Enjoyable! No surprise there, the attractions at Disney World are always enjoyable. The biggest question we had heading to Disney World during COVID is how the overall experience on the different attractions at Disney World differs from previously. We did a lot of research and watched a variety of different videos, but like anything, you don’t really know until you experience it for yourself. In our last DVC Duo trip review, we covered staying at Disney Resort, after checking in were heading to the parks. We’ve strapped on our MagicBands and we’re ready to ride!
Prepping For The Parks
Before heading off to the parks, we had to add a few things to our park bag. Traditionally, our park bag is ready to go, but this time around we had to make a few adjustments. The big change is the addition of extra face-coverings. Prior to the “new-norm” we always carried hand-sanitizer in our park bag, so that was nothing new (just more of it this time around). Face-coverings however were something new. Not knowing what to expect from both a heat and comfort perspective we brought a couple of options.
Reports have been all over the place regarding what it’s like to wear a face-covering at Disney World. To you say forget your wearing it all together may be a little extreme, as we definitely knew we wearing them (back of mind type of thing) and it does get warm. However, it did not take away from our park experience in any way. If anything it helped us slow down and really enjoy our different snacks and drinks. Previously, we’re the people who would eat/drink on the go while in the parks. Additionally, we found taking breaks either in our resort room, or in the park relaxation areas, or even enjoying a sit-down lunch worked well.
The other major change is the temperature check prior to entering the parks. All guests are required to go through the temperature screening prior to entering. Overall, this process was very smooth, even at the busier times. The longest we had to wait was maybe 5 to 7 minutes. In our experience, we did not see any guests “failing” the temperature screen. The heat did not seem to impact the screening process. To give you an idea we had a couple of days with a heat index in excess of 106 F.
It should be noted that face-coverings are required at all-times at Disney World unless you’re in your resort room, actively eating and stationery while in the parks, or sitting down for either at a table service restaurant or quick service meal.
Let’s Line Up
What’s the best change to the attractions at Disney World during COVID? Physically distanced queues! This is one of the changes we’re hoping is here for a while. The lines do appear to be longer, for example, the Frozen Ever After queue started in the China Pavilion, however, they moved very quickly (~30 minutes). Disney has set-up the queues to provide a minimum of six feet between you and the party in front of you. Many times the spacing seemed like it was eight to ten feet, and where there are switchbacks, the distance could be even greater. In areas where Disney could not space out the switchbacks, they’ve installed plexiglass panels to separate guests.
From our experience, everyone was very courteous and followed the physically distancing markers within the attraction queues. It’s not to say from time to time people may have accidentally missed a marker and been a little closer than desired. When this happened everyone worked together to reestablish the physical distancing.
When Disney World reopened one of the things that did not return is FastPass. Everyone is using the standard standby queues to experience the different attractions at Disney World. However, don’t be surprised if you see guests in the FastPass queues as they are being used for guests who are part of the Disability Access System (DAS). For more information on DAS please reference the following article.
The experience before the experience. One of the big changes to almost every Disney World attraction is the removal of the pre-show. Whether it’s the stretching room at the Haunted Mansion and Hondo talking to you before you pilot the Millennium Falcon, the vast majority of the pre-shows areas are being used as part of the queues. Some of the pre-shows are still taking place as you queue through them, for example, Dinosaur. However, you may or may not catch all of the pre-show depending on the length of the line.
There are two exceptions to this right now. The first being Flight of Passage, as it now has a modified version of the pre-show. We’ll hold off on spoilers for anyone looking to enjoy the attraction for the first time. The second being Rise of the Resistance. From what we experienced, Rise of the Resistance is the only attraction using an unmodified version of its pre-show.
But first, hand-sanitizer. We noticed plenty of hand sanitizers around the attractions. There is usually one at the beginning of the queue, just prior to boarding the attraction, and then when you exit the attraction. Additionally, more often than not we saw multiple hand-sanitizer dispensers set-up within the queues.
Physical distancing continued on the attractions. Every attraction is doing it a little differently. For the most part, the roller coasters are sitting people in every other row, the boat rides are using the front and back rows, and dark rides are going every other car. A couple of the more unique experiences had to be in Star Wars Galaxy Edge. On the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run you got the whole cockpit to yourself (your group) and had the option to pick your position. We chose the pilot of course! Then on Rise of the Resistance, you have the whole car to yourself.
Overall, it was fantastic to experience our favorite attractions again. A couple of the attractions you may want to request the front row on would be Living with the Land and Dinosaur. Both of these attractions have plexiglass between the rows. While it does not greatly impact your experience, it can feel a little claustrophobic.
While on the attraction face-coverings are required. It should be noted if you remove your face-covering first Disney will not provide your on-ride photo. Ride photos are taking a little longer to appear in the My Disney Experience as Disney is reviewing every photo. Additionally, Disney is watching the rides closely and making announcements if guests to remove a face-covering while on the ride.
Without FastPass, the big question is what are the ride wait times like? Overall, we noticed the posted wait times to be longer than what we actually waited. This could be due to a variety of factors, from not handing out the red “tracking cards” to Disney adding in cleaning time. On average it takes Disney about 20 minutes to do a cleaning cycle on each attraction. The attraction cast members may or may not announce when a cleaning cycle is taking place. The best way to tell is when the queue stops for a period of time greater than five minutes, this usually means the attraction is being cleaned (this happens around every two hours for each attraction).
When looking at the days of the week, we definitely saw wait times increase on the weekends, as more locals were in the parks. The two busiest parks on the weekend were Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. If you have the flexibility to do so we would recommend having your Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios days during the week.
Overall, we saw the wait times drop as it got closer to the end of the day. In what we can best describe as the inverse to rope drop, we found the end of the day to have shorter lines. We were able to knock out a lot of attractions in the last few hours of the day compared to first thing in the morning. It appeared that a lot of people were getting to the parks early, especially Hollywood Studios (due to Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups).
Worth it for us. Overall, there was only one attraction we waited more than an hour for and that was Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Which makes sense, as it’s the newest attraction. We were able to ride all the attractions at Disney World we wanted to, multi times even. Yes, the experience is different than before, but definitely still very enjoyable. We felt very comfortable walking around the parks and at no time felt like we were putting ourselves in an unsafe environment.
In our next DVC Duo trip review article we’ll be diving into transportation!
Previous Trip Review Article: Staying at Disney World
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