Our flight arrived late last evening from our 17-day vacation to WDW during COVID-19. I’m not going to do a day-by-day breakdown of our trip, but I thought I’d share some of our experiences, as they pertain to the pandemic in case any Liners are contemplating a trip.
Park Entry: We went to a park every day except the first and last day of our trip. We went to DHS six times, MK five times, and AK and EP two times each. At each park, we first had our temperature taken by Advent Health. Even after waiting in line in the hot sun, evidently our temperatures never exceeded 100.4 F, as we were always allowed entry. The staff from Advent Health were very quick and friendly. I’m not sure if they were trained by Disney, but they behaved like one would expect of all the CMs there. When we wore our Happily-Ever-After buttons, they always wished us a happy anniversary and/or they would comment on our Disney-Bounding outfits. I didn’t see anyone denied entry or asked to wait in the separate cooling-down area.
Social Distancing: The parks have signs and regular audio reminders to practice physical distancing. Each of the queues is marked with please-wait-here signs that are taped to the ground. Some of the queues now have a barrier in between the rows so that people are not breathing on each other. Other queues have rows that are blocked off in order to allow more room between the rows. And in yet other queues, they have the rows open but the please-wait-here signs are placed at the end of one row beginning of the next row over to create a buffer in between them where no one should be standing. Some of the attractions also have barriers for the same reason, such as Kilamanjaro Safaris. Where there is an auditorium, such as in the HoP or Mickey’s PhilharMagic, every other row is blocked off and then groups of four seats are available in the other rows; these are separated by a few seats on which signs have been placed to indicate they are not available.
Of course, it is easy to get caught up in the surroundings and end up following too closely behind the person in front of you. Or, if you’re not paying close attention, you might assume that there is a sign posted six feet in front of you when there actually is not, so you can sometimes end up standing in a spot where you aren’t supposed to be. This is understandable; it happened to us and to others in line with us. However, there were some guests who didn’t seem concerned about distancing at all and were pretty much right on our tail during the entire wait. We’d give them “dirty looks,” and some would realize what they were doing, whereas others seemed totally oblivious. One group of guests at TSM was particularly bad, so I mentioned to the CM that they might need a little reminder and that I thought I’d let him know since I really didn’t have the authority to tell other guests what to do. I was a little surprised that he told me that he didn’t have that authority either. I’m not sure if that was really true or if he just wanted to avoid any confrontation. (It wasn’t like they were big burly guys; they were girls who were 12 or 13 years old.) It seems to me that CMs should be able to give guests a friendly and kindly reminder.
Masks: For the most part, the guests wore their masks appropriately. We saw a few who didn’t here and there. We found that most of those who didn’t wear them correctly fell into the 18-30 age bracket, and it would primarily be in the queue or on the attraction when they would not be compliant. They would have their masks on when entering the queue, but as soon as they passed the CM or as soon as the attraction began and they were not in view of a CM, down would some the masks – you know, like children behave. Then when they would pass another CM or the attraction ended, the masks would come back up. Some would also do this while on the buses.
This was very irritating to us. My DW is 54, she has asthma, and she is very claustrophobic about having anything on her face; she doesn’t even like to wear hats for this reason. So, if she can handle wearing a mask all day in a humid, hot theme park, I am not sure why these young people can’t seem to do it. When we’d see young people pulling down their masks, I’d sing to my DW, “I’m too sexy for my mask, too sexy for my mask, so sexy, don’t ask.”
We did see older ones flouting the rules here and there as well. There was one woman in her 60s or so, who pulled her mask down during the queue for BTMRR except when there were CMs present. When the ride started, down came the mask again. While on the ride, she was waving to someone waiting for her on the ground; she pulled her mask down further and was making faces at the person in kind of a defiant look-at-me-I’m-not-wearing-a-mask manner.
Regardless of one’s feeling about the need to wear masks, by entering the park each is silently agreeing that they will wear masks except when eating and drinking while stationary. IMO, when they break that rule it is tantamount to lying and reneging on a contract. If you can’t comply with that rule, that’s fine; just wait to go at a time when it is no longer required.
Also, it’s not like breaking a rule such as not chewing gum where the worst-case scenario is that a guest needs to take several minutes to scrape it off their shoe. If one breaks the mask rule, it could potentially kill someone. So, it would just drive us crazy that there were some who were so incredibly disrespectful. But, again, most complied with the mask rule.
Food: We ate at several restaurants during our trip. You are allowed to take your masks off at the table, but if you need to get up and, say, use the restroom, you would need to put your mask back on. Sometimes it was difficult to figure out where to place your masks in the meantime without contaminating them. You hate to just set it on the table. A couple of restaurants preemptively provided a solution: At The Wave, they provided a small plate on which to place your mask, and at Paddlefish, they provided a small bag. Everywhere else, you just had to figure it out on your own.
The menus were understandably somewhat limited, and some restaurants were not open at all. We stayed at CB and ate food from the Marketplace a few times. Instead of putting the food on plates, they would put it in small, brown boxes. Some dishes were fine for this, but it was difficult to eat others (i.e., Mickey Waffles) this way. At all the other restaurants, the presentation of the food was similar to our experience in the past.
We had a weird experience at Regal Eagle. A teenage girl at the table next to us vomited on the floor. The other teens with her took her home, while the adults stayed at the table. It took several minutes before the CMs cleaned it up. It was quite disconcerting.
Note: If you like salt on your food, you have to ask for it. They are not currently leaving salt and pepper shakers on the tables, but they will bring you the little packets upon request.
Hand Washing: There were a few hand-washing stations throughout the parks. The soap in the regular restrooms didn’t lather up very well at all. I’d usually wash for 10 seconds, rinse, and then wash for another 10-15 seconds again just to be safe. I didn’t see any other men washing for 20 seconds. Some would wash for 5-10 seconds, others would just rinse, others just bypassed the sinks altogether. This is gross at any time – but it is especially appalling now.
Note: The soap at the hand-washing stations seemed to lather up much better than that in the restrooms.
Sign at entry: One thing that I found a little humorous was the sign at the entry of the park. It recommended that if you had a temperature, if you felt nausea, if you had diarrhea, if you have a cough, if you had a headache, that you not enter the park. I understand the point of the sign, but it pretty much describes the symptoms I have at one point or another on every trip to WDW that we’ve done so far. (This time, though, I actually felt better than I have on previous trips.)
How am I feeling now?
To be honest, I am feeling a bit crummy right now. (My DW seems to feel fine, though.) I have a bit of a headache, I feel a little dizzy, and I feel warm. (I took my temp just out of curiosity, and it’s fine.) I am currently chalking it up to the unhealthy (but tasty) food I’ve eaten over the past couple weeks. the late arrival last night, knowing how much catch-up I now need to do, and the PDD (post-Disney depression) that we all experience after a trip to WDW. I’ll post an update in a couple of weeks to let you know how we’re doing at that point.
It has now been two weeks since I got home, and I’m feeling fine. The crummy feeling after I returned is gone. Now I just need to lose the weight I gained from all the yummy food there and, of course, plan my next trip.