Returning to Disney: Practically Perfect in Every Way
We just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World. The sole purpose of this trip was to see Disney's new safety practices, new procedures navigating the parks and what the overall guest experience is like.
After our stay at Walt Disney World we are 100% confident that our guests can have safe and magical vacations to the Happiest Place on Earth.
In this blog we will discuss a few things, Safety and Guest Experience.
Not only has Disney put a lot of thought into your safety, but they also have implemented some amazing new things to make sure your experience in the parks are still as magical as ever.
Let’s talk safety:
Safety at the Airport:
We flew into the Orlando International Airport. Magical Express service is still running,and included in your stay but there are some new differences.
You need to go to baggage claim to retrieve your bags and then you take them to Magical Express.
You will notice the welcome back signs and friendly cast members tucked safely behind glass perimeters.
There are hand sanitizing stations in the airport before you board the bus and the bus space itself keeps all riders socially distanced from one another with rows closed off.
Safety at the Resort:
It is important that you check in online prior to your stay. You will receive a text with your room number and a link to a map of the resort so you can go right to your room.
Of course, if you want to visit the front desk, you certainly can and there will be friendly cast members there to greet and assist you.
Once in your room you will immediately notice the cleaning protocols they have put into place.
If you want to enjoy the pool at your resort, they ensure only a certain number of guests are at the pool at a time.
Once inside the pool gates you can remove your mask.
The chairs were all socially distanced and we had an amazing time swimming and enjoying the Florida sun.
The lifeguards were cleaning each chair as guests would leave.
Safety in Resort Transportation:
When you go into the theme parks you will notice so many great changes that have been put into place for your safety.
If you are taking a bus to the parks, you will be greeted by the bus driver who will ask how many guests are in your party and they will arrange guests safely into the sections within their bus so that you are only seated close to your travel party and are socially distanced with partitions from everyone else.
If you are riding the monorail, your temperature will be taken and you will go through security prior to boarding.
The cast member, will walk you to the monorail section that is open for you, it is only one family per side of the car and they are also divided by partitions.
When you arrive at the park, if you haven't had a temperature/security screening yet by riding the monorail in, that will occur at the front of the park.
They no longer have the fingerprint scans as you enter, you simply tap your magic band or ticket to enter.
You must secure a reservation in advance to enter a park. Be sure you have a valid ticket along with your park reservation before going to a Disney park.
This is why our service to you is invaluable as your travel professional with Exclusive Travel Partners. We will walk you through the entire process so you have no surprises during your stay.
Safety Within the Parks:
Every guest ages 2 and up must have a face mask covering your mouth and nose at all times. Neck gaitors, masks with vents, bandannas, etc. are not acceptable coverings.
If you forget one, they have vending machines outside of the park for you to purchase one for a low price.
They sell adorable Disney masks for $6.00 once inside the park in both child and adult sizes with fun Disney designs on them.
We saw lots of kids and adults wearing these!
We found the medical masks were light, breathable and comfortable on hot days and on all attractions.
We saw all guests complying with these rules. Cast members were actively monitoring and enforcing the rules to ensure everyone had a safe and fun time.
The parks are at limited capacity, so crowds are lower than ever which allowed for wonderful park days full of our favorite attractions with extremely low wait times.
Fast passes are not currently offered at Walt Disney World and we found this allowed us to enjoy the parks at a more relaxed pace.
The rides all have hand sanitizing stations at entrances and exits.
They have 6 feet distance markers in every line and all guests were respectful in following the social distancing.
Some of the rides like Test Track, no longer have interactive design capabilities that require guests to touch things. All of the "play" zones are closed for your safety as well.
In the lines and on the attractions themselves they have put up clear barriers any place you would be close to another guest.
Most lines have these clear plexiglass walls separating guests. On the rides themselves you see them in place as well. On Soarin' we had plexiglass in between us and the other two guests in our row (that's right, there were only two other guests in our row).
We experienced rides to ourselves on many attractions. We had our own car on Rise of the Resistance, and Test Track.
On Slinky Dog Dash, they kept two rows empty in front and behind us. On Pirates of the Caribbean we were in the front of the boat and another couple was in the back row.
Again, you will not be remotely close to anyone not in your travel party and all guests keep masks on throughout the rides to ensure further safety.
Disney really has thought of everything! Not only do they have the hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit of every ride, but there are hand washing stations throughout the parks as well.
Safety in Food Service:
Disney has many quick service and sit down locations available for dining. For sit down dining, you do need a reservation and you check in at the podium by scanning the code at the podium. Your server will be wearing a mask and a face shield and your table will be socially distanced from others.
The menu will be scanned and viewed on your mobile device.
The service and food is still as amazing as ever!
They have implemented mobile ordering and socially distanced tables for all quick service locations.
They have cast members at the entrances and exits of all counter service locations, and to gain entry you must have an active mobile order. The cast member will ask to see your screen, and it will look like this:
Once your order is ready the cast member directs you to a line for you and your party only to gather your food. Then you will select a table that is open in the socially distanced area.
We found that this was very smart on Disney's part, because if it suddenly starts to rain and everyone wants to run inside to seek shelter, this can not happen.
Only those with active orders can gain entry and the cast member ensures the number of guests inside will allow them to maintain social distancing.
They were offering complimentary cups of ice water at all quick service locations.
They also have new silverware dispensing stations, so you don't touch a button to dispense it.
They even have all trash cans propped open so you don't touch them.
At the food court at resorts, they have a cast member at the drink refill station and they take care of drink orders for guests.
You can still get a refillable mug to save money, but you will not fill mugs, instead the cast member will give you a disposable cup and you can pour that into your mug if you choose to.
You can no longer go to the refrigerators at the food courts and grab the beverages, snacks, mickey bars yourself. You quickly do a mobile order on your phone and then cast members place the orders in a bag on tables for you to pick up.
All tables are socially distanced in the food courts and there are arrows on the floors to help with guest traffic.
Let's talk cleanliness:
Cast members are constantly cleaning rides, touch points, tables, etc. You see them everywhere. I honestly have never felt more safe than I do right now when visiting Walt Disney World.
Let's talk guest experience:
They still have great entertainment throughout the parks like the Main Street Marching Band and the Jammitors which are now on the stage in the American Pavilion.
You must be standing in place or seated to remove your mask when eating or drinking. If you want to do that in a comfortable air conditioned location then having a dining reservation or a mobile order at an inside counter service location is a good idea for lunch and dinner.
We loved the relaxation stations throughout the parks.
They are located in inside air conditioned or out of the way locations with tables in the shade.
There are at least three relaxation stations per park.
A cast member runs each station and the tables are all distanced ten feet apart. Once seated, you can remove your mask and relax.
Our favorite relaxation station was in Epcot at Akershus in Norway. We had the place to ourselves!
Disney has really gotten creative with their character interactions.
They do not announce the character schedule, in order to prevent guests gathering. When you turn the corner and see them, you can't help but smiling from ear to ear.
Princesses are paraded down Main Street.
The Step Sisters are interacting with guests from the castle (can we admire the new castle design for a minute, WOW!)