Disney

The New Normal at Disney World

Since the coronavirus disrupted our travel plans for this year (and possibly next year, who knows!) when Disney World announced they were reopening we decided this would be a great time to get our vacation and Disney fix! While the Disney magic is still there, it does a look a little bit different. Here is the new normal at Disney World:

Stay up-to-date with Disney World’s reopening guidelines here.

The immediate difference when going to Disney World is that you must wear a face mask at all times except when actively eating or drinking. This includes while walking around outside. This is not pleasant in the hot Florida sun, but it’s the policy. Some of the cast members seemed a little eager to wait for you to put your drink down for a moment or take a break from eating to tell you to put your mask back on. For the most part, though, we rarely saw someone walking around without a mask on.

Another difference is the new security measures and temperature checks before entering the parks. No more searching through bags, we all get to walk through a metal detector now. This is perfectly fine with us as we’ve been wondering why Disney hasn’t been making everyone go through the metal detector. With no crowds the security process was so quick and easy.

For those visiting Disney World at least in the near future, you must make a park reservation and there is currently no park hopping. For us annual passholders this is definitely different, but obviously this is to control capacity.

EPCOT

At least as of right now we had no issues getting park reservations. We decided to first check out EPCOT since Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is going on at least through the fall. We enjoyed this very much. It is like a condensed version of Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival, and it seems like they are ready to expand it whenever they can. It is extremely pleasant to be able to walk around the World Showcase without massive crowds.

One of our favorite things was the Millennium Pavilion is open with some food and drink offerings. The tables are spaced out, and there is even live piano music! This is a great spot to be able to sit down, relax, and enjoy the A/C. There is also a Mac ‘N Cheese booth here with both vegan and regular options!

Since there currently are no character meet and greets, there is a character caravan around the World Showcase so you can still see some of your favorites. This was a super fun thing to see!

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios seemed to be where more of the crowds are going. There were long lines for Runaway Railway, Rise of the Resistance, and Slinky Dog Dash. However, when actually walking around the park it was not very crowded except at the entrance.

Rise of the Resistance is offering a virtual queue that you can sign up for at 10am and 2pm. You must be inside the park to sign up for the virtual queue and it does not go live until 10am on the dot. There were lots of people sitting around waiting for 10am inside the park! We did get a spot, but unfortunately it was for later in the afternoon and we didn’t want to wait. Maybe next time!

For the other rides at Hollywood Studios you could basically walk on. It’s really important that you check to see what’s open before going to the parks. Many things are closed or on reduced hours.

One new thing at Hollywood Studios is the Disney Society Orchestra and Friends. This is a great way to sit down and relax and listen to some great Disney tunes. There were also some surprise guests that came out on stage! This show is currently where the Beauty & The Beast stage show took place. We definitely recommend checking this out!

Animal Kingdom

First things first, we got to walk onto Flight of Passage. This was amazing and a real testament to how not crowded it is at Animal Kingdom! This park is one of our favorite ones to walk around and check out the detailed theming. Some shops and restaurants are still closed, but most of the rides are open.

Since there are currently no character meet and greets, there are character barges that come by every so often on the water so you can still wave to some of your favorite characters. We loved seeing this!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs probably felt the most “normal” crowd-wise. Like before the virus, it’s much nicer to go in the morning and walk around before the stores start getting busy. Because of capacity limits, you may have to wait in line before going into some of the more popular spots like World of Disney and the Marketplace Co-Op.

Disney Resorts

As of this blog post, only select resorts are open at Disney World. We decided to stay at the Beach Club. Only the Disney Vacation Club Villas were open. We like the Beach Club because you are able to walk to EPCOT, and now with the Skyliner we could do a little resort hopping.

Many restaurants and shops are closed at the resorts, so just be aware that you may not get the full experience. We felt that the Cast Members were being extra friendly and helpful to make up for this new normal at Disney World!

Tips

  • Make sure you have a mask that you can wear all day.
  • Manage your expectations before going. Many things are closed or not operating the same way they were before. You can still have a wonderful time at Disney right now as long as you do a little research before going.
  • Check out some things you normally would skip. This is a great time to do some exploring and check out some shows you might not normally see. You’re not wasting time waiting in lines all day, so you can really enjoy the parks.
  • Relax and enjoy. There are Relaxation Stations at the parks where you can sit down and take your mask off for a few minutes. It’s very hot out now, so grab a drink and spend more time relaxing and enjoying the sights and people watching. You never know what characters might come by!
  • Follow the rules. Nobody wants to wear a mask all day or pay attention to the directional signs in and out of the stores. But these are the things Disney is doing to make sure they can safely stay open and start bringing Cast Members back to work. As guests we can do our part by following the rules.

So this is the new normal at Disney World, at least for right now! We had a great time and loved getting back to the Disney Magic. We are curious to see what changes will be long-term and what things will go back to normal. We really enjoy the character caravans and hope they keep those around for a while.

Have you been to Disney or Universal since they reopened? Let us know your thoughts!

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