You know that catchy song Hey Mickey by Toni Basil? Just replace the word “masked” every time she says “fine” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Disney World looks like in a COVID-19 world. Let’s try it for fun…“Hey Mickey you’re so masked, you’re so masked you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey, hey, Mickey!” Are you getting a visual? And I apologize because you’ll have that song stuck in your head the rest of the day.
My family of four recently made our very first Disney World trip this spring break. We truly had a magical getaway but there are definitely some things you’ll want to know ahead of time about Disney during COVID. I’ve also included some money saving tips for Disney, too!
Things to Know about Disney during COVID
Masks – Gone are the days of walking down Main Street, popping buttery popcorn in your mouth and sipping a cold drink. You must be seated and away from people, actively eating or drinking to remove your mask. You may not remove it at any time for any other reason. Day one, we arrived in Magic Kingdom and raced down early to the castle to get that magical family picture. With no one within 10 feet of us, we slipped our masks down and before we could get them off our faces, we had two staff members and one security officer racing toward us, yelling to put our masks back on. We learned quickly, mask on, all day, every day.
Characters – Character appearances do happen but only from a distance. You can take selfies with characters behind you but you are not allowed to get within 6 feet of one. Security guards are close by at all times.
Parades – Small parades do happen frequently but there are no schedules available, or at least they were not made very public. They are good at going down routes where many people may be standing in lines. They would do one character theme at a time. For example, all the princesses would be on one float and that was the whole parade. The next time, we saw a small dance group with a float of Mickey and the gang behind. This was a really fun way to see the characters.
Fast passes – Fast passes are temporarily gone. This made the wait for everyone the same which can be a positive if you don’t typically purchase fast passes. The longest line we waited in was 140 minutes for the Hollywood Tower of Terror. On average, we waited 50 minutes for all rides. My husband and I would take turns waiting in line while the other took our girls to look around. This worked well for us and wasn’t ever a problem.
“Please wait here” floor stickers – There are floor stickers that read, “Please wait here” spaced six feet apart for every ride line. This made the lines look crazy long but we found they moved relatively quickly. For the most part, people obey them and keep their distance. If you have small children, however, this will be a big challenge. Staff do come along and ask you to keep your distance for anyone not following the rules.
Large Shows – Fun shows like the Indiana Jones show are temporarily closed. Disney World is trying their best to ensure a safe environment for everyone so again, anything that would draw a large crowd is closed for now.
Interactive areas – Playgrounds and anything that is “hands-on” is closed at this time. Our hotel had an arcade but it was also closed due to COVID.
Strollers – I saw more dads frustrated with strollers than I saw Mickeys. If you’re planning to go to Disney World with small children, please get a one-button-and-done fold-up stroller. Trust me, for this trip, it will be worth the money. We saw dads push, pull, and at times, yell at strollers that would not fold up easily, on the buses, in lines, everywhere. If you take anything from this article, please get an easy stroller and save yourself potential hair-loss moments.
Reservations – Park reservations must be made in advance. We made ours close to two months in advance. At the time of writing this, the week of June 7 already had limited availability for most parks.
Dining – You must use the Disney app anytime you want to eat. You are not able to “walk up” and order a meal. As a visual person, this was very disappointing at first. I mean, when I want to eat, I want to eat! However, as I figured out the layout of the app, I found it to be very user friendly. It soon became helpful as we sometimes planned and could order our food, go ride a ride, then have the food ready for us.
Now that you know what to expect, let’s briefly discuss some ways you can save money at Disney. My inner geek is so excited right now…
Money-Saving Tips for Disney
Breakfast – I was so happy with myself. I took a chance and packed several days’ worth of breakfast items for the family. Typically, I do this and then no one eats anything I’ve packed. However, we ate all of it and wished we’d packed more! It saved us so much time in the mornings and a lot of money.
Refillable water bottles – Water bottles are $4 a bottle in any of the parks, so we found four reusable filtered water bottles by Brita at Wal-Mart prior to our trip. We could fill them up anywhere; it was perfect. We’ve also used them at the zoo since we’ve been back.
Memory Maker – The Memory Maker is Disney World’s photo package that you can buy prior to your trip. It was so great to not have to take time to figure out what picture to purchase. We could go to any Disney photographer, have our picture taken, and it was included. Bonus, we didn’t realize until we were on the property that they link your magic bands to your memory maker, so every ride that has a picture will appear in your app…magic!
Minnie Headbands – Disney World has huge variety of cute Minnie Mouse headbands for $29.99 each or you can do what we did and purchase yours for $4.97 at Wal-Mart prior to your trip.
Snacks – Just the same idea as breakfast. Pack gummies, bags of goldfish, or whatever your family likes for snacks and you won’t have to wait in line or waste money on food in between meals!
Book a Disney-specific travel agent – The very last tip is definitely a money saver. There is no way we would have been able to do all of this without the help of our travel agent. I highly recommend a Disney specific travel agent to help make your trip absolutely magical! Two we HIGHLY recommend: