All eyes are on Disney as they prepare to reopen Disney World’s theme parks! While we have every confidence that Disney is thinking everything through a thousand times over, there are still a few things we hope Disney doesn’t mess up!
After visiting Disney Springs every day since its reopening in addition to Universal Orlando and CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood, we’ve learned a thing or two about what mistakes we DON’T want to see Disney make when the parks reopen!
Please don’t make us wish you had a virtual queue system!
One of the biggest surprises as we await the reopening of Disney World was the news that the theme parks will NOT be using virtual queues upon reopening. We saw virtual queue systems implemented at Universal Orlando, and it seemed like the obvious solution for Disney as well to address the concern of physical distancing within the parks.
We know now that no rides or attractions, including Rise of the Resistance, will utilize virtual queues — at least at the beginning. Instead, every ride and attraction will use traditional standby queues.
With FastPass+ currently suspended and no Single Rider lines available, Disney will have additional queue space available to accommodate parties at six feet apart.
We also know that Disney has stated that the capacity in their parks will be reduced, as it has been in Shanghai Disneyland. Disney will also utilize its Park Pass reservation system to further limit crowds. So, it may be that Disney anticipates no need for a virtual queue system to help control crowds.
We hope that Disney’s decision to eliminate the possibility of virtual queues was the right one! It’s possible some systems may be implemented in the future, similar to how Shanghai Disneyland did not have virtual queues at first but are now rolling out a Standby Pass. Only time will tell!
Please don’t rely too heavily on paper menus, and instead push digital!
As restaurants have begun to reopen around Disney World, QR Code-based menus are the name of the game now! These digitally accessed menus are contactless and easily updated. Restaurants throughout the resort should be prepared for the necessity of paper menus for those without smartphones. That said, we hope that those restaurants have those on reserve for guests who truly need them.
Giving paper menus out to only those who specifically request them will drastically reduce the amount of waste that all those paper menus will surely create!
Digital menus are becoming more and more common throughout Disney Springs and the reopened Disney World hotels. Plus, with the huge strides Disney has taken lately to be more “green,” digital menus seem to be the perfect solution for the current global situation AND to further their green initiatives!
Disney can also continue to push mobile order at their counter service locations, as long as it doesn’t malfunction! We noticed a few technical bugs with the mobile order system at Universal Orlando, but Disney has been heavily pushing their Mobile Order system pre-closure, so they might not see the same troubles.
The digital experience at dining locations is also being introduced before you even sit down to enjoy your meal! Disney recently announced that they are rolling out Mobile Dine Check-In, which allows you to check-in for your Advance Dining Reservation via My Disney Experience, skipping the host stand entirely.
Please don’t make it too difficult to find masks for purchase!
So far it seems as though most major theme parks are not handing out face masks for free. Disney has stated on multiple occasions that face coverings are required for all guests above the age of two for entry and must remain on for the duration of your stay at Disney World and Disneyland when the parks and resorts reopen.
The exceptions to this rule are when you are seated at a dining location, you are eating or drinking on the go (your mask can be lifted temporarily to take a sip or a bite), or in the announced “relaxation zones” that Disney said may be a part of the park experience. These will be similar to the “URest Zones” we saw at Universal Orlando.
It goes without saying that having access to masks is key! Plus, when you consider the likelihood of folks losing their masks, it needs to be as easy as possible to find new masks for purchase.
Universal Orlando as well as Disney Springs and Disney World hotels have several retail locations that sell masks, but we wouldn’t complain if we saw even more locations AND even more varieties. We’ve learned one type of mask doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, so having a few options would be handy.
We enjoyed the system at CityWalk Universal Studios Hollywood. There, we spotted a vending machine before you pass security that sold disposable as well as washable face masks!
Many guests will not think to pack a spare mask or two for everyone in their party…for every single day, and purchasing masks should be as easy as possible!
Please don’t limit the number of places we can at least get a glimpse of the characters!
Perhaps the most jarring change guests will experience when visiting a reopened Disney World and Disneyland is the lack of character meet and greets, which have been temporarily suspended. In addition to that, all character dining has been canceled, with the one exception that we know of so far at Topolino’s Terrace.
As much as we understand the need to keep guests and Cast Members safe, there is surely pent up demand for a photo of Mickey Mouse!
Now, we do know that Disney World has announced that Character Cavalcades will take place throughout the day in each park.
Having multiple character experiences throughout the day should lessen the likelihood of large crowds forming. If guests know there are plenty of chances to see the characters and Disney makes these encounters plentiful, there will be less demand — and less overcrowding — to catch that ONE show or that ONE cavalcade.
This was something we saw go EXTREMELY well at Universal Orlando! Characters seemed to be EVERYWHERE, more so than usual, and it lessened the need to crowd around any one character experience.
Please don’t skimp on the sanitization!
When a guest sees frequent sanitization of surfaces, they are more likely to feel safe and know that Disney has their health in mind first and foremost. This includes frequent cleaning of rides, counters at retail locations, dining locations, and any other touchpoints that a guest may come into contact with.
Physical distancing is one step towards mitigating any risk, but frequently sanitizing surfaces will put everyone’s minds at ease that every precaution is being taken! So it’s super important when the parks reopen for guests to SEE the sanitization happening in front of their very eyes!
Disney will have ample opportunity for guests to wash and sanitize their hands. Disney has always been known for keeping its parks super clean and tidy, and from what we’ve already seen in Disney Springs, we expect sanitizer and handwashing stations to be plentiful.
Please don’t have too few social distancing floor markers!
What we’ve observed over the past few weeks is that when places run out of physical distancing floor markers, it creates a “free for all” environment.
And with the likelihood that crowds will naturally form in some places in the parks (like what we saw at Hogsmeade in Universal), those floor markers will be super important to help encourage distancing!
While it’s impossible to mark every square inch of a theme park (could you imagine what that would look like?), having as many floor markers as possible goes a long way in helping folks know where to stand, and more importantly, where NOT to stand!
We’ve seen all sorts of physical distancing stickers around Disney Springs! Check out how we decoded them here.
We’re learning more every day about what Disney is planning on implementing in their theme parks to keep guests and Cast Members safe. While we can only hope Disney is taking every extra precaution to mitigate risk, we still know that at the end of the day that this is all new, and all locations are learning as they go! So, yes, we can also expect this to be a learning experience for Disney as well as for guests as the theme parks reopen, so expect things to change and be modified even after the parks reopen!
Are you planning on visiting Disney World or Disneyland shortly after they reopen? Let us know in the comments!