Hi all - trying to decide if it is now safe to go to Disneyland and CA. Do you feel your fellow visitors and following the safety precautions and we won’t catch covid?
This will very greatly by individual. My family is not going to Disney (Florida or CA) until our kids are vaccinated. We don’t think it is currently safe unless vaccinated. After the kids are vaccinated, we are planning to go to Orlando (and would be ok with going to CA too).
This is a very big discussion that has been debated on these, and many other, forums for the last year.
There really isn’t any consensus. It’s just going to come down to your comfort level with travel and large group gatherings.
I realize that’s not the answer you were probably looking for, but it’s really the only one anyone is going to give you.
I have been back to Anaheim 7 times since Covid started 5 of those to the parks and have felt very safe and kinda proud at how all guests and travelers I was around behaved and followed all instructions. Amtrak and all the Lyft rides included. I came back this last trip from Oogie Boogie bash and 2 days later I had a headache, runny nose, sore throat, dry cough. DD had a mild stomach bug. We went for a Covid test and both tested negative. I think the difference this trip was masks aren’t required outside in the park. Just inside shops or rides. I admit we got lazy Distancing also isn’t required and those treat trails got kinda crowded. We will be returning again soon and will most likely wear masks around any crowds.
I have been to both WDW and DL multiple times since July 2020, just got back last night from WDW. No covid for me even with lots of plane travel, lots of parks days, no social distancing at the parks (and no masks anywhere except when I had too). Yes I am vaccinated, also a health care worker and no covid. I say go, wear your mask inside (and outside if it makes you comfortable). It’s been a long 18 months, I wouldn’t waste another minute to live life. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.
We have to break down your question.
First, you have to define “safe”. Do you mean safe from catching COVID entirely? Sounds like it from your follow up question. But it is more nuanced than that because you can, of course, catch COVID and not know it (asymptomatic), or catch COVID and become mildly sick, or worse. But if we limit the discussion to just “catching” in any form, fine.
Second, you use the word “feel”. “Feeling safe” is different from “Being safe”. Feeling really is an individual decision and sense. It is hard for me to project how I feel about it onto another. Others may feel perfectly safe, or feel mildly safe, or not feel safe in the slightest. Of course, “feeling” really has little (or nothing) to do with whether you actually ARE safe, aside from the personal precautions you take as a result of those feelings. Some may go, and because they don’t “feel safe enough” might decide to wear a mask everywhere. Others may feel safe enough that they are annoyed they have to wear a mask at all.
But what does feeling have to do with it? Not much. Instead, it is more a question of relative risk.
So, third, what is your relative risk? Again, this depends on your person situation. Are you and everyone in your party vaccinated? If so, your risk is significantly lower of catching COVID (although, with the Delta variant being prevalent, that “significantly lower risk” is LESS significantly lower than with prior variants). And even if you do catch it, being vaccinated makes you significantly less likely to become severely ill (or die)…but it doesn’t eliminate the risk entirely.
Then, whether you have been vaccinated or not, you would need to look at other risk factors…particularly age. The younger you and those in your party are, the less risk there is not of CATCHING it, but of severe illness.
Fourth, you have to examine your own choices once you are there. How often will you be in enclosed spaces with others? Particularly when unmasked (meaning, dining, etc)? These are all factors.
All of these things, and more, play into any decision to go.
So, getting to the first part of your question, “Do YOU…” Meaning me, in my case. Do I feel safe?
I did. Our family went to Disney in August 2020 when full-time masking and social distancing was in place. My wife and I went again in December 2020 when the same masking requirements were still in place. Crowds were still lower, and social distancing was still a factor. SOME of those rules were overkill (such as making outside), but when it comes to FEELING safe, it is better to err on the side of caution. Then, we went again (sort of…to Universal) in May of this year. And there, the masking rules had been relaxed (in queues and indoors only), as had the social distancing rules. But we were now vaccinated, so our “risk sensitivity” was low.
In all cases, however, we still were careful to keep ourselves quarantined upon return from others (particularly our elderly parents) as a precaution.
But things change. And Delta is the main reason.
Delta is a whole new ball game, and so much more contagious that I’m not sure I would feel comfortable going to Disney right now, despite having done three trips in the past year and a half. It doesn’t help my DS11 hasn’t been vaccinated, and spread among the youth in particular, is rampant as a result. (Hopefully this will change soon, with Pfizer having submitted approval to the FDA for kids 5-11.) But even if my son was vaccinated, I’d be hesitant to go.
Increased crowds also makes me more leery. I was glad to see Disney re-instated mask requirements indoors. That is something, and the truth is, if we did go, we would probably be more likely to mask up than the rules indicate. (We are masking up just for our daily errands and church now, once again, here at home.)
Now, having said all that, part of my hesitation is not fear for myself or my wife or kids…I think having been vaccinated, and aged 50 or less, our risk, even if we caught it, is low…but it is my parents I worry about. We interact with them constantly, and they are old and with a great deal many health issues. Even as they are vaccinated, they are MOST LIKELY to die from a breakthrough case. (In fact, a friend of my parents who is the same age, DID die from a breakthrough case.) So, I’m in a situation where I have to protect my parents as well.
Another thing to consider is if Disney will follow Universal Hollywood’s lead and require proof of vaccination. I know it’s a different county, so different rules (for now at least) but that could change.
For reference, this is from the Universal Hollywood website:
Per LA County’s Public Health order, beginning October 7, all persons ages 12+ must be prepared to show proof of full FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccination (a full 14 days after final dose was administered), or a negative test taken within 72 hours of visit, prior to entry to the theme park. Persons ages 18+ must also show photo ID. Verification will take place when required based on theme park attendance. Regardless of vaccination status, face coverings are required to be worn at all times, both indoors and outdoors, when visiting the theme park.
As others have said this is a loaded question, and the answer will depend on your level of risk/benefits and personal situation.
Here is my situation:
- My husband and I work in healthcare directly with COVID patients on a daily basis. I am with dying ICU COVID patients on a daily basis.
- All members of my family (both those in my household and those in my immediate family) have been fully vaccinated and do not interact w/people who are not fully vaccinated and are very conscious of social distancing/mask wearing/etc.
- I follow all CDC recommendations plus an extra layer (i.e. I fly wearing my medical fitted N95, don’t eat indoors, and wear a mask outdoors)
So with that said, I just came back from a 3 day trip to DL including the halloween party. Was I safe? Yes. I am fully vaccinated, wore a mask outdoors and indoors, and didn’t eat indoors except for in my hotel room. I also took a break in the room multiple times a day and took this trip at a much more relaxed pace than I previously would have. I also went in the middle of the week with park hoppers and low predicted crowd levels.
Did I always feel safe?
No. Social distancing was non existent and the fact that most people did not wear masks outside was somewhat stressful - including outdoor lines.
The question is, what would make me feel safe at all times? For me the answer to that question is: If everyone in the park was vaccinated/and or had a negative COVID test, masks were required both inside and outdoors and rides were socially distanced (i.e. I didnt have to sit next to someone I don’t know). AKA the current rules at Disney Paris.
However, I knew going into this trip that was not the situation and I managed to deal with my anxieties in a way that did not detract from me having fun. I stayed away from events that had large crowds such as fireworks. I loved the halloween party and the low crowds in the party, some of the treat trails seemed to be crammed so I did not do them but I was able to do the things I wanted and had a fantastic time. I am glad I went and I had a magical time. I also am testing for COVID every 48 hrs after for 10 days and so far have been negative (today is day 8).
So all that to say, you need to do some soul searching and do what is best for you and the people you care about.
Like everyone has said it’s a very personal decision and only you can make that for yourself, but I have found that reading others’ experiences with arriving at the decision they made helps informs my family’s decisions. If that would help you, click the down arrow below.
Background on how we ended up Disneyland 2x even though we're a Covid cautious family
We’re a family of 6. Me, husband and four kids. All 4 kids are under 12 so unvaccinated (come on kids vaccine(s)!!); the hubby & I are fully vaccinated.
Prior to COVID we were Disneyland Annual Passholders and were making the 10 hr drive for 3 day weekend trips anywhere from every 2 months to every 2 weeks (depending on budget & schedules). We love the place and hardly a week goes by (even during the long shutdown) that we don’t talk about it as a family.
When COVID came roaring in March 2020, our 4th (& final) child was just barely 3 months old so we were had already been somewhat hunkering down at home as we did for all our kids in their first 1-2 months of life, to keep her away from potential flu/RSV exposure. We were happy Disney paused all passes for the foreseeable future as we didn’t really want to risk travel with a newborn in a pandemic. We had actually at the very start of 2020 when COVID was only known in Wuhan, planned our next 3 day weekend trip to Disneyland (and the first for the baby) for the last weekend of Feb 2020 but cancelled because COVID was becoming more of a concern.
And even though COVID is primarily as a disease impacting elderly and those with certain comorbidities, our response of keeping our children safe has always been extremely vigilant not just because of the baby, but also due to the medical history of our 3rd child. Long story short: in his first RSV/flu season he was seriously hospitalized for RSV once in Feb 2018 at 9 months old for a week, including 3 nights in the PICU and a second time in May 2018 at 12 months old for 2 nights. After which his pediatrician warned of his higher risk for developing asthma or at least being sensitive to respiratory related diseases (so a HUGE part of why we haven’t rolled the dice much with COVID).
He’s now 4 and we’ve watched him since that 2nd hospitalization get croup 3x (our older kids got it first & gave it to him all of those times) and 2/3x he needed steroids. Also, anytime there’s even the faintest bit of smoke or poor air quality he develops a cough even if we keep him indoors and run an air purifier. So he’s at least moderately predisposed to more easily getting congested, taking longer to clear up etc.
However, we’ve not gotten any more serious concerns or indicators of asthma. Because of that, our pediatrician did give us the great news and reassurance that the older he gets without presenting as an asthmatic, the more his risk with respiratory infection in general becomes closer to any regular kid (and that is a big YAY because the risk for COVID to healthy kids really is quite low).
Now for how this all factored into our Disneyland habits.
We’ve been two times to Disneyland since re-opening. The first time in June 15-20, the very soonest out of state guests could return. We were very nervous and almost didn’t go, but eventually decided to take the plunge because Disney had been excellent in all their protocols and the case rates and vaccination rates in California were both more favorable than our home county so it was less risk than doing anything like that at home.
We still went even though we knew the rules could change on a dime and we knew for certain that June 15th they were throwing social distancing out the window, but we felt relatively assured that the universal masking would continue and that even if it didn’t, California had some great precautions for vaccination/negative test requirements for large events that would theoretically replace universal masking (or so we thought).
We learned on June 14th (already having driven into California and while we were trying to enjoy our day in the San Diego zoo) that Disney announced moving away from the universal masking and instead only asking for anyone unvaccinated to mask. We were very distraught at this news. However, we got the advice from two separate nurse friends to double-masked the kids and focus on staying outdoors and continue on our trip plans.
We had already planned on eating solely outdoors as distanced as possible (or just in our hotel room) and we did have a few small N95’s that we used for the kids anytime they were going to be inside for longer than 30 seconds (which was limited to maybe 3-4 hours total, except of course for our hotel room, over the span of 6 days on the trip). We also quarantined before our trip (and none of the kids had symptoms and hubby & I were fully vaccinated so we didn’t test) and then we quarantined again after our trip. On coming home, 5/6 of us had at least one symptom within a week so we did get tested 7 days after returning home- and all tests were negative, thankfully.
When we first got home from that trip (and especially after we all experienced symptoms showing that we were at least exposed to something), we weren’t sure that we would rush back anytime soon. But we also didn’t regret going as the crowds really were fabulously low and we were very happy with how we were able to mostly avoid being uncomfortable while still enjoying our time in our happy place.
So how did we end up going again just recently (September 16-19). Two main factors: 1. With the return of a yearlong pass (Magic Key) we could look at resuming our more frequent trips and 2. Home (most especially for our 2 elementary aged children whose schools cannot require masks or even quarantines) has by far and wide become much riskier than what we could select to do in Disneyland. This time because our kids are in school, we tested the kids before going (all negative again) and we quasi-quarantined them as well. This was more because their school just the Friday before our trip reached a threshold of cases that the hubby & I agreed would mean we would keep them home so when we left they hadn’t been in school for 5 calendar days/3 school days (we are lucky our state has at least suspended truancy laws until June 2022 so we do get a LOT more of a say on how many days we send/don’t send the kids to school without wreaking the havoc of truancy court upon us). And again we all tested again following our trip (and again all thankfully negative).
If you choose to skip the background, the bottom line for us is: we’re comfortable going back to Disneyland because we’ve gone a bunch before, will go a bunch again & so nothing is must-do and we can pivot away from any activity that doesn’t feel safe for us. Overall, we did find ourselves still finding plenty to do & enjoy and safely even. Although there were a few things (fireworks mostly) that we usually love to do that were a lot less comfortable to safely enjoy.
As of our most recent trip (Sept 16-19) masks were only required indoors and it was mostly enforced. Outdoors, even in crowded situations (like fireworks viewing), masks were entirely optional.
The best enforcement was for rides that were indoors with the attraction cast members making announcements, stopping guests at entryways and if needed, providing masks (only once did I see someone need a mask, everyone else had one on them to put on if they didn’t already have it on in the outdoor portion of the line and/or walking around).
Everyone complied with wearing/having a mask, not everyone wore them properly and enforcement largely depended on how close a cast member was, but if there was one close by, the guest(s) not wearing their mask properly were asked to secure their mask over their nose/under their chin & all guests asked complied without issue.
In everything else indoors, enforcement/asking for all to wear masks was spotty. Absolutely no one is enforcing the requirement in restrooms (though there is signage posted) and this was the most notable gap for us as every single restroom stop we did encountered at least one if not more unmasked individuals entering the restrooms. For stores there was no noticeable/very little enforcement except at World of Disney in Downtown Disney. Some indoor counter/quick service restaurants enforced it, but not all. We did zero indoor sit-down dining so no idea if they are enforcing wearing to & from your table/moving about the restaurant.
Even without enforcement though, still 80-90% of people wore masks and you can limit most of all of these activities so you can safely navigate through the parks still. And anytime we were indoors (especially in the restrooms) we used N95/KN95’s and then outdoors switched back to a regular high quality cloth or surgical mask for just walking around.
We also chose to only eat outdoors and made sure to eat at off-times so we could have better luck scoring a table away from people and/or brought food back to our hotel room. And we made sure to take a midday break to avoid the most crowded time in the parks. You may also want to avoid leaving right at close, timing it to either leave 10 or so minutes before close or waiting as long as possible in the hour after to leave.
And definitely avoid rope drop (showing up 30-60 minutes before parking opening to line up for security/turnstiles and then the official park opening) and instead show up just before or shortly after the park opens as most of the lines will be through security and the turnstiles and you can just follow in after the official park opening and giving distance to those in front of you (and by doing this choose a ride that isn’t a high demand ride right at first).
Hope this helps give you some information & if you have any questions on any other specific questions we can answer, please ask away!
Just throwing my thoughts in - My family all went to DL a few weeks ago. We’re all fully vaccinated and my husband also got breakthrough Covid last year (relatively mild) so we felt like we were all immune. We were still careful and followed all masking rules, but… I got breakthrough Covid some time on the trip. I first got cold-like symptoms the day we left (thankfully it didn’t ruin our Oogie Boogie bash!!). I thought it was just a cold and probably wouldn’t have even taken a test until I got home and lost my sense of smell. Of course I could have gotten it at the airport, the plane, the hotel, etc., but it does happen. Thanks to being fully vaccinated I never got really sick and I recovered quickly. But… I probably spread germs before I ever got symptoms. The good news is that despite being in very close hotel quarters, my husband and both sons tested negative and never got symptoms. Message: GET VACCINATED - it works.
That’s great that they didn’t get it and you did well with it!
I’m sorry you got sick, especially with the travel plans. But definitely glad it wasn’t more than a mild case and very good news to hear no spreading with the family- even in close quarters. And AMEN to vaccination.