Everyone wants to know if its a good idea to go to Disney World during Covid. And my short answer is “Yes!”
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.
We literally just got home from our trip as I’m writing this, and there were so many changes this time at Disney World because of the coronavirus.
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.
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!
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.
We didn’t experience the Skyliner this trip but was told that they were only allowing one family per car.
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.
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 November 2nd. 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.
Because of the park reservations, they are also not doing Park Hopper Passes. This kind of stunk for us because we have a season pass, which includes park hopper, but we were not allowed to use it. 😔 You are only allowed to make a reservation for one park per day.
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.
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
Disney is not doing fast passes right now and had those lines closed on all the rides. At first I was wondering why they didn’t use the fast pass lines as an alternative to having very long regular lines, but I realized that the fast pass lines occasionally ran side by side with regular lines and they wouldn’t be able to socially distance people this way.
They are also social distancing people on rides by not filling up the rides to capacity. You do not have anyone, not in your party, beside you, or in front of or behind you, on a ride.
And they are spraying down rides with disinfectant every so many trips and then running them once thru, without people, to let them dry.
Our first ride was Pirates of the Caribbean. The line for this ride came outside of the covered area and toward the treehouse. My first thought was OMG! But I looked at the queue and it said 20 minutes, so we decided to get in line.
We quickly realized that because of social distancing everyone, the line looked longer than it really was. They marked off every 6-feet with lines on the ground where you needed to wait until the party in front of you moved to the next line. We were on the ride in less than 20 minutes. They also had hand sanitizer stations throughout the line.
On all the rides themselves they also social distanced everyone by skipping seats either beside you, or in front or back of you. Even with only allowing half the capacity of the riders on, the lines were still pretty quick.
Next was Thunder Mountain Railroad. The line stretched across the street from the ride and snaked around by the boardwalk. It said on the queue that it was a 25 minute wait. But we actually only waited in line about 15 minutes. It was awesome!
On the rides where parts of the lines snaked back and forth next to each other, they installed clear plastic barriers in between. Some of the rides they skipped every other line so that you wouldn’t be right next to someone in line. Everyone seemed to be very cautious at keeping distance and everyone had masks! As a matter of fact, we didn’t see one single person not following the rules during our whole 10 day trip! I was amazed!
Our next ride was Mine Train. This line went all the way around the corner to the entrance of Mickey’s Story Book Circus! For those of you who are not familiar with this, it’s a long way!!! The queue said 65 minutes, and it was at least 65 minutes. Of course it’s worth the wait. 😊. But they also social distanced, skipped some queues in between, and closed all of the interactive parts in line, like the gems that you can touch that light up.
Later in the day when we wanted to go on the Haunted Mansion, it said the wait time was 45 minutes. But the line went all the way in front of the riverboat, and all the way down the boardwalk almost to thunder Mountain Railroad! YIKES!
At that point I was tired and didn’t even wanna take a chance if the time wasn’t accurate. We were going to do another day at Magic Kingdom anyway, and decided to give it a try next time.
Our Epcot day was pretty short we were kind of tired so we didn’t stay too long but we did do Soarin‘ which was only a 10 minute wait. That is crazy! This ride is usually over an hour, or more. However, while we were waiting in line, they had some technical difficulties, so our wait was more like 20 minutes. Still not bad at all!
They are even social distancing on this ride by leaving spaces in between everyone on the ride itself.
One thing to note is that Epcot is under construction in the heart of the park. The entire area just inside the entrance is completely blocked off including the main store and the fountain. They did open up a smaller store but it isn’t nearly as good as the original store, so hopefully this store is just temporary.
We had dinner in France so we did walk around the countries and it was not crowded at all. At the pavilion in the America’s there was a band playing, but there was only about 10 people sitting in the stadium seating. I kind of felt bad for the performers. 🙁 But, this was how quiet Epcot was.
At Animal Kingdom they had absolutely no lines or waiting to get in, even through bag check. It almost seemed like it was closed.
We decided to go to Expedition Everest first to see how the lines were. It’s line came out of the regular queue and stretched quite a way toward Dino Land but it was only a 30 minute wait! Those of you who know this ride, that is amazing! Expedition Everest is one of their most popular rides.
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.
At one point I needed to print something, but had to have the manager unlock the room. They now keep it locked so they can clean in between guests using the equipment.
Funny story. The manager was telling me how he always knocks now before unlocking the door to the computer room because he accidentally walked in on a woman breastfeeding! LOL He knocked on the door like 3 times and peeked in with the door ever so slightly open. I said “Wow, you really got freaked out didn’t you?” LOL. He was so cute!
All kidding aside, I thought it was so nice of Disney to provide this room to this mom so she could breastfeed in private!
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
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.
Disney World crowds during Covid
As far as crowds, there really wasn’t any. (We went the end of October). Even though there were people walking around, I never felt like I was too close to anyone. Even in the stores.
Disney isn’t having their normal parades and shows right now either. They did however have small “pop-up” parades which consisted of a float and a few characters. I saw two, one was one of their Halloween floats with the ghost dancers from the Haunted Mansion, and the other was a princess float. I thought this was genius because they could have a little parade without everyone gathering in a crowd to see it. They literally just popped up!
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.
Overall I felt very safe at the Disney World resort, Disney Springs, and in the parks. Plenty of hand sanitizing and hand washing stations, social distancing, everyone wearing masks, sanitized surfaces, all was good.
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 because they are…
- Checking temperatures before entrance to the parks and not using the fingerprint feature upon entering.
- Requiring everyone, including guests and cast members, to wear masks at all times, except for eating or drinking while seated.
- Have hand sanitizer stations and wash stations everywhere including getting on and off rides and at food establishments.
- Socially distancing all wait lines for rides, restaurants, and stores.
- Social distancing people on all rides by not filling up the rides to capacity. You do not have anyone, not in your party, beside you, or in front of or behind you on a ride.
- Spraying down rides with disinfectant every so many trips, then running them without people to let them dry.
- Running busses and other transportation at a fraction of their capacity and providing barriers.
- Suggesting you use a non-touch method for paying for items.
- Using scannable menus and call ahead ordering to prevent contact as well as distancing tables.
- Using a reservation system to control crowds.
- Not having regular parades or shows, so no gathering of crowds.
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.