If you’re reading this, you may be among the many disappointed travelers who postponed a trip to Walt Disney World due to COVID-19. I’m one of the many, too- and as my family considers a future trip, we’ve been thinking through many considerations that are brand new to our travel planning. Gone are the days of obsessing over FastPasses- now, there’s an entirely new set of parameters as we prepare for our trips back to the most magical place on Earth! Here are 10 tips for preparing for your post-quarantine trip. Don’t forget- the requirements and procedures may change frequently, so be sure to check official Disney information before making any travel plans!
1. Know Before You Go – What’s Different?
This situation is ever-changing, so while you can’t know about any last minute changes, you should prepare yourself with information that may make a difference in whether or not you want to take a vacation now, or wait. Some modifications to the theme park experience may be considered “deal-breakers” for some guests. The requirement for guests to wear masks while indoors across all of Walt Disney World property is one that is meant to increase guest safety, but many folks are uncomfortable in masks. Other modifications, such as the absence of fireworks, parades, and character greeting may take enough value out of your trip to make you consider pushing it off. For frequent guests to Walt Disney World, this may not be worth changing trip plans over, but for someone who has been planning the “perfect” trip, it may be enough to make them reconsider.
2. Research the Current Travel Regulations
This is a tricky one because of constantly evolving guidelines, but it is perhaps the most important thing to consider when planning your trip. Are there regulations regarding travel from your state into Florida? Are there regulations in your state about travelling to Florida? Are there quarantine requirements in place that will turn a 1-week vacation into a 3 week trip because you’ll be told to quarantine for 2 weeks when you get home? These regulations have been changing frequently, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t impact your trip, so be aware of your cancellation options if you need to exercise them.
3. Evaluate Transportation Options
Have your plans for how you’ll travel to Walt Disney World changed? Perhaps you’re less comfortable with flying now, and you’re considering driving. If so, you’ll want to look into whether or not you’ll be able to recoup all of your airfare, or if flying is best for your family after all. If driving is suddenly on the table, you’ll have a long list of new things to plan- vehicle maintenance or preparation, a possible rental car, and where you’ll stop or stay along the way.
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4. Make Park Reservations
Currently, Walt Disney World is requiring guests to make park reservations to enter each park. While local guests are able to “stand-by” for any extra available tickets, you’ll certainly want to have these reservations secured before you travel. Park Hopping is allowed after 2pm if a park is not at capacity.
5. Make Sure You Have the Gear You Need
As everyone is probably aware by now, face coverings are a requirement for the foreseeable future. Be sure to try out a few different masks at home before subjecting yourself to the Florida heat wearing a mask you aren’t used to. As of this writing, gaiter style face/neck coverings without ear loops are not approved- the key is the presence of ear loops, which tend to ensure a more secure fit.
6. Consider the Queues
So far, the crowds at Walt Disney World have been quite low since they have reopened. If you’ve ever attended a hard-ticketed event, such as Disney After Hours or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you know that lower crowds in the park mean shorter lines for attractions. However, the time spent in queues will be different than what you are used to; you’ll be avoiding the interactive features in line (can you imagine the germs on the honey wall in the Pooh queue?). You may also be out in the sun longer, as the queues are set up to allow for social distancing between parties, and therefore spill out of the interior queues. Be sure to pack a hat or umbrella if you’re sensitive to heat and sun!
7. Plan “Substitute” Experiences
If you’re a family who stays in the parks at night for fireworks and shows, you’ll suddenly find yourself with lots of free time in the evening. The combination of no nighttime shows and shorter park hours. Instead of looking at this as a bummer, consider making some time for things you’re usually too busy for. Visit Disney Springs. Enjoy an in-room movie and some snacks, or check out the resort’s “Movie Under the Stars.” Let the kids play with souvenirs in the resort room. Another great option? Go to bed early and wake up rested for your next park day!
8. Use the Limitations to your Advantage
The directive to “think positive!” can be easier said than done, but try to view the new procedures through a lens of positivity. Less crowds, shorter lines, more opportunities for mobile food ordering, less reliance on reservations, and a break from whatever quarantine situation you’ve endured for months- they’re all huge positives to be thankful for! With a flexible and positive attitude, your family can have a magical trip.
9. Embrace Spontaneity
There’s something to be said for “going with the flow”, but it’s just not something that seasoned Disney travelers have been encouraged to do over the past several years. Consider your next trip an opportunity to take a slower pace and choose what you want to do while you’re there, not months in advance.
10. Experience Something New
If you’re anything like my family, we always say how much we love our resort and wish we had spent more time there. Limited park hours mean more time for resort activities, like pool time, scavenger hunts, and exploring the grounds or relaxing in your resort room. In the parks, take time to slow down and look for hidden Mickeys, themed weather vanes, and other small details you may have missed before. Now is the perfect time to make time to be flexible and make time for the things you haven’t prioritized before.
Are you planning a “post-quarantine” trip to Walt Disney World? How are you planning to make the most of the changes?