• Hillary Van Way

Disney World Trip Review-Fall 2020

Updated: Nov 24

Well, it's been a week since I made my way back home from one of my favorite places on Earth, so here is a blog post all about my time in Disney World! I've been traveling to Disney World for the past 25 years, and because this was my first time visiting during such a crazy time (COVID-19), this trip was very different from any other. If you are planning to travel to Disney World anytime soon, I cannot stress the importance it is to have someone help you out with the planning. Please contact me, someone who not only is very knowledgeable and kept up-to-date on all things Disney Parks-related, but someone who has experienced it in this new way.


In this post, I'll be going over the booking process and what that looked like, crowd levels, food, and more. So if you've been wondering what the parks currently look/feel like and how they're different in the middle of a pandemic, this is the post for you!


If you'd rather watch my YouTube videos that cover the same material in this blog post, you can find them here:


Booking Process

This was a very last-minute trip, so the booking process went by super fast. I stayed with my cousin and one of my friends in her parents' time share, which was off-property. *I'll have an entire post on staying off-property soon.* So, because we only needed to purchase tickets for the parks, we booked those as soon as we chose the week we wanted to go. Right after we purchased our tickets, I made Park Reservations for each of the days that we were going to be in the parks. I'm glad we made our Park Reservations when we did (about a month in advance) because they went very fast for Hollywood Studios. I'm assuming this park is "selling out" quickly because of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and the newest attraction, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.


Wait Times/Crowd Levels

Wait times were significantly lower than they usually are, and the crowds weren't as heavy this year as they were last year at this time. We were in the parks during the week (Monday-Friday), and I only felt like it was crowded on Friday. So, it seems as if weekdays are the best times to go, crowd-wise! Queues for attractions were very deceiving, because they had to space out each party by 6 feet. A lot of the queues extended past what the "normal" line would be for attractions, which made us think that we were going to be waiting forever in line! However, Actual Wait Times were generally less than the Posted Wait Times! The longest we waited was maybe an hour for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, which is expected for a new attraction. We got to get on every single attraction we wanted to and rode many of our favorite attractions 2+ times (including Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster)!


COVID in Disney Parks

Face Masks

  • Wearing a face mask all day got to be very hot (and wet), mainly due to the weather that Florida was having (hot and humid).

  • We could only take our masks off when stationary (and eating/drinking something), at restaurant tables, and at Relaxation Zones.

  • Relaxation Zones are designated areas in each of the parks where you can remove your mask and not be eating/drinking.

  • We never took advantage of Relaxation Zones, but we made sure to hydrate every time we were stopped in line waiting for an attraction.


Pictures

  • Like I mentioned previously, we could ONLY take our masks off when eating/drinking (and stationary), while at restaurant tables, and at Relaxation Zones.

  • This meant that we could not remove our masks for any pictures, not even if you were 6 feet away from another guest.

  • Cast Members are stationed by popular Disney picture spots (example: in front of Cinderella's Castle) to make sure that guests aren't pulling their masks down for pictures.

  • Additionally, if you pull your mask down for any pictures taken on attractions, you will not get that picture sent to your Disney app. Disney deletes any pictures taken of guests who aren't complying to the mask rules.


Attractions

  • Almost all attractions were open, except for some of the larger shows like Festival of The Lion King.

  • They spaced out every single party on all attractions differently, depending on the attraction.

  • Rollercoasters: generally skipped two rows between parties (pictured below)

  • Larger Vehicles (Jungle Cruise, Living with the Land, etc): plastic dividers separating parties

  • Singular Vehicles (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, etc.): same seating as usual, because they only seat one party per vehicle anyway

  • Most of the queues remained the same except for a handful, including ones that usually have pre-shows and ones that include high-touch areas:

  • Haunted Mansion: no pre-show

  • Tower of Terror: no pre-show

  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster: no pre-show (pictured below)

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: no interactive queue (pictured below)

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: no interactive queue

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: no interactive queue


Physical Distancing

  • There were "Please Stand Here" markers in all queues (for both attractions and stores), indicating where parties should stand.

  • Some queues had large plastic partitions, as shown in the picture below from the queue for Space Mountain, to avoid contact between the weaving of parties.

  • They skipped entire rows between parties for shows like Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, as show in the picture below!

  • There were large green dots on the boats that ran from the Ticket & Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom, making it very easy to keep your distance from other parties.

  • There were Cast Members at the entrances of each store monitoring capacity using a device that counts all guests who enter and exit!


Food Highlights

Snacks

  • They had lots of holiday snack offerings for the Fall/Halloween season, most of which are usually only available for those who attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! So, this was super special that Disney offered these snacks to all park guests this year, since the Halloween Party was cancelled for 2020.

  • Here are the snacks (seasonal and not) that I tried:

  • Peter Pan Float

  • Oogie Boogie Worms 'n' Dirt

  • Caramel Popcorn

  • Coffee Gelato

  • Pumpkin Mickey Rice Crispy Treat

  • Pepperoni Spring Rolls


Meals

  • Reservations were a little harder to get this time, mostly because we booked our trip less than 60 days ahead of time (the restaurant reservation booking window is 60 days prior to your trip).

  • We lucked out and got to eat at all of the places that we wanted to, except for one! I'll get to that in a later post when I go into detail about our day at Hollywood Studios.

  • Here are the restaurants that we ate at:

Skipper Canteen

Location: Magic Kingdom

Type of Food: African, Asian, Latin

Price Point: Table Service

Atmosphere: Jungle Cruise inspired, casual

Go Again: Yes

Flame Tree Barbecue

Location: Animal Kingdom

Type of Food: American

Price Point: Quick Service

Atmosphere: Outdoor, lots of seating, casual

Go Again: Yes

Tiffins

Location: Animal Kingdom

Type of Food: African, Asian, Latin

Price Point: Table Service

Atmosphere: Fancy, rooms based on Africa and Asia

Go Again: Yes

ABC Commissary

Location: Hollywood Studios

Type of Food: American

Price Point: Quick Service

Atmosphere: Indoor, lots of seating, casual

Go Again: Yes

Earl of Sandwich

Location: Disney Springs

Type of Food: American

Price Point: Quick Service

Atmosphere: Indoor, casual

Go Again: Yes

Topolino's Terrace - Character Breakfast

Location: Disney's Riviera Resort

Type of Food: French, Italian

Price Point: Table Service

Atmosphere: Fancy, Character Dining

Go Again: Yes, but when characters come to each table

D-Luxe Burger

Location: Disney Springs

Type of Food: American

Price Point: Quick Service

Atmosphere: Outdoor, casual

Go Again: No

Tony's Town Square Restaurant

Location: Magic Kingdom

Type of Food: American, Italian

Price Point: Table Service

Atmosphere: Casual, based on the Lady and the Tramp movie

Go Again: Yes


Merchandise

  • Most of the stores are now open, but because of the shortened park hours, we barely did any shopping.

  • Disney Springs is open later than the parks, so I would suggest saving your shopping for Disney Springs.

  • I'll have an entire post on the Disney Merchandise that I purchased on the trip!


Characters

Cavalcades

  • Cavalcades are best described as miniature parades, containing only a few floats and not running on a schedule.

  • They come at random times to prevent large crowds from gathering, but you can tell that one is coming when the park music changes. This is both exciting and frustrating, because you have no idea when they will be passing.

  • There are cavalcades located in each of the four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.

  • Out of all of the parks, I found that it was easiest to see the cavalcades in Animal Kingdom. There were 4 or 5 different "flotillas" (rafts) that had various characters on them, and they floated down Discovery River multiple times a day.

  • For the other three parks, I felt like we only saw the cavalcades if we were eating a snack (while stationary).

  • While it wasn't ideal for my travel group to sit and wait around to see each of the cavalcades in all of the parks, it's definitely doable to see them all if you're not crazy about getting on all of the attractions. There just isn't enough park time, at the moment, to see all of the cavalcades and get on every single attraction in the parks.


Dining

  • There are only 4 restaurants open currently with a modified character dining experience: Topolino's Terrace, Garden Grill, Cinderella's Royal Table, and Hollywood & Vine).

  • Modified character dining basically means that characters cannot come to tables to sign autographs, take pictures, and visit with guests like they usually do.

  • Each guest does get a signed card (with signatures from each of the characters that they saw at the character meal).

  • I'll be going into more depth of what it was like dining at Topolino's Terrace for a modified character breakfast soon, so look out for that post!


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