What To Expect When You're Expecting [A Disney Vacation]: A Guide to Disney's "New Normal"

July 23, 2020

Disney reopening

Recently, my friend & fellow Disney-lovin' Instagrammer, Tara, returned from a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I know a lot of us are really curious about all of the new procedures, how they work, and what it's like at the parks right now (especially in a hot mask all day. Hellooooo sweaty face)! So I asked Tara if she would be into doing a guest blog post here on Cake After Midnight. It's been a minute since I've had a guest post, and since I'm such a huge Disnerd (& I know a ton of you guys are too!), I thought this would be a great time for this type of post. So without further ado, let's see what Tara had to say!

As Disney Annual Passholders, we waited with bated breath for four months for Disney to reopen. When news of the reopening came, we rebooked our 4th of July trip within minutes for opening week. My husband works in healthcare, so we have been inundated in Covid caution since early March. We know that Disney is the company that works the hardest to get it right, so we had no reservations about going.

We found our trip was so much easier when we knew what to expect so we did a lot of reading prior to arrival. Once you're on Disney Property, everyone is wearing masks everywhere. The only exceptions are eating/drinking, anyone swimming, and children under 2.

If you are planning a Disney trip, I cannot say this enough: download the My Disney Experience App and familiarize yourself with it. You will be using it a ton. Through the app you:
  • Check into your resort
  • Make park reservations
  • Make restaurant reservations
  • Place mobile orders
  • Check into dining locations
And so much more.

What to expect at the resorts:
  • Mobile Check In- You will check in on the MDE app and be able to go straight to your room with your magic band. There are CMs at the front desk, but a lot less of them than normal.
  • If you’re traveling with a child who needs a crib, each crib gets a brand new liner for sanitation purposes when you arrive.
  • Not all of the restaurants are open; the ones that are have a modified menu, but they are still accommodating dietary restrictions.
  • Housekeeping brings a basket to your room with supplies to prevent contact rather than a daily cleaning.
  • While masks are not required at the pool, the chairs are all set to social distancing requirements and cannot be moved. 
  • All around the resort you will see extra cast members cleaning and wiping down high contact surfaces.
  • Some stores offer new and wrapped untouched merchandise for children for sanitation reasons.

Peep that new castle!

What to expect at the parks/Disney Springs:
  • Temperature checks for everyone upon entry. If you read higher than 100.4 you will be pulled to the side for additional screening, if you fail this you will be denied entry into the parks. We did see this in action, so Disney isn’t pulling any punches.
  • Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations are everywhere.
  • All lines have social distancing markers.
  • All the parks have designated mask removal areas which I highly recommend. Wearing the mask all day is hot in Florida summers and breaks are important for little ones. These areas are limited in numbers and all socially distanced.
  • You can remove the mask to eat and drink, but you must be stationary while doing it. A lot of people were using this as a loophole to not wear a mask while we were there last week, but Disney was quick to tighten the restrictions this week.
  • Like at the resorts, many of the restaurants are closed and those that are open are offering a limited menu. All quick service restaurants are using mobile ordering. Sit down restaurants require a smart phone to scan a QR code to pull up the menu to limit contact.
Now that we have covered the new rules to expect at Walt Disney World, on to the question I get asked the most:

Yes, but you have to keep all the restrictions in mind. While it’s 100% still magical, it is different. If you go in with the same expectations [as pre-covid], you will be disappointed. Character dining is an important part of our Disney experience. Disney is currently offering a modified character experience at Garden Grill in Epcot and Topolino’s Terrace at Riviera Resort. You can’t hug or touch the characters and they don’t sign anything but they’re still interactive and fun. I did put my two-year-old back in a high chair for our meal because I knew she’d want to run to them. Disney did give us a postcard with character signatures, which my daughter loved.

Going for the reopening was very relaxing for us. With no Fastpass, no scheduled parades, and no fireworks shows we were able to just wander around and enjoy the magic unscheduled. Disney is doing a great job balancing safety and magical experiences for all their guests.
My biggest tips:
  • Bring lots of masks. They get wet and dirty, so you will want to refresh.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. While Disney is providing it everywhere, its easier to have it with you.
  • Explain to your children (if traveling with any) exactly what to expect and let them watch the screening on you first (my daughter was leery of letting someone take her temperature).
  • Gaiter masks are no longer allowed. Masks must have ear loops or ties.
  • Be mindful of those around you and keep your distance.

In my opinion a trip to Disney is as safe for you and your littles as a trip anywhere else. Obviously, we all have to make the best choice for ourselves and our family, but we had a great time that was definitely worth the money and we will be back in August.

Want to see more of Tara's adventures? Be sure to follow her over on Instagram, @preppy.in.disney

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