With the Walt Disney World parks now reopened, Disney fans are relieved that the most magical place on earth is once more be welcoming guests. But like everything in the era of COVID, it’s not exactly business as usual at WDW – new preparations and practices have been implemented to make sure that guests (and cast members) can stay safe and healthy on property. Here is what Disney is doing to protect parkgoers, and how you can do your part! Please note that the situation is always changing, and WDW is carefully adhering to the latest advice from health and government authorities, so you should visit WDW’s website for the latest updates.
1. Physical Distancing
Walt Disney World has made it easy to practice physical distancing with its new ground markings and signage throughout property, and where it’s hard to keep 6 feet of space between you and another guest, you’ll find physical barriers to increase your safety. Cast members have been trained to help facilitate physical distancing during attraction queues and in common areas.
Another level of protection to keep all Disney-goers safe is the mandatory use of face coverings by cast members and guests. Anyone aged 2 and older will need to wear a face covering at all times while in public spaces at Walt Disney World (unless you’re swimming, stationary and eating or drinking, or taking an outdoor photo). Luckily, there are plenty of Disney character masks available that might make this an easier sell for kids and adults alike!
3. Temperature Screenings
NOTE: Disney has announced they will be phasing out temperature screenings for guests beginning May 16. See details here.
Temperature screenings via no-touch thermometers will become a new part of life at Walt Disney World, at least for now. They may be required before you can enter certain locations, and any guest whose temperature reads at 100.4 F or higher won’t be allowed entry; nor will the other members of the guest’s party.
4. Hand Washing
Along with the increased cleaning of surfaces throughout Walt Disney World, you’ll also find handwashing stations and hand sanitizers throughout property, to make it easy to clean your hands no matter where you are.
5. Temporary Cancellations for Crowded Events
It may be disappointing for some guests, but it’s certainly not surprising that Disney has temporarily suspended all activities that would gather large crowds of people, in order to protect both guests and cast members. Parades, shows and nighttime spectaculars won’t be held for the time being, and some specially ticketed events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party have been cancelled. Experiences that are “high-touch”, like character greetings and makeovers, won’t be available upon reopening, and playgrounds will be temporarily closed.
You’ll be able to use Mobile Order Service on your My Disney Experience app for various locations to minimize your contact with others at mealtime, and Disney has implemented plenty of policies to make dining on site as safe as possible, too. You can check in for your reservation at certain restaurants using the mobile check-in feature on the app, to eliminate the need to check in in person. Like everywhere else at Walt Disney World, cleaning has been increased at dining locations throughout property, especially in high-traffic areas. Pagers, tables and seating areas will all be cleaned after each guest, and cast members will now serve all items that were formerly self-serve. Reduced-contact menus make it possible to use your phone to scan a code for an online menu at table-service restaurants (quick-service restaurants will use signage to display menus). There will be reduced seating capacity to protect guests, and there are a variety of cashless and contactless methods of paying.
Shared areas within Disney resorts will be cleaned much more frequently than pre-COVID; this is especially true for high-traffic and high-touch areas like washrooms, tables and handrails. High-touch areas within resort rooms will also receive special attention, and all rooms will be thoroughly cleaned before guests arrive. Housekeeping tools will also be cleaned between rooms, and you’ll notice more items in your room that have been cleaned and wrapped in single-use packaging for safety. Pools, gyms and other resort facilities will also be operating with reduced capacity in order to make sure guests can easily engage in physical distancing.
8. Check-in and Checkout
For completely safe, contact-free check-in, guests can use the Online Check-In Service, which you can access online or with your My Disney Experience app. You’ll get a notification when your room is ready, and then you can either enter your room using the MagicBand that was sent to you before your vacation, or use your My Disney Experience app as a digital key. Checkout is just as easy, because Disney automatically checks you out of your room on the day of your departure. You won’t need to visit the front desk at all during checkout, unless you have any charges you need to take care of.
Wondering how you’ll be able to maintain physical distance on Disney’s often-crowded complimentary bus system? Well, Disney is operating its transportation system at reduced capacity, to make sure guests can keep a safe distance. Just make sure to plan for delays accordingly.
10. Virtual Chat With a Resort Cast Member
Need some help during your vacation? You can have all your questions answered while staying completely safe (and saving time in line!) by chatting virtually with a resort cast member through your My Disney Experience app.