We visited Walt Disney World during the current pandemic and we plan to go back again.
Were we scared/worried? Definitely.
What even made me go to Disney World?
- Our current health
- Our understanding and intense research of the Coronavirus
- Our comfortability
Being a Disney addict, I have a need to travel to Disney World semi-often for what many would call, my Disney fix.
2020 was different because, besides financial qualifications, there was so much more to consider. Don’t you agree?
Believe it or not, I wasn’t even going to write this post, because I feel like enough like this exists. But as I was on the plane headed to Orlando, I thought…why not?
Over 4 years with this blog and never have I written a trip report. Well, I’ve never lived through a world pandemic either. Do you know?
As someone calling herself a Disney expert, I couldn’t keep putting out informational posts without a visit to a Disney park in the current world. Do you agree?
Since I was around people and in a mask every day for work, I almost felt like it was going to be no different and no riskier heading to Walt Disney World.
I’m starting this on the plane ride to Orlando. Mostly because the movie I set to download on Disney+ never did. I could read but I liked the idea of doing this instead.
We have about 50 minutes left for this flight. Airpods are on playing “Come Thru” by Summer Walker and Usher.
I could not sleep last night at all.
Like a child, I was too excited about this trip to sleep. But don’t get me wrong. This trip is special. So as we make our way to MCO and the most magical place on earth. Let me tell you about something magical that happened to me.
In 2019 I met the love of my life. Someone I couldn’t see myself being without. For all of you millennials or doubters out there, true love is real. Don’t settle just because you met a good person and it works. Your soul mate is worth all of the work.
Her name is Emma. She’s starting a make-up presence online so check that out.
And she’s never been to any. Disney. Park
You might be disappointed (or you might not care), either way, we are on our way to Disney World right now.
And that’s what makes this trip so so special. I’ve been dreaming about this day since the day we met.
Never did I think that she would have this modified Disney vacation but that’s ok. It’s going to be equally as good.
Let me run you down the statistics for this trip.
Hotel: Disney’s Saratoga Springs (I’m a DVC member)
TO MCO – Spirit Airlines
HOME – United Airlines
(I dislike both of these airlines, but I like cheap so I take the L)
This is a short trip to minimize the number of days we are away from home needed so we are doing a Friday – Tuesday.
The trick is we left around 1 pm Friday, so I got to work 1/2 day at work and we will be leaving Orlando around the same time. Meaning we will be able to enjoy Tuesday morning at the resort.
Friday – Arrive, DVC tour at the new Riviera Resort, Dinner at Raglan Road in Disney Springs
Saturday – Magic Kingdom
Sunday – Epcot
Monday – Universal
Tuesday – Pool chill morning, Home
Did people actually follow the rules?
The most important question right now, right?
Yes, they did. There was only one incident, on the bus ride back to the resort from Magic Kingdom, where a few people (from the same group), took their masks off unnecessarily.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand taking a few second breathers or a drink of water, but that wasn’t what that was.
I just don’t think that people understand that when they don’t wear a mask it puts the people around them at risk, and not themselves. So it’s like disregard for others’ health.
Other than that one incident, people did follow the rules and I felt safe. I have no complaints.
I know with the current political climate, we’ve seen a lot of ugly in humanity. And it’s scary. We can all agree on that. But I guess the people who go to Disney either are mostly not like that or just know how to follow the rules.
How am I saving money?
My specialty as you know.
I spent $47 getting grocery deliveries using Instacart. Instacart is a grocery delivery app, you can order what you need from the store of your choice.
This $47 is going to save me over $500. I made sure to get us a 12 pack of water, snacks, and breakfast. Let me show you an estimation of how much something l.
1 bottle of water at Disney World – $2.49
12 bottles = $29.88
2 snack stops for 3 people – $15ea time
4 days = $120
Breakfast for 3 people – $50
4 days – $1200
Coffee (must-have for us) – $15
4 days – $60
I’m already saving over $400
We used backpacks for our clothing. Which is our personal item. Therefore, we avoided a $30 cost per person each way. Saved us $180
For the first time ever, I’m using my Disney Reward Dollars that I earned using my Disney Visa Card.
Saved us $185
We didn’t select seats. $20 per person, each way.
Saved us $120
We ate before we came. Didn’t buy a darn thing at the airport or on the plane.
Saved us ??? I’m not even sure, $100?
All in all, these 5 methods have us at about $985.
Flight with Spirit Airlines
You know, I’m not very picky when it comes to airlines and flights. What’s important to me is clear communication and therefore clear expectations.
If I know you charge for me to breathe and your seats are uncomfortable, I can mentally prepare when booking my $20 flight. I can deal with that.
Spirit airlines is truly not that bad. They are definitely not the most uncomfortable. My leg space is decent. And my legs are very long.
Earlier in 2020, before the pandemic, I flew to the UK with United and had very limited leg space.
Terrible for a 9-hour flight.
There are no TVs on the back of the seats or anything like that. I do like the free movies some of the airlines offer but since I packed light this time, I only have AirPods and wouldn’t have been able to watch them anyway.
Speaking of, what do you think airlines are going to do in order to accommodate Bluetooth headphones?
Food and beverages are available for purchase only. But any well-worn traveler knows to eat before they travel. You aren’t a newborn and should be able to go 3-4 hours without food. Bring an empty water bottle to fill with filtered water at any fountain.
I’m so anxious this flight is going slow af.
85% of people followed the rules and had their masks on the entire time. I saw a few noses peeking.
The plane did seem cleaner for sure. They claim to disinfect between every flight. I did read that we had to sanitize our hands before boarding and get our temperature checked. Neither of those happened, though hand sanitizer was available right before boarding.
Staying at a Disney Resort
One thing is the parks and the other is the Walt Disney World Resort as a whole. Does that make sense?
Disney World sees a lot of locals at the theme parks and at the time of my visit, only some resorts were open, which means that the number of families staying on WDW property was a lot less than what we are used to.
Obviously, the fewer people around, the more comfortable the experience is.
As you know, masks need to be worn at all times at WDW except when you are in your room, at the pool, or eating while stationary. However, the resorts are so empty, that often you can walk around without the mask on because there is no one in sight.
Many people do this, and every single person that did was mature enough to put their masks on when we were approaching.
Often we would walk to the pool or to the bus stop without having to put our mask on until we got to our destination. Which was nice.
The lack of people was definitely a positive and overall the resort stay was amazing. I have no complaints.
Such a magical place that I can’t think of anything that can make it “not magical.” This pandemic does not dull Magic Kingdom’s shine.
Is the experience different? Yes
But I was so lost in my experience, that I forgot what the world was going through for just a little bit.
Since Magic Kingdom has so much to offer, and capacity is limited, the crowds were dispersed enough that I never felt like it was too crowded.
Though wait times are stated as long, they usually are not. I think with the lines social distancing built into the lines, the cleaning, etc., it’s hard for Disney to accurately predict the wait times on the lines.
What I can say is that usually, that actual wait time was about two-thirds of what was stated. I am seeing similar reports for almost all parks.
We were able to ride just about every ride we wanted except BTM which closed as we were queueing up. We never went back to check if it was reopened and I’m not even sure what happened.
Important to note, all parks had limited to hours so make sure to check that when planning. MK was open 9-6 pm, Epcot was open 11-9 pm, and UOS was open 9-6 pm.
Our schedule day for Epcot had the open hours as 11-9 pm. Though the very limited hours were tough to swallow, being able to sleep a little later wasn’t.
The first thing we did at Epcot was ride on Soarin. Test Track was immediately packed with a 75-minute wait. And though Soarin said 45 minutes, we waited more like 25 minutes.
I always eat at Les Halles in France so we headed there after Spaceship Earth. Here’s where things got a little hectic. Epcot, World Showcase specifically, seemed PACKED.
Granted, it is known that weekends at Disney World are packed because all the locals visit AND we were there Labor Day Weekend, but I have a better theory.
At Magic Kingdom, there is more to do that is spread out throughout the entire park versus Epcot where it’s either a handful of rides or World Showcase.
Therefore, right after we ate, we left. As a DVC member, I know that I will be back when the health risk is less, and it’s not so hot.
Overall, I would go back but if I could I would do it in the fall or winter, and on a weekday. Basically, I need cooler weather or fewer people.
Universal Studios Orlando
We also visited both Universal Orlando parks. Just like at Walt Disney World, our temperature was taken before we got into the park.
As you know, both parks are accessed through City Walk so, at Universal, your temperature is taken almost immediately.
As you’re maneuvering through the parking garage and walkways, there are a good amount of people. It was nice to see that most people keep their distance and respect social distancing measures.
My favorite thing about USO over WDW is that sanitizing your hands before getting on a ride was mandatory.
While at Disney, hand sanitizing units are everywhere, there isn’t anything forcing you to use them so visitors can essentially go all day without cleaning their hands.
I had totally forgotten that at Universal you can’t take your backpack on rides and have to use their free lockers, so that was an extra step and times where you are near other people.
The virtual line queue is an option for some rides where you reserve a time to come back using your cell phone. We used a few of these and it was very similar to a FastPass, definitely recommend keeping it.
I really have nothing to note here that I didn’t already mention in the section about Spirit Airlines. Obviously, there was way more legroom on United but otherwise, the flight was the same.
Interestingly enough, I was sitting next to a gentleman who had contracted Covid-19 back in January of 2020.
I think its important to note that people on flights do have their masks off when its time to drink or eat the snack that is given. Spirit did not provide anything unless it was purchased but United did. On the United flight, I slept right through it.
Many states have implemented a quarantine traveling back from Florida because of the outbreak that happened in the summer.
Not only that, but it is responsible to acknowledge the risk you are taking when going to a crowded place.
Before we went on vacation, we ordered an at-home testing kit from Pixel by Labcorp.
Once we got back, we waited three days to take the test. With this test, we had results 4 business days after we got back from vacation.
All in all, we had an amazing vacation and would do it all over again.