How Are Disney’s Safety Measures Holding Up After the First Month of Its Reopening?

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Any of us who are fortunate enough to write about Orlando’s theme parks are often asked “is it safe?’ Safety is such an important factor and I personally am very conscientious about painting a realistic picture without saying “Yes, it is safe” or “No, it isn’t.” I feel safety can be relative to one’s comfort and tolerance.

I personally feel safe at Walt Disney World, but with certain extra measures taken by me. It takes a lot of personal responsibility to create the feeling of being safe, depending on your comfort level. We have multiple members on our team who have visited Walt Disney World many times in the past month, and they are still comfortable doing so. I myself have only visited twice, but do have plans to visit this week.

Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom – Thursday 8/20/20

Walt Disney World has been open for just over one month. Are the stringent safety measures still holding up? Let’s examine some observations from our field team’s recent visits. A note of reference, the photos in this post are from the past 7 – 10 days.

Physical Distancing is Dependent on Floor Markers

Major theme parks have learned that large crowds need visual cues to direct them. This is true with physical distancing. Wherever markers are visible, such as markings on the floor showing where to stand, compliance is good. Are there occasions in which guests miss the mark? Of course, but our team has witnessed Cast Members doing a good job of directing guests.

Physical distancing can become a problem when an attraction’s line extends beyond the physical queue and lacks distancing markers. It can also be an issue on walkways, especially in narrow areas. My suggestion, if this is a concern for you, is to be aware and adjust where you are walking, or your speed to allow you to create the space you need.

I also feel the arrival experience and each park’s main street area is rough for physical distancing. Perhaps it is because people haven’t dispersed throughout the park yet. Just something to be aware of.

Physical Distancing Inside Toy Story Mania
Physical Distancing Navi’i River Journey

Mask Compliance is Strong

Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World made their mask policy even more stringent a few weeks ago. Face coverings with exhalation valves, with mesh, or without the ability to be fully secured, like a bandanna or neck gaiter, are no longer allowed. This enhancement to the policy made me very happy, and proved to me their continued commitment to safety.

During my visit in mid July I did notice a very small amount of guests who did not have a mask covering their nose, and it did make me uncomfortable for a moment, but that occurrence was rare. Also at the parking lot many guests are still getting ready for their day in the park as they walk toward the entrance, and therefore do not have their mask on yet. Furthermore, without the markings, physical distancing can be an issue in the parking lots. This is something to be aware of if you have strong concerns about masks and distancing, like me.

Physical Distancing at Toy Story Land
Mobile Ordering at Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom

Our field team who has visited a fair amount in the past two weeks reports that mask compliance continues to be strong. Compliance is assisted by Cast Members and park leadership who continue to enforce the policy.

Overall Cleanliness is Excellent

Over the past month of visiting the parks since the reopening, our field team feels Disney has stepped up their cleaning and sanitizing so that it is near constant. Nearly everywhere you look at any given moment you’ll probably see at least one Cast Member cleaning and sanitizing.

Personally, I still bring my own hand sanitizer wherever I go these days, including the theme parks. Disney does have lots of hand sanitizing stations around the park, but there are still moments I experienced when I was thankful I had my own spray.

Cleanliness at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Starbucks

Final Thoughts

Disney has always made safety its top priority. In internal training there are the four keys, which are Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. The order is important. Without safety none of the rest can happen or even matter. In the end, the concept of safety is relative. But, Disney certainly is continuing to do all it can to ensure the safest environment possible.

Directional Signage and Spacing Inside Main Street Emporium

If you have significant concerns about safety, you will need to be very aware of those around you. I am not too keen on doing anything indoors, for example, so I plan my visit around outdoor activities. You may find yourself needing to move on to a different area on occasion due to physical distancing or mask compliance, but it is rare. In the end, Disney and Universal are both doing a strong job in maintaining their safety procedures, though our team does feel Disney is doing a better job at this point. Our team commends the hard work of all the front line Cast Members and Team Members for upholding these important practices.

Have any questions about COVID-19 safety at the parks? Let us know in the comments.

Dani

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 adventures on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

6 thoughts on “How Are Disney’s Safety Measures Holding Up After the First Month of Its Reopening?

  • August 26, 2020 at 11:51 am
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    Thank you for this. I have a trip planned Sept 8 and it is posts like this that both validate my decision to go as well as provide me with good information for how to handle the trip.

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  • August 26, 2020 at 3:43 pm
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    Can you elaborate on why/how your team thinks Disney is doing better than Universal on this?

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    • August 27, 2020 at 3:44 pm
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      Hey Andy, so I personally have not been to Universal recently, but I wrote this post with notes and observations from our field team. The main concern they’ve had is social distancing in ride queues. Enforcement of the distancing and maintaining the markers themselves have been a challenge for some of the members of our field team that have visited Universal and experienced some of the attractions there.

      Reply
  • August 27, 2020 at 10:35 am
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    I, too (like Andy above) am curious what is Disney doing different than Universal that you feel is better? Other than when we were at Volcano Bay where masks are not worn once you get past the entrance (other than shops and food locations), I was very impressed with the Team Members at Universal. What really caught my eye was how close they were watching guests on the rides. On Hagrid’s, a lady had briefly taken her mask off at the end and put it on. At the conclusion of the ride, she was taken aside about that.

    Also, at the Mummy, a guest refused to use the hand sanitizer. The Team Member calmly explained to him that these measures are what allows the park to open. When the man continued to refuse, they did escalate and talk to him on the side in more detail.

    I am positive Disney is doing the same. Just curious what additional thing they are doing (or maybe if they are enforcing differently). This is DEFINITELY NOT A KNOCK on the article, Disney or Universal. Just like to compare differences. We enjoy Universal, but love Disney. We are going to be visiting our Orlando home at the end of Sept/begining of Oct and will be going to all the parks! Just can’t wait until Disney starts selling Annual Passes again (our previous one expired and we waited a bit… and got caught in the middle… so just have the 4 day pass for our upcoming trip)

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    • August 27, 2020 at 3:46 pm
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      Hey Tim, so I personally have not been to Universal recently, but I wrote this post with notes and observations from our field team. The main concern they’ve had is social distancing in ride queues. Enforcement of the distancing and maintaining the markers themselves have been a challenge for some of the members of our field team that have visited Universal and experienced some of the attractions there. I personally have worked for Universal and was an Annual Passholder for years, but it has been three years since my last visit – having a baby tends to do that. During my time there I felt Universal did take safety very seriously.

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  • August 27, 2020 at 5:18 pm
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    That makes perfect sense. And, just like everything, it could be different on various days depending on the cast members / team members. Our experience is that Disney Cast Members are almost always more polite and engaging with guests than the Universal employees. That is NOT to say Universal employees are bad.

    In our few days after reopening at Universal, we did see their employees watching the distancing. But, maybe they took some complaints earlier and improved upon it. Or, we just had more attentive team members that day.

    All in all… I am so happy that all the parks have reopened, and will support them all!

    Reply

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