You want to visit Disney World during COVID but you’re not sure what to expect when it comes to COVID protocols. I recently visited both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and can give you all the details!
It’s true. Things have changed this year. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. Disney’s response to COVID and their accommodations for guests are impressive. Spending time at “The Most Magical Place on Earth” felt safe, AND I laughed more than I have this entire year!
I visited the parks with my sister and some girlfriends, so I didn’t have my kids with me. However, we saw plenty of families with kids, wearing their masks, and having a wonderful time!
Buying Disney World Tickets During Covid
Good news! The price for Walt Disney World tickets went down at the start of 2021. And if you know me, I’m all about saving money at Disney, so I get excited over simple things like price drops.
Purchase your tickets through the app, on location, from their website, or from an authorized dealer (like your hotel).
I purchased my tickets through the app (My Disney Experience) because it’s convenient and fast.
Reservations Are Required at Disney During COVID
Walt Disney World is currently operating at a reduced capacity (yay, smaller crowds) and requires that all guests make a park reservation in addition to purchasing a ticket.
Before you purchase your ticket, check the reservation availability for the parks you want to visit on the days you want to visit. Once you’ve confirmed there’s availability, go ahead and purchase your ticket.
Immediately after securing your ticket(s), confirm your park reservations using the app (or online).
Reservations are free and should be made as soon as possible. You can change your reservation to a different park at a later time if there’s availability.
Entering the Park
Typically, we like to arrive at the parks early in time for rope drop. However, due to COVID, Disney is trying to minimize crowds of people in small areas, so there is no rope drop.
Both mornings, we arrived at the park 30-45 minutes before opening and were able to park and get into the park immediately.
Temperature Checks by Disney Medics
As you approach the turnstiles, medics dressed in blue and armed with a forehead thermometer take each guest’s temperature.
Security Screening at Disney
Once it’s confirmed that your temperature is normal (they are fast–Disney is efficient), proceed through a metal detector. Guests do not remove backpacks, cell phones, or any other items. There are no bag checks (unless there is cause for concern). Simply walk through the detector. That’s it!
All Guests Must Wear Masks at Disney World, No Exceptions
Disney asks guests to wear masks at ALL times. They have signs stating that if guests refuse to comply, they will be asked to leave. They also make regular announcements over the loudspeaker, reminding guests to comply.
Everyone did an amazing job of abiding by this request. I only heard one cast member ask a guest to pull up their mask.
Remove your masks in relaxation areas (designated social distanced sitting areas) or while eating and drinking. The only caveat is that you have to be stationary while eating or drinking, and guests should refrain from eating and drinking while in line.
Reduced capacity during COVID makes for smaller crowds
Food Options at Disney Parks During COVID
Food options are limited while the COVID precautions are in place. But never fear! You won’t go hungry!
Not all restaurants are open, and for those that are, not all menu items are available. You can preview menus for all restaurants using the My Disney Experience app.
Mobile Ordering is the Way to Go
Even before COVID, mobile ordering was my preferred way to order food at Disney. To limit contact, mobile ordering is strongly encouraged at quick-service restaurants in the parks.
Effective this year, guests are no longer limited to using a credit card to make their purchase in the app. Instead, guests can now use Disney gift cards or Apple Pay in the app.
Food Condiment Bars
Food places with condiment bars have closed the condiment bars, understandably. Instead, condiments are served on the side.
I ordered the nachos from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe. On the side, I received sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa. If you want or need additional condiments, just ask a cast member. Disney is generous!
Currently, there is both indoor and outdoor seating. Disney spaces further apart and promptly cleans them when guests depart.
Waiting for some gluten-free churros from Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom (amazing!)
Social Distancing in Attraction and Ride Lines
Disney has put a tremendous amount of planning and work into helping guests social distance while in line for rides and attractions. Lines are well marked and spaced 8-10 feet apart. Having this extra space beyond six feet allows all members of a party to stand together in line without crowding other guests.
Because of the distance between each party, attraction lines can appear very long. However, the lines move quickly. We also found at Animal Kingdom that the ride wait times were significantly shorter than the app estimated.
Examples of Line and Ride Modifications at Disney World
Disney installed plexiglass in some lines in areas where it’s too narrow to properly distance. Also, on some rides, like Kilimanjaro Safari, they installed clear dividers between each row so more guests can be accommodated more efficiently.
Some attractions have been modified to be more COVID-friendly (or unfriendly). Disney is doing their best to make sure every guest visiting Disney World during COVID has a safe and efficient experience.
Haunted Mansions Ride Modifications for COVID
Guests walk through the Haunted Mansion stretching room straight to the Doom Buggies. While the stretching room portion of the attraction is a fan-favorite, It just doesn’t make sense to crowd 50 people into a small space. Nor does it make sense to only allow a handful of people in the room at a time, as this would significantly increase wait times for the attraction.
Pandora Flight of Passage and Other Ride Modifications for COVID
Ride modifications for other attractions are more subtle. For example, during Flight of Passage, you typically stand on your dot in the debriefing room. Instead of everyone standing on their dot, their have you stand with your group.
Any items that could normally be touched, like the jewels in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction, are roped off and have signs declaring them off-limits for now.
No Character Meet and Greets During COVID
As expected, there are no character meet and greets at this time, but Disney does a great job at both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. As I entered Magic Kingdom in the morning, at least eight characters were waving to guests right as we walked in…from a distance. Seeing favorites like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Mary Poppins, Tigger, and more, immediately upon entry, is magical.
Instead of a Parade, Magic Kingdom Has Cavalcades
Magic Kingdom also has cavalcades (basically miniature parades) that start by Splash Mountain, go through Frontierland, past Liberty Square, in front of Cinderella Castle, and down Main Street, exiting near City Hall. The cavalcades run regularly throughout the day, almost every 15-30 minutes in the afternoon.
Animal Kingdom Has Characters on Flotillas
Animal Kingdom has flotillas (decorated motorboats) with characters cruising on the water throughout the park. If you hang out on a bridge or the water’s edge, you’ll see them floating along the Discovery River throughout the day.
Visiting Gift Shops
One area that appeared to be a challenge for social distancing was the gift shops, particularly at closing time. Cast members monitor entrance and exit doors.
There’s typically one entrance door with a socially distant line of guests waiting to enter. While the lines can be long, they move rather quickly. I was a little surprised by how many guests they allowed inside at one time, although I’m sure it was consistent with local recommendations.
Cast members make sure everyone adheres to social distancing in the check-out line, as well as making sure guests stand behind the plexiglass when speaking with the cashier.
Visiting Disney World During COVID Feels Safe
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect while visiting Disney World during COVID, but I felt safer at Disney World than I did at the grocery store. Disney has done a phenomenal job of limiting crowds and organizing the parks to meet COVID safety standards.
Are you planning to visit the parks soon? Do you have any questions about COVID safety protocols within the parks? Drop them below! I’d love to hear from you!