Remember When: Thinking Back to a Walt Disney World Before COVID-19

Epcot Mickey

March 2020 will forever remain in the minds of Disney World fans as the month that began the longest closure in the history of the parks in Florida. Disney World was one of thousands upon thousands of venues and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic that has had effects globally. Disney World has reopened, but it’s definitely a different experience, thanks to the absence of character meet-and-greets and fireworks shows and the presence of face masks, hand sanitizing stations and Guests spaced six feet apart. Do you remember Disney World before the pandemic? So do we…


6. Remember when we could just get in the car and head to the parks?

Did you ever think you’d have to have a reservation to visit your favorite park at Disney World? We didn’t either. Passholders and those who purchased gate tickets could simply walk into any of the four parks at will—with valid admission—no reservation needed. Today, of course, you’ll need a reservation to visit a park, and if you don’t have one, even with valid admission, you’ll be denied entry. And from what we’re hearing, this part of the new Disney World may become permanent. Oh, for the good ol’ days…

Magic Kingdom Entrance
Magic Kingdom Entrance

5. Remember the fireworks shows every night?

Remember the music of “Happily Ever After?” Remember eating sushi at California Grill and watching the production from the rooftop? Remember the music, the lights, the sheer excitement we felt as we gathered on Main Street to see the happy experience? Remember getting to Main Street an hour beforehand to “get a good spot?” (Remember running to Big Thunder Mountain during the fireworks because that’s when crowds were super low in the queue?) Remember being able to stand in virtually any place at Magic Kingdom and see at least a part of the show. Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight…


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4. Remember when we could huddle up to ride the PeopleMover?

How many of us can cram onto the escalator at the PeopleMover? And then which ones in the group would get separated and put on the second train? Heck, remember when we could actually ride the PeopleMover? Wonder how long it’ll be out of commission…

3. Remember hugs from Mickey?

And Pooh and Tigger and Minnie and Goofy and Donald and Daisy and Pluto and Tink and . . . Character meet-and-greets are perhaps one of the most underappreciated opportunities in the parks, and we probably didn’t realize how much we would miss them—especially those of us who have little ones in tow on our visits. We love the pop-up parades and the surprise cavalcades, but they aren’t nearly as personal as those amazing PhotoPass photos with our favorite princesses. How long will it be before we can hug Mickey again? I wonder…

Credit: Disney

2. Remember when we could enjoy the parks and breathe air?

Ok, let’s not turn this into anything political—I’m all for wearing masks, but I sure do miss going to the parks sans masks. You only thought it was hot during July and August in the parks. I’m here to tell you it was never as hot as this summer when we were clad in our masks. (We’re talking literally half-sunburned faces and difficulty breathing.) And since this is Florida, it’s warm well into the fall. P.S., I can’t tell if the Cast Member is smiling or frowning, but then again, she can’t tell anything about me either.) Darn those masks…

1. Remember when we could come back home to “normal?”

I remember a time when—as hard as it is to leave Disney World and go home—we could return home and not wrestle with the question “Should I quarantine for 14 days just in case?” or “Should I go to Nana’s birthday party and be around her when I just got home from the parks?” Some might think quarantining after a trip to the parks is overdoing it, while others think it’s absolutely necessary. (I’m somewhere in between.)

About Becky B.

I am a writer and a Mom to four children and two baby shih-tzus. My first experience with the Magic was in 1988, when my parents surprised my brother and me with a visit to Walt Disney World after a short trip to see friends in Georgia. I still hum the tune played during the Main Street Electrical Parade and remember the feeling of excitement from my very first visit. I introduced my husband to the Magic several years ago, and we take our children to the parks every time we can. No matter how many times I visit Walt Disney World, it seems it’s not enough! The ever-changing experience only gets better with each trip, and I’m thrilled to share the Magic with others, as well as some of the tips and tricks to getting the most out of the Magic with each visit!

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