If you have COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter all locations at Walt Disney World Resort. But, what if you do not have COVID-19 (or don’t know that you have it), and begin to develop symptoms or test positive during your stay in Walt Disney World? Here’s what we know.
Do Not Travel if You Are Sick
For starters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) notes that if you test positive for coronavirus, you must immediately isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations. According to the Disney World website, by entering Disney World you also confirm that you are not experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, have not been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms (without doing a proper 14-day quarantine), and are not under any self-quarantine orders.
So, although it goes without saying, we want to emphasize that if you are having COVID-19 symptoms before you leave for your trip to Walt Disney World, you test positive for COVID-19 before you go to Disney World, or you’ve been exposed to anyone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms (and you have not done the necessary quarantine), for your safety and the safety of others, you must not travel. We emailed Disney and spoke to various Cast Members who confirmed — “If you or any other Guest becomes symptomatic or tests positive, they would not be able to enter” Walt Disney World.
You Won’t Be Able to Enter the Parks
Now, moving on to the scenario where you either don’t have symptoms or you don’t have COVID-19 prior to entering Disney World, and THEN you test positive while AT Disney World. One key thing to note is that you will NOT be allowed in the parks. We spoke to several Cast Members who confirmed this.
We also spoke to a Disney Cast Member on the phone who essentially indicated this would apply to you and your entire party (specifically anyone in close contact with you) as the Disney website specifically notes that by entering Disney World property you are confirming you have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine. So, if at any time that becomes untrue (meaning you HAVE been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 — which would apply to anyone in your party who came in close contact with the person[s] that tested positive) — they would not be able to enter the parks.
Additionally, we want to note that the Florida Department of Health website says if you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should call your County Health Department or other health care professional to discuss next steps.
So, if a member of your party tests positive for COVID-19, and you have been in close contact with them, please call the local Health Department or another health care professional for their guidance as well.
You Will Need to Quarantine During Your Stay
If someone were to test positive or show symptoms on vacation a million questions likely would flood their heads. What if you are staying at a Disney World Resort hotel during this time? Will you be allowed to stay in the hotel? Would you be kicked out? Could you even use transportation to get home (more on that in a bit!)?! We spoke to some Cast Members, and here’s what they said.
First, we called a general phone line for Disney World and the Cast Member we spoke to said it would be handled on a case-by-case basis, but that guests who test positive for COVID-19 during their stay would be confined to their room for the length of their stay so that they can quarantine. When we called the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 hotline, the individual we spoke with also noted that if you test positive, you must remain isolated.
- If you KNOW or think you have COVID-19 and have symptoms, you can be around others after a quarantine of at least 10 days provided other factors are met (like 24 hours with no fever without use of fever-reducing medication).
- If you tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, you can be around others after 10 days have passed since the date of your positive test (but if you develop symptoms then the recommendations are different).
- If you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should stay home for 14 days after your last exposure to that person.
- The CDC has also updated some guidance to say that quarantine may be shorter in certain situations.
The Florida Department of Health COVID-19 website specifically notes that if you are sick with a fever, have trouble breathing, or suspect you have COVID-19, you should isolate during the illness, restrict activities outside your home, and stay away from others.
It appears that quarantine rules would apply to your entire party — specifically anyone who was traveling with you and was in close contact with you. One Disney Cast Member essentially did confirm this for us again by pointing to the Disney policies which state that by entering Walt Disney World Resort, you’re confirming you haven’t been in close contact with anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms without the 14-day quarantine, so once that becomes untrue steps would need to be taken to ensure that group’s safety as well as the safety of other guests.
The Cast Member also said that generally a COVID-19 situation like this would be handled on a case-by-case basis with the hotel manager.
We asked one Cast Member we spoke to whether a guest would be able to extend their stay at a resort in order to do a full-length quarantine. The Cast Member said it may depend on availability. We expect, however, that Disney would likely work with local health authorities and with you to see what can be done to make sure you and others are kept safe.
We called the number for Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and spoke to one Cast Member who said that the Disney hotel policy will depend on the situation. They said a policy has been put in place, and the guest will need to work with the hotel’s manager to go through the process. The Cast Member at Disney’s Pop Century Resort gave us a similar answer and said the guests would have to remain in their room for their stay to quarantine.
Disney’s response to us via email indicated, “It is up to the Leadership at each of our Walt Disney World Resort Hotels as to how this situation would be addressed for Guests staying on property.” So the key thing is, if you test positive or develop symptoms, speak to the manager at the Disney World Resort hotel you’re staying at so you can make sure you follow whatever processes they have in place.
We also spoke with a Cast Member via chat who noted that they have not encountered this situation yet, but that they assumed the guest will be directed to a local medical facility and will be asked to follow their doctor’s instructions.
What happens to that room once the positive guest leaves? Two Cast Members we spoke to also noted that once the guest that has tested positive leaves the room, the room will be cleaned and sanitized and not made available to other guests for a period of time.
What if you needed to leave your Disney hotel but still continue to quarantine before you can leave Florida? In some areas, certain hotels or areas have been used for those needing a safe place to quarantine. This was a policy that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did, in fact, suggest for Florida back in March. We are currently not aware of any specific quarantine hotels in Orlando that you would be able to turn to if this occurred, but have reached out to the Florida Department of Health via email and will update this post if we receive updated information.
Update: The Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center responded to our email and indicated that some counties may have locations available for those that need to quarantine, and that you would need to contact the county health department directly in order to confirm.
Why would you possibly want to stay in your hotel to quarantine rather than just travel home? Well, that leads us to problem #2.
You Likely Will Not Be Able to Travel Home Until You Finish Your Quarantine Period
The CDC notes that if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately isolate yourself and “do not travel until it is safe for you to be around others; this includes your return trip home.” And, even if you wanted to go home, you may not be able to if you are put on a Do-Not-Board list.
The CDC can restrict the travel of people who are known or believed to have COVID-19, or who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, if they plan to travel. Essentially, this would be done by putting that person on a “Do Not Board” list. Once a person is put on this list, airlines will NOT issue a boarding pass to that person for any commercial flight within, arriving to, or departing from the U.S..
On top of that, you could be arrested (with reckless endangering being a potential charge) and banned from airlines depending on state laws and airline rules for flying while positive.
Again, if you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate from others, which means you (and likely the guests traveling with you) will essentially be stuck wherever you are during that time. While this article discusses the situation as it applies to Disney, it would essentially apply anywhere else as well. It’s not something you necessarily want to think about, but it should be something you consider. Our advice? Talk about this potential scenario with your family and come up with a plan BEFORE you travel.
Discuss how you would handle the situation and how you could possibly prepare. For example, you may want to pack your laptops or tablets or extra chargers that you may not have normally brought so that if you need to remain in the room and work or do school from that space, you are able to do so. You may want to bring or pick up some extra snacks from a local store so you’ve got a few things to munch on in the room (although we expect — but have not confirmed — that the hotel would coordinate some kind of food drop-off service).
You may also want to bring thermometers and medication that could help with mild symptoms, and bring your key healthcare information like the name of your primary care doctor back home and your insurance cards. You may also want to pack extra of the medication you take to ensure that you could have it for a full 14-day quarantine if necessary. Make sure you know how to get a COVID-19 test when you’re in Disney World or wherever you’re going, so you know where to go if you develop symptoms.
There is actually a Florida Division of Emergency Management-run COVID-19 testing site in Disney World where you could get tested if needed. The Maingate Complex Testing Site is walk-up only and the hours are from 8AM to 5PM daily. Keep in mind, Disney transportation will not take you to the Maingate Complex. To get to the testing center, you will need to take your own car or use rideshare. Please be mindful and do NOT use a rideshare service if you are at all symptomatic or have been exposed to an infected person.
Testing at this site is FREE and available for anyone ages two and up. You do NOT have to be a Florida resident or US resident to receive a test at this site. Additionally, insurance is not required and you do not have to be symptomatic to get tested. The individuals working there will ask if you are getting tested in order to travel and if the state you’ll be going to requires a specific type of test, so be sure to look up this information before you go.
To see more about how to get tested and our experience there, and get an infographic about the process check out our full post.
At the end of the day, you can’t be prepared for everything, but it’s good to have these resources ready if you ever need them. While it’s less than ideal to contract COVID-19 while on vacation, it’s not out of the realm of possibility and processes need to be in place to deal with such a situation. Being prepared and knowing how to handle the situation if it were to occur is your best bet, so check back to this article for the latest information. If we get any further information from Disney, Florida, or other sources, we’ll be sure to update this article.