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Disney in a Pandemic

After rescheduling 3 times because of the coronavirus (and the DCP being cancelled), we headed to Orlando to go to Walt Disney World in August. The trip didn't go as planned, but we learned a lot about traveling to Disney in the midst of a global pandemic. Some changes in all of the parks were distance markers, limited park and transportation capacity, "park reservations" instead of park hopper, social distancing on rides, frequent cleaning, limited dining options, no fast passes, and no character meet and greets. Masks were required on Disney property, unless "actively eating or drinking while stationary," or in a relaxation station. Despite all of this, Disney was still as magical as ever.




Boardwalk Resort

On the first day, we arrived at Disney's Boardwalk, where we stayed in the DVC Villas. Our room was clean, spacious, and right off of the lobby. It was the perfect location. The hotel staff enforced masks and social distancing. We felt safe. Our hotel even had a pin board to trade from, but some of the others did not. Several of the shops, restaurants, etc. at Boardwalk were closed. The Boardwalk staff was amazing when the accident happened. Rafael kept up with us all day and made sure we had everything we needed. Boardwalk is a great choice if you want to be within walking distance to 2 parks.





Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House

We did a split stay, and also stayed at AKL in the Jambo House DVC Villas. This was the view of the safari from our balcony. Almost everything was closed in Jambo House, and the Kidani gift shop was one of the only things open. AKL didn't have a pin board. This resort felt more empty than Boardwalk, but we enjoyed the quiet and the views.



Shopping

The shops had all 2020 stuff buy one, get one free, so we took advantage of that and purchased 3 pins and a pair of ears. Annual Passholders also got 30% off temporarily. There were social distance markers in and around the shops. The cast members practiced distancing, and encouraged contactless payment. Some shops were closed throughout the parks, especially in Animal Kingdom. The only time we had to wait in line to shop was at World of Disney. We were in line for less than 10 minutes there. Disney Springs had temperature checks and mask mandates as well. There was plenty of limited edition merchandise from when the park was closed, so we got some Flower and Garden Festival pins. They also had Disney masks, like the ones we were wearing in a few photos. These were fairly cheap, and will be fun to look back at post-pandemic.



Pin Trading

In this family, we pin trade. We got sucked into this expensive hobby in elementary school, but we've learned how to save money since then. Pin trading looked different in the parks and resorts due to Covid-19. Some resorts had giant pin boards while others had nothing. There was no pin trading between guests and Cast Members, and all daily trading events were cancelled. Although the trading opportunities were limited, we were still able to score some good pins off of the boards in the park. There was one board in each land in MK, one in or around several stores in AK, one outside of Pin Traders in Epcot, and one in one of the shops in HS. Instead of putting your pin back on the board, the cast members put it in a container to be sanitized first. If it tells you anything, we filled almost 4 lanyards on this trip (not pictured).


Transportation

One thing that everyone seems to worry about is transportation. We took every form of transportation at Disney, and they did an amazing job of making sure everyone was safe. The buses had seats blocked off, so you could only sit with your party. The monorail had one party per car, and didn't smell near as bad as it typically does. The new Skyliner had one party per gondala, and was so much fun to take. We were the only ones on the ferry to Magic Kingdom, and the ferry to Epcot was unavailable. Dad flew Southwest (shoutout to them for the free ticket), and they had the middle seats empty and enforced the mask rule. Overall, transportation was clean and more relaxing due to the social distancing rules.




Magic Kingdom

We took the bus to Magic Kingdom, and they blocked off seats so that you only sat with your party. We were the only ones on the bus, though. At MK, our temperatures were checked when we were entering the parks. We were able to ride every ride except for Jungle Cruise and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin because it started to rain. MK had character cavalcades that rode through the parks, and a marching band. Some of the characters also waved from the top of buildings, like the Country Bears. The longest line we waited in was for Haunted Mansion. Surprisingly, Splash Mountain was a walk on when we got to it. The castle looked beautiful with her new paint job, and we were able to get some great shots because of the low crowds. We only saw one mask problem in MK, a guest kept pulling her mask under her nose, but the CM was quick to address the issue. We got food at Sleepy Hollow for breakfast and had Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for dinner. We chose to mobile order to limit interaction. Overall, MK had low crowds and was extremely clean.




Hollywood Studios

Our Studios day didn't go as planned. On the walk from Boardwalk, mom tripped and broke her arm. We called the hospital to ask about Covid-19 visitor's policy, and learned that only one person could go with her. Dad flew down to be with her, and we headed to the park to ride a few rides since there was nothing we could do. We weren't able to ride Rise of Resistance, but we rode Rock'n'Rollercoaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, and Toy Story Mania (twice). This was our first time on Mickey and Minnie's and it was so much fun. It was sort of like Dinosaur in a way, but not as jerky. It was a huge upgrade from the Great Movie Ride (RIP). Hollywood Studios was the most crowded park, likely due to the new attractions. The longest line we stood in here was for Rock'n'Rollercoaster. We stopped on the way out to get Mom a stuffed Eeyore.




Epcot

If you've been to Disney recently, you know Epcot is a bit of a mess because of all of the construction. We got lost at one point because of the barriers that surrounded the park. At Epcot, we only rode a few rides. Let's be honest, no one goes to Epcot for the rides. The Food and Wine Festival had begun in Epcot, but we just got some churros for a snack. We rode Soarin' Around the World, Living with the Land, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. The best part about Epcot was the pin board outside of Pin Traders. We only spent about half a day here because we moved resorts and went to Disney Springs.




Animal Kingdom

We headed over to Animal Kingdom bright and early because it opened the earliest out of the parks. We rode all of the rides by lunch, and headed back to the room to shop in Orlando. Animal Kingdom was the hottest park, but it always seems to be. I rode Dinosaur for the first time since I was little, and still hated it. The longest wait in AK was Exhibition Everest. Many of the shops were closed, but we stopped by We grabbed quick service lunch, traded some pins, did some last minute shopping, and said "goodbye for now" to Disney Parks.


Overall, Disney felt safer than going to the grocery store, and we're headed back to the Most Magical Place on Earth in December to celebrate the holidays. If you're considering taking a trip, I say go for it! It's just as magical as ever even with limited experiences. The wait times alone were worth it. (Disney if you're reading this, please extend the Passholder room rates until January 1).


Have a magical day!




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