6 Meaningful Ways Your Next Park Visit Will Be Different
The Walt Disney Company has reopened the theme parks at Walt Disney World. For that, we are all thankful.
Alas, Disney has had to change some stuff on the fly to make everything safer during the Coronavirus pandemic.
From the moment you approach Magic Kingdom, you’ll realize that Disney has altered many standard operating procedures.
Here are some of the ways that your next Walt Disney World visit will be different.
You Need a Park Pass
Okay, before you do anything else, you need a Disney Park Pass.
Until COVID-19 infections subside, Disney must limit capacity. Otherwise, theme parks will get too crowded and force social distancing violations.
So, Disney has implemented a new policy. Guests must own a Park Pass to enter a theme park on a given day.
Yes, this statement applies to everyone, even people with admission tickets and/or annual passes.
Fortunately, booking a Park Pass is quite easy, as long as there’s availability. Act fast to make sure Disney doesn’t sell out on the day(s) you want to visit!
Getting to the Parks
Guests who utilize parking lots will notice that even the cars employ social distancing. Disney asks people to park in every other space.
By taking this approach, nobody ever bumps into another person as they get out of their vehicle, …which is a good policy that I hope the entire world adopts.
OK! Cars are now lined up waiting to pull through. We are #6 in line to go thru the @magickingdom gate for @WaltDisneyWorld annual Passholder preview! #disney #disneyworld #WaltDisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/xRqA3qXaKt
— MickeyBlog (@MickeyBlog_) July 9, 2020
The security check also may be different. Park officials are testing a new policy.
Under the potential new system, guests would check their bags in a different way. People place their electronic devices and metals in a plastic bag.
Then, the guests walk through a new kind of scanner rather than the metal detector Disney has employed since 2001.
Unfortunately, Disney may retain the old system. We’re only in a preliminary trial with the more modern one.
So, don’t be surprised if park officials rummage through your bags, which isn’t the ideal approach during a pandemic.
Updated Transportation Information
As for the transportation, the Disney Skyliner will transport one traveling party per gondola, which is what we all hoped Disney would do.
On the monorails, Disney’s added partitions between the cars. They look like curtain shades or projector screens, which means they’re somewhat flimsy.
Cast members (wearing face shields) take a more active interest in the boarding process.
People aren’t supposed to stand in the middle and hold the metal railings. This would cause overcrowding another violation of social distancing.
However, Disney must rely on guests to honor the request, which may go about as well as Americans wearing masks to flatten the curve. We’ll see.
The Friendship Boats will return on July 29th, but we don’t have detailed information on operational changes yet.
The other thing to know is that Disney has positioned hand sanitizer stations near the entrances to all forms of transportation.
So, you can clean up before boarding!
By the way, if you drive, you should understand something. The parking lot tram service won’t operate in the short term.
Disney may bring back the service later. Until that happens, you’re walking from wherever you park to the entrance gate.
NEW: For the Annual Passholder preview days (July 9 and 10), Disney will not offer transportation from resort hotels. "You will need to provide your own transportation to the theme park parking lot."
Also – parking lot trams will not be running.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) July 6, 2020
Speaking of which…
Modified Entrance Policies
Disney’s primary concern during the COVID-19 outbreak is operating the parks safely.
The parks have implemented new measures to minimize the risk of getting sick.
You’ve already heard about a couple of significant changes, but let’s talk about three of them.
First, you cannot enter a Disney theme park (or Disney Springs) until you pass a temperature check.
Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher must go to a waiting area and spend 15 minutes trying to cool down.
If that doesn’t work and the person’s temperature remains high, they cannot enter the park on that day.
Similarly, Disney will require face masks at its parks. In fact, the company has provided specifics.
The face masks must cover the mouth and nose. Also, they must have a loop or tie behind the ears.
Disney has chosen this policy to ensure that masks don’t fall off while guests are on rides.
Finally, before you set foot on Main Street U.S.A. for the first time, you’ll pass by a hand sanitizer station.
The parks feature many of them now, as Disney wants everyone to kill as many germs as possible.
9:20 a.m.: Cast members line curbs of Main Street U.S.A., welcoming guests back to the Magic Kingdom. Reminders of COVID-19 are ubiquitous, from safety signage on every trash can, to hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers at nearly every entrance and exit.
— USA TODAY Travel (@usatodaytravel) July 11, 2020
Please get in the habit of using these frequently! It helps everyone!
You may notice this change before you ever reach the parks. Disney must protect guests from droplets and/or airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Historically, conversations between cast members and guests were up close and personal. During the pandemic, that’s a reckless approach, though.
So, Disney has added plexiglass windows in hotel lobbies. You’ll also find them at restaurants and even within the parks.
On many rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, Imagineers have constructed plexiglass walls in the line queues.
These barriers prevent guests in one row from breathing on strangers in the next section.
They do negate the magic a bit, but we’re all willing to trade that for personal safety during a pandemic.
Look, Disney executives are smart people. They realize that the current park experience is suboptimal by regular Disney standards.
However, these individuals also realize that any Disney day beats virtually every day spent outside the Disney Bubble.
People understand that park managers are doing their best to satisfy a need for happiness during the pandemic.
Nobody blames Disney for closing parades and fireworks presentations for the time being. Disney’s leaders hold themselves to higher standards, though.
So, Disney wasn’t about to hide away its characters for the rest of 2020. Instead, management will turn a negative into a positive.
Sometimes, the parks will host Cavalcades, unannounced processionals that are like mini-parades.
For example, Disney’s shown off the Main Street Trolley as a different sort of character presentation.
On a recent trip down Main Street, U.S.A., residents of Hundred Acre Wood were riding on the trolley.
This sort of decision is brilliant because Disney can’t use the trolleys for regular passengers.
— Jeff Lange (@JeffLangeDVD) July 8, 2020
However, costumed cast members are perfectly safe on the ride. Plus, guests can’t help but notice the train car anyway. It draws attention.
The presence of Piglet and Eeyore makes it that much better!
Similarly, Disney rolls out standalone parade floats with characters onboard. They put on a show for onlookers.
— D.J. (@mayerobeyer) July 12, 2020
In fact, Disney’s done some even better stuff. On a recent day, Princess Merida rode a horse toward Cinderella Castle.
The result of all these unique presentations is that your next Disney visit will offer entertainment options that you’ve never seen before.
For a park that’s about to celebrate its 50th birthday, original experiences are rare. So, enjoy these opportunities while they last!