An opportunity arose for me to do a quick trip to Florida to visit both Disney World and Universal Orlando, and I couldn’t resist! Several things fell into place…I had DVC points to use from a canceled trip in May, my Annual Pass was expiring on November 17th, and Universal Orlando offered me an amazing deal that I couldn’t pass up! Throw in the free flight I was able to get with my Southwest points, and that was just the cherry on top. I was excited to check out how things are running post-Covid since I have clients scheduled to travel within the next couple of months.
This post is going to deal with everything specific to Disney World and the protocols in place at the resorts, the parks and the restaurants, as far as my personal trip is concerned. My cousin Alex traveled with me.
We started off with a a 7:00 a.m. flight on Southwest from the Philadelphia Airport. We booked offsite airport parking at Smart Park. Starting there, the attendant at the booth was wearing a mask. The shuttle bus driver was wearing gloves and a mask. There were two other parties on the shuttle with us.
Once at the airport, we did the self-service check in. The workers behind the counters were wearing masks. All security workers were also wearing masks. They still are doing regular security. Shoes off, coats off, and everything goes on the belt through the scanner. Once we got to our gate, people were definitely social distancing and not sitting next to one another. There were constant announcements about mandatory mask wearing, and what types of masks were permitted. They did have some available if needed. Southwest is currently not utilizing the middle seats on their planes, unless there are family members that sit right next to each other. They are seating every row.
As always (pre-Covid I did these things!), I had my Clorox wipes to wipe down my seat, tray, etc., and my hand sanitizer. The only beverage available on the flight was water, and they had prepackaged snacks.
In summary, I felt super safe in the airport and on the flight! Everyone was being respectful, wearing masks and social distancing.
Once in Orlando, we were using Disney’s Magical Express transportation from the airport to our resort. This service has changed! They no longer send you the yellow tags in the mail to attach to your luggage. You are responsible for getting your own luggage from baggage claim and taking it with you to the Magical Express bus! They do not deliver the luggage to your room anymore! Since we flew on Southwest, we arrived on the A side. The Magical Express is located on the B side. This means that we had to go to baggage claim on the A side, then go back up and across the entire airport to the B side and downstairs to the Magical Express location. (They also are not doing airline check in at the resorts. So you also bring your luggage with you when leaving the resort and getting on the Magical Express.)
Here you can see the plexiglass up at the counters, as well as some signage.
The lanes are numbered and the cast member will tell you which lane to enter. There are signs all along the lanes with these social distance markers.
The cast member scanning our bands to enter the bus assigned us specific seat numbers. He had a map of the bus with a dry erase marker, and was marking off the seats he assigned. They are utilizing only every other row and are filling the bus from back to front. We were first in line so got the very last seats! (As a side not, there was a girl next to us who was assigned to another bus. She asked if she could sit near the front, and the cast member told her she could sit on a bench until the bus filled up and then could sit in the front. She didn’t like that answer and proceeded to the bus.)
The Magical Express delivered us to Bay Lake Tower with our luggage. The lobby is small and it was chaotic! This was mostly due to Bell Services and luggage. People who did not have a room ready or were checking out but not yet leaving the resort had to check their luggage with Bell Services. Our room was not ready (as indicated by the text we had received while at the airport). So our plan was to check our luggage with Bell Services and then head to Epcot. A note! The monorail to Epcot was not running at the time so we had to take a bus.
We waited for a bus and once it arrived, the bus driver assigned us seats using a seat number. He was wearing a mask.
There are dividers up between seat numbers.
Standing is not permitted so the handles were zip tied up.
None of our buses were ever even nearly full. I felt very safe on the Disney bus transportation!
Once we arrived at Epcot, signs were everywhere!
Everyone has to pass through a temperature screening.
They used handheld thermometers.
Everyone also has to pass through security which is very different! They no longer go through your bags. You walk through a metal detector with your bag on you.
These signs on the ground are EVERYWHERE! Spaced 6 feet apart! Every ride, every kiosk, every store check out, EVERYWHERE!
Up next are attraction queues. The above signs are all along the ground/floor. Also, they are not using every seat/row! This is Journey Into Imagination with Figment. They did only one row per car. This was the same for Pirates, Mine Train and Small World as well.
You know the fun area once you exit the Figment ride? It’s CLOSED! It was so quiet. Normally it’s chaotic with people everywhere. We found this to be a trend for every interactive attraction. (At the end of Spaceship Earth, all activities closed. Pretty much any interactive piece at any attraction is inaccessible.)
This is the queue for Living with the Land. Barriers are up between the rows of the queue.
On the boats, you can see the dividers up between seats. They also were not seating every row on this ride, but there was no line so they were spacing us out.
Here you can see Soarin’.
These signs are all around the popular photo taking areas. There are also cast members carrying handheld signs that say this same thing. They were approaching people who were removing masks for pictures.
Moving onto dining now…
This is Coral Reef Restaurant, which is a table service location. Everything is one way in, one way out. Every dining location, shopping location, etc. Doors are specifically marked ENTER or EXIT only. They have limited indoor seating and are not using every table. If you want a table service meal, it’s very important that you have a reservation! I saw them turning people away if they didn’t have a reservation.
Another very important note, all quick service locations are MOBILE ORDER ONLY! This includes resorts and parks. Even if you only want a muffin or an orange juice. It’s all on the My Disney Experience app, or you scan a bar code located at the location.
There is no grab and go section that is self-serve at the moment. Drinks are not self-serve either. Once you scan the QR code, it takes you right to the menu for the dining location. Here you choose your pick up time. You do not have to be AT the location to order. You can be in your room, somewhere around the resort, in a ride line, etc.
After that, the menu will pop up and you can scroll through and click on what you would like. You pay right through the app with either you credit card on file or you can add a different card.
Once you arrive at the location you can click that you are here and they will begin preparing your food. Just a note…we found that it took a good 10 minutes or longer for the food to be ready once we clicked we are here. So we began clicking it as we were walking on our way before we got there. Once the food is ready for pick up, the notification changes and it tells you what number table to go to to pick it up. They have multiple stations so people aren’t picking up at the same station at the same time. They are marked with big numbers on the floor.
After you pick up your food, if you ordered a drink, you move to a different station, and someone will get it for you. This is the Contempo Cafe drink station area:
The food is served in bags that are sealed, and packaging that is sealed. I removed my sticker before I remembered to take a picture!
Next up is the resorts. This was in our Villa at Bay Lake Tower.
You will notice that they are back to individual serving sizes of the toiletry items.
The remotes are packaged in plastic stating that they have been sanitized.
One last picture I took was at the monorail located inside the Contemporary Resort.
We did have our temperature screening and security done here on our way to the Magic Kingdom. This allowed us to bypass those things at the Magic Kingdom.
Overall, we felt very safe during our entire stay. There are hand sanitizer stations everywhere for use at your discretion. No one is spraying it on you. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone was complying with the mask mandate and social distancing. The only time you could remove your mask was if you were stationary off to the side eating or drinking. If a cast member saw someone walking and eating or drinking, they did remind them of the rule.
Capacity at the moment is maybe 1/4 of what it is normally. So there were so many less people. Many of the ride queues went way out onto the walkways. Adding to capacity will definitely affect this. What seems like a crowded area really isn’t, because the line is continuously moving. It will be interesting to see what happens once they expand the capacity!