How To Stay Safe at the Theme Parks This Holiday Season
The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season is one of the most popular times of year to visit Walt Disney World. However a lot has changed since we last celebrated the Yuletide Season. If you’re planning on visiting Walt Disney World this holiday season, getting familiar with the changes at the theme parks will make your trip safer and more fun!
As Fodor’s points out in a recent piece on changes at the theme parks, visiting the theme parks is different than it used to be but you CAN still have a safe visit and a good time with a bit of extra prep. With that in mind here’s some steps to get your ready for a 2020 holiday visit.
Brush Up On The Rules Before You Visit
Just like visiting your local grocery store, a visit to the theme parks requires a bit more personal responsibility than it did during the COVID-19 crisis. Disney has a list of safety guidelines and has been firm in making sure these rules are adhered to. The big ones to make note of are:
- Face Coverings – Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members.
- Temperature Screenings – Temperature screenings are required for entry to some locations.
- Physical Distancing- Temporary adjustments are in place to promote physical distancing.
- Reduced Contact- Experiences may be modified in order to reduce contact including cashless transactions and modified housekeeping.
In addition at Disney World, you need to NOT ONLY purchase a ticket to visit the theme parks but MUST have a Park Pass Reservation which you make online to guarantee you admission to a specific park on a specific day.
You can find more information on all Disney’s health and safety policies here.
Pack Extra Masks
You may have gotten used to having a mask with you when going out and about but when it comes to visiting the Orlando theme parks its good to have a mini stockpile. For one, Florida temperatures are humid. Add to this the fact that you’ll be spending the day eat and drinking, getting caught in a rain shower or getting wet on Splash mountain and you get the idea. All these things can make for an icky facemask.
Also, since you are less, likely to want to do laundry while on vacation it pays to have a handful of masks that you can use during your visit. We recommend that you always have a back-up as well in your theme park bag in case you need to switch them out during the day.
Other Items You’ll Want To Pack
In addition to extra face masks, during COVID-19, we recommend some other items to bring along during your visit.
- Clorox Wipes – These are great to have in your theme parks bags to disinfect tables, chairs and even lap bars on rides (which are also cleaned regularly throughout the day.)
- Hand Sanitizer – Disney has really upped their game when it comes to hand sanitation stations throughout the parks. However, I always like to have a few in my bag just in case.
Keep Tabs on What’s Open and What’s Not
Though the majority of rides and attractions are available at each of Walt Disney World’s theme parks there are some notable exceptions. Due to social distancing restrictions the parks have cancelled all major parades, most shows, select character dining experiences, evening fireworks displays character meet and greets.
Essentially anything at the theme parks that encourages crowds to gather (like stage shows and parades) has been eliminated. Rides for the most part are open with social distancing queues and plexiglass dividers being used for health & safety.
Facemasks Don’t Mean No Photos
Just because you have facemasks on doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of Disney’s PhotoPass photography services. You’ll find Disney’s incredible team of Photopass photographers throughout the theme parks. They will be on hand to take pictures of you among Disney World’s most amazing backdrops and can even through in some magical touches like the Baby Yoda Magic Shot above to make the mementos of your visit truly magical.
With Memory Maker you can enjoy unlimited photo downloads for your entire stay for $69.00. You can find out more about this awesome service here.
Be Sure To Turn Off Face Recognition On Your Phone
A big thank you to Fodor’s for pointing this one out! Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. If you use face recognition to unlock your SmartPhone be sure to turn it off before hitting the theme parks. This function WILL NOT work will your mask is on and Disney won’t take kindly to you removing your mask to unlock your phone as face mask policies at the parks are strictly enforced.
Fodor recommends switching back to the numeric passcode until your theme park stay is over.
Have Courage and Be Kind
Take these words from live-action Cinderella to heart and remember, these are unprecedented times for everyone. The people around you, including cast members are all adapting to the chances that come with being at the theme parks during a pandemic. Also remember that cast members have a responsibility to keep you as well as themselves safe during your visit. Be respectful, cooperative and pro-active when it comes to doing your part to abide by the policies put in place to make your visit a healthy one.
Know Your Limits
Disney has put many policies in place to keep you safe but know your personal limits as well. For instance, many guests find face masks in the heat to pose an extra challenge. For this reason why might want to take things at a slower pace or allow time for breaks. Though Disney World theme parks will only be at 30% capacity during your visit, crowds can still be an issue especially in the mornings. Learn what situations to avoid and don’t be afraid to alter your plans, switch up your touring plan if you think it helps your family feel more safe. Disney has done the lion’s share of making health and safety policies are in place but you know what’s best for your family so don’t be afraid to take extra precautions!
Don’t Over Plan and Stay Flexible
Before COVID-19, a trip to Disney was usually met with months of frantic planning. You’d book your stay a year in advance, dining plans six months out and plan your theme park days with military like precision. With so many changes along with Disney’s temporary decision to do away with dining plans, Fastpasses and more, its good to adapt a go-with-the-flow attitude. With COVID-19 cases fluctuating wildly in the country and with new guidelines being put into place regularly, Disney has adapted a policy of total flexibility. If you decide at the last minute not to take your trip reach out to Disney or your travel agent who are happy to help. If you plan on visiting, adapt a go with the flow attitude and take the changes as they come. Save the rigid planning for a Disney trip you take after things are back to “normal.”
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