In the Parks

10 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World While COVID-19 Precautions Are in Place

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If you choose to visit Walt Disney World during this unique time, it’s best to be as prepared as possible. On the surface it can look like a visit to Walt Disney World right now is very different, but there is still a lot of magic to enjoy. We find the more you prepare and set the right expectations, the more you will enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation.

Cinderella Castle view afternoon of September 26, 2020

Our field team is in the parks daily, and I myself have visited multiple times since Walt Disney World reopened in July. I am concerned about safety and health, and have modified how I normally visit the parks as a result. Despite deciding to change some of my normal behaviors in the parks, our family still has an enjoyable time. Every person must decide where their level of comfort is. For me, I prefer to stay outside. This includes outdoor dining and outdoor attractions only, with minimal time in any shops and even minimal time in restrooms.

Here’s some of our tips for making the most of a Walt Disney World vacation with COVID-19 precautions in place.

  1. Bring multiple masks / face coverings.
  2. Bring your own sanitizing spray or wipes, and your own water.
  3. Take frequent breaks.
  4. Be prepared to be outside more, including in extended queues.
  5. Be prepared for having to walk around a store to find the entrance and exit.
  6. Be prepared to be stationary in order to eat or drink; no roaming around while eating or drinking.
  7. Talk to your family members, including kids, ahead of time to set expectations about masks, distancing, and other changes.
  8. Get to the parks for “rope drop”, take a midday break, and come back for the final hour or two of operation.
  9. Check our Crowd Calendar; typically weekends are busier than weekdays.
  10. Since FastPass+ is no longer available, use our Lines app to make a Touring Plan and to know which attractions to visit when.
Animal Kingdom Crowds Columbus Day Weekend 2020

Masks or face coverings must be worn at all times by all guests ages two and older. The mask must cover your nose and your entire mouth. Review Disney’s guidelines on what masks are acceptable. Cast Members will check for proper compliance and there are signs and overhead announcements stating that guests who do not comply will be asked to leave.

Our almost-three-year-old boy is good about wearing his mask, in part because we talk with him about it multiple times. We also bring at least two masks for each of us so we can switch to a fresh one after about two or three hours. The longest our family is usually in one of the parks is about five hours. Bring a bag to place the used masks in so they do not potentially contaminate other items. Wash your hands any time you touch your mask, remove it, or put it on.

There is plenty of hand sanitizer around each of the Disney parks. Still, it brings me comfort to know I have my own in case I touch something questionable and want to sanitize as quickly as possible. Most water fountains are turned off, and Disney’s bottled water runs over $3.00 per bottle. We bring our own water container and when we need a refill we ask for some water at a quick service location.

Hand Sanitizer at Treehouse Entrance

Being mindful about my mask, my son’s mask, and keeping our distance from folks is mentally taxing on me, and I am sure others too. Taking breaks often is a great idea so you don’t get worn out. There are multiple Relaxation Stations at each park where you can sit, relax, and take your mask off.

Because of physical distancing, many of the lines for attractions extend well beyond the normal ride entrance. Some extended queues are in the sun for a bit. Plus, you may prefer to be outside more as a safety precaution.

Big Thunder Mountain Extended Queue

Many merchandise shops, and some dining locations, now have designated entrances and exits. This is to help with distancing as well as managing capacity. Sometimes you’ll end up having to walk a little bit to get to the proper entrance. They are usually well marked, and manned by Cast Members who can help direct you.

Eating or drinking while walking is currently not permitted. Because you obviously have to remove your mask to eat or drink, it is not safe to have guests walking around with food or drink with their masks off. So, you will need to be prepared to be stationary to eat or drink.

If you’re traveling with a group chances are one or two of you are the big planners while everyone else just follows your directions. As the planner of the group, it’s a good idea to talk with your family about Disney’s guidelines, extended queues, and other changes. Setting the right expectations can make all the difference in enjoying your trip to the fullest.

Our site and app collects real-time data constantly. We’re able to collect Disney’s posted wait times as well as measure expected wait times. Over and over the data shows us how visiting any park at its opening will give you the ability to ride multiple attractions with minimum waits during the first hour. It also shows us that the last hour of operation is a good opportunity as well.

Our Crowd Calendar will show you the best days to visit each park based on predicted crowd level. In general weekends are much busier than weekdays, but even some weekdays can be busy at certain parks.

Toy Story Land Afternoon Crowds 09-29-20

Even though there are some days with relatively low wait times, using our Lines app will save you hours of time. You can create your own Touring Plan, or use one of ours that is ready to go. You can also visit without a plan, but view Expected Wait Times in our app and know whether you should wait until later in the day to ride any particular ride.

Have you been to Walt Disney World since its reopening? What are some of your tips?

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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

7 thoughts on “10 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World While COVID-19 Precautions Are in Place

  • Jenny Sneed

    I’d reiterate what the author said about arriving to the parks early, about 60-90 min early where possible depending on the park (90 min is for DHS if you can walk there). However, if you’re driving parking lots don’t open till less 50-60 min before opening. Since WDW is trying to not have crowds gather at the entrances they start letting people in early and don’t let people off busses, operate skyliner, or let people into the parking lot till the gates are open. The temp checks, security checks and entrance turnstiles move really quickly.

    If it’s not your first couple of rides of the day or one with a low wait time on the app ask a cast member where the line entrance is because it’s often in another land or very far away. For example, we walked to Expedition Everest through Asia but the line started at Finding Nemo so we could have saved our legs if we had walked through Dinoland. Ask someone before you head there. Even though that line was all the way past and behind Finding Nemo it was about 30-35 min long. Don’t fret if you see what looks like 3 hours lines. You’ll stay wait less for headliner attractions than normal except that you won’t have fastpass for anything so longer in that respect. More of it will be outside in the sun and it will feel hot on warm days so come prepared. And my tip is to really enjoy the queues once you get in them. I had never seen the “real” Peter Pan queue as I ‘ve always used Fastpass and the queue is an attraction in itself.

    I also don’t eat indoors, so look up which restaurants have outdoor seating before going if you are like me and the author of the blog. For table service, you can only request outdoor seating in person and not through the app. It is first come, first served but we were accommodated both times we did this. We did have to wait an additional 45 min for one of the two reservations so be prepared to wait longer should you desire the outdoor table.

    For quick service mobile orders, do this far in advance; at least an hour prior to when you think you’re going to want to eat, as time slots fill up. You can modify and push your order out later if you get caught in an attraction or some such. Check in before you are actually at the restaurant but on your way and find a place to rest out of the way of the door of the quick service restaurant (and in the shade) as there are large crowds gathered at the entrance waiting for their mobile orders to be ready. You’ll get a text through Disney app when it’s ready and then you can proceed into the restaurant (and select that outside table if you desire).

    Be prepared to remind people to social distance politely. In my experience, people were always understanding of this request. Little kids often break the six feet barrier and parents aren’t often paying attention. Some adults also seem to not pay attention in lines (some social distance markers are more than 6 feet from the line in front because they are staggering them due to other lines on the side) so please respect the lines even if they are more than 6 feet from the party in front of you. Sometimes the line markers have been ripped off and you cannot see them so it is work to social distance in lines (and sometimes they are around corners you cannot see if the party in front of you has moved forward).

    Disney does a wonderful job of asking people to mask up correctly and even asking them to socially distance. A wonderful cast member asked a gentleman who sat close to my husband on a bench waiting for a show to move away from him. Thank the cast members as much as possible for the difficult job they have right now.

  • Adria

    Does it looks like large international groups are still traveling to DW right now?

  • Katy Cohen

    Thank you for these excellent tips! For clarification, if we get to a park an hour before opening, the resort busses won’t drop us off there that early so we will have to either walk or take an Uber?
    Thank you!

    • Resort Buses usually run an hour before park opening and do drop off at the regular, designated bus terminal at each park.

      • Is there a big lines for bathrooms? Or is it a short period of time you have to wait

      • Generally, this is not. Some of the older bathrooms that are smaller can have lines. The bathrooms just outside each park entrance are usually the least busy, great for before you get into the park or as you’re heading out.

  • Jenny

    If you can walk, I’d walk. Resort busses were sitting at bus stops but would not open their doors to let people out until the park started letting people in. So you can get there on the first bus and be let out the moment the parks open but you will be behind walkers at DHS. At Magic Kingdom the temp check for Contemporary (for the walkway from Grand Floridian it’s probably the same temp check the boats have since that walkway seems to come through the boat area) was a bit down the sidewalk and it’s possible some people may have gotten off monorails, busses and boats before walkers. But at DHS I would walk if I was staying at an Epcot resort. Uber dropoffs will be let into the parking lot at the same time as drivers which is when the gates are open so it’s not much benefit except you don’t have to find a parking spot. If you can be on that first bus, skyliner, monorail I’d think you’d beat the Uber drivers given they are constrained to the same system as parkers.

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