This the continued two-part blog post series, focusing on the modifications to existing procedures that were implemented upon the phased re-opening at Walt Disney World.
Recap: My family and I, after careful consideration and research, made the decision to visit Walt Disney World. We observed many changes since our last visit in March. We frequently reviewed the information that Disney provides and frequently updates in the Know Before You Go and theme park updates page. We also received frequent communications via email and My Disney Experience app notifications about the safety measures and policies.
Parking Changes We Observed When We Visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This was the only park we chose to drive vs. taking the bus from our resort. There were signs as we approached the auto plaza recommending cashless payment. To aid in physical distancing guidelines, we noted that parking was every other space. It allowed us to exit our vehicle without having to worry or wait for the guests next to us to be able to safely maintain physical distancing guidelines. Parking trams are currently not operating.
Less Contact Security Bag Check.
Walt Disney World is currently enhancing their security measures. Prior to entering any of the theme parks, guests are required to go through the security checkpoint. We did have different experiences, depending on the technology available. We were required at some locations to remove specific items (metal water bottles, cameras, umbrellas, portable chargers, and large electronics). These items are placed in either a clear bag or a bin. In other locations, we did not have to remove any items from our bag. In all instances, we were required to walk through an additional screening device. Should you have a specific contraindication, speak to the security Cast member. If an additional inspection is required, the security team will have you remove the items from your bag instead of them manually inspecting your bag.
PhotoPass Photographers are Available.
Many locations offer Magic Shots, where special images or animations will be added. Guests will find those additions when you view the images on your My Disney Experience. We observed that the photographers were not available until approximately one hour after park opening. We noted they were also available in locations away from the main entry point for the park. However, as the day progressed, if you were wanting a classic photo on Mainstreet or Hollywood Boulevard, you were able to complete that iconic photo. As a reminder, the photographers will not handle Guests’ personal devices. Also, facial coverings must always be worn, including while taking photos.
Character pop-ups are the alternative to the previous character meet and greet and dining experiences.
Do not despair there are still many unique opportunities. There are frequent character cavalcades that randomly occur, with each park offering unique character appearances. Anastasia and Drizella have been spotted on the balcony overlooking Fantasyland. Winnie the Pooh has been seen searching for butterflies near the imagination pavilion in Epcot. Disney Junior characters and many of the Pixar Pals can be seen cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in their custom cars. In Animal Kingdom, the characters will be seen on boats gliding through the waterways.
Quick Service Dining options are available at the theme parks, Resorts, and Disney Springs.
The Disney Dining plan is currently on hold. The refillable resort mugs are still available for purchase. However, there is a Cast Member who will assist you with the refill. They will provide your beverage in a disposable paper cup. Dining options are limited at both the theme parks and resorts and be sure to read the ‘Know Before You Go’ to learn what is currently available as the options may change. Within the My Disney Experience app, the available options for mobile orders are listed, there is also a QR code that you may scan with your phone located outside as well. There are allergy options, but if you need an accommodation that is not available through the app, you can request to speak to a chef to assist with your order. After placing your mobile order, you will not be allowed to enter the dining location until you receive the message your order is ready. You will also receive the message of what pick up location your order will be ready at.
Table Service Dining options are available at the theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs.
As previously mentioned, the Disney Dining Plan is currently on hold. You will complete a mobile check-in when you arrive. Guests can check in from your My Disney Experience app or there is also a QR code located on a sign outside each location. Once your table is ready, you will receive a text and additional information about where to go to be seated. Once you are seated, you may remove your face covering, however, if you get up from the table, you must put your face covering back on. Once seated, another QR code is provided that will take you to the menu. You do not need a special app to use the QR codes, only your camera on your mobile device.
Parades and Fireworks/evening shows at the theme parks are temporarily on hold, but there are still the frequent character cavalcades. We were excited to find that Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After was playing on a continual loop on our in-room TV. Of course, it is not the same as experiencing it in the park, but we noticed so many details that were a part of the projections on Cinderella’s Castle that we had never noticed when viewing it in person!
• Magical Express complimentary transportation is available from/to the Orlando (MCO) airport. Luggage pick-up service is not available at this time. Guests will need to retrieve their own luggage and take it to the bus. There is luggage assistance upon arrival at the resort. Guests will need to bring their luggage with them on the return trip as well, as airline and luggage check service at the resort is currently unavailable.
• Bus transportation has been modified to ensure physical distancing. Partitions were added to separate parties and are identifying available seats by section numbers. The bus driver will instruct you, based on your party size, what section to be seated. Based on the assigned seating section, guests may be instructed to board the bus from either the back or the front entrance. The bus has an area near that back on the roof that is open to help promote ventilation. We also had instances where the bus driver instructed that we needed to while the ventilation of the bus was occurring.
• Monorail transportation is available for the Magic Kingdom resorts and from the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC). However, the monorail from Epcot to the TTC is not currently available. When we rode the monorail, we noted there was a partition separating the two sections of each monorail car. Only one family/party per section was permitted.
• Water Taxi/Boat transportation from Magic Kingdom resorts is available, as well as the Ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom. However, the Friendship boats are not operating from Epcot to Hollywood Studios or within Epcot.
• Disney’s Skyliner is operating and provides incredible aerial views. To assist with maintaining physical distancing, we were informed that they would only place one party per gondola. These modifications were implemented to promote safety for both the guest and Cast members. Be sure to read part 1 of this blog that will focus on the implementation of new processes and policies that began upon the phased re-opening.
Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist is here to help you plan your next vacation!