or hearing the music coming your way and sitting down on a curb and watching the parade pass by right then and there, it’s a new kind of normal and a whole new kind of magic, and one that you’ll fall in love with very quickly.
Here’s a look at the changes in place and a closer look at what it’s like to visit Walt Disney World since the reopening.
One Park A Day Means More Time For Discovery+ NO CROWDS!
Personally we love that each day is now dedicated to a specific park because having an entire day to explore means discovering or rediscovering all the little details that are all a part of the Disney storytelling. Thanks to no crowds it’s easy to immerse yourself in the magic and not have to constantly be on the run. You’ll quickly learn to love the slower, live in the moment pace where visiting Disney is now as Walt meant it to be-life in the moment.
Disney not at capacity is a wondrous thing. Right now visiting the parks is like someone booked the entire park for you to enjoy a private party just for you and your family. You are now able to do your favorite attractions over and over and over again -Space Moutain 5 times in a row-yes, please! Yes the hours are now shorter than we are used to but you’ll still have plenty of time to visit all of your favorites, and do it at a slow, leisurely paced vs. the sometimes hectic, too planned out Disney day that many are used to. I promise that once you’ve experienced the new Walt Disney World day, you’ll never want to go back to the old way of doing things ever again!
YES! The Disney Difference Means Above and Beyond Safety & Health Protocols
Every attraction has hand sanitizers at the entrance and exits and many had them within the queues.
There are markers around every corner to remind you of social distancing and where to stand, and where not to and
many rides have installed partitions between the rows in the queues and seating is now every other row. Ride vehicles are wiped down before the next group boards except in such cases as attractions like the World Famous Jungle Cruise which periodically closes for a short period of time to allow for cleaning of all of the boats.
On every ride we went on, as well as everywhere throughout the parks, physical distancing floor markers were present to keep guests at a safe distance from one another.
Additionally, in line at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train among others, certain sections had a partition installed where distancing would not have been possible.
At Haunted Mansion, the Stretching Room no longer asks you to step to the center of the room but instead, you will find that the Stretching Room paintings are fully stretched in place as you walk through the room. The Ghost Host can be heard periodically telling guests, “Welcome, Foolish Mortals.” barriers in place that will lead you directly to your Doom Buggies. Similar to Haunted Mansion, you will notice that many of the preshows have been suspended for the time being.
The biggest thing to remember that while the lines may look longer due to the social distancing procedures in place, many lines looked longer than they actually were and because of the limited capacity of those in the park, we were able to ride everything we wanted to, as many times as we wanted to so if you were worried about not being able to book your FastPass+ reservations, don’t be.
The wait for Flight of Passage was 5 minutes all day long and we were able to ride Space Mountain 3 times in a row. The only attraction where we experienced any kind of a wait, and by wait we mean 20 minutes was on Pirates of the Caribean because it had just started raining and many of the other rides were temporarily were closed and Mine Train.
Although high contact play areas such as Dumbo’s Playground at the Magic Kingdom and The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have still not reopened, fun activities such as Wilderness Explorers were open and ready to take on recruits.
The biggest news just announced was the announcement as to will you still be able to experience Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I am happy to report that the Force is strong ride you will! You can find
out more about the new procedures for joining the Virtual Queue to obtain your boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and everything else you need to know about traveling to a galaxy far, far, away here. Many will be happy to hear that the Rider Switch and Disability Access Switch is operating as normal.
THE ENTERTAINMENT IS REIMAGINED AND JUST AS MAGICAL-With NO WAITING
Although parades, shows, and fireworks and temporarily been halted, for the time being, there is still plenty of entertainment and chances for character sightings and interactions from afar still to be found around every corner.
At the Magic Kingdom, parades have been replaced with an all-new kind of entertainment and magic. Disney characters are still there, and while it may be a few months before we can get our picture with Mickey Mouse or a hug from Chewbacca, we will still be seeing them out and about just in different ways with physical distancing in mind.
Disney has introduced a number of special cavalcades and processions that will feature the characters in the parks much in the way that we have seen the Stormtroopers patrolling from the buildings above which pop up throughout the day with a wide variety of special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom parade route, as well characters sailing the
waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, processions along the World Showcase promenade at EPCOT, and motorcades
on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard. The Disney Prince and Princess along with other beloved classic Disney characters can be found throughout the day making appearances from the up above on the Train Station talking to and interacting with guests, although from a distance, but still just as much fun. Above the entrance to Country Bear Jamboree were the Country Bears themselves
Plus part of the magic that is Disney is that you never know what awaits you. For example, you may see Buzz Lightyear after rocketing through space in Tomorrowland, or Captain Jack Sparrow hiding around the corner as you exit
Pirates of the Caribbean or even members of the Resistance hiding from the First Order in Black Spire Outpost. And then there’s the age-old question on everyone’s mind-“Who rode it better-Merida or Gaston?” You be the judge.
Food And Dining Do Take Some Getting Used To
In full disclosure, dining, whether sit-down or on the go does take a bit more planning and for someone like me who is not a plan 6 months in advance to secure my ADR’s (Advance Dining Reservations) but rather tends to go with the flow, this was the biggest change for me as now I can’t just walk up and grab a churro or corn-dog nuggets at Casey’s Corner or a Mickey Pretzel while strolling around but after some practice, I am happy to say I have now mastered the art of snacking and dining at Disney.
So what do you need to know about returning to Walt Disney World when it comes to the new health and safety measures are in place at restaurants across Walt Disney World Resort theme parks during the phased reopening? These new procedures include:
- Enhanced Cleaning – Seating and dining areas are cleaned between guest seatings, along with increased cleaning procedures in other high-traffic common areas.
- Self-Serve Changes – Beverages and other items previously available as self-service options will now be served directly to guests.
While most of your favorite eateries are back open and waiting to greet you, there are a few changes you will notice such as few grab and go and snack options throughout the parks but yes, while you can still get the iconic Dole Whip,
and Mickey Ice Cream Bars, churros and turkey legs may take slightly longer to reappear. In addition, many Walt Disney World restaurants are using convenient technologies to minimize contact at dining locations throughout the Parks.
Masks Are Here To Stay-For A While And That’s OK
There’s No Better Time Than To Stay At On-Property-Even If You’re A Local
During these uncertain times, travel understandably is at it’s lowest and will continue to be for some time but with that being said, there truly is no better time than right now to plan the perfect vacation or staycation and stay in the heart of the magic at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Whether you’re looking to stay on property or at one of the many
Disney Good Neighbor Resorts, with low, low prices, special perks and all of the extras that you’ve come to know and love, much like the parks, all open resorts have gone above and beyond when it comes to keeping you safe and sometimes even just a few days away can be just what you need to remind yourself that there is still magic to be found. Even better, if you’re an annual passholder like I am, when you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort property, including Good Neighbor Resorts, you can make your park reservations right at your hotel and it does not count against your allotment of visits which may be the best reason of all. Plus when you stay on property, you can take advantage of the
Disney Skyliner, Monorail system as well as the boats and ferry or even walk to the Epcot or the Magic Kingdom instead of depending on your having to drive your own car or rent a vehicle. Fewer crowds make it the perfect time to go back to
the hotel for a quick dip in the pool or enjoy the other activities that so many resorts offer. Many of the Good Neighbor Resorts such as the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, are just a short walk away from Disney Springs which means food, fun, and shopping with that special touch of Disney all free and waiting just for you.
Is It Safe To Visit The Walt Disney World Resort?
There is no simple “yes” or “no” answer as to whether or not you feel safe in returning to the Walt Disney World resort as it is a personal decision with many factors that go into it and one each and every person needs to make for themselves. Did we feel safe being there-YES! Disney absolutely went above and beyond in taking safety protocols and following
state-mandated guidelines while still keeping the magic and the integrity that we have come to know and love about visiting Disney and keeps us all coming back over and over again but with so many unknowns still, no one can make that final decision as to whether now is the best time to visit but you. But should you decide to make the trip, here are some of the differences you will see.
From the moment we entered, I was struck with the unparalleled joy and happiness that was apparent in guests and cast members alike and yes, I did shed a tear or two or three but they were all happy tears that came from this small piece of normal during these surreal times.
The limited crowd capacities gave being there an even more magical feel as it was like winning a contest and getting to have the entire Park to yourself for the day. While wearing a mask during the hot July heat was a learning process, it did not take long to not notice the mask at all and having several with me to swap out either after a spontaneous mid-afternoon Florida rain or after a water ride, or just to feel a little refreshed helped.
Although I missed grabbing a spontaneous snack or a churro, it was a small thing and I came prepared with plenty of snacks and extra water in my backpack. Even though there are hand-sanitizers everywhere, I also had disposable hand wipes with me. The extra planning of the little things helped to ensure that they didn’t become bigger inconveniences during the day.
I missed not being able to hug Mickey and Chewbacca but not as much as I thought as Disney did an outstanding job incorporating the characters into the parks in such a way that I think I actually saw more of them throughout the day.
I loved not having long waits for rides, spur of the moment Cavaldaces of Characters and just returning to my roots of a day gone by, but never forgotten where there was no planning required when we went to Disney. We simply arrived, walked through the entrance, and allowed ourselves to be swept away in the magic wherever it may take us. Walt once said “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” and “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Never before was this more true than in what we are experiencing right now with the reopening of Walt Disney World. But for now, the one thing I am 100% sure of is that the magic is back.
What else do you think you would need to know about returning to Walt Disney World. and are you planning to visit this summer or are you waiting? We want to hear from you about your experiences on what it is like to return to Walt Disney World since the reopening and did you feel safe?