Header image by Kat Jones-Shank
Visiting Disney World while the changes are in place for COVID is new territory for everyone. During their phased re-opening things are changing. We recently got a great trip report from Diana Shelton, a member of our Facebook group (Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone). We’ll take Diana’s observations and tips and expand on them where appropriate. We’ll also add some other details that you’ll want to know to plan a visit during COVID related changes and the phased re-opening.
Masks at Disney World
Released from Disney on 8-18-21: Since May, face coverings have been optional for Guests in outdoor common areas, and beginning Thursday, August 19, face coverings will also be optional for Guests in outdoor attractions, outdoor queues and outdoor theaters at Walt Disney World Resort. As a reminder, face coverings remain required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status.
The parks have reduced hours.
You’ll need a park reservation to get into the parks.
Most rides in the Disney World Parks are open during this phased re-opening. Some stores and restaurants are still closed throughout Disney World.
Expect a health screening before entering the park.
Social distancing is orchestrated in various ways in the parks.
In Muppet Vision 3D you can get a sense of how far everyone is social distanced, and how few the numbers are in the theater.
Here’s a photo of a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. Notice that the character is kept at a distance.
Some of the ride cars now have dividers in them to keep people apart. In Kilimanjaro Safaris the safari vehicles have dividers between rows:
During COVID changes there are NO FASTPASSES. Is that a problem?
Below look at slinky Dog’s queue. It runs far beyond the actual attraction. Though it looks extremely long, you’re looking at an approximately 45 minute wait. Here’s a tip from one of our readers: “Be prepared to wait in line in some crazy places like restaurants, backstage areas, train stations, and stairways.” —Jenny Wedell Eubanks
The Park Hopper Option is different.
Mobile Ordering is being used for Counter Service Restaurants during COVID changes.
For counter service restaurants you’ll want to use the mobile ordering option in the My Disney Experience app for your phone. The use of this app reduces face to face contact. It also offers a no contact menu. If you can’t do this, Disney does you can get help from a cashier.
Diana felt that mobile ordering was a lifesaver (See the Mobile Ordering page for step-by-step directions on how to use the system). She liked the time windows that you see during the process of mobile ordering. For example she would see 11:15-11:45 / 12:00-12:30 / 12:45-1:15, etc. She recommends that you pick a time frame, because if you don’t, you won’t be eating until late or not at the place you want to. She notes that the use of this system has helped relieve congestion in the restaurants and has freed up tables.
However there are times when mobile ordering wait times are lengthy. Here’s what one of our readers had to say about her experience:
“If you don’t have a reservation for dinner, mobile order times can get lengthy. One night we didn’t actually eat till after 10pm. I had lots of snacks in the room so it was ok!! Just be prepared.” —Anna Maria
You’ll still want to make full-service dining reservations in advance, plus there are other changes.
Diana reports that Disney is not seating guests at full capacity in restaurants, so seating is limited and reservations can be hard to come by. We hear that getting walk-in reservations is not something you can count on. If you want to experience any of the full-service restaurants you’ll want to make a reservation.
If you do want to try to walk-in without a reservation, Disney has an electronic Walk-Up List. You can access it on your electronic device using the My Disney Experience App. You can see the circled menu item on the photo on the right. You’ll click this to join the Walk-Up List. If a spot becomes available for you and your party you will be notified and given a time span to come to the restaurant. Of course, keep in mind that you may not be called at all.
For example, on the monorail during her visit Disney was limiting to one “car” per couple/family. What we see is that officially Disney is limiting to 4 groups in each car. Two on each side, with a screen separating the two sides. All guests are required to sit. Standing is not permitted. So expect some social distancing measures throughout Disney transportation.
Check out the screens that have been added to the Disney buses:
Mask rules are very strict and enforced.
For details on Disney’s face mask policy, visit here.
Is it difficult to wear a mask all day in the parks? That depends on the person, their health status, and how used to this they are. Some express that it’s not a problem at all, and some find it too difficult. In the warmer months it will be far more challenging.
Diana felt that Disney had done a good job of having ‘relaxation stations’ around the park where you can take your mask off and have a drink and snack.
Important tip: Bring at least one extra mask and maybe more in case your mask gets wet or sweaty.
Disney resort pools are open, but with some new rules.
Guests can enjoy the pools in their Disney World resorts, but of course there are some new rules.
- Guests must wear masks except if they’re eating, drinking or swimming.
- Life jackets are still available at all of the pools, but you leave them at your chair when you’re done so they can be picked up and sanitized instead of returned to use again.
- Lounge chairs are placed in groupings that are 6 feet apart, and can not be moved. Tables and chairs are also 6 feet apart.
- Disney has placed sanitizing wipe canisters at the pools main entrances.
- Pool towels are still given out.
- Pool party activities still happen, but they’re more limited and socially distanced.
Is it still worth it to go to Disney World?
Join our Facebook group!!!!
Ask any questions, share your knowledge and just enjoy getting to know other Disney fanatics in our Facebook group called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone.
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