WOW! We’ve been back inside Magic Kingdom for the first time since it closed its gates in mid-March! The experience was VERY different than what we’re used to when it comes to visiting a Disney World theme park!
Keep in mind that while our first experience back was a Cast Member preview day with very limited crowds, one of if not THE most noticeable differences we experienced was the impact on crowds from the limited capacity. In order to accommodate physical distancing and to keep crowds at bay, Disney has drastically reduced their capacity and controls the number of people in the parks via their new Disney Park Pass Reservation System. So, what do YOU need to know about having a successful limited capacity vacation? We’re sharing 10 tips with you today!
From preparing for your trip to navigating the ins and outs of a reopened theme park, there are tons of new tips and tricks to having a successful day in a theme park with limited capacity! Yes, crowds are WAY lighter, but you still need to be prepared! Here are our top ten tips!
1. You’ll still want to prioritize your favorites.
Yes, limited capacity should result in shorter lines — and that’s a good thing! But that doesn’t mean you should drop your priorities. There’s a lot less planning involved in a reopened Disney World (especially without Fastpass+!) but we definitely recommend giving your park day at least a little bit of forethought.
Think about which attractions and experiences are must-do for your group. Prior to your park day and make sure you check in to see that everything you want to do is open so you can avoid disappointment when you’re in the parks. Then, make sure you hit your priority rides when you’re in Magic Kingdom!
There are shorter lines, but there are also lower ride capacities and lengthier loading processes. Plus, if there are any breakdowns or delays you run the risk of missing out on an experience just because you figured you’d have the time to ride later. Make those priorities and do your best to put them first during your park day!
2. Don’t expect every ride to be a walk-on.
As we mentioned, capacity definitely pushes wait times down, but those lines can still get lengthy. It’s true that pretty much everything we rode was more-or-less a walk-on on our first day back in Magic Kingdom — but that wasn’t true for every single ride!
You could still be spending some time in line. When we rode Splash Mountain, we waited around 35 minutes and that was during a Cast Member preview. As the parks reopen to the public, we could see even longer waits for high-demand or low capacity attractions. Make sure that you keep this fact in your head so that you’re not surprised when you’re headed for a whirl on your favorite ride.
3. You may want to schedule a mid-day table service meal.
Table-service meals can definitely eat some time out of the middle of your day but right now, they might be a good addition to your plans. Outside of the Relaxation Stations, sitting at a dining table is the only time that guests are allowed to remove their face masks.
A reopened Magic Kingdom can feel a little overwhelming at times. There are markers on the ground, everything is being sanitized, and you can’t see a single smile. If you think you might need a little break to feel like everything is “normal,” that table-service meal could be a good bet. Spend some time sitting in Disney World, eating some yummy food with no mask on your face, and you might be recharged and ready to re-mask up and hit the park again.
If you’re thinking this could be a much-needed break for you, go ahead and take a look at the listing of opened restaurants! Advance Dining Reservations are open once more for all guests, so plan ahead and carve out that break time.
4. Keep an eye out for entertainment!
This next tip can definitely help you with a big adjustment! Meeting Disney characters is no longer a guaranteed part of your day in Magic Kingdom (or any Disney park). Set your expectation that you will likely not interact with any characters — because that’s very possible!
Character cavalcades and encounters are random but FREQUENT, so it’s kind of like a fun scavenger hunt to find or see your favorite Disney pals. Keep your eyes open! Cavalcades run down the Magic Kingdom parade route or above you in the Main Street Train Station at random times and you might run into some familiar faces when you’re exploring the lands as well
5. Pack smart.
Of course, it’s always important to make sure your park bag is stocked, but right now there are some special considerations to take. For one, we recommend bringing your own hand sanitizer. There are hand sanitizer stations all over the park, but if one is empty or not working, it’s good to have your own. An extra mask doesn’t hurt either for each member of your group!
One SUPER important tip is to pack all of your electronics together prior to security. The new security protocols will have you placing all of your electronics in a clear plastic bag before you bring your own bag through the metal detectors. You don’t want to be stuck awkwardly fishing through your bag for a renegade charger. Plus, if you miss something and the detectors go off, you’ll have to dump your bag into a bin for a no-touch bag search.
We also noticed a few water bottle refill stations weren’t open too. This might change, but if you’re a fan of toting a water bottle around, plan accordingly anyways. Bring a bigger bottle if you think you’ll need it or consider filling up in your room before you head out for the day!
6. Don’t be afraid to take your time.
We know the feeling. A Disney park day is EXPENSIVE and you might feel inclined to rush to make sure you do everything that you want. We do it too! Right now though, you have a chance to slow down a little more and really experience the Disney parks. Don’t be afraid to take your time!
Between the shorter lines and closed attractions, you might be surprised by how quickly you run through your to-do list. That means that you have a little more wiggle room to avoid rushing around from place to place. So, take a little longer on that lunch or your stroll through Adventureland. This can really add to your park day AND you can discover things you were typically rushing past too quickly to see in the past!
Plus, you’ll probably notice that Cast Members aren’t rushing the new protocols either. Lines may pause while Cast Members sanitize a ride (it happened to us several times while we were waiting for Splash Mountain!). If you go in with the mindset of taking things slowly, you’re less likely to feel frustrated if there are any delays.
7. Keep a park map handy.
This is a little tip that can make a pretty big difference now! Make sure you have a park map handy, whether it’s on your phone or with a paper map. These maps will reflect up-to-date information on what is and what isn’t open and will show you where you can find resources such as Relaxation Stations.
On your phone, you can even filter the map to show you where you can find hand sanitizer stations and quick-service spots with Mobile Order. These directions can be SUPER helpful when you’re trying to follow all the new health guidelines in Disney World. Even if you know the parks like the back of your hand, things are different right now, so it never hurts to have a resource handy.
8. Keep your phone charged.
On the note of technology, keep your phone charged. Not only is the My Disney Experience app your ticket to an up-to-date and comprehensive park map, but it has a LOT of other features that are total life-savers in a reopened Disney World.
Wondering about wait times? Check the app. Need to scan the new health protocols? Check the app. Plus, My Disney Experience now has important features such as the HIGHLY encouraged Mobile Order for quick service dining and Mobile Dine Check-In for table service dining.
9. Give yourself extra time for transportation.
You might think that without park hopping, you won’t need to worry about travel times on transportation. Well, hold your horses. You’re still going to want to give yourself extra time for transportation to and from the parks, and remember to be patient when using the Disney transportation system.
There are lower capacities on most methods of transportation to keep guests safe. Gone (for now) are the days of being crammed like sardines in Disney buses or monorails! So, when you’re boarding or waiting for your monorail, Skyliner, bus, or boat — things might take a little longer than you expect.
10. Be kind and courteous.
Finally, our BIGGEST tip of the list is to be kind and courteous to Cast Members and other guests. This is a wonky new environment and everyone is doing their best to navigate it. Change takes time, not just for us as guests, but for Cast Members who are having to relearn how to do their jobs in a whole new, uncharted way! Respect peoples’ space and listen to Cast Members if they ask you to do something.
At the Cast Member preview, we were super happy to see people being safe and enjoying their park day. We even had folks saying “Behind you!” in shops to make sure that we could keep our space. Hopefully, this continues as the parks reopen.
We hope this list was helpful and can assist in planning your upcoming Disney World vacation! Since it looks like the Park Pass Reservation System could be around until 2021, we’re all going to have to get a little comfortable with navigating this new “world.” Be sure to stay tuned to DFB as we share MORE tips from a reopened Disney World!
Are you visiting Magic Kingdom soon? What’s the first ride you want to hop on? Let us know in the comments!