You’ve traveled to Disney World multiple times, can find your way around the parks without maps, and know exactly how to maximize your Dining Plan credits. But you haven’t been back to Disney World while a pandemic is restricting activities and operations. It’s a Whole New World where much of the regular Disney planning advice just doesn’t work. Here are reasons to ignore the usual Disney travel tips for a while longer:
Ignore the usual Disney travel tips:
Get the Dining Plan. For now, it’s not even available as restaurants have limited seating. So planning your itinerary around meal credits isn’t a thing. Neither are 180-day dining reservations. And character meals — traditionally a good Dining Plan value with kids — are radically altered or closed.
You won’t see many empty buses these days
Rely on the free Disney transportation. Right now buses are following social distancing guidelines and seating a limited number of parties. Same with Magical Express, the monorail, ferries, the Skyliner, etc. You may find yourself waiting in some very long lines for transport. You might not be as comfortable riding with others. Consider renting a car or using ride sharing services part of the time to augment Disney’s transportation network.
Is the price of the Grand Floridian worth it right now?
Stay onsite. (I say this as someone who’s stayed onsite for every visit.) Right now many of the popular benefits of onsite stays have at least temporarily disappeared. No Extra Magic Hours, no FastPass+ advantages. No Dining Plan and less available transportation. All these might lead you to consider offsite accommodations for space and privacy at a better price. Disney resorts have some attractive deals to fill rooms right now, though too. Take a look at your options and see what’s right for your family.
Plan your trip far in advance. Details in Disney World and the world at large are evolving, sometimes daily. If you’re comfortable booking on shorter notice with flexibility and with all of the alterations, you’ll likely be happy. There are no FastPasses that are already gone and dining options are available on shorter notice. But if you are planning like everything will be completely normal before you travel in 3 months (or 6 months, or 9 months), you’ll probably be disappointed or keep pushing your trip back.
Have a family reunion at Disney World. COVID-19 is a hot-button issue in many extended families. Multiple households may not be on the same page on whether or when it’s safe to travel. And gathering family up from different parts of the country and being close together unmasked is a different scenario than the areas of Disney World where everyone is socially distanced and wearing masks.
Rush to the newest attractions first. Your favorite pre-COVID touring plan may not work at all right now. It probably relied on FastPass+ and already knowing which rides have the longest lines. Now there are only standby lines and the relative wait times are more dependent on reduced ride capacity. For example, right now Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios — the oldest moving ride in a park with several brand-new attractions — often sports the longest wait (see example in the photo above)!
Don’t pull your kids out of school for a trip. Depending on your child’s school situation, they may have more flexibility to complete their work using online tools. Extracurricular activities that might usually keep your teens from traveling may be paused or scaled back, allowing trips during unusual times.
A few tips that do still work:
Get there before park opening. While the crowds are much reduced, so are the available options and capacities. Super-secret tip: parks start letting guests in well before official opening time to keep the crowds from bunching, so you may get in a whole attraction before the start time.
Plan your park days ahead of time. ‘Cause now you have to. Each guest needs to make a Disney Park Pass reservation online. And they do run out, especially for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and during busy times. The days of showing up at the bus stop and jumping on the first bus to arrive are not possible right now.
Take a midday break. Maybe you won’t go all the way back to your room to swim or nap. But taking a breather outside of a park, or at a table service meal, can be a respite from constant mask-wearing and “stand here” markers. Each park also has relaxation stations where mask removal is allowed.
Instead of getting frustrated with limitations, you can choose to see the parks in a different way during this unique (and hopefully short-lived) time in history … if you allow yourself to ignore the usual Disney travel tips.
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