Disney World is reopened! After the longest shut down in Disney Parks history, we are finally getting back to the magic. We’re a family that goes to Disney World a lot. Like every week at times. We go just after school or for an afternoon sometimes. So having Disney World closed for months has been an unprecedented event in our lives. We are so thankful to be back! And of course, a lot of things are different at Disney World. But a lot is the same. We visited Animal Kingdom for Passholder Previews, the day before it opened to the general public. As a Walt Disney World annual passholder for almost my entire life, I’ve never seen this many changes at one time. The entire world is in an unprecedented time, and Walt Disney World is no different. And I know, just like, you are wondering about all of the changes at Disney World. What’s Disney World like now? I’m happy to share all of the details with you!
How to Get a Park Reservation
This is one of the aspects of Disney World changes that are the most different for annual passholders. However, for regular day pass ticket holders, this isn’t too much of a change from how they reserved a day at Disney World in the past. In order to choose a day to come to Disney World, you must first go on to the My Disney Experience system and choose your day. Based on availability and whether you are staying on Disney property at a Disney hotel, you will have different choices available. This is how Disney World is limiting the number of park guests at any one time. And it’s also how they are ensuring that social distancing is possible at the theme parks. Every member of your party will need to have a Disney Park reservation, and then you are ready for your day of magic!
All of us are getting used to temperature checks in a lot of places we visit. And Disney World is no different? In the list of what’s Disney World like now, this is a major change in the admission process.
What’s Disney World like now? Even the parking is socially distanced!
In a change that we love overall, regardless of social distancing, cars are parked in every other space. This just makes for a more comfortable process when getting out of your car! No more yelling at the kids to “watch their door” when open the door to get out of the car. Even parking is safer at Disney World.
What’s the temperate check like?
The number one thing you should know is that it’s so, so fast. When you think of a temperature check, you might think of a doctor’s office procedure. However, at Disney World, you barely need to slow down walking in order to get your temperature taken. When you approach the tent for the temperature check, an Advent Health person will take your temperature by scanning your forehead. It takes about one second. If you have a fever, you will get one chance to rescan after cooling off for a few seconds. However, if you fail the second time, you and your entire party will not be allowed to enter the Park.
New bag check and security measures at Animal Kingdom
Since Disney World reopened, I’ve only been to Animal Kingdom so far. But stay tuned because a new Park will be coming each week for our family! So I don’t know if security screening or bag screen is like this in each Park. But at Animal Kingdom, there are these amazing new bag screeners where you don’t even have to take off your backpack! You just walk right through! I was so impressed with this new technology and how much faster it made the admission procedures to the park.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that every guest, ages 2 and over, must wear a mask in order to enter a Disney Park. There are no exceptions that I’m aware of. Also, the mask must have ear loops. And this means that gaiters and bandanas are not permitted. You can remove your mask when eating or drinking of course. There are very few places or times where you can remove your mask for any reason. But there are some!
These are areas of Animal Kingdom, and are present at the other Parks as well, where you can remove your mask. In this area, social distancing is still enforced, and there are some both indoors and outdoors. These are a very welcome location in times when the heat, combined with the mask, might get overwhelming.
Social Distancing at Disney
In some places where social distancing is supposedly enforced, there really doesn’t seem to be much point to the guidelines. However, at Disney World, social distancing is real and enforced. There are social distancing markers in anywhere where people might gather. This includes lines for attractions, viewing areas for animals, photo spots, and gift shops. And in areas where attraction lines are double backed, whole line spaces are blocked off in order to prevent people from bunching up.
What’s Disney world like now with plexiglass partitions?
At Animal Kingdom, there are plexiglass additions in several places where social distancing would be more difficult. For example, on Kilimanjaro Safaris, there are clear plastic barriers between each row of seats. Also, in the line for Flights of Passage, in places where it wasn’t possible to skip line space or socially distance side by side, there are glass dividers. There are also these dividers at gift shop checkouts and restaurants.
NEW Show at Animal Kingdom
Feathered Friends and Flight is a brand new shot at Animal Kingdom. At least for the time being, it replaces the Up! bird show. This show has changed a few times over the past few years. But this latest version was very fun! The basic idea of the show is the same, but there are some new bird tricks that you won’t want to miss. And of course, there’s lots of social distancing in place in the audience!
What’s Disney World like now with wait times?
This is a difficult topic to write about since we need more time in order to see what average days are like at Disney World in this new era. However, at our day at Animal Kingdom, I have never seen wait times so low. Every single ride, for most of the day, was a walk on. In the My Disney Experience app, every ride listed a 5 minute wait. However, most wait times were actually just as long as it took you to walk on to the ride. We rode Flights of Passage three times! It was absolutely incredible. As Walt Disney World continues their phased reopening. we will learn more about what wait times will look like. But if our day at Animal Kingdom is any indication, wait times are going to be much lower than in the past.
However, on all rides, there is spacing between guests. For example on the Dinosaur ride, no one can sit in the middle row of three. Even if your party needs more than one row, as ours did, you still separate by that one row. At Magic Kingdom, I’ve seen how parties are separate on Big Thunder Mountain by at least one row. Social distancing is in place in all places at Disney World.
How is Disney cleaner now?
There were so many little touches that made Animal Kingdom so much cleaner and more sanitary. For example, one of my favorite things that were different was a simple change! Instead of swinging trash cans doors, every trash can is now held open. No need to touch those germy trash can doors! I loved this so much, and then wondered why they had every been any different.
Cast members were cleaning constantly. There was cleaning taking place on rides, on hand rails, in bathrooms, and nearly everywhere you look. Cleaning was taking place at all times, in all places.
Hand sanitizer was readily available at the entrance of every attraction, and immediately after getting off. There are also hand washing stations in many places. This was nice to have a change of pace from the sanitizer.
Also, all of the water fountains were open and accessible. There may be differing opinions on this, but I personally was so appreciative! When you are walking around Walt Disney World in July in the summer, and now in a mask, you can nearly not drink enough water! So we bring water bottles and refill them, and having water fountains accessible is the only way we can refill as much as we need to.
What’s disney world like now? What’s closed?
There are certain attractions and areas of the park that remain closed. For example, the Dinosaur playground and digging area is closed. And it seems it will be for the foreseeable future. This is really sad for my kiddos because they love this area. But I understand why this is needed. There are no character meet and greets and no parades currently offered. But at Animal Kingdom, we did enjoy some fun character calvacades that were taking place on the water in the area of the Rivers of Light show! We really enjoyed being able to wave to Pocahontas from the shore.
What’s Disney World like now?
To put it simply, it’s still magical. It’s not the same, but neither is the world. There’s many things that are different, but the magic was still alive. Cast members thanked us over and over for coming, as if they were personally so grateful. It meant so much to me, and made me tear up more than once. They thanked me for being there, but I thank cast members for preserving the magic.
It’s all there waiting for you when you’re ready.