Disney World – Social Distancing Edition

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I am 26 years old and the first time I’ve ever ventured to Walt Disney World was during a global pandemic. This experience is something we’ll someday hear about in the history books. If there’s anything the average dad fears, it’s their wife dragging them to Disney World with the kids, waiting in hour-long lines, surrounded shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands upon thousands of other patrons. All of those things look a lot different with Disney’s current social distancing strategies.

Although I’ve always lived about four hours from Disney, I never went as a kid. Many people that I grew up with had been at some point in their lives, if not regularly. The obsession never resonated with me, but I’ll say I understand it a little better now. The production that goes into these parks is mind blowing. Walt Disney has spared no expense in regard to detail since day one and I believe that contributes to the lasting success of the Disney Company as a whole. If you know me, you know my passion and appreciation for someone who sees the importance of details.

Here are 5 takeaways from my first visit to Disney – Social Distancing Edition

1. Disney Resorts are Not Worth the Added Expense

Please don’t stop reading here. I know some folks will probably disagree with me on this one. Staying at a Disney Resort is EXPENSIVE and, in my opinion, was not an expense I’d be willing to do again. With social distancing measures in place, there were no added perks of staying on property such as extra magical hours. (My feet didn’t need the extra hours, anyhow!)

I did a comparison look at prices of other hotels in the hour and found out that we could’ve stayed at the Ritz Carlton for LESS per night than we were staying at Disney’s Pop Century Resort (the CHEAPEST option they offer.) On top of the overpriced resort, you’re still required to pay for parking each day at the resort. I also noticed that many of the hotels in the area offer free shuttles to and from the parks. Let me also add that on one occasion, we saw the Marriot Bus come through for pick-ups three times for every one Disney Bus that was coming through.

2. Food Delivery is Your Friend

I think we all know going into this that Disney is overpriced. I wish I would’ve taken the advice to bring in our own drinks because I truly didn’t expect that a vending machine Coca-Cola at our resort would set me back a whole four dollars. With social distancing in place, many of the restaurants were closed temporarily, but we were able to eat at some of the restaurants in the parks.

Overall, I was not overly impressed with the food quality or portions for the prices we were paying. After the first night, we decided to use Grubhub to order food from local restaurants and have it delivered to our resort. Not only did we save a LOT of money, we could make choices based on reviews. The places we ordered from were delicious! It was also nice to bring the food to our rooms and relax after a long, hot day of walking. We will definitely use the Grubhub or Uber Eats route in the future.

If you have the opportunity, Be Our Guest was my favorite dining experience. Try the Gray Stuff, it’s delicious!

3. Social Distancing is Not a Negative Term

Anyone visiting the parks during the Coronavirus Pandemic must acknowledge the risks of virus exposure and abide by social distancing measures including spacing six feet apart from other parties and wearing face coverings that cover your nose, mouth, and chin unless you are eating or drinking while stationary. For the most part, this was a huge plus for anyone visiting and willing to take the risk. Wearing a cloth mask in 90-degree temperatures is just as fun as it sounds, but otherwise, the social distancing measures work in your favor.

First, the parks are only allowing patrons at a limited capacity. So, automatically there are less than usual people in the parks to allow for social distancing. This includes lines spacing out at least six foot between each party, riding the rides with only people from your party, and riding the park transportation with only people from your party and with partitions between parties on busses.

The best part of all, when groups boarded the rides, the lines moved ahead in six-foot increments, making the waiting process move much faster than usual. I’ve got to say, this has spoiled me for any visits in the future that might not have social distancing measures in place!

4. Crowds Seemed to Dissipate After Lunch

I use the word “crowds” loosely. There aren’t lots of people crowded together anywhere that we could see while at the parks. Along with the social distancing guidelines, many of the shows and parades, including fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle, have been temporarily suspended. With that, there’s no incentive to stay in the park until closing unless you just want to. We noticed that wait times were longer in the mornings, with the exception of Frozen which was a long wait no matter the time of day. After learning this, we decided to sleep in a littler later and go into the parks around lunch time each day. We still had more than enough time to make it through every ride in each park. It doesn’t get much better than that!

5. Be Prepared to use the Disney World App

The Disney Word App for iOS and Android is very helpful in many ways. Ride queue times are updated regularly which helps to plan and prepare for what rides you want to enjoy. We were able to unlock our hotel room through the app when our magic bands would not work. Most importantly, all restaurants on site are now requiring that you order from menus within the app to restrict the usage and handling of physical menus which, of course, could spread lots of germs. I believe we will see this evolve to be the new normal as time goes on. Overall, the app is added value to the experience, making planning and exploring seamless and simplified.

Within the app, you are also able to access photos taken on the rides, account statements, and even play games on your device while you are waiting in lines.

A few other helpful tips if you’re a newbie, like me!

  • Wear crocs. Even my broken-in tennis shoes gave me blisters! We walked around five miles each day.
  • Take ponchos. It rained stormed on us every day!
  • Buy neck fans. My friend took these and I was so jealous.
  • Ask for free water. Anywhere that serves fountain drinks will give you free ice-cold water. Stay hydrated and refreshed!

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Disney World – Social Distancing Edition

I'm a South Georgia girl making strides in the world with big dreams and a heart to serve others!  I'm the champion of planning, organization, and being a perfectionist (hello, type one ennegram.) I'm really glad you're here!

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