While we’ve all fallen in love with Disney World for one reason or another, we’re facing some BIG changes now that the parks have reopened!
While it’s unknown when or if the parks will return to “normal,” there’s a silver lining when it comes to Disney World undergoing some updates right now. It may not seem like it, but change can be a good thing (especially since Walt himself said to “keep moving forward”).
And, even though there have been a lot of adjustments for everyone, we’ve found some changes ended up not being nearly as bad as first envisioned in Disney World!
Everyone Wearing Face Masks
Ok, real talk — we’re not saying wearing masks is our favorite thing ever, but it’s nowhere near as bad as we first pictured. Those first few times we wore a face mask, it was a little new and uncomfortable. But, once we started doing it more frequently, we almost didn’t even notice our masks were there! We originally thought that many people wouldn’t want to go to Disney World wearing the masks, but guests are STILL having a great time around Disney World with them on!
There has been some concern regarding riding attractions in theme parks with a mask on, especially roller coasters or rides that have a lot of quick movements. A lot of readers have asked us about what happens when you lose your mask and how to prevent it. Now that we’ve officially gone back to the theme parks (and ridden our FAIR share of Slinky Dog Dash), we’ve realized that masks don’t actually fly off on roller coasters (luckily).
They may slip up or down a bit so you have to adjust them, but, if you have the masks on properly, it’s pretty easy to keep them on during something as intense as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest. However, if you do happen to lose your mask (it happens, folks), there are ways to get around it!
Make sure to pack extra with you before you head into the parks so you don’t have to worry about rushing to buy another one in the middle of your visit. You can currently find Disney-themed face masks in SEVERAL merchandise locations throughout the parks and resorts, as well as in places like Vera Bradley, Sephora, and American Threads in Disney Springs.
The biggest problem with masks that we’ve encountered is that they can get uncomfortable after you’re wearing them for a prolonged period of time. There are a few times that it can even be hard to breathe when you’re in the rain or direct heat. However, Disney World has taken this into consideration and is offering “relaxation zones” for guests to take off their masks.
You can still get some relief without taking off your mask! We’ve found that chewing minty gum helps us breathe a bit easier.
Handheld fans and air-conditioning are also essential to use when you need to increase some airflow with your mask on. In general though, even in the heat, it’s been bearable to wear a mask all day.
A LOT of people have worried that distancing measures would be hard to enforce in theme parks (we were even a bit skeptical too, TBH). Yet, guests (with a few exceptions) and employees have generally all been incredibly respectful of one another and continue to follow health and safety guidelines.
While our own experiences at Disney World have changed with the need for physical distancing, it does make you more conscious about other people and your surroundings (in a good way). You might spend a little more time admiring the water features or noticing a cute outfit someone is wearing six feet away from you in line. 🙂
The crowds are also nowhere nearly as chaotic with nobody pushing into you or trying to shove past you. People have been respecting space so much that it makes your interactions and experiences generally a lot more pleasant.
When you’re sitting in a restaurant, you’re more secluded from other guests with new spacing. (No more crammed-in banquette seating where Karen and her husband are listening to your every word.) Instead of having to raise your voice to be heard with the noise, you can actually hear your party better.
Since you don’t have to worry about grabbing the same thing at the same time as another guest or maneuvering around someone to look at the Minnie Ears display, shopping also doesn’t have as much commotion as before.
Now that there is only a certain amount of people allowed in each store on top of the use of Virtual Queues to enter, many of the retail locations don’t get overly hectic. We’re enjoying the vacation from the crowded atmosphere of Summer in Disney World!
Since temperature screening is something entirely new to most of us, some people have worried that it would take a really long time to get into the parks or that it would be invasive. However, that hasn’t been our experience at all. We were actually surprised when we first returned to Disney Springs by how quickly everything moved.
A Cast Member will stand at a distance from you and point a temperature scanner at your forehead. There is no physical contact and distance is respected between everyone, even during the temperature check itself. The whole process from start to finish takes mere seconds.
Also, Disney won’t just test you once and turn you away if you have a high temperature. If your temp registers above 100.4, you’ll be given an opportunity to cool off in a nearby tent for a bit, then retest. If the temperature persists, only then will they turn you (and your party) away.
We also had originally envisioned Cast Members conducting the tests but, in actuality, healthcare workers from AdventHealth are conducting the tests. We thought all of these steps were not only extremely thorough but also helpful to guests to make sure that each reading is as accurate as possible.
Hand-Washing and Hand-Sanitizing Stations
Disney World started implementing hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations in the parks before they closed, and you can still find them placed throughout the parks and resorts now that they have started reopening. Both Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have them readily available and encourage guests to use them frequently.
Many guests have been on board with making sure they stick to the same health protocols that employees do. Since the hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations have been made readily available, more people will likely spend the time to clean their hands.
Plus, it’s easier to wash and sanitize since you don’t have to go all the way to a bathroom just to do it! Universal Orlando has also even required guests to use sanitizer before or after boarding some attractions.
Although this is not happening in Disney World, there are sanitizer stations available both before and after all attractions.
Since the Virtual Queues for numerous rides are something entirely new (before this, we’d only really ever seen the Boarding Pass virtual queue system used in Disneyland and Disney World for Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance), it’s easy for a lot of guests to worry that they might lose their information due to glitches. Although there will obviously be bumps along the way, we’ve found that the Virtual Queues we’ve experienced have mostly gone smoothly.
In Disney World, you’re able to get in line for the Virtual Queues at restaurants and stores and walk around while you wait. Instead of just standing around and causing longer physical queues, you receive a return notification when it’s your turn to enter. This has helped a lot with distancing efforts to add space in between guests in the area and limit the people inside shopping and dining locations.
While we have already seen a shift towards the Virtual Queue system in Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Rise of the Resistance‘s boarding groups, Disney has considered making their own version of a Virtual Queue for the parks as well. While we haven’t seen this implemented yet, it would help disperse people so there’s not a congregation of guests in line — and possibly help lower wait times.
Even though there have been a lot of differences, it might be helpful for Disney to take a few cues from Universal Orlando’s re-opening.
While there were still some problems during the first week, the Virtual Lines (their version of Virtual Queues) were actually very helpful when it came to distancing guests and allowing everyone to experience what they wanted to see when they were in the parks.
While everyone’s experiences with these changes will be different, we can’t tell you enough how important it is to keep an open mind! All we know is that, as Disney World continues to update to serve the changing needs of its guests and employees, we can still do our best to enjoy the magic (since that’s what it’s all about)!
What are some upcoming changes in Disney World you’re really excited about? Let us know in the comments below!