In looking at my blog the other night, I realize that almost every post is now related to Disney before Covid. And quite frankly, everything has changed since Covid. So I figured I’ll put together a quick summary of all the things you really need to know about visiting Disney during Covid before I some day get to a big overhaul of the blog.
The Fast Pass+ system is currently on hiatus. There’s a lot of good and bad to this. The good: It does make visiting Walt Disney World a heck of a lot easier than it used to be. Now, you can get on a plane, arrive at Disney World, and enjoy your day. Before, you needed to spend a few hours making solid plans months before you arrived, making it very stressful if you were visiting for the first time. The elimination of fast passes does mean longer lines, but it also means great flexibility in what you do during the day. The bad: It just means you can’t walk right on to the ride, however… that leads me to thought #2.
While the lines are longer, and the wait times seem high, don’t ever be put off by those wait times. I would also say – don’t ever be put off simply by the length of a line. Ever since Covid, I’ve hardly ever found a wait time that is accurate. For example expedition Everest will say there’s a 25 minute wait, it’s really a five minute wait. Any ride showing in 20 minutes is usually walk on. So don’t look at a wait time and be put off! It’s not a bad trade-off to giving up fast passes. Plus – just to address the length of the line, those lines are spread WAY OUT, making sure every group of guests is about 8’ apart… So even though the line may look huge, in reality, it’s not. Be sure to check out my post on some of the Secrets of Walt Disney. Especially the one about showing up early. Go early! Leave in the afternoon! Enjoy the pool! Go back in the evening!
The parades and fireworks shows are gone. Well, almost. Disney Parks now have traveling cavalcades throughout the day. Be sure to check out the cavalcades that I talked about in this post. In my opinion these cavalcades are far better than having a 3 PM parade. You never have to wait around, you don’t have to give up hours at the park sitting on the concrete under the hot sun just to save your spot. Breaking up the parade into these cavalcades has totally been an awesome perk. While I do miss the firework shows, and I also miss the live music and other interactive shows, I don’t see how they can return without hordes of people gathering together. I can only imagine what the WDW 50th fireworks would have been like.
Lots of people have been asking about seeing characters while you’re at the parks. Currently, there are very limited character dining experiences. Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort has a character breakfast, and I’ve heard that the dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom sometimes has Cinderella greet her guests. Garden Grill at Epcot, and Chef Mickey’s at The Contemproary Resort also have limited characters out and about during your meal.
As for the parks, the characters are out and about, you just have to be on the lookout for them. They’re in certain spots at Epcot (usually playing in the grass), and in Magic Kingdom they’re around as well. Cinderella’s Step Sisters are near the backside of the Castle, Jiminy Cricket is often spotted at Village Haus, and the Country Bears + Chip & Dale are usually around in Frontierland. Also, be sure to look behind you when you walk into Main Street. More often than not, a good amount of characters are waving good morning (or good night) from the Train Station. The only thing that stinks is they’re usually up high, or behind some sort of barricade so actually giving a character a hug just isn’t in the cards at this time. You won’t see the characters giving hugs and high fives. It will really feel good when we see that again!
Some of the downsides to Disney during Covid is definitely mask fatigue. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of bloggers on Instagram tell you to take multiple masks into the park each day. This is solid advice that you should follow. I had the hardest time wearing masks all day long when I went on my trip in September and November. The humidity makes wearing masks way worse, and Disney is extremely strict about your mask being over your nose and over your chin. There’s really no way to get around it. So definitely stock up on masks that you know are comfortable and that you can tolerate wearing for many hours, and certainly take extra masks with you into the park if you plan to go for an entire day.
Another thing I would advise is an eating plan. Sounds odd, I know, but you really need to have a plan about eating well in advance of getting hungry. Remember, it’s now required that all of your quick service dining has to be done in advance with mobile food orders. Don’t be intimidated by that, Mobile ordering is super simple to do!
No, Disney does not have the Disney Dining Plan right now, but every park has restaurants open. The catch is, not all of the dining venues are open. Which means choices are much more limited than usual, and on top of that- for whatever reason, some of the restaurants close HOURS before park closing time. I don’t understand why they do this. I can’t make sense of why some of the restaurants close up to three hours before park closing time. I do find it really annoying. So my main advice is to just be thinking ahead of what you’ll be doing for lunch and dinner, and if you can plan ahead – avoid the heaving lunch/dinner rush times.
And yes, you can always make reservations at sit down restaurants in Disney as well. Reservations open 60 days in advance and they’re hard to get because restaurant capacity is so limited. I’ve also seen a lot of people have success with getting a table just by walking up to a restaurant (like Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom – you just walk up and so far, they’ve been able to accommodate you!)
Also just a quick pro tip if you’re planning to eat at Woody’s Lunch Box in Hollywood studios. Order your food very early. For example, if you want to eat there for lunch, put your mobile order in well before lunchtime, we’re talking like 10 AM. Get on the app early, select what you want to eat. And just select that you’ll be there from 12 to 1. The windows will close quickly, so it’s best to get it done ASAP.
Do I think that you need to take hand sanitizer and wipes with you? No. I don’t. The one thing Disney has done an incredible job with is spacing people out, and putting up barriers between lines. Plus, there’s hand sanitizer absolutely everywhere. So I simply don’t think you need the weight of that stuff in your bag, but if it makes you feel better, take it with you.
I also want to mention one other thing about capacity. When the parks first reopened after Covid, it’s true, they were totally empty. Almost everything was a walk on. I feel very fortunate that I got to experience Disney soon after they re-opened. But I do need to be straight and tell you that those days are now gone. There are so many vacation destinations still aren’t open to tourists, but Disney is. So that’s drawing the people. The festivals at Epcot are still happening, and that’s drawing tourists and Annual Passholders. So just know, the parks are still kickin’ even with limited capacity.
A quick note about Rise of the Resistance. Even though I put a ton of work into a blog post on Rise, it seems to change every day. So here’s the latest: I would follow almost all of my same advice, but just know that you do not have to be in the park now to make the 7 AM lottery. You can join the lottery from anywhere. My best pro tip is to stay off Wi-Fi and this new tip and I’m adding:
Make sure you’re outside, and not inside any building, Hotel room, or under an overhang. Be in open air.
Sounds so strange I know, but I overheard other guests saying that they were unable to get into the lottery so they ran outside and were able to get in. Sure enough, I was in the same situation. Every time I have not been able to get into the lottery I have been inside a building. Every time I have been able to get in, I’ve been outside. The lottery also happens twice a day now (7am, 1pm) so if you don’t make the first lottery, set your alarms and keep trying. I have had success at both the morning lottery and the afternoon lottery. Some point soon, I’ll quit being lazy and update that old blog post… it just seems pointless at times because it’s always changing!
Coming soon I’ll be doing a post on my favorite resorts. But if you just want to know what my favorite resorts are I would simply say if you could spend the money, stay at the grand Floridian or the beach club resort. If you want a nice resort for not a ton of money, My home resort is Caribbean Beach. It’s my absolute favorite and I stay there multiple times a year because you can’t always afford places like the grand Floridian. One thing to note the only rooms that have kitchens are villas. So when you’re looking at hotels for reservations, if it doesn’t say villa in the name, then the room will not have a kitchen. All rooms come with fridges, coffee makers, hairdryers, but that’s about it. But oh how I love the Caribbean Beach. I could write a love song to it. Even thinking of it makes me want to go back to Disney!
Finally, I’ll leave you with this reminder. Walt Disney World is so big, there is absolutely no way you will ever see everything there is to see, and do everything there is to do, in one trip. It’s just not possible. So don’t stress yourself out over trying to see and do everything. Spend some time looking over the maps, and watching some Disney You Tube videos. Pick your favorite things, and make sure you do those. Consider everything else a bonus, and start keeping a list of things you want to do next time. Leave time for yourself at the pools to relax, and leave time for yourself be surprised with new, unexpected things. I can guarantee you that once you go, you will definitely want to return. I’ve been to Disney a dozen times in the past three years, and I still haven’t seen and done everything. I’m still having firsts with each trip. So enjoy it!!