Stuff I Noticed during My Disney Trip Last Week
I’m currently in one of those grim timeframes when my Disney Countdown number is in triple digits.
Barring something unforeseen – and I’m hoping for that! – I won’t return to the parks until Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary on October 1st.
So, I’m left thinking about everything that happened during my most recent stay.
Here are several observations from my Disney trip.
Thoughts on Transportation
Unless you drive to Disney, the first thing you’ll experience involves transportation.
You may ride Magical Express, or you may take a bus to/from your Disney resort.
During my visit, Disney transportation worked efficiently. I should alert you to a couple of quirks, though.
Due to capacity limits, buses and boats fill up rather quickly. In fact, you may notice some boat seats that indicate “For your safety not available.”
Don’t be confused if every row includes it. The sign specifically references the aisle seat, not the entire row. It’s for your safety.
As for buses, you may discover an empty one when you board. In such instances, the driver ordinarily waits until more passengers arrive.
So, your momentary happiness may lessen as you wait longer. We just pulled out our smartphones and played on the internet.
Overall, Disney’s done an excellent job with seating guests on transportation. I’d give them an A in this category.
Thoughts on Resorts
I’m a big fan of the recent resort changes. I love skipping the front desk when I check into the resort.
Similarly, I like opening the room door using a MagicBand or smartphone rather than a hotel key. I always found those awkward and unsanitary.
Walking through hotels, you cannot help but notice that they’re less crowded. Still, Disney operates them as usual.
We noticed Movies Under the Stars on multiple nights, and the pools were always popular.
Check-in times run a bit later than usual, which is understandable. Disney’s cleaning staff detailed the extra steps in place to protect guests. It’s…a lot.
Thoughts on Cast Members
I wrote down several individuals worthy of cast member compliments.
However, my overall perception of Disney workers is that they seem tired.
Nobody could have possibly anticipated that the pandemic would linger for a year.
Most of the changes in place appeared temporary when the parks reopened last July. Now, Disney has indicated that they’ll last through 2021.
As such, cast members have grown exhausted with their constant need to remind guests to follow the rules.
When people get jobs at Disney, they expect to bring joy into the lives of others.
Nobody expects to spend six months nagging people to put their masks over their mouths and noses. And that brings us to…
Thoughts on Other Guests
Legitimately 95 percent of guests follow all the rules and behave respectfully.
Unfortunately, one or two thoughtless guests can disrupt a visit. And that happens sometimes.
Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. During our five park days, we only encountered maybe five problematic guests.
Unfortunately, one of them behaved so obnoxiously that I still get irritated when I think about them.
The individual ate in line and paid no attention to the social distancing markers. At one point, I literally felt spittle on my neck, which was the last straw.
I angrily asked this person to get behind the line. The other guest obeyed this practice for the rest of the ride, but it shouldn’t have come to that.
To Disney’s credit, cast members ejected people from lines for misbehaving. So, instances like mine remain rare.
I don’t want to lie to you and tell you that everything’s kumbaya all the time, though.
Thoughts on Ride Wait-Times
Here’s an area where I was delighted my entire trip.
Before I rode anything, I noticed that Frozen Ever After and Soarin’s wait-times were 15 minutes each.
During our visit, Tomorrowland Speedway showed a wait of zero minutes on several occasions. I didn’t even know that was possible as a display option.
My wife got to ride Haunted Mansion three straight times, and it was virtually walk-on in each instance.
As I’ll discuss in a moment, only one of four Walt Disney World theme parks involves any sort of significant wait.
I’ve spent 12 days at Walt Disney World since Halloween, and this statement has applied each time.
Yes, you’ll experience some randomness depending on when you visit. Still, as long as you monitor My Disney Experience, you’ll be fine.
From a ride perspective, the current environment represents the best time in your life to visit Walt Disney World.
We could have done anything we wanted at all the parks but one…
Thoughts on Parks
So, we entered the park knowing that we’d ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
As such, we started the day by walking straight to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
We noticed that the park had opened early, which meant we didn’t know what to expect about the wait-time.
Our group entered Hollywood Studios right at 9:00 a.m., the theoretical park opening.
Well, we felt delighted to learn that the wait-time was only 25 minutes, most of which we spent in pleasant interactions with cast members.
Everyone at Disney seems to love talking about WandaVision right now.
By 9:30, we’d exited the ride and walked over to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Alas, by 10 a.m., our day changed dramatically.
Line queues grew to the point that even Muppet*Vision 3D required a 40-minute wait.
During our four-hour park day, we rode Rise of the Resistance, Runaway Railway, and…Alien Swirling Saucers.
That’s probably not a trifecta that happens often. We actually ditched Hollywood Studios and went Park Hopping instead.
Therein lies the rub. Magic Kingdom is probably the second-most crowded Disney park at the moment, and it’s relatively empty on most dates.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom similarly offers short lines to the point that we knocked out both Pandora rides in an hour one afternoon.
My wife and I rode Soarin’ more than anything else at Walt Disney World during our trip. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that possible.
When you visit right now, the only park where you’ll fight the crowds is Hollywood Studios. Plan accordingly.
Thoughts on Dining
I’ve mentioned many times that I’m a fan of Table Service restaurants. I prefer sit-down meals that allow me to rejuvenate after a hectic park visit.
During this visit, I adjusted my behavior to allow for the pandemic. We didn’t book dining reservations for most of our meals, a rarity for us.
So, we had a much more open-ended itinerary, especially with our meals. I even tried the new Table Service to Go feature, which was a debacle.
Overall, my dining experiences were fantastic, though. Some restaurants have adapted their menus to reflect the ingredient pinch in the south.
Some longtime favorites weren’t available. However, I took this opportunity to stretch my boundaries a bit and tried some new items.
Frankly, Disney’s doing better with its dining options than anywhere in my local area, and I live in a place with a population of 850,000.
Some places like Woody’s Lunch Box are actually better than they were before the pandemic. The dining situation is vastly improved right now.
The Table Service plans don’t require physical check-in anymore, a welcome update.
However, the delay between checking in and sitting down confuses some guests.
You should plan for the process to take 10 minutes but remain adaptable in case you get seated quickly.
As for Mobile Ordering, my only suggestion is to verify your order before leaving the premises. We experienced some disappointments in this area.
Thoughts on Safety
Here’s the ballgame if you’re on the fence about visiting Disney during the pandemic.
Your favorite business has done everything possible to ensure your safety.
Social distancing markers are everywhere, and the loudspeakers remind guests to obey the rules.
Still, there’s a curious pandemic behavior across society. The longer this has gone on, the sloppier people have become about the rules.
Some folks just don’t have that sort of attention span. This mannerism applies to line queues, too.
As people wait longer, some of them forget to remain behind the markers. Similarly, a small percentage of people starts taking down their masks.
This behavior never lasts for more than a moment, and cast members immediately warn people when they see it.
I’m telling you this so that you won’t feel surprised if you notice it.
On the whole, Disney has done more at the parks than any single business has to protect customers during the pandemic.
Some park guests aren’t as dedicated to safety, but everyone expected this. The prevailing belief is that 70 percent of people must do everything right.
As long as that happens, people are safe. At Walt Disney World, the number of respectful guests is closer to 100 percent. Most Disney fans are fantastic.
As such, I believe it’s safe to travel, which is why we’ve done so twice in four months.
In truth, Disney feels much safer than where I live. I commend the company for that.
Feature Photo: Matt Stroshane