Walt Disney World officially re-opened Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, 2020 and will re-open EPCOT and Hollywood Studios on July 15, 2020. I was lucky enough to get a preview of Magic Kingdom just for Annual Passholders on July 10. Let me say, it was lovely to be back in the magic!
What about safety?
For 49 years, Walt Disney World has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for keeping guests safe. And this is no exception. Here are some highlights:
Extremely limited park capacity
100% face covering compliance
Temperature screenings by Advent Health
Contactless Security Screenings
Hand sanitizer stations before and after each attraction
Strongly encouraging Mobile Ordering for Quick Service dining
Strongly encouraging contactless payments
Table Service menus either QR Code enabled or disposable
Spacing out of guests on attractions and transportation
Plexi between guest wherever they might get close to each other, like in a ride queue.
I had expected Walt Disney World to think of everything and they have not disappointed in that regard. They actually planned for things I would not have thought of, like spacing out cars in the parking lot. They parked every other space to give folks room and then filled the empty spaces with the next set of vehicles. All in all, I give them high marks.
PRO TIP: Allow plenty of time to park your car.
What about the masks?
July in Florida is hot and humid. I have been to the parks before in July and it's just a fact that you will be hot. That being said, I did not feel that the face covering made me more hot and my friend who traveled with me agreed. It's July in Florida, so it is what it is. My advice is the same as always: take breaks in air conditioning, arrive early to avoid the heat of the day, stay hydrated.
There are several "Relaxation Stations" in Magic Kingdom: at Tomorrowland Terrace, in Adventureland and back in Pete's Silly Sideshow. You are able to sit for a little while, spaced far apart from other guests, with your face covering off. These give you a nice break and the one in Pete's Silly Sideshow has the air conditioning cranking (with the doors open).
Other air conditioned spots to cool off: Carousel of Progress, Mickey's Philharmagic, Cosmic Ray's.
What about the experience?
The short answer is, the experience in the parks is different. There are no fireworks or character greetings like we are used to. However, the MAGIC is still in the Magic Kingdom! I had a great day there.
The attractions still have the same immersive, engaging, step-into-the-story feel they always have. And, for those few minutes riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or Seven Dwarves Mine Train, I could forget all the stress and worry we are going through in the 'real world.'
Instead of traditional character meets, Disney has put characters on parade floats with dancers and singers to create "Character Cavalcades." These happen throughout the day and without a set schedule. Honestly, they were a delightful surprise! There were also characters placed atop their 'homes,' waving and talking to the guests. I especially enjoyed the Wicked Stepsisters on Cinderella Castle and I saw several young children absolutely entranced by the Princesses up on the Train Station platform.
PRO TIP: Take a break from riding attractions to enjoy a cool beverage or a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich and hang out along Main Street USA or in Frontierland. You just might encounter one or two of the special character events!
The Main Street Marching Band played several times during my one day at Magic Kingdom. They were a delight to watch and listen to. I saw lots of children dancing and enjoying the music.
Is it 'Worth it?"
In my opinion, provided this is not your one and only visit to Walt Disney World, it is worth a trip (providing you feel comfortable about your personal health and safety). I recommend watching the infection rates, and consulting with your doctor prior to a visit. Check the CDC website for more information.
If you feel safe in coming, I would not let the changes to the parks stop you from a visit. There is magic to be found and fun to be had at Walt Disney World!
If this is your one and only trip to Walt Disney World, I would suggest waiting until the parks have returned to a more normal experience.
You or your Travel Advisor can make reservations for arrivals now through September 2021. Since park capacity is limited and now must be reserved in advance, I would make your plans as soon as possible to ensure your entry.
Mary Graham is a Travel Advisor with Coasters & Castles Travel. She has visited Walt Disney World many times and also has experience with Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Universal Orlando and many other destinations. Email her: email@example.com for more information.