Everyone wants to know if its a good idea to go to Disney World during Covid. And my short answer is “Yes!” We took a trip to Disney at the height of the pandemic so you can read our experiences here. But, I have updated the information for the most current conditions and restrictions in this post.
Updated March 2022
I was a little nervous, well very nervous, about our trip that we had scheduled before Corona hit. Right up until a week before we left, I still wasn’t sure if we were still going to go.
I had so many questions about it being safe. How were they handling things there? What would happen when we got home? Would we have to quarantine? Get a Covid test? And what about going back to work and seeing family when we got home?
Well, we finally made the decision to go after researching, a lot, and I’m so glad we did. It was an amazing trip.
Getting there was a little crazy, but it is evident that Disney is doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Transportation at Disney World during Covid
When we arrived at the airport in Orlando and checked in for our Magical Express ride, you had to wear a mask, and they had hand sanitizer stations both right before you checked in, and where you get in line for the bus.
They were only a few people in the queue line to board the busses. But, they had lines on the floor spaced 6-feet apart so that you could be distanced from the next party.
Before you got on the bus they assign you a seat number, again to social distance you during your ride.
However, they combined a bunch of stops on one bus because of how few people there were waiting. Luckily we were the first stop. This was a little surprising at first. You would think they would want to space people out on multiple busses. But, even with combining bus stops, there were only about 4 other parties on the bus with us. So this was not an issue at all.
In case you haven’t heard, the magical express transportation is gone. Disney has not renewed their contract with Mears and you are now on your own for transportation.
Here are a few places that people have mentioned that they have used and loved.
Our first ride on the bus, heading to Magic Kingdom, the bus driver assisted us to an open seat so that we can social distance. They also installed plastic partitions in between certain seats so your party could sit together and have a barrier between another party.
Of course, like everywhere in Disney, you had to wear a mask.
They have also tied up all the hold straps connected to the poles above your head so nobody will touch them. We only had 3 other parties on the bus with us and didn’t wait long to get a bus considering there was one at the bus stop when we got there and missed it.
One night we ended up leaving Epcot at closing , and usually there is a mad dash to the busses as everyone in the entire park is trying to get out! Most of the time you have to wait for another bus because the busses are packed full. As our driver said his motto is “If I can see the floor, there’s room for more!”
But not this time! There was plenty of room for more, but no one waiting to get on. It was crazy!
Disney has now removed most of the dividers and is no longer social distancing on the busses. Word has it that the drivers are filling the seats and allowing up to 15 standing guests.
We only rode the Monorail one time during our trip, actually twice if you count the airport. Just like with the busses, a cast member ushered you to an open cart. They only allowed about two or three parties on each section and you had to wear a mask.
There was also a hand sanitizer station right before you got on the Monorail.
The monorail has removed the partitions and is allowing small groups up to 16 or so in each section and is still requiring masks.
We didn’t experience the Skyliner this trip but was told that they were only allowing one family per car and masks are required to ride.
Dining at Disney World during Covid
Eating at the resort
We arrived at our resort, Saratoga Springs, around 8:30-9:00 o’clock at night so we wanted to get something to eat. We headed to the Artist‘s Palette, our resorts quick service restaurant.
It was hard trying to figure out where you were supposed to go. They had one way in, and one way out, with arrows and stop lines on the floor. But they seemed to be taking you all over the place. It took us a little while to get the hang of it.
We also purchased refillable drink cups like we always do, but you’re no longer allowed to fill your own cup at the drink stations. Now you give your order to a cast member at a table in front of the machine and they give it to you in a to-go cup that you can then transfer into your purchased cup.
It’s a little weird because you have to bring your refillable drink cup to the cast member as proof that you purchased it. But then they give you your drink in another cup. Kind of a pain because now you have to carry your drinks and your empty refillable cups back to the table. I really think they could come up with another way to prove you purchased a cup. Maybe, a bracelet, token, your receipt, or something.
The Disney Dining plan is not available right now either. So any food you order, you pay for. They suggest that you use credit cards, gift cards, or your magic band so there’s less passing money back-and-forth.
Eating at the parks
The next new thing at Disney is call ahead ordering and check in. We had reservations for Tony’s town Square at 12 o’clock. When going onto the My Disney Experience App you can click on check in. It asks you how many people are in your party and if you have any allergies. Then they text you when your table is ready. All of this is to keep you from gathering in the waiting area or in front of the building.
This is the first spot so far where we could take off our masks and relax. However, they do have what they call relaxation stations. This are areas in the parks where you can sit, socially distanced, and take off your mask. Most of these relaxation stations were in outdoor seating areas of restaurants that were still closed.
Disney has announced that vaccinated guests can now be mask free in the park both indoor and outdoors.. This does not include enclosed Disney transportation which is still required. Unvaccinated guests are still asked to mask up while indoors.
They have also replaced the regular menus with scannable menus. You just use your phones camera to scan the barcode and the menu comes up on your phone. This way people are not touching the menus over and over again.
They are also doing a really good job spacing out the tables. I think there were three other parties in the room that we were in. I think we only had a few people in the same room partly because its not crowded in the park right now, and partly because they have the tables spread out.
There are still quite a few restaurants that are closed right now, as of February 2022. But here is a blog post listing the restaurants currently open in all the parks.
Some of the restaurants that are open are not offering a full menu and the character dining experiences are either closed, or modified, to where you will not have contact with any characters. 🙁
One great thing about dining at Disney World right now, you get great seats!
We had lunch reservations at The Seas with Nemo and Friends and ended up getting a seat right next to the aquarium. We had a huge Stingray that kept coming over and sitting right next to the glass in front of our table. It was really cool. Check out the video below.
Another food option
It was nice to have an option for something other than Disney food. It only took about 40-50 minutes to get our food, and they brought it right to our room. We used it 3 times during our trip. It was great!
We also saved a lot of money using Uber Eats because, well, Disney is expensive!
Disney World Tickets during Covid
Disney has a new Theme Park Reservation System. Now, not only do you have to have a park pass to get into a park, but you also have to have a reservation. This is how they are controlling the amount of people they are allowing in. All of this is on their My Disney Experience App and easy to navigate.
They have just released that they are increasing their capacity in the parks and this has opened up a lot more reservation spots. So, if your looking to book your park reservations, now is the time to do it.
Disney just reinstated the Park Hopper Passes. Now you can add the park hopper to your ticket and after visiting the park on your reservation, you can now park hop to any other park after 2pm.
I made a printable to help plan your next Disney vacation and you can get that here if you’d like. Disney Vacation Planner
What to expect at the entrance to a Disney World park during Covid
I was very curious to see how they were handling the entrance to the park. I noticed right away that there were very few people waiting in line to go through the turnstile.
But before you even get to the gates, the first stop is a temperature check. They set up a couple tents between the busses and the entrance that you must pass through before you can get in.
If you have a temperature, you and your party will not be able to enter the park. So, it would be a good idea to make sure everyone in your party is feeling well before you even try to get in.
Disney is no longer doing temperature checks.
Next was bag check. They are not physically searching your bags anymore. They asked me if I had a eyeglass case. I said yes, and they had me take it out and put it in a tub then walk through the metal detector. As you can see no lines!
Then you enter the line to go through the turnstile. You use your magic band to tap the Mickey, but you no longer use your fingerprint for identification. I also noticed a cast member who was wiping down everything with a disinfectant after each party passed through.
Then we headed in. After I composed myself from my usual emotional breakdown when entering the park, (happy tears), I scoped out the crowds. This is pretty much how the entire park looked throughout the day. Not bad at all!
Disney World rides and wait times during Covid
Wait times are once again getting back up there because Disney is now letting a lot of people back into the park but also because of the new Genie+ and Lightning Lanes system. People have been complaining that the wait times in the regular lines are extremely long and are getting very annoyed.
Genie+ and Lightening lanes
Genie+ and Lightning Lanes
Disney has developed a new system for managing wait times and is using two methods, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. These new systems has replaced the old fast pass system for quicker wait times.
Genie+ is an add on to the free Genie service that is available in the My Disney Experience app. The free version is basically similar to the old My Disney Experience app where it will help you create an itinerary and give you suggestions throughout the day for experiences and dining.
Genie+ is an extra purchase at about $15 per day per person and will allow you to choose a ride time at select attractions throughout all 4 theme parks. Currently there are about 40 rides that are available in the Genie+ add on.
This service will allow you to make a ride reservation starting at 7:00am (if you are staying at a Disney property) or at park opening for all others. You can make one reservation and then two hours later or after your first reserved ride is over you can book another. There are many people who are furious with this new system. Evidently people who are going on the app right at 7:00 are having issues getting reservations early in the day. Keep this in mind if you decide to use this feature.
Individual Lightening Lane reservations may also be made by paying for an individual ride that is included in the LL service. These are just a few rides in each park but are usually the ones with the longest lines. This will cost you between $7-10 per person, per ride, depending on the ride and the time of year. You can use this service for up to two rides a day but you can only ride each ride one time unless you decide to go into a regular standby line.
You can purchase both options thru the My Disney Experience app in the tip board or My Day itinerary page. FYI: You can use both Genie+ and Lightening Lane selections at the same time by purchasing both options and booking rides accordingly.
Disney World Resorts / Pools during Covid
At the resort we were allowed, and actually encouraged, to go directly to our room instead of stopping at the front desk. They didn’t want you to come into contact with someone unnecessarily. You could do this using your Magic Band or using your cell phone with their app.
Upon entering we noticed that they did extra contact cleaning on items such as door knobs, and the TV remotes and shower soap dispenser which was wrapped in plastic with a sticker saying it was cleaned and sanitized.
We spent about 1/2 of our vacation at the pool. This was the one place where masks were scarce.
I had read that you did not have to wear a mask if you were in the pool. But nobody in the pool area had masks. Not in the pool, not sitting in your lounge chair, or walking around between your chair and the pool. However, you did have to wear a mask to go to the bar, the store, restaurant, or the bathroom.
It was actually OK though, because again, there were not a lot of people, so everyone was spread out. Actually there were probably four or five other parties in the entire pool area, and it’s a large pool. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.
I also watched the cast members walking around and spraying down empty lounge chairs as people left the pool area. My husband noticed that when people were leaving the pool area, they would push the top of their lounge chair over the bottom and that supposedly told the staff that the chair was used. I have never seen that before and that made me feel safe.
Another thing they are not doing at the pool is food delivery. You could use the mobile ordering to order your food, but you had to go pick it up. I’ve got to say that I love the mobile ordering though. It’s much easier to be sitting comfortably while looking through a menu and ordering, than standing in line trying to order, and then waiting for it to be prepared.
I can’t tell you though how many times I started to head to the bathroom or restaurant and had to turn around because I forgot my mask! UGH
They are still limiting the amount of chairs available in the pool areas and because of increased guest capacity, they have implemented a reservation service to get a pool chair. Word has it that if you get to the pool early, you won’t have an issue getting a chair. But, if you wait until the afternoon when people are coming back from the parks for a break, you will most likely have to give your name to a cast member at the pool entrance and wait to be called for an available seat.
I’m not sure of the capacity now at the pools but Disney is still claiming to be limiting the number of guests at the pool and is still using the reservation system.
Shopping at Disney World during Covid
We headed over to Disney Springs with a little hesitation. I had read that social distancing was a little less structured at the Springs. That made me nervous. But when we got off the bus I felt much better. There’s only a couple entrances open into Disney Springs. They have all the other entrances as exits only.
At the Springs they also took your temperature before letting you in. Masks were mandatory, as well as practicing social distancing. There were many announcements made over a loudspeaker telling you to wear your mask or you will be asked to leave. The only time you could take off your mask is if you were sitting and actively eating or drinking. This was true in every park.
I didn’t see anyone not following rules.
All of the stores had one entrance and one exit as well. Some stores also kept you in a socially distanced queue outside so they could control how many people were in the store. It was a little annoying trying to find the entrance sometimes, especially when the stores were big.
The Springs is following the same rules as the resorts and theme parks so all mask mandates are the same. Fully vaccinated guest do not need to wear masks, unvaccinated guests are asked to wear masks while indoors. I don’t believe they are doing any screenings at the entrances.
This was kind of funny. In the large Disney store in Epcot, they had a line for the checkout that was like a line waiting for a ride! It snaked back-and-forth a few times, around a corner, and then you had to wait at the end of that line for a cast member to send you to a check out. I’m pretty sure they were expecting a large crowds, but there was only one person in front of us in the line! It took me longer to go thru the line all by myself then it did to check out! LOL
We also had dinner at Paddlefish which is the big paddle boat on the water at the Springs. We got to the restaurant about an hour early and decided to try and check in anyway. It was no problem at all. They seated us in less than five minutes! We had an entire room to ourselves for about half of our dinner and even then there were only two other parties.
Is it safe to go to Disney World during Covid?
Obviously I can’t answer this question for you, but did I feel safe? Yes, I did.
Overall, we were very happy that we decided to go to Disney World during these crazy times. Actually, going to the happiest place on earth was just what we needed.