There certainly are some interesting situations arising in the travel market as a result of the global health crisis.
Perhaps the two most notable of these situations are the changes to the way that air travel works and the temporary and permanent closures that are currently affecting the tourism industry. We’re taking a look at how such massive effects could impact YOUR next Disney vacation and giving some tips to help. Let’s dive in.
Air Travel Changes
With the drop in demand for air travel and the heightened health risks, there have been some serious changes to the ways that you’ll arrive and depart when visiting Florida airports.
According to WMFE Orlando, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that requires passengers flying into Florida airports from the Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey tri-state area to be screened at the airport and to self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers from New York City face even stricter screening and isolation processes.
In addition to the health screening, travelers through the Orlando airport will also notice some added health measures like plexiglass shields for employees and added signage. Passengers are encouraged to travel with carry-on baggage only, touchpoints have been reduced, and there is a heightened level of sanitation and cleanliness in the terminals.
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority executives have stated that the health checks have gone smoothly so far. After landing, passengers fill out a questionnaire as part of the screening process including information about where they are staying during their visit to Florida in case of a follow-up.
The Florida National Guard has been instated to help administer these screenings.
As of now, this only applies to those passengers flying in from the New York Tri-State area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York). Those states account for around forty-five direct flights to Florida daily.
TSA Screening Changes
On a larger scale, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has formed new protocols in response to the global health crisis. With reduced flight and passenger volumes, the TSA has moved to shut down some security checkpoints. Passengers have also been metered to create a safe physical distance between them. According to the New York Times, there have been some reports of random temperature screenings.
Unfortunately, there have been some fluctuations in the screening process that have left airports struggling to keep up with “enhanced screenings,” per the New York Times. Some airports even reported wait times as long as 7 hours back in March.
Now, most airports have had some success adjusting to the screenings, but as higher volumes of passengers return to air travel in the next few weeks and months, those gains and adjustments will need to hold up. It’s possible that the more people going through the process will ramp up wait times again.
What This Means for Your Disney Trip
So, on YOUR Disney trip, make sure you keep these things in mind! Build extra time into your travel days so that any airport hold-ups don’t have a chance to negatively impact your vacation day. We recommend leaving early on your travel day to help mitigate troubles, and don’t schedule any reservations too close to your arrival time lest something gets in the way of getting there on time!
The need for some extra time to cushion these efforts is especially true if you’re traveling from the New York Tri-State area. Remember to leave plenty of time for airport hassle between your arrival time and your Magical Express departure time, just in case.
Plus, Disney may even implement a separate process for keeping guests safe aboard the Magical Express so we will need to be aware of that possibility going forward. We’ll keep you posted if any news is released pertaining to Magical Express procedures.
The truth is, you’re still at the mercy of flight cancellations or fewer flights going out each day — which is possibly more likely due to the current global climate. Make sure that you’re super aware of any cancellation and change policies. When in doubt, consider using a travel agent! This free service can take care of any issues you may have as soon as you have them! We love working with our friends over at Small World Vacations.
Overall, travel to and from Disney World could take you a little (or a lot!) longer than it used to!
Temporary and Permanent Closures
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Tourism has come to a screeching halt,” and this has severely impacted many travel-related businesses. Orlando’s Four Seasons Resort leads the state as the hotel with the largest number of furloughs — over 800. The hotel industry in Florida also makes up the largest group of employers with the most lay-offs in the state in general, says South Florida Business Journal.
True, too, resorts and restaurants have been forced to close their doors — some permanently! We’ve already seen massive furloughs in the restaurant sector as well. You might remember when restaurants first started to lay-off their employees for the time being. Note that most of these restaurants and hotels aren’t just firing employees. For many businesses, it is all they can do to stay afloat, and furloughing workers allows those workers to be eligible for unemployment.
Orlando is an extremely tourism-focused city. When travel starts to pick up again, it’s very possible that some parts of the area in and around Disney World might not look like they used to. Keep up with individual businesses to know whether or not they will be open during your trip.
Disney Springs Businesses
Specifically, we’ve seen this trend of closures occur to an unfortunate degree for some Disney Springs businesses. AMC Theaters, for instance, has suffered from the temporary closure and potential distancing measures (such as capacity cuts) that will occur as they reopen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, analysts are saying that AMC may go bankrupt as their credit has plummeted and they have the potential to run out of money by mid-summer.
Landry’s (the restauranteur business behind Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, and Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom) has also seen the negative consequences of such a dramatic business disruption. The restaurants have had to suspend employees for the time being. CEO Tilman Fertitta told CNN that his restaurant sales are down $1 million per day due to the crisis.
Hard times befell Ample Hills Creamery even before the ramp-up of the health crisis. The same weekend as the Disney parks closures, Ample Hills filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, even as we waited on news of the new location expected to come to Disney Springs. The timing of such financial troubles has likely been a major issue for the company. Currently Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, as well as a few other corporations, are in talks of buying Ample Hills. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Ample Hills to see how the company manages as the world returns to normalcy.
What This Means for Your Disney Trip
On one hand, it looks like Florida is headed in the direction of a reopening. Task Forces are working daily to determine the best way to reopen Florida and the state has entered Phase 1 of its reopening. Governor DeSantis has even mentioned that Disney World is “ahead of the curve” on a reopening, and Disney Springs will be beginning a phased reopening on May 20th.
Still, restaurants, stores, theaters, and live entertainment will each be on their own timeline for when (or if) they are able to reopen. As we mentioned, if you have a Disney trip planned for 2020, you may want to take a look at individual businesses for their opening protocols so that you can set your expectations.
Even once restaurants reopen, if capacity is limited and more time is needed for stricter sanitation between customers, that could potentially mean fewer available reservations, making it harder to get a spot in your favorite restaurants.
We’re eager to get back to Disney World, but it’s important that we’re prepared for the changes that we’ll see in the travel industry and the community around Disney. You can always keep an eye on DFB as we report in with the latest coverage pertaining to the Orlando area.
Can you see these factors affecting YOUR Disney trip? Tell us in the comments!