Walt Disney World Theme Parks During COVID-19

Updated September 16, 2020

On July 10, 2020, I traveled to Orlando, Florida to share all about the reopening of Walt Disney World.

It was a trip like no other. A few weeks after landing back in San Diego, I’m still processing it all.

I documented as much as possible to share with you so that you can see exactly what the parks look like right now.

Let’s get started.

Basic Info

My trip included 6 nights at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Brooklyn from Get Away Today books all my travel to Walt Disney World and is a wealth of information. I recommend using a trusted agent now more than ever, as there is so much to know for your visit. To book at the lowest rates with the best service, start here.

I share all about how resorts are performing during COVID in this post.

I flew from San Diego International to Orlando International. Both flights included layovers. This link details what air travel looks like right now.

Some general notes on the parks:

  • Disney shares details on new rules and expectations here, including temperature scans and other new protocols in place to keep guests safe.
  • Park hopping is not allowed.
  • A park pass reservation is needed for you to visit a park each day. This link details how the system works.
  • FastPasses are not in use. Scroll down for how I recommend you tackle attractions.
  • Park hours are shortened for Fall 2020.

I visited parks 5 days, allowing one day of rest at my resort. On that day, I tested out several masks to see what works best in the heat. Find my results here.

Attractions

Attractions, for the most part, include low low wait times.

Just like any other visit, arrive early each day and focus on attractions. At each park, head toward those you would have chosen your first FastPasses for.

Spend the first part of your day enjoying rides, break for lunch, and then resume rides and/or wander the parks.

With limited hours, I don’t recommend breaking at your hotel as usual.

A few notes on attractions:

  • FastPasses are not in use right now.
  • A virtual queue is available for Rise of the Resistance inside Hollywood Studios. It typically opens twice or three times a day. Check the free Walt Disney World app for more info if you’re wanting to grab a spot for this attraction. It will note the times you may try each day. Absolutely be ready each time the queue opens.
  • Masks are required on all attractions. Keep your mask on at all times.
  • If you remove your mask for a photo on an attraction, Disney will not post it. Ride photos are taking longer than what you’re used to for processing, as Disney is looking for guests without masks. Be patient if it takes a few days for your photo to show up.
  • Rider Swap is being used on attractions. The FastPass lane is designated for swaps with MagicBands. Find eligible attractions and more info on Rider Swap here.

With park hours ending your days earlier than usual, I recommend this plan to get the most out of each visit:

  1. Arrive 30 minutes early with breakfast already eaten.
  2. Focus on popular attractions first, filling your morning with getting as much done as possible.
  3. Break for lunch. (Have a reservation made so you can dine indoors, cool off, take a break from your mask, etc.)
  4. Resume conquering attractions.
  5. Wander the parks after you complete all rides, repeating factories or just taking in the ambiance and entertainment.
  6. Head to Disney Springs for dinner.

Dining

Dining at table service restaurants includes the following changes:

  • Online check-in is required. (This is easy to do on the free Walt Disney World app.)
  • Tables are distanced at least six feet apart from each other.
  • Cast members wear masks at all times.
  • Guests wear masks unless seated.
  • Menus are abbreviated and most often accessed via a QR code.

Dining at counter service restaurants includes mobile ordering. This, too, is accessible via the Walt Disney World app.

Notes on dining:

  • I highly recommend at least one dining reservation per day to give you a break from the heat and to allow you to take off your mask for a bit.
  • There is currently one character meal option. Find it at the Land Pavilion in Epcot. It’s called Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast. They have taken the original meal and modified it to work with distancing right now. I share about the meal in general here. Find lots of photos from my experience at the modified meal in July here.
  • Please keep your mask on at all times unless you are seated. This is easy to forget at times…especially for a quick trip to the restroom….but it’s important.
  • Please, please, please tip well. Cast members in this field need our support now more than ever.

Relaxation Stations

Relaxation Stations are available in each park and are free and open to all guests. These allow guests to sit down, sometimes in air conditioning, and take off their masks.

Restrooms, hand sanitizer machines, etc, are located inside or near each.

Cast members are on site to help with any questions.

Find these here…..

Magic Kingdom

  • Tomorrowland Terrace
  • Refreshment Outpost – between Frontierland and Adventureland
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow – Storybook Circus

Epcot

  • Askershus Dining Hall – Norway, World Showcase
  • UK Pavilion – near Rose & Crown
  • Future World – near Mission Space and Test Track

Hollywood Studios

  • Galaxy’s Edge
  • Star Wars Launch Bay

Animal Kingdom

  • Upcountry Landing – Asia
  • Pizzafari – Discovery Island

Entertainment

Entertainment is sporadic to discourage guests from gathering. It’s present in each park and is done in such a clever way. I was impressed!

Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot all include “cavalcades” with favorite characters and often accompanying music. Animal Kingdom includes boats floating by with characters waving.

During my visit, I was in parks 5 days out of 7 days and saw entertainment each time with no effort at all.

This is really the only place you may see a cast member without a mask on during your entire visit. Some of the performers who are well beyond 6 feet from guests do not wear masks.

This link shares soooo many photos and videos of entertainment from my visit in July.

Transportation

Transportation works similarly to what you already know. Cast members advise on changes – if any – at each option.

A few notes:

  • Buses and monorails are sectioned off with partitions to keep guests distanced.
  • Skyliner cars include only one party per car.
  • With shorter hours at the parks and Disney Springs, all transportation options will end their routes earlier than normal. Check to be sure your options sync with your plans.

What I Don’t Think is Worth the Expense Right Now

  • Any photo package upgrade.
  • Since masks must stay on at all times – even during magic shots and on attractions – I personally wouldn’t invest in photography right now.
  • But! Cast members are not permitted to use your phone like the olden days. So, if you don’t mind the masks, you might consider paying for photography if selfies aren’t your style.
  • Additional Resources

    • For info on what a resort stay on Disney property looks like right now, visit this post.
    • While in Orlando, I tested out several mask varieties and share my results here.
    • To see what flying is like right now, click here.
    • For general information on all Disney Parks – including Disneyland – during Quarantine, check out this post.
    • To book Walt Disney World with the best possible discounts, concierge service and expert advice, contact the only agency I recommend here.

    More Info

    • Cast members are not allowed to handle phones for guests, so rely on selfies for photos.
    • Please take a moment to thank a cast member if he or she goes above and beyond during your visit. They’re working so hard right now and need our support. This post details how to do this.
    • Have a question? Leave me a comment. If I don’t have the information, I’ll find out who does.
    Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation

    6 COMMENTS

    1. I was wondering if hotels still hold luggage upon arrival? I am planning a trip, and trying to figure out flights. If I get in early in the morning, this could make a big difference.
      Thank you so much for your help.

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