What’s Disney World Like Post-COVID?
Updated: May 27
Read for a glimpse into what Disney World is like right now, plus helpful planning tips.
Updated May 2021
My family and I just got back from a post-pandemic (or is it during pandemic?) trip to Disney World. We had a FANTASTIC time!
Sure, things were different than the last time we went. Masks are required. There are no FastPasses or Magic Hours. You must keep your distance from all the characters, and of course the other park goers. Fireworks and most shows are cancelled until further notice.
But there is still SO MUCH magic to experience at the parks. The décor, the music, the rides, the fantastic level of customer service. It’s all still there for you to enjoy.
If you are wondering what a trip to Disney World looks like in our current, post-COVID world, read on, or watch the video. I’ve got TONS of tips to share with you.
Did We Feel Safe?
First, let’s address the most important question of safety. It’s impossible to leave your house without risk these days. But we felt safe and comfortable with the precautions and changes Disney had made.
It was easy to keep away from others with the reduced capacity. So much space to walk around! We had no trouble finding a comfortable spot out of the way to sit down, have a snack, and take a break whenever we needed to. Imagine doing that in a full park!
April 2021 Update: The parks have definitely gotten busier since we went in October 2020. Even with the increased capacity, it was still relatively easy to find a spot away from others to enjoy a snack. It was also still easy to find a spot to watch a cavalcade. But you could definitely tell there are more people in the parks now.
Everyone gets their temperatures taken before approaching bag check and the park gate. This always went quickly.
We chose to self-quarantine before our trip as a precaution. Not only did we not want to risk getting sick, but we also didn’t want to expose others without realizing it. Small sacrifice to experience some Disney magic.
May 2021 Update: Temperature checks are no longer happening.
Mask are required for everyone aged 2 and up, no exceptions. Masks must always be worn, even when taking pictures. The only exception is when actively eating or drinking while stationary. Meaning, you can’t grab some popcorn and walk to your next destination while eating it.
May 2021 Update: You no longer need to wear your mask when in outside common areas. Masks are still required indoors, while in line for an attraction, and while experiencing an attraction.
There were plenty of cast members around to remind folks of these rules.
Announcements of these rules were played on rotation throughout the entire day.
And if you are wondering, yes people are asked to leave if they do not follow these mask rules.
Even though it was hot and humid during our trip, we did not find it difficult to wear our masks. We practiced with our kids ahead of time. We tried out different masks to find which were the most comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Those, and many of them, were the ones we packed.
(In case you are wondering, our favorite masks were made by Park Candy. No affiliation with them whatsoever. Just a fan.)
I brought several masks for each of us so we could change them during the day. Since it was so hot, it was very refreshing to be able to change into a fresh clean mask. Especially after lunch.
I brought two, gallon-sized Ziploc bags. I labeled one clean and one dirty. I kept the clean masks in the clean bag, and I put the dirty ones into the dirty bag when we switched them out.
I packed a little container of liquid laundry detergent on our trip. Every night we would wash the dirty masks in the hotel bathroom sink and hang them up to dry. That way our masks were always fresh and smelling clean when we put them on the next day.
TIP: Figure out ahead of time what masks are the most comfortable for each member of you family. Buy several of them and change them out throughout the day. Keep the clean ones separate from the dirty ones. Pack liquid laundry detergent to wash them at the end of each day.
Floor Markings Everywhere
No need to guess how far apart you should stay from the other guests, there are markings for you everywhere! In line for the attractions, at the restaurants, to line up for the bus, even at the food kiosks. Anywhere a line may form there were markings to help keep you at least 6 feet away from the other guests.
If you can’t remain 6 feet apart because of the way the queues were designed, Disney installed plexiglass barriers to keep you separated and safe from others.
Even the busses had barriers to keep you separated from others. The bus seats were also numbered. The bus driver will assign your family a number to sit at to ensure physical distance was always maintained.
The amount of planning and work that went into making the park safe was impressive.
Fans & Ventilation
There were lots of fans blowing in the line queues as well to help with air circulation. I’m sure they were used more for the heat, but they helped with air movement as well.
There were sanitizer dispensers everywhere. In the attraction queues before you got on a ride. At all the exits of the rides. In the restaurants. Where you boarded the bus, monorail or Skyliner. Literally everywhere. I felt like my hands were covered in a film of sanitizer because of how much we used it.
I brought a couple of packages of sanitizing wipes I found at Costco before our trip. They were useful to wipe down surfaces but were also labeled as being safe to use on your skin. We used those wipes to freshen up our hands and wipe that film of sanitizer off.
TIP: Bring sanitizing wipes that are safe to use on skin to freshen up your hands throughout the day.
How Were the Lines?
Yes, capacity is down. But that does not mean the parks are a ghost town. You will still wait in lines.
However, I felt the lines were shorter than in pre-COVID days. We did not miss Fastpass at all. In fact, it helped keep the lines moving along so you never felt like you were standing still for that long.
The big-ticket rides usually had longer wait times. For example, we waited about an hour for Flight of Passage, Smugglers Run, Big Thunder Mountain, and Test Track. Minnie & Mickey’s Runaway Railway and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train also had longer wait times.
But we walked on Soarin’, Space Mountain multiple times, almost all the rides at Epcot, and even Peter Pan once. One morning Toy Story Mania’s line wrapped all the way out of Toy Story Land and was posted at 40 minutes. We got in line anyway and walked right on.
On average I’d say we waited 30 minutes for most rides. Don’t let the wait times in the app scare you!
We got so much more done in the parks than we ever did before the pandemic. We finished Animal Kingdom by 1:30pm. We did everything we wanted to do in Magic Kingdom in one day, a park that typically takes us two days to get through. We got through Epcot in half a day.
That left us lots of extra time to enjoy our hotel pool, which is what my kids were super pumped about. (We stayed at Yacht Club, which has one of the best hotel pools on property.)
April 2021 Update: For our Spring Break trip we definitely waited in longer lines. However, without FastPass the lines continuously move. You are not standing in one place for a long period of time. We still found the wait times to be a bit exaggerated. (For example, one time Big Thunder Mountain said a 30 min wait. My son and I were on the ride within 10 minutes.) However, the big-ticket attractions definitely had longer waits than last October. And overall there were way less rides that we walked right on.
Tip: Rope dropping is still a thing! Get to the parks early with your favorite ride in mind. Then head straight there. I always give my clients specific tips on when to get to the gate and which ride to hit first at each park.
I Missed the Dining Plan
I did miss having the dining plan. I love not having to worry about how much I’m spending on food when we go.
I didn’t think we’d want to waste time eating since the park hours were shorter. As a result, I didn’t make many table service dining reservations. We ate at quick-service locations or did take out at the table service restaurants that were offering it.
I wish I had made more LUNCH reservations We were always ready for a break at lunch. And I felt like we ate a bunch of junk food the entire time. I missed having that one, good healthy meal each day.
Tip: Capacity is limited so table service restaurant reservations are hard to get. Be sure to make your reservations right at the 60-day mark and keep checking if you don’t get what you want at first.
But using mobile ordering from the quick service restaurants was super easy and convenient.
Be aware that you are not allowed to enter the quick service dining locations unless you’ve ordered and been notified your order is ready to be picked up. This is to keep the capacity down. It also makes it easy to find a place to sit and eat.
We LOVED the Character Cavalcades
Parades are out. Character cavalcades are IN. And we couldn’t have been happier.
You never knew when they would pop up and who would be on them. The music would start playing and there they were. They were so fun!
Characters also popped up in random places and waved at you from afar. Always keep your eyes out for your favorite character to surprise you.
Tip: Find out the route of the cavalcades ahead of time. Then when you need to take a snack or rest break, find a spot along the route to sit and hope one pops up while you are there. We caught several cavalcades doing this.
It was 100% Still Worth Staying on a Disney Property
There is lots of debate about whether it is still worth staying on a Disney property now that FastPasses and Extra Magic Hours are gone.
I still believe it is 100% worth it, even during the pandemic. I wrote a blog post devoted exactly to this topic, which you can read here.
We stayed at the Yacht Club, a deluxe level resort. I LOVE this hotel. It may be my favorite hotel on property. Since we were spending so much more time at our resort, I was glad we were staying at such a great one.
It Was Also Worth Purchasing Memory Maker
I love Memory Maker. It’s such a great way to get awesome pictures of your entire family while at the most Magical Place on Earth.
Most of my pre-COVID tips for making the most of Memory Maker, found here, still hold true now.
Even with masks on, I love our Memory Maker pictures from our trip. What a story we will be able to tell years from now about that one time we went to Disney World and had to wear masks. And have the pictures to prove it!
April 2021 Update: Memory Maker is even more worth it now that they are allowing you to remove your mask for the outside pictures!!
Are You Ready to Travel?
No matter when you are ready to head back to Disney World, things will be different. I believe some post-COVID changes to Disney World will remain permanently.
You can count on me to keep track of all those changes.
When you are ready to plan that next trip to Disney World, I would love to help you plan it. I can make it easier for you to navigate all those changes, make the most of your vacation, and have a magical time with your family.
And don’t forget, my services are free!
I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner. I make it easier for you to plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Click here to schedule a Magical Vacation Discovery Call to learn more and get your free, no-obligation quote.
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