In the Parks

New Practices at Walt Disney World We Wish Would Become Permanent

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Visiting Walt Disney World now is a whole new experience. There are some positive changes that guests are now experiencing inside Walt Disney World’s theme parks, besides the extensive health and sanitizing measures. In fact, some of the changes are ones that many Disney fans hope become permanent.

Character Cavalcades

Let’s face it, it is nice when you meet your favorite Disney character and you get to have a personalized interaction with them, but sometimes the interactions can be rushed, and sometimes it means waiting in a long line.

Parades are usually quite the spectacle. But they require waiting along the parade route in the hot sun, on the hard concrete. Many times you have to defend your territory from late arriving guests who might encroach on your space. Clearly, such scenarios are problematic now. So Disney, and other theme parks, developed a solution with their impromptu character cavalcades.

At Magic Kingdom we’ve seen the Winnie the Pooh characters taking a ride on the trolley along Main Street USA. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom practically everyone has fallen in love with the characters on themed boats sailing the Discovery River. The characters appearing on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in themed convertibles give me nostalgic Superstar Parade vibes. These new ways of presenting Disney characters are fun, popular, and in a way, more accessible that traditional meet and greets or parades.

Pocahontas and Meeko on the Discovery River

QR Code Menus and Mobile Ordering

I have been a big fan of using Disney’s mobile ordering system. I often will pull up the app while waiting in line for a ride or when en route from one experience to the next so I can order my food and pay right from my phone. I’ve never had a long wait once I have checked in on my phone to pick up my food order. The only negative experience I’ve had with Disney’s mobile ordering is some nasty looks as I swiftly skate past the line to order and snatch up my food from the mobile order window. Disney has put an emphasis on mobile ordering and I am here for it!

Now at table service restaurants in the parks and other locations, guests are asked to use their phone to scan a QR code to pull up the menu. This has been a popular practice in restaurants around the country. I think this is a great way to present a menu in a way that is easier to read for many guests. Those will vision challenges often struggle with dim lighting in restaurants and with overly themed fonts. QR code menus allow for guests to view the menu in a way that suits their needs. It also saves on paper and other resources.

Morimoto Asia Menu QR Code

Hand Sanitizer Everywhere and Sanitizing Rides

Before COVID-19 I did not care for hand sanitizer. But now, I am all about it – and I am sure I am not alone. While every guest is welcome to bring their own hand sanitizer, and I probably will once I finally return to the parks, it is so great that Disney and the other theme parks have it practically everywhere for free.

At the entrance and exit of every ride you’ll find sanitizer dispensers. You’ll also notice the cast members wiping down and sanitizing the vehicles throughout the day. I am sure many of us would be pretty okay with these practices sticking around from now on. I’d love to see the theme parks, and other businesses, take this a step further and use a sanitizing mist. There are companies who make sanitizing “tunnels” for guests to walk through to have their temperature checked and be misted with sanitizer. I’d totally welcome these being added to Disney property.

Magic Kingdom Reopening Hand Sanitizer at Treehouse Entrance

Designated Entrances and Exits

I try hard not to get annoyed, but it irks me when I am trying to enter or exit a building and there’s a bottleneck because of traffic flow. Now, Disney and other theme parks have implemented designated entrances and exits for many of their buildings. This allows for better physical distancing. It hopefully allows for better traffic flow too. I would not mind if this practice stuck around to allow for better traffic flow in and out of buildings.

Final Thoughts

It’s not always easy accepting the reality we are in. But out of every adverse situation there can be opportunities for positive change. Perhaps the theme parks will emerge with a renewed commitment to health, safety, and operational ease. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the mixed emotions many of us are experiencing right now. And I absolutely must recognize the Cast Members, Team Members, Managers, and more that are working in Orlando’s theme parks to keep them safe and fun.

Is there a new practice you’ve seen implemented that you’d like to be made permanent? Let us know in the comments.


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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

6 thoughts on “New Practices at Walt Disney World We Wish Would Become Permanent

  • We also like the distance markers in the lines. It is so nice to not have people in our personal space while in the que. We hope they never go back to “fill in all available space” again.

  • I absolutely do not want to walk under a mist of chemicals, ever. All of the changes at Disney sound like it’s a miserable, rather than magical, place to visit.

  • If someone could convince Disney that they don’t need to make ALL the money, then we could keep the reservation system with a sensible cap on daily attendance at every park, so your WDW vacation is not a struggle to survive the cacaphonous surging mobs of those supposedly better pre-COVID days.

  • The new security scanners are awesome too. Entering the park has never been easier.

    I’d love for the thin crowds and no Fastpasses to become permanent too, but I want the parks to be profitable again and stay open more so.

    Our visit to Animal Kingdom yesterday was really an amazing experience though. Such a welcome respite from the dumpster fire 2020 has been. Hats off to Disney for really nailing it this time.

  • I have a bit of a counterpoint on the Character Cavalcades, though it will likely be more of an issue should they keep this format as they ratchet up crowds.

    I think back to the Move It Shake It Whatever It “parades” down Main Street USA. They were a pain in the neck. They blocked ALL of MSUSA for a significant portion of time. Now, the trolley thing is fine when no one’s in the park. I feel like this could once again become a significant blockade as the crowds increase. I think the goings-on in DHS could result in the same kind of thing.

    The boat thing in AK is brilliant.

  • I think many of us hope the shortened planning/reservation windows will remain, especially for restaurants. Now that dining has moved to a 60-day booking window, it would be great if it never reverted back.

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