Should I Go To Disney World Right Now? We Share Our Thoughts!

For the past few weeks, we have been all around Walt Disney World to get a first-hand look at how the resort has changed in the wake of the current health crisis.

Cinderella Castle

Once the resorts started to reopen on June 22nd and the theme parks began their previews on July 7th (officially reopening to the general public July 11th and July 15th), we really started to get the full picture as to what a Disney World vacation looks like right now.

With 2020 packages and tickets on sale, many folks may begin to wonder if a trip this year is worth it. There are certainly a lot of factors to consider, from the new Disney Park Pass Reservation System to the overall cleanliness and safety within the parks and resorts.

Grand Floridian Lobby on its reopening day

With 2020 packages and tickets on sale, many folks may begin to wonder if a trip this year is worth it. There are certainly a lot of factors to consider, from the new Disney Park Pass Reservation System to the overall cleanliness and safety within the parks and resorts.

Spaceship Earth

So, should you go to Disney World right now? While that decision is entirely up to you and is different for each individual, we’re going to break down several factors to consider when it comes to making your choice.

Crowd Levels and Disney Park Pass

One of the biggest question on everyone’s minds going into the phased reopening was just how busy the parks would get. The Cast Member and Annual Passholder Previews both had drastically low crowds, but we got a better idea of what to expect once the parks started to officially reopen to the general public.

Magic Kingdom morning crowds on its official reopening day

Once all four theme parks opened to the general public, we noticed that, like before the closures, crowds tend to fluctuate throughout the day. Some areas of the park are going to attract more people than others; for example, Quick Service dining locations will get busier during lunch and dinner hours.

Main Street Bakery Line

Be prepared for unexpected crowding to happen, too! When it rains, it pours in Central Florida, and we’ve seen physical distancing thrown out the window when it comes to seeking shelter from the downpours.

Rain Crowds

A metric people often use to assess crowd levels are attraction wait times. For the most part, ride wait times have been much LOWER than what we are used to seeing. We aren’t going to lie, a five minute wait for Flight of Passage is something we can’t complain about! Some rides still saw longer wait times, typically upwards of 45-60 minutes.

Animal Kingdom Wait Times

Ultimately it all comes down to the Disney Park Pass Reservation System. From what we’ve seen, there is plenty of availability if you plan your trips out ahead of time. This may change as more people decide to start traveling again, but if you are debating whether or not you want to travel, you can look ahead on Disney’s website to check the availability in each park on the days you’re looking to visit.

What’s NOT Available in the Parks

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Happily Ever After

Overall, many of the typical park offerings are available during their phased reopening. Most of the rides and major attractions have reopened, as well as most shops and restaurants. At the same time, however, there are lots of things that aren’t available at the moment.

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Major components of Disney World that are currently unavailable include fireworks and nighttime shows, parades, and character meet and greets. Essentially, anything that encourages a crowd to form or that brings Guests in close proximity with other Cast Members has been shelved for the time being.

New Year’s Eve fireworks crowds? No, thanks!

No fireworks or parades could draw the line for some travelers, in which case Disney World is not going to have all of the experiences available that these guests are looking for.

Attractions

Perhaps the biggest draw for most Disney World fans are the rides and attractions. And while MOST of them are available during this phased reopening, some aspects of the rides feel a little different, or are omitted completely.

Splash Mountain

In our trips to the parks, we noticed that most pre-show elements are skipped when you enter an attraction. This includes the library in Tower of Terror, and the stretching room in Haunted Mansion.

Stretching Room being used as queue space

That may not be a deal breaker, but when every ride’s pre-show is missing, it may put a damper on the overall ride experience! After all, those pre-shows are designed as a critical component to the story of the attraction.

Smuggler’s Run Queue

Once you board the ride vehicles themselves, you may find your experience BETTER than before. This is because, for the most part, travel parties are separated quite a bit on rides.

Our Very Own Cockpit!

This means seating every other row (like what we experienced on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), or if the vehicle is small enough, only seating one party per vehicle (like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run)! We’re all for making new friends while we’re visiting Disney World, having a little more elbow room on some of these rides is a nice change we weren’t expecting.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Other ride vehicles had shields and partitions installed. Examples of this include Soarin‘…

Soarin’ Ride Vehicle

…and Jungle Cruise.

Jungle Cruise Skipper

Click here to read more about the ride process at Disney World right now!

Dining

Dining is another major component of any trip to Disney World! We’ve seen tons of new changes to enforce Disney’s new health and safety guidelines.

Chip ‘n’ Dale Harvest Feast at Garden Grill

The new addition to the Disney Dining experience (and one that may become permanent) is Mobile Dine Check-In. This is a new virtual way to check in to your dining reservation. Simply scan the QR code in the restaurant lobby to check in, or check in on your phone via the My Disney Experience app. Either way, you can now skip the host stand entirely.

Mobile Dine Check-In

The biggest damper on your dining experience will most likely be in the form of limited menus. Most, if not all restaurants in Disney World are currently operating with smaller menus. This may be to keep the kitchen physically distanced, and it may be to keep costs down. Regardless, while we may see menus slowly return to normal overtime, be prepared for limited options when you dine. Take a look at just SOME of the menu items removed from the resort restaurants here!

Grand Floridian Cafe Menu – Missing the Chicken and Waffles

Much like the physical distancing on rides, you may find the limited seating in restaurants to be a nice change of pace. Some restaurants are notorious for cramming tables together, and now, most restaurants are seating every other table, giving you plenty of room to, well, breathe!

Cosmic Ray’s Seating

Character dining has changed drastically. For the most part it has been temporarily suspended, but there are two major exceptions. Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort and Garden Grill Restaurant in EPCOT both offer modified character dining experiences.

Mickey and Pluto

Essentially what this means is that, while you dine, characters will roam around the restaurant at a safe distance. They will not approach your table, but you can catch them for some physically distanced selfies.

Hi Mickey!

Read more about the new character dining experience at Disney World here!

Characters

Like character dining, all traditional character meet and greets are temporarily unavailable. Disney has come up with some creative solutions to bring the characters out and about!

Tigger!

The cavalcades that we have seen throughout the parks are one of our favorite new offerings in this reopened Disney World. These are short mini “parades” that happen throughout the day. Because they occur so frequently, there is no need to stand and wait for the characters to come out.

Goofy’s Character Cavalcade

Each of the theme parks have had other forms of character interactions. Most of these involve the characters standing off in the distance on a raised platform of sorts, like seeing Stitch on the Tomorrowland Stage or Cinderella’s stepsisters on Cinderella Castle itself!

Anastasia and Drizella!

You won’t be able to get an autograph or a hug, but you can still wave and say “hello.” These are very unique character experiences that may or may not make up for the fact that character meet and greets are temporarily shelved. The best part about all of these new interactions…you don’t have to wait in line to see them!

Stitch

Here are ALL the characters you can spot at a reopened Disney World!

Resorts

Not all resorts are open and some may not reopen in 2020 (if your fave resort isn’t opening, maybe it’s worth skipping a 2020 vacation to you! Could also be a good opportunity to try something new.).

Grand Floridian

Staying at a Disney World Resort hotel is very similar to what we’ve experienced in the past. One of the biggest differences here is the mask policy. Masks must be worn at all times in public resort areas, with the only exceptions being in your room, while you are swimming in the pool, while you are lounging at your pool chair, or while you are dining.

Pool signage at Bay Lake Tower

The rooms themselves are largely the same, but we did notice some new signage to inform guests about the enhanced cleaning procedures that take place.

Bedroom at Bay Lake Tower

Certain items are wrapped in plastic, like TV remotes. The reusable shampoo and conditioner bottles are still installed, but are sterilized and wrapped in plastic in between each guest.

Remotes

If your Disney World vacations strongly depend on a pleasant resort stay, you should still find that most of the resort experience is the same. But if you typically take advantage of all the amenities available, you may find some limitations.

Stormalong Bay is currently closed

Transportation

We’ve also ridden the transportation system currently available to guests! There are many new measurements in place to promote physical distancing.

Monorail Peach

On the Monorail, barriers were installed in between seats to keep guests apart.

Monorail Partitions

The Disney Skyliner is only boarding one party per gondola at this time.

Caribbean Beach Skyliners

The Disney buses have a new boarding system, with parties assigned to “zones” to sit in, that are physically distanced with barriers in between.

Disney Buses

As always, we recommend you allow extra time for your travels from Point A to Point B. Even before the park closures, Disney transportation was prone to delays and technical difficulties. Now, with the limited seating and new boarding processes, getting around could take even LONGER.

Disney Springs Bus Directory

Read more about our experience with Disney World transportation here!

Health and Safety

The biggest determining factor for a lot of folks when deciding whether or not to visit Disney World right now is health and safety. There’s no doubt that Disney World brings a LOT of people together at once, and with the current health crisis still prevalent in the United States, there is inherent risk in going on any vacation, let alone one to Disney World.

Health Signs

Let’s briefly recap what we’ve seen so when it comes to new safety measurements. First, there is Disney World’s mask policy. In general, masks must be worn at all times (with some exceptions – we’ll explain below) by all guests above the age of two. In our time in the parks, we have seen near-total compliance from guests, and the few times we’ve seen anything other than total compliance, Disney Cast Members have been quick to enforce the policy.

The exceptions to Disney’s face mask policy are in the following situations:

  • When seated at a table to dine
  • When visiting one of the theme park’s Relaxation Stations
  • When swimming at a resort pool
  • When lounging at a resort pool area chair
  • When in your resort hotel room

Each theme park has at least two Relaxation Stations where guests may remove their masks. Magic Kingdom and EPCOT have three stations. Many of these stations are outdoors (the CDC recommends as much ventilation as possible, which is probably why many of these stations are outdoors), and come with tables, chairs, and shade.

Golden Oak Outpost

Most parks do have indoor Relaxation Stations available:

 

Temperature checks are also present at Disney Springs and each of the theme parks. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees and above may not enter the parks, nor can their entire travel party.

Temperature Check

Everywhere we went, we saw physical distancing signage, whether it was an actual sign or floor markers. Anywhere there was a line, we saw floor markers. These markers take up the entire queue area at rides and attractions, in stores when you’re in line to check out, at Quick Service locations, and at some PhotoPass locations. Where there are no floor markers, Cast Members have been quick to space guests out if it becomes too crowded.

Floor Markers at Peter Pan’s Flight

Hand sanitizer is readily available at the entrance to rides, shops, restaurants, Relaxation Stations, and throughout the parks. We saw ride vehicles regularly sanitized (not after EVERY ride, but frequently for sure). Restrooms are also cleaned on a very regular basis.

Cast Member sanitizing the log on Splash Mountain

Overall

Like we mentioned at the beginning, only YOU can decide if it’s a good idea to travel to Disney World right now and if it’s worth it for your travel party. A major component of that decision of course is health and safety, which Disney has done everything in their power to make sure everyone who comes onto property is in a safe environment.

Health and Safety Sign

You are only as safe as the person next to you, however, and even with the perfect health and safety plan, your health is not 100% fool-proof.

Hollywood Studios Crowds

Health and safety aside, a trip to Disney World in the near future will definitely be a modified one. Some things are missing, like fireworks and most character interactions. But what Disney has done to make up for it shows that they truly care about guests having the most magical experience possible, even in today’s climate.

Read more about our thoughts on if Disney World is still FUN right now!

So, we’re asking you – do YOU think it’s worth it to visit Disney World right now? Let us know in the comments!

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9 Replies to “Should I Go To Disney World Right Now? We Share Our Thoughts!”

  1. We just went last week and we thought it was definitely worth it! The low crowds and short wait times outweighed the things that were missing. However, our kids are older (11, 14, 16) and didn’t mind missing the characters or parades. We only had one day per park and rode everything at least once! We even rode the typically popular rides like Flight of Passage and Smugglers Run multiple times. We are considering going back again while things are still as they are.

  2. As a silver AP, I’ve had the advantage (or disadvantage some could argue) of seeing how the parks are operating & handling things before I even have the option to return on Aug. 7. I do have a park pass reservation for Epcot for Aug. 10 & I’m currently still planning on going. I’m interested in seeing if crowds will increase with this whole new group of AP being able to attend (I know Disney has considered this & will control it as best as they see fit).

    While I love the Epcot rides (shoutout to my main ❤️Living with the Land), I’m planning on skipping them to start. My main motto is: stay outside & stay away from people (we’ll see how it goes!) Thanks for all of your honest info as always!

  3. We are still looking forward, to our trip ant the end of August. I know I will do what is best for our family, while we visit. We have a flight with, separation seating. A rental car for getting us around. And feel as safe as we can be, within the Disney Bubble. We only have two, dinning reservations this trip. Both happen to be the modified Character Dining. Even with Disney, I’m still not much of a fan of eating indoors. I pan on doing, small plates from lounges, like, Nomad. We do like to eat at Disney Springs. But not this trip. And not at night, from the reports I have read, about people not wearing the face coverings, the way that they are required. We may still visit Disney Springs, during the day, for some shopping. Nothing written in stone, if that will happen. That’s how this trip will differ for us.

    My question, to you Carly, and all the staff. How do you all feel about attending the parks, and dining indoors at WDW?

    Thanks, for the reporting that you all do, at AllEars.

  4. Backstory: We made reservations back in January for Port Orleans Riverside and were going to have dinner at Victoria and Alberts Chef Table. Obviously all that was cancelled, but we decided to stick with our trip plan. We were moved to Animal Kingdom Kidani Village and then made our park reservations. V&A was still closed. We had such a good time we stayed an extra night. Crowds were very low – it was really eerie. Most rides had low lines. We walked on Slinky Dog twice. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway had the longest line – about 40 minutes. Rise of the Resistance kept breaking down so our boarding got pushed to late afternoon. The ride lines looked long but that’s because of the social distancing. The downsides were that many restaurants were closed. This was especially an issue in the Magic Kingdom. Even so, they were not crowded. Also some rides had altered queues like Haunted Mansion and Rock N Roller Coaster. They didn’t have typical parades, fireworks or character greetings, but we normally don’t do those. Also you can’t park hop, but that wasn’t a big deal with the low crowds. Bus transportation was weird because of the group seating, but we only had one instance where we had to wait for a second bus to come. I would recommend going – in fact we’re going back in a couple of weeks with our daughter. Disney takes its safety very seriously and you have to wear a mask everywhere except when “actively eating or drinking” or at pools. It was blazing hot in mid July and the facemasks didn’t help, but it was still a good time.

  5. With so much closed, why has not Disney reduced the prices of its park tickets and its Hotels. This to me feels like price gouging and feels principally immoral. To have to pay the same price for tickets and hotels that I did last year is wrong. They should be giving a discount. Thoughts please.

    1. I agree. I have a Platinum Annual Pass and for what I paid I am now not getting the full value, even with the one month extension. I would prefer my AP to resume activation when the parks are finally functioning with all attractions, including shows, parades and fireworks. Recomputing the time on my AP from the date of the limited Disney World reopening in July is not adequate and demonstrates a cheap side of Disney in its treatment of its loyal passholders!

    2. To be paying the same as you did last year is a Disney discount. They raise prices every year prior to this year.

      It’s still supply and demand. If they are satisfied with making money (or not losing as much if they had stayed closed) with the current prices, then so be it.

      Much of what is closed would not effect my family. We have never spent the time to watch a parade, rarely each inside the parks, rarely do meet and greets, and could take or leave the fireworks. We would miss a couple of the shows, particularly Festival of the Lion King, but my family is about the RIDES. A video released last week showed the process for Flight of Passage rerides where you get off and go straight through the old fastpass entrance to ride again. I could literally ride that attraction all day long!