*This blog post was written as a collaboration between myself and my friend/business partner, Keri, who also has two toddlers!*
Let’s just get this out there.. 2020 has been WEIRDDDDD and we are ALL way overdue for some magic. More specifically, THE magic of one place and one place only – DISNEY WORLD. While we were, of course, hesitant to plan this trip, it is 100% what we all needed. We needed to see our kids so happy after 8 long months living in a quarantine bubble and that made any potential risk all worth it. The not having to cook or plan “covid safe” activities for a few days didn’t suck either!
We know that these times are strange and you probably have a lot of travel-related questions so we’ve complied a list of new Disney protocols you need to be aware of and some of our personal tips when planning a trip anytime soon (we’re told things will probably stay the way they are now well into 2021).
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
-Prep your kids ahead of time about wearing their masks! Disney cast members are very strict about the mask wearing policy, even for toddlers, and will ask you to pull it up/put it on for anyone over 2.
-It’s also a good idea to prep your kiddos about using their “patience.” Lines ARE longer during these crazy times and kids, in our experience, do better with these types of scenarios when they know what to expect.
-The parks are limiting guests to 25% capacity. What does this mean for a future Disney trip? Well, in order to keep track and max out the parks capacity, after purchasing your park tickets, you will be required to MAKE A PARK RESERVATION to gain entry into the parks. This means you MUST decide which parks you will visit on each day of your trip. Disney has set aside a limited number of Park Pass reservations for three separate groups: 1. guests with Disney Resort hotel reservations, 2. guests with theme park tickets, and 3. annual passholders. Park reservations can currently be made into 2021. So, if you purchase tickets, but not a hotel rez, it is likely that you will see parks start to sell out. However, if you add a hotel rez linked to your ticket, more reservations MAY show up. Like we said, 2020 is weird AF.(note: annual pass holders WITHOUT hotel reservations are limited to 3 park reservations at a time!)
Honestly, we felt safer at Disney (and the hotels) than we do on a daily basis at Target or the grocery store. Here’s why:
-Temps are taken before entry to every park AND Disney Springs
-Disney has eliminated the use of the “finger print” entry system. No more touching the gross finger pad to enter the park (can this feature stay forever?).
-Guests over the age of 2 MUST wear a mask (with no vents and must be at least 2 layers thick) AT ALL TIMES. They were very strict about this, and the cast members are enforcing the proper use of the masks like crazy (i.e pulling it up over your nose). In order to eat or drink you must be stationary. No more sippin’ and strollin’, ugh.
-Physical distancing is also strictly enforced in line for rides as well as other common areas in the parks. Standby lines have taken over the fast pass lines (more on this later) in order to maintain distance while in the queues. There are markings on the floor every 6 feet and some queues have plexiglass separators between rows.
– All quick service restaurants were MOBILE ORDER ONLY. Meaning you have to place your order through the “My Disney Experience” app and choose a pick up time. Honestly, this didn’t suck too bad as long as you know and plan ahead – PLAN AHEAD!
-Most sit down restaurants are not currently in service.
-Hand sanitizer/hand washing stations were EXTREMELY present. At every single ride entrance and exit, you’ll find a sanitizer station (and not once did we encounter an empty one) and randomly throughout the park they have added mobile hand washing stations.
-Rides get shut down every 20-30 mins or so for full sanitizing
-Rides/shows are capped to allow only a limited amount of guests in at a time, and all rides are one family/group per boat/car/train.
-Hotels have suspended room service, and maid service is by request only.
-Most of our fave shows are not running. Parades and nightly fireworks are also cancelled for the foreseeable future.
-Character meet and greets are also suspended. We left our autograph books at home for this one.
–No fast passes are being issued at this time. As mentioned, the fast pass lanes for each ride/experience are being used for physical distancing. That being said, almost all of the lines were very doable, even with 3 toddlers (and 2 husbands).
-Annual passes are NOT currently being sold. The only people who can get an annual pass right now are new 3 year olds whose family members currently have annual passes. Current passholders CAN renew their passes for next year, however.
-In most cases, the lines are much shorter than they appear, or even from the times that are posted. It’s very hard to gauge the actual wait time bc of physical distancing. The longest lines we waited on were in Hollywood Studios (which was by far the busiest park). Slinky dog dash we waited 60 mins (posted time was 90 mins) and the New Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway we waited 45 mins (posted time was 105 mins). It really doesn’t feel long and lines keep moving!
-The Disney magic was still VERY much there.
TIPS/TRICKS FROM A TON OF EXPERIENCE:
-Download the “My Disney Experience” app and LEARN HOW TO USE IT BEFORE YOUR TRIP. Now, more then ever, this contactless app is super useful and important.
Bring (multiple) mask chains! They are life savers for the times when you are stationary and eating/drinking so you don’t put your/your kids masks down on a gross germy surface. You can order one here from @bippityboppitybeads, our company, and we even do Disney-themed chains.
-Disposable masks are really the way to go. As cute as some of our fabric masks are, the sweat, steam and lack of oxygen is real. We all probably traded out our masks at least 3x throughout the day when they got sweaty.
*Check out these cuties we found on Amazon and were a BIG hit – and fit both of us AND the kids perfectly.
-Bring 10 million of your own water bottles. Florida heat + masks = major dehydration. Drink and drink often, and don’t pay $6/water bottle in the parks.
-Bring the usual snacks, disposable place mats, and even paper potty liners (although I’ve honestly never seen a public bathroom more clean in my life).
-Even if your kids don’t use a stroller at home, we definitely recommend a stroller for kids age 7 and under. Also doubles as a shopping/snack cart, LOL.
-For those of you who have stubborn vacation sleepers (like we do) make sure you pack their things from home to make them feel comfortable – sheets, sound machine, lovies etc. Anika even brings a kid’s melatonin supplement – but always check with your pediatrician before using on your own!
-Very few places, if any, accept cash within the park. Make sure you bring credit cards or link monies to your MDE account (although that can be dangerous for big shoppers ;).
-Make a ROUGH list of plans and “must do’s and eats” for your family/group, but do not have high expectations on accomplishing it all. Go with the flow, and just be grateful to be back at the happiest place on earth!
We really did have an amazing trip and already can’t wait to go back. YES, Disney is DIFFERENT right now and YES, some things can be frustrating – BUT, the magic is still there and our kids had the best time. Do you have any Disney tips? Let us know below!