DISNEY WORLD AFTER COVID: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
I LOVE DISNEY WORLD! I just get completely swept up in the fun, the magic, and even the rides! Call me childish, immature, or naïve, but I truly enjoy Disney movies, characters, and the PARKS! But, what do you need to know about Disney right now after Covid?
BUT, TO KNOW ABOUT DISNEY WORLD RIGHT NOW, READ ON!
I LOVE DISNEY WORLD EVEN AFTER COVID
Ask anyone, I have long loved Disney World. I even talked my husband into going to Disney World on our honeymoon…many years ago!
Now that we have kids, I have at least 3 more excuses to go to the parks. While I would go once, maybe twice, a year, my husband would prefer to avoid the parks entirely!
However, I am nothing if not persistent. Add to that the fact that I am a Disney research-aholic, regularly checking blogs, press releases, newest attractions, plans, and even availability for accommodations.
It seems selfish to keep all this research to myself, so I thought that I would share some of my new research and experiences here with you!
Our family had the pleasure of spending part of a recent family vacation at Disney World, and while Disney is still the most magical place on Earth, I can readily admit that Disney post-Covid is not the same.
Now, hopefully Disney will return to normal soon. Hopefully we will spend many more carefree days at the parks and on the grounds. But, for now, I wanted to give you some of the warnings about a post-Covid Disney that you might not know.
(THESE ARE UPDATED AS OF NOVEMBER 2021)
1. Masks ARE STILL REQUIRED:
Despite a loosening in mask restrictions at Disney, masks are still required. So, don’t forget it, or you will have the pleasure of spending $15.00 for a mask at the park. Or, as we found, you might not be able to find one at all!
Masks are still required for all visitors . This applies to children 2 and up.
Considering the small number of children who are vaccinated or will even be vaccinated, this means that most children have to wear a mask. Masks for children will still be required upon entering Disney and throughout the park except in outdoor common areas or pool decks.
Visitors who are fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks in Disney transportation including buses, monorail, Disney Skyliner, and all transportation entrances.
Any visitor who is not fully vaccinated is required to wear a mask at all indoor, dining, transportation, or other attractions. Disney will not require proof of vaccination, but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
WARNING ABOUT MASKS AT DISNEY AFTER COVID
*Gaiters and other face coverings that do not have 2 layers will not be acceptable. Visitors who arrive wearing a gaiter, a bandana, a balaclava, or other similar face covering will be asked to change his/her face covering or purchase a mask.
Given the number of children who are not vaccinated and may not become vaccinated, I anticipate that this requirement may change in the near future. I am not sure that I would ever feel comfortable asking my children to wear a mask in the scorching heat while I sipped my iced coffee unmasked.
Disney has changed its mask policy many times. So, be sure to check the My Disney Experience app regularly for updates or here.
2. ALL QUICK SERVICE FOOD IS MOBILE ORDER
Hungry for a snack? Hoping to grab a quick hot dog, waffle sandwich, or other delicious Disney quick bite to eat? Well…forget about it.
No more walking up to the window, waiting in line, and receiving your food.
In an effort to maintain social distancing, all quick service food is now MOBILE ORDER ONLY. Any quick service restaurant that has mobile ordering will not allow you to walk up to the window unless your order is ready.
The worst part about this is that you have to know where you want to go before you even mobile order. If you haven’t spent hours poring over the menus and available quick service dining like me, then you might be in trouble. You are likely to simply want to walk up to the nearest food vendor.
When we tried to do that around lunchtime, the soonest quick service mobile order availability was more than 75 minutes later. Thus, we had to find a quick service restaurant that had immediate ordering availabity. Then, we had to mobile order, walk to the location, and wait for an alert before we could get in line.
Only then could we actually enter the restaurant and wait for our food. We were frustrated to say the least.
In our experience, mobile order dining was the worst part of our day even with 100 degree heat and masks.
DISNEY AFTER COVID MIGHT TAKE MOBILE ORDERING TOO FAR
We even witnessed a woman trying to nurse her baby ask if she could simply sit in the roped off dining area before her food was ready. She was turned away and told she could come back after she had mobile ordered and received a notice that her food was ready.
They are taking this one very seriously; maybe too far. This is a place for families…
*However, if you are in dire need of a quick cold drink, Mickey Mouse ice cream, popcorn or other kiosk foods, you don’t have to mobile order.
You can still walk up to a kiosk and receive your items. You are unlikely to find any real food or even seats around kiosks, but you could at least get a quick bite or drink.
And, if you are hoping to get a reservation at a restaurant, then book EARLY. Many dining locations are still closed completely. So, reservations are limited, first come first serve, and socially distanced. Fewer restaurants, fewer tables, and higher demand mean that you need to get on My Disney Experience as quickly as possible to make your reservations before your trip.
3. BOARDING PASSES: EXIT RISE OF THE RESISTANCE; ENTER REMY’S RATATOUILLE ADVENTURE
If you plan to spend any time in Hollywood Studios, my son’s favorite park, you need to dedicate the majority of your day to visiting Batuu at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
RISE OF THE RESISTANCE is the newest attraction at Galaxy’s Edge, and it DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! A fun, interactive, and intense role play attraction and ride, you will want to make sure that you leave your Rebellion apparel at home!
I hope that you get the chance to ride Rise of the Resistance. Although until recently the ride was by Boarding Groups only, now you must join the line like any other ride. So, be sure to check out Genie and Genie+ for best ride tips for your day.
REMY’S RATATOUILLE ADVENTURE
Epcot’s newest attraction is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This new ride is accessible by Boarding Group only!
How do I get a boarding group?
Well…through the My Disney Experience App of course!
You cannot make a reservation, fast pass, or even simply wait in line. Right now THE ONLY WAY TO RIDE REMY’S RATATOUILLE ADVENTURE is with a boarding group. Login immediately at 7:00 a.m. or at 1:00 p.m. after you have entered the park to enter the lottery for a boarding pass.
HOW TO GET A BOARDING PASS
To get a boarding group, you will have to check boarding group times for your designated Epcot park day. You will need both a ticket and a park reservation to be qualified to compete for a day-of boarding group.
There are 2 times on the same day when you can compete for a boarding group.
Thousands of people are all competing to get onto Remy’s new ride. So, anyone who is unable to win a boarding group during the 7:00am virtual queue is competing for a spot in the 1:00 p.m. virtual queue.
Be advised that the virtual queue fills within seconds, so you must be on the App prior to the designated time to get a spot.
Our group had 4 people all trying to get a boarding group for our party, and only 1 person successfully landed a boarding group. Even when you get a boarding group (a set time to get in line), you must still wait in the line and go through the preliminary role playing.
Someday Remy’s Adventure will be another line to wait in, but for now, the social distancing problems and demand for the ride are so high that the virtual queue is the ONLY way to go.
4. THERE ARE NO FASTPASSES
With all the hype around boarding groups, you might have missed the dismissal of Fastpasses and the hailing of Genie and Genie+.
I am among those sad to see the Fastpasses go. One of the great things about being a Disney research-aholic is that I can plan my family’s entire trip and our daily itineraries 6 months in advance with Fastpasses.
And, while my family might tease me about the time I spend reading Disney blogs (like this one), they don’t complain when I have curated their day so that they never have to wait more than 15 minutes in any line.
However, due to Covid, decreased park capacity, great efforts to keep visitors socially distanced, and other decisions, there are currently no Fastpasses. Sad face.
Fastpasses have now been replaced by Genie and Genie+. Genie, a free service, offers tips and best hacks for your day based on your interests, your reservations, and the crowds.
Genie+ on the other hand allows you to purchase Lightning Lane and skip ride wait times on a pay-per-ride basis. You can also purchase a total Lightning Lane package and skip all the lines.
At this time, Lighting Lane feels like yet another way for Disney to squeeze more money out of park-goers and punish families, but I will keep an open mind until I see more information!
THERE ARE NO FIREWORKS FIREWORKS ARE BACK
For months, the sad reality of visiting Disney park was that there were no fireworks. If you are a rope-drop to closing Disney goer like me, then the icing on a long hot day, are the DISNEY FIREWORKS.
As you probably know, people set up shop HOURS before the fireworks to get a good view. Then, they pack in like sardines to watch them soar!
This means…there is no way to socially distance during the fireworks.
This is even more true under Disney’s 50th Anniversary fireworks. The new fireworks show has all the pomp you would expect set against the guilded castle and new music, animations, and revelrie.
6. PARK HOPPING IS LIMITED
Up until recently, no park hopping was allowed. To enter Disney World right now, you need both a ticket and a park reservation.
Even if you purchase a ticket, you must also reserve your park reservation in advance. To access the availability calendar, click here.
Now, you can still purchase a park hopping ticket, but you are restricted to park hopping hours for your particular park, and you are restricted to the number of parks you can visit.
This means that, conceivably, Magic Kingdom could be sold out of reservations, you could purchase an Epcot ticket, and then you could park hop to Magic Kingdom during the pre-determined hours if any.
Again, these hours are not consistent on times or parks, so YOU MUST CHECK the MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP TO DOUBLE CHECK WHEN AND WHETHER PARK HOPPING IS AVAILABLE.
7. ACCOMODATIONS ARE LIMITED
Finally, due to the phased reopening of the park, you will find that many attractions, shows, restaurants, and even accommodations are limited.
Some of our favorite places to stay and favorite activities are still closed.
For example, one of the highlights or our pre-Covid Hollywood Studios trip was JEDI TRAINING; however, for the time being, it is closed.
Further, some of the resorts or resort services—value, moderate, and deluxe –are still closed. What’s more is that even if you are staying at a beloved resort, you might still find that the accommodations and amenities are much more restricted.
DISNEY AFTER COVID IS STILL GREAT!
Despite all of the restrictions and changes, Disney World is still the most magical place on Earth! Pixie dust abounds, and the whole family is sure to have fun so long as you take steps to beat the heat. (If you want to know more mom hacks for taking young children to Disney, click here)
All of the Cast Members have made herculean efforts to clean, sanitize, and socially distance. The park has probably never been cleaner or less crowded!
AND! We are seeing things like socially distancing stickers and masks relaxing. Even better, we are seeing attractions, fireworks, and resorts reopen.
Before we know it, Disney World will be better than ever with its new attractions, updated sanitization efforts, and sleek apps.
FOR MORE DISNEY HACKS CHECK THIS OUT, or check out some of my favorite blogs: