Who would have thought this would be a blog post, but yet here we are. As a travel agent, the travel industry is my income source and Disney has been a larger portion of that for several years. This year it has unfortunately presented me with the good, the bad and the ugly on a regular (sometimes overwhelming) basis. During these COVID times, I think knowing the ins and outs of a place I love so much can have an adverse effect some days, but I do constantly work to focus on the good. Which leads me to my recent return from Disney World, it was FANTASTIC. There are a million other words I could use, but it was so much better than I even expected it to be and I am so happy we took the plunge and went for it. My emotions were all over the place with this trip and I could not have returned more joyful.
My husband had a conference in Orlando and the chips slowly fell in place for us to take an impromptu weekend trip to meet up with him. I was all over the board with whether to go or not. Was it going to be the right decision? Were we going to feel comfortable? What would people think? Should I post anything on social media? The questions continued on and on leading up to the day we left. Disney has a Book with Confidence policy until April 30, 2021 allowing me to receive a full refund up until check-in, which gave me even more time to think on it and decide. I was very thankful for this and the ability to know I could change my plans last minute.
After all my internal debate (and external thanks so some amazing friends who would listen to me), we were on the road. The excitement in my kids from the beginning was rejuvenating. My youngest came galloping to the car door singing “Disney, Disney, Disney. I can’t believe I’m going to Disney” over and over again as fast as he could say it. We talked in the car for the first hour about what we were excited to see and do…. no video games, no movies, just talking and pure excitement.
Disney during a pandemic is undeniably different. I’m not going to pretend it is not. However, I continue to reiterate to my family and friends that different does not mean bad. While, ‘different’ has a connotation for meaning bad, unenjoyable or any other negative word you find to insert. That is simply not always the case.
Different is simply that… different.
I found over the course of our trip several different things I thoroughly enjoyed more than the ‘normal’ ones.
Social distancing. Disney has done an amazing job of this and I really enjoyed this different part of Disney. I felt my personal bubble was recognized and I had my personal space in line, on the ferry boat, in the Skyliner, etc. I absolutely LOVED having a Skyliner bucket solely to my family. It was fun to just ride along property in it and talk about what we were seeing. We rode it several times just to ride it and see what we could see.
Mask wearing. Disney is requiring face coverings on property. This does not just mean in the parks, but also at the resorts. While you will always have the people no matter where you go who will disobey the rules, I felt the overall percentage of people wearing masks properly was higher than other places I’ve been like Target, Sams, Kroger, etc. There are Cast Members whose job is to enforce proper face covering use and they were reprimanding anyone disobeying the guidelines. This is something Disney is using very strong language and telling people to wear their face coverings properly or leave.
Hygiene and Sanitation. Over the years, we have traveled to Disney often and I always bring my own hand sanitizer. Kids always touch everything, so it was a nice thing to have on hand for traveling. While it was still nice to have my own, I rarely used it because of the touch-free hand sanitizing stations EVERYWHERE. I have never sanitized my hands so much in a weekend than I did for this trip. It became such a habit to sanitize when getting on a ride, when getting off a ride and when just walking by a sanitizing station. My hands started to feel very dry by the end of the day. I was very thankful for the hand lotion in the room. In addition to the touch-free stations, there were also portable hand washing stations located throughout the park to encourage additional hand washing. Needless to say, I feel like my family was well sanitized every day.
Safety checks. For an additional layer of health guidelines, our temperature was taken multiple times a day. AdvoCare had stations set up at all park entrances where you would get your temperature taken prior to entering the security check area. If your temperature was over 100.4 F, then you and your traveling party could not enter the parks. In addition to this, our temperature was also taken prior to entering any table service restaurant. No exceptions. There are businesses in my local area saying they temperature check too, but it seems to happen more randomly than routinely. At Disney there was never a time entering a restaurant we were not temperature checked. We were even temperature checked prior to playing miniature golf, which is 100% outdoors.
One might think all these measures would damper the trip, but that wasn’t the case at all. They became our new routine and we didn’t mind them or even notice them. In fact, my youngest became interested to see what his temperature was every time and the AdvoCare staff was sweet to always show him (I’m assuming for HIPAA reasons, they can’t say it aloud because they always told him they couldn’t say it, but would show him).
All in all, the kids and us had a fabulous time. Even with so many of our “normal” things missing or changed, it simply didn’t matter. It was different, but wonderful. The joy is still there. The excitement is still there. And of course, the magic is still there.
Disney has taken enhanced health and safety measures—for their other Guests, and Cast Members. Guests must follow all posted instructions while visiting Walt Disney World Resort. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and Guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
By visiting Walt Disney World Resort you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.