What to Expect When Arriving at Walt Disney World Theme Parks

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The magic of a visit to Walt Disney World starts before you even arrive.  It’s fun to plan out your trip and anticipate the experience. Arriving to Walt Disney World’s theme parks for the day is a quite different than it used to be, so let’s review what you need to know.

COVID-19 Warning Sign at Disney’s Animal Kingdomc

Parking Process

When pulling through the parking toll plaza of each park, I’ve been asked if I have a reservation for the park. Then my MagicBand is scanned and my ID confirmed, since I am an annual passholder with parking included. Disney is encouraging everyone to use contactless payment as much as possible. Each parking booth Cast Member I have encountered has been wearing both a mask and a protective clear face shield.

Parking is rather delightful right now because every other spot is filled first. Then after guests have moved on from loading up and walking to the park the empty spots are backfilled. Having the extra space makes it very nice for everyone, especially families who have kids to wrangle into strollers and such.

Distanced Parking at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Distanced Parking at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I have found that the parking lot can be a challenge for safety compliance in that some guests do not have their mask on yet and have not adjusted to physically distancing practices. I generally wait in the car for the majority of folks in my row to head toward the park, and then I finally get out and get moving. Parking trams are not currently operational so you will have to walk through the parking lot to the park entrance.

If you won’t be driving to the parks, here’s our guide to Walt Disney World Transportation.

Temperature Screening

As you approach the entrance you’ll probably notice a few white tents. Staffed by one of Florida’s largest hospital groups, AdventHealth, every guest has their temperature taken with a no-touch thermometer. Disney states on their website that; “Based on guidance from health authorities, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.”

During my visits everyone has been extremely friendly, always joking around with my son. It is a quick, touchless scan. Every guest I have witnessed has been great about the screening too.

Temperature Screening at EPCOT International Gateway
Temperature Screening and Distancing Markers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Bag Screening

I recently visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom and EPCOT. At both parks the bag screening process has changed to a touchless systems. For safety reasons I will not go into detail about the process, and I did not take pictures specifically of the bag check area. During my recent it was just my son and I so I had to manage the bag check with my son in the stroller. The Security Cast Members did a great job of directing me and helping me navigate the screening process with bags and a stroller with no additional party members. Cell phones can stay in bags as they are checked. Larger metal items (like umbrellas) may need to be removed.

Physical Distancing

During busy hours such as park opening, the entrance and ticket scan area can get backed up. There are markings throughout the main gate area in order to allow for safe physical distancing. Plenty of Cast Members are on hand to direct guests and ensure everyone is following the procedures. Members of the “Mask Enforcement Squad” are around the park, and definitely have a strong presence at the front of the park. They not only ensure guests are wearing masks, but that their face coverings comply with specifications such as no exhalation valves.

Temperature Screening and Distancing Markers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Physical Distancing Markers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Entrance

No Bio-Metric Finger Scan

To reduce touch points, the bio-metric finger scan is turned off when you scan you ticket or MagicBand. Of course having reservations just to get into the park helps with some of the reasons bio-metric scans exist in the first place. It also speeds up the process of getting into the park, which is welcomed. Between walking to the park entrance, going through the temperature screening, then the bag check, it can seem like a lot of work to finally walk into the Most Magical Place on Earth.

No Bio-Metric Scan at EPCOT
Distancing Markers at International Gateway Entrance

Are you planning on visiting Walt Disney World anytime soon? What other aspects of visiting Disney are you curious about? Let us know in the comments.

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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 on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

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