Lessons Learned From The Reopening of Walt Disney World
Now that two of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks have been open for a few days, we here at MickeyBlog thought it’s about time for a quick recap of things we learned during this unprecedented time in Disney’s history! What does it feel like to be back at the parks? Is it safe? What should travellers be aware of who are planning there next get away.
Here are a few insights from the past five days!
16,000 People On Opening Day
One of the comments we’ve heard from MickeyBlog readers over the past few days is just how empty the theme parks have looked during their first few days of reopening. This is part of Disney’s phased reopening meaning they have drastically reduced crowds levels and will increase them gradually. USA Today published a figure that seemed pretty accurate which is that 16,000 people were allowed into the parks on Saturday.
But here’s a rather unmagical statistic to go along with it which is that Disney’s decision to reopen the theme parks is starting to get a moderate amount of pushback and COVID-19 cases continue to soar. On Saturday, the Department of Health for the state of Florida reported 10,360 new cases. In a shocking statistic that means the sates has reported at least 5,000 new cases a day for the 18th day in a row! This brings the total number of cases in the State to over 250,000.
If you’ve following along with MickeyBlog you’ll notice that there have been some truly magical moments though. During our livestream from Magic Kingdom on opening day we showed you video of a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and posing for photos at Cinderella Castle. We were so excited to see them on the USA today website in the image that you can check out above. Carol and Steve Show returning to the theme park 44 years after honeymooning on the property. To mark the occassion they both donned mouse ears with “44” written across the front! WIth facemasks on they embraced the changes put into place for resort guests and didn’t let them stand in the way of their walk down memory lane!
Speaking of safety precautions there are a myriad of recent policy changes and procedures designed to keep guests safe. These are as follows:
- Touch free forehead temperature checks are mandatory as you enter and exit the park. Those with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed into the park nor will their travelling party.
- Increased hand sanitation areas throughout the theme park.
- Social distancing floor markings in queues for rides and attractions.
- Highly visible social distancing signage throughout parks.
- Mandatory use of face masks.
- Plexiglass partitions at cash registers, some lines and ride vehicles.
- Designated relaxation stations for those needing a quick break from wearing masks.
So how do all of these procedures make guests feel? USA Today interviewed the Shows (above) who were celebrating their anniversary at the parks and they said that they both had concerns about visiting the parks in a COVID-19 world. However Carol Show, a retired teacher said, “We discussed this a lot.” She added, “We think Disney is taking so many precautions, we feel safer here than at stores. We’re not very fearful people. We figure, let’s live.”
Precautions Extended to Walt Disney World Transportation
It’s also worth noting that Walt Disney World safety precautions have been extended to the monorail, ferry or buses that whisk guests between the theme parks and resorts. Those heading to the Magic Kingdom for the Ticket and Transportation Center noted that there were socially distanced queues to get on the train and that the cabins were divided using vinyl barriers with only one or two families allowed in each car.
USA Today spoke to one couple – Jess and Brandon Bullock from Sarasota, Florida who said that the trains would normally be filled to capacity with many guests standing. However, during this visit they found that the seats had just been satisfied and that there was no standing or hanging onto handrails while on the train. Jess Bullock remarked, “The feeling through security and monorail lines was pretty sterile.” She added “Definitely not the usual bubbly atmosphere, but that’s understandable.”
How About the Lines?
One of the questions we’ve been asked the most here at MIckeyBlog over the last few days is what the lines have been like at the theme parks. For the most part, they have been minimal. However, in some instances you would still find yourself waiting, sometimes up to 30 minutes for headlining attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Disney World Versus Universal Orlando
So how does Disney’s reopening plans stack against those of theme park competitor Universal Studios? According to the Bullocks, Universal is slightly ahead of the pack. Bullock said, “To be quite honest, I think Universal has done a better job,” She added, “But Disney would be a close second.” Bullock said that she places Universal over Disney because in comparison Disney doesn’t have as many places to rest and she didn’t notice as many people cleaning as she did at Universal.
USA Today also interviewed sisters Mary Griffin and Leslie Shinault who said, “We saw four strollers by the carousel, instead of hundreds,” said Griffin, 56. “And there was no one stepping on your heels.” However, a downside that most guests highlight is the mandatory use of facemasks especially in the Florida heat but Griffin understands that they’re “absolutely necessary.”
Though the news lately has been prevalent with stories of some people pushing back against COVID-19 mask-wearing restrictions there haven’t been any stories of non-compliance at the theme parks as of yet. This is of course a story that we’ll continue to follow closely here at MickeyBlog. Readers are encouraged to keep checking back with us for the latest Walt Disney World news and updates.