There’s renewed hope for travel on the horizon. With the vaccine rollout, more families are venturing out, and there’s one place that immediately comes to mind for the ultimate family vacation — a place filled with magic, favorite characters, nostalgic tunes and pixie dust on every corner.
Which begs the question: To Disney or not to Disney this year? Having just returned from Walt Disney World with my family (yet again), I can confidently suggest that you Disney.
While we noticed differences for the pandemic, our overall magical experience wasn’t hindered. Read on to find out what health and safety regulations are in place, and my expert tips for making the most of your trip.
Masks are currently required for every guest ages 2 and up, except while eating, drinking and stationary. I found disposable masks with a lanyard to be most comfortable and practical. Practice wearing them before your trip to help your kids prepare for their entire park day.
Capacity inside the parks has been limited to 35% and guests are required to make a Park Pass reservation. I suggest checking for Park Pass availability months in advance on My Disney Experience on the park’s website. You don’t want to promise your kids a trip to Disney World only to find Park Passes are gone for your intended travel dates.
Disney properties are impeccably spotless, more so now mid-pandemic. The rides are on a cleaning schedule, and hand-washing and sanitizing stations are located everywhere, especially at high touch points. I’d still bring sanitizer and wipes, but you’re covered should you forget.
There are social distancing markers everywhere — lines, restaurants, even bathroom queues. We never worried about people “getting in our space” because even if someone accidentally did, there are cast members directing. Bring a stroller for younger kids since it’s easier to maneuver them where needed. To avoid peak capacity, don’t book your trip for holidays and school breaks.
For now, regular entertainment has been altered for social distancing and limited gatherings. A return is planned, but Disney hasn’t announced when. Characters can be spotted from afar in each park during mini parades called “cavalcades.” There’s no time schedule for these, but here’s my tip: listen for the music played on the loudspeakers as warning. Anytime you hear music change, quickly grab your kids and head to the central area because it means a cavalcade is passing through!
Disney World amazed me with its level of guest compliance. Honestly, I felt safer there than in most grocery stores. Before our trip we received multiple emails reminding us of the safety measures in place. While there, signs are everywhere and reminder announcements are made constantly. Cast members patrol, reminding people to comply when necessary. And if someone is unable to comply, they ask that their trip be postponed for a future date when these mandates are no longer required.
Was the magic still the same and is it worth going right now?
Yes, it was as magical as ever! My kiddos barely noticed differences, and our mission of vacationing in a fun, enjoyable place together was accomplished.
As for being worth it, here’s my big tip—if this is your only Disney World trip in the next few years, wait until after Oct. 1 — Disney World is turning 50 then and it is planning plenty of new and old entertainment opportunities to mark the occasion.
After the year we’ve had, a little dose of magic is just the medicine we need.
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