COVID Pandemic Disneyworld Trip

We just got back from a 5 day whirlwind trip to Disneyworld.  We have been dying to take the kids there and this was the perfect timing for us.  The kids were easily taken out of school (not the norm) and there are no activities that they are involved in right now (also not the norm).  We thought the time between President’s Day and Spring Break would be the perfect “off season” time to go!

Here are the highlights of the trip.

If you just want to know about how COVID affected our trip or about other things we learned, just scroll down to the bottom.  All of these photos were taken with an iphone.  I didn’t even bring my big camera on the trip.  It was very freeing.

Lots of selfies!

Disney COVID travel

We have been lucky enough to go to Disneyworld a few times.  However, this was our first trip with just the 5 of us.

Disney COVID travel

There is so much to look at there.  It is a feast for the eyes.

Disney COVID travel

Favorite Rides:

Lisa- Toy Story Mania and Test Track.  Also Rise of the Resistance is pretty awesome.  Chris- Pirates of the Carribean (always).  Makai- Rise of the Resistance and Test Track.  Tanner- Rise of the Resistance and Splash Mountain.  Jameson- Rise of the Resistance and Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

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We rode over 50 rides in 4 days.  SO MUCH FUN, but also so much walking and standing in lines.  Our legs and feet were killing us.  We literally got up and went to the park for 12 hours and then came home and collapsed into bed!  I got over 25,000 steps each day!

Disney COVID travel

The new Star Wars area in Hollywood Studios is UNBELIEVABLE!  The big boys got authentic light sabers.  Never in a million years did I think that we would spend so much time “shopping” and at one point we had to wait over 45 minutes to get into a shop!

Disney COVID travel

Excuse the birdie in this picture.  I had to send this to my big sister.  When I was 9 or 10 we went to Disneyworld in January.  We happened to be in Magic Kingdom on my birthday!  My dad and sister thought it would be really funny to jump (at the same time) at the end of the rope bridge while I was in the running in the middle of the rope bridge on Tom Sawyer’s island.  It had the effect they were hoping and bridge rippled and sent me FLYING.  Scraped knees, blood and a pissed off Mom and birthday girl.  I am sure it was funny….for them but I had scraped painful knees and palms that oozed the rest of the trip.  So I had to send her a little reminder that I am still bitter.  Of course her response was “look how tough you are now….you’re welcome”.  Here I am with the scene of the crime in the background.  We didn’t make it over to Tom Sawyer’s Island but my guess is that Disney has now fixed that issue and it is stationary.

Disney COVID travel

Oh my gosh it was hot.  Who knew it could be 90 decrees with 75% humidity in February!?  Good thing they have lots of cold drinks and ice cream.  The Mickey ice cream bars are the best!  Also, you MUST go to Japan in the Epcot world showcase.  They have a beer that has a slushy frozen top on it (For some reason I didn’t get a picture of it).  Why is that not a thing everywhere on hot days???

Disney COVID travel

COVID regulations were very strictly followed!  I wish I would have been the one to sell Disney these “please wait here” stickers.  I would be a kagillionaire.  In the ride for Space Mountain I decided to count the stickers.  In the 40 minute wait, I counted 239 of these stickers.  They also had plastic dividers so sometimes you couldn’t really see as well.  The lines also had plastic/metal divders when you were doing switchbacks.  However, 90% of the ride was outside on the paths of the park and then once you got to where the normal line would start, you just walked quickly straight through to the ride.  They didn’t want people inside.

Disney COVID travel

We travel well together and no one really fought and even though it was hot no one got too cranky.  It was glorious.

Disney COVID travel

Epcot is my favorite park (the kids too although Star Wars brought them over to the dark side of Hollywood Studios).  They are doing a TON of renovating and adding new rides/attractions and I can’t wait!

Disney COVID travel

Masks:

Notice the masks in EVERY picture?  They are VERY strict about it.  Here is the ONE picture I have of us sans masks.  And then immediately we were reprimanded by an employee (hence the second picture).  But seriously, look at the fact that there isn’t another person with 20 feet of us.  But I guess rules are rules.

Disney COVID travel

Here are some things we learned:

  1.  You can bring a backpack (or equivalent) on EVERY RIDE (including the rollercoasters).  Each person had their own backpack and carried their own water bottle and snacks.
  2. You can bring whatever food and drinks (no glass or alcohol) into the parks.
  3. We ordered Walmart groceries to be delivered right to our hotel.  They were waiting for us when we checked in.  GENIUS and saved us a ton of money.  We ordered breakfast stuff, bottled water, bubbly water, soda and snacks (all of which we could take into the park).
  4. The cost of a sit down meal is equal to two fast food meals.  So if you have big stomachs that can eat one big meal and then snack….it is nice to do a sit down meal that is airconditioned and forces you to sit down for a bit.  Be sure to make reservations a LONG time before you go.  They fill up quick especially with lower capacity right now.  We love Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. They have the most amazing bread and olive oil and huge dishes of pasta.  The boys each ate about 7 rolls.  That helped fill the bellies.  Right now the dining plan isn’t going, but we would have done that if it was available.  We have done it in the past and it was WONDERFUL!
  5. We stayed at the Fort Wilderness Cabins (as it was the cheapest option we had at the time).  If you have a choice….choose a hotel that is connected to the Disney Skyliner (Gondola for Colorado Folks–I think there are three hotels that are connected to it).  It is so much quicker than the bus system.
  6. Rise of Resistance in Hollywood Studios is the most amazing ride I have ever seen.  You have to join the Virtual Queue at 7:00 am in order to get a place on the ride.  It is the only way to ride it.  You need to log in to your app no later than 6:59 and then constantly refresh the app.  Use the phone that has the fastest connection speed.  If you wait until 7:01, you will be out of luck.  You can try again at 1:00 pm but again, they are “sold out” by 1:01.  So the moral of the story is…..the early bird gets the worm.  Many people we talked to didn’t get to ride it.  We rode it twice…..and worked the system.  Don’t think you can casually log in at 7:05 and still get into the ride.
  7. Be prepared to walk and stand a lot.  Because of COVID distancing, the lines wind around outside FOREVER!
  8. You have to order “fast food/counter service” on the app.  Do it while you are waiting in line and then “prepare the food” while you are walking off the ride.
  9. The parks all opened at least 30-60 minutes before the advertised time.  Once the waiting area in front of the gates is full, they open the gates so there aren’t people crammed in there. All rides aren’t always going right away, but most of them are.
  10. The wait times are ALWAYS shorter than they say.  Usually by half!  The longest we waited for a ride was 70 minutes.  Most of them were about 30 minutes.
  11. If you have the time, build in a rest day in the middle of the trip where you don’t do a park.  We did not do this and we were exhausted the entire time.  Granted we had 3 teenage boys who wanted to ride as many rides as possible so we didn’t take very many breaks, but it was tiring.  We all fell into bed at the end of the night and went right to sleep.
  12. COVID stole a lot of the magic.  No characters, no pin trading, no interacting with cast members.  Employees all had on masks and then about 75% also had on the plastic shields as well.  It was difficult to interact and hear each other.  Most of the time we just held up 5 fingers to indicate how many of us there were.  You just walked on all of the rides and none of the “pre-ride” stuff was happening (no stretching portraits in Haunted Mansion, no Twilight Zone clips/story in Tower of Terror, no car making in Test Track).  They also had plastic barriers on many rides which made it more difficult to see things if you weren’t in the front row.
  13. Hollywood Studios with the new Star Wars area, new Toy Story area and TONS of rides was the perfect park for our older family.  We only spent 1/2 a day at the Magic Kingdom and 1 1/2 days at Hollywood Studios.  Don’t skip that park.  Also, Epcot is my personal favorite park and they are doing a TON of new rides and work on that park.  Can’t wait to see it next time I go.
  14. Disney followed all of the COVID rules….to an annoying amount but we felt very safe!  They really kept you distanced, had hand sanitizing stations EVERYWHERE and you used the app for everything.
  15. Be prepared to wear your mask EVERY second of the day.  Unless you are sitting down and actively eating or drinking your mask had to be worn.  We tried to take them off quickly for a photo and we got reprimanded.  Thankfully I got this 4 pack of cotton masks from Amazon and I highly recommend them.  They were super soft and breathable and they didn’t fall off so we weren’t constantly touching and adjusting our masks.
  16. The parks are at less than 50% capacity, but the rides are running at about 30-40% full because they leave empty rows and never put non-family groups together.  So even though it wasn’t as crowded as usual, we still waited a LOT because the rides weren’t full.  For example…Splash Mountain can hold 12 people.  But they only put one group in the front row and one group in the back row.  If those “groups” were only 2 people each, the boat went with only 4 people in it instead of 12-16.  So don’t go thinking that you are going to just walk onto all of the rides and it will be a ghost town.  WRONG!

We were so blessed to take this trip and so grateful that although it was “usual” it was still an amazing time with our kids and we were SO lucky to have this time making memories with them.

Disney COVID travel

Want to see highlights from other trips?  Check out Costa Rica and Cuba!

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