Let’s talk Disney safety during the pandemic.
Disney is continuously stepping up their game on safety. Disney’s motto is even “Safe-D begins with me” for handling issues.
Fast-forward to 2020 and Disney has increased their strict safety measures x10.
RIP to standing room only on buses.
A few of the steps Disney is taking to provide safety for their guests during the pandemic:
Magical Express - reformed
The moment you grab your luggage from baggage claim, and head to the Magical Express, you are in a Disney safety zone.
The Magical Express is a Disney bus that take you to their on property resorts. This is complimentary with booking a stay.
The initial greeting with a cast member is with plexiglass between the two of you. As standard you give all of the information needed to get on the Magical Express, and wait in line. Now though, you will wait in line socially distanced. Each family has a line to stand behind, and until the family in front of you has their luggage loaded onto the magical express, you will wait inside the airport.
Once the family in front of you is taken care of and sitting on the bus, you will be able to go outside and sit in your assigned seat.
Only a certain amount of families are let on, with multiple rows in between each. The Magical Express bus is incredibly clean and the Disney bubble felt safe already.
Masks also have to be worn at all times.
A photo like this right after park opening any other year is slim to get. The crowds were hard to judge because everyone was spread out, but I will say the busiest parks were Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for good reasoning.
Animal kingdom was our first park on a Thursday and every ride was a short time. Even Flight of Passage was around 30 minutes for us. When we went to Magic Kingdom the next day, we were actually a little shocked. Disney does not release actual numbers for how many guests can enter the park, but I know they did an increase right before we arrived.
The crowds were still better than pre-pandemic! I will say we were aware of our surroundings and we know the parks well enough that we could get away from any crowding quite easily.
Hollywood Studios had the longest wait times with majority of them being over 45 minutes. This does include social distancing and cleaning so it doesn’t necessarily mean more people.
There was only one point I felt very nervous during our trip and that was when we were walking down Main Street at certain points of the day. There was a lot of gathering going on and crowds seemed to pile in all day long.
Masks have to be worn on Disney property at all times unless you are eating or drinking while stationary.
This meant even when you are walking to and from your hotel room.
Sometimes we were able to take a quick sip while waiting in line socially distanced, and other times it was not allowed at all. Lyall was actually “yelled” at for taking a bite of a banana while in line and a good 12ft from anyone. He understood, but it was very strict in most places for good reason.
I will say I was highly impressed with the empowerment the cast members had about masks. When you walk into your local grocer now a days, they sometimes are too scared to say anything and people will not wear them. Disney was not playing this game. There was even extra security to remove anyone who did not want to follow the rules.
Hand Sanitizer & Temperature Checks
Hand sanitizer is located throughout every attraction, and throughout the parks. There are so many stations that sometimes if I accidentally touched something I could sanitize two more times if I wanted to before getting on the ride.
Sanitizing also happens on attractions throughout the day. These are deep cleanings to ensure the attractions stay clean.
Temperature checks happen before entering the parks. In order to be able to get in, your entire party has to pass the temperature checks. There are around three people at each screening so it goes quite quickly.
Disney buses between parks
RIP to standing room only refers to the situation that would happen before on the Disney buses. If you’ve been to Disney prior to 2020 and have found yourself on a Disney bus when Magic Kingdom closes, you know what I mean.
Disney used to pack their buses to the max.
Now, there are numbers on each seat that refer to parties. A total of six groups are allowed on the buses at a time. That is it. Entering the bus is also different as you have to wait until the other group is seated to enter.
There are also dividers in between you and other parties. Rows across from each other are labeled for the same party so there’s always a divider. This is a big difference from before, but thankfully there seemed to be more buses and less people, so there was never too long of a wait.
Dividers on Attractions
Dividers on queues and attractions where you are not able to safely distance are also put in place. As you can see, there’s a divider in between us and the family in row 5. This divider continues on the attraction as well.
These helped us feel safer while we were on each attraction since there was a barrier bigger than just our masks. There are signs throughout that said “do not touch” on the glass as well. Honestly, I would never touch glass at an amusement park with kids anyways.
Cast members socially distance guests on attractions by assigning different carts, or multiple rows apart. If there is an attraction where normally multiple families can be in one moving section, that was changed to just your family.
For example, Smugglers Run at Hollywood Studios Star Wars: Galaxy Edge. Normally six people would work together, but Lyall and I were on our own. We did say some attractions are more fun when you are able to interact with others so this was a downfall about 2020 and socially distancing.
Characters - Meet and Greets
For your protection and the characters, close meet and greets are not happening. Characters instead come by to interact with guests by boat, floats, or from a safe distance (stage or closed off area).
The cavalcades that come by with different characters happen multiple times throughout the day and so there’s no need to crowd for one particular one. At Magic Kingdom, princesses were seen on one big float as shown below. They interacted with the guests and it was as if you were watching a one float-parade.
The green dot located in between my feet is where guests are able to stand distanced from other parties. If there is anyone not standing by the designated green marker, cast members would enforce the protocols.
Ordering at Restaurants
Any Disney quick service restaurant is mobile order only. Above is the step by steps, but essentially you receive the menu from the QR code and then place your order. Once your order is ready, you show the cast member at the door and they let you go in to grab your food. Inside seating was still available with socially distanced tables.
A sit down restaurant requires a reservation unless they somehow have availability from a waitlist.
Even though there were less people, there’s also less tables available at restaurants. I highly recommend reserving a reservation prior to going.
Many signs are put in place to maintain physical distancing. These are placed at parks, Disney Springs, Resorts, and everywhere in between.
Attractions have signs similar to waiting for the Magical Express. These were placed to keep a reminder where to stand in line.
These were helpful and honestly they can keep them if they’d like! We enjoyed not being overly crowded waiting in line for an attraction.
Overall, we were impressed with Disney’s set up to keep everyone safe. We enjoyed our time in the Disney bubble and felt safer there than our own grocery store sometimes.
The key is to be patient, wear your mask, and do your part by keeping your distance! Disney is doing everything in their power to keep the magic alive while still following CDC guidelines.
“Let your conscience be your guide”