In our pandemic-stricken world, safety is paramount. One of the key components of guest safety at Walt Disney World and Galaxy’s Edge is social distancing. We’re all human and are doing the best we can. Still, we all make mistakes. With that in mind, here are 5 social distancing mistakes guests make at Galaxy’s Edge and how to avoid them.
#5: Unnecessary Touching
Hand sanitizer is everywhere on Batuu, and for good reason. Under normal circumstances, guests – especially children – touch things unconsciously. Hand rails, walls, doors, etc. Galaxy’s Edge exacerbates the desire to touch by making the world feel so realistic. You’re all but invited to touch and feel the world around you.
In the COVID world, unnecessarily touching surfaces helps spread the virus. High touch surfaces like handrails should be avoided unless absolutely required for safety or stability (their actual purpose). When looking at merchandise, don’t just grab items. Wait until you’ve made a purchase decision, and only grab what you need. It keeps everyone safer.
#4: Ignoring Markers
Standing in line is part of the Disney experience and always has been. That used to mean packing people in small spaces barely a few feet from each other. When smart devices came into the equation, guests were more entertained and distracted in queues. While that keeps people happy, it creates a social distancing hazard.
To make social distancing easier, Disney has placed stickers on the ground throughout the queues and even into high traffic areas where the lines may extend into normal guest zones. These markers are 6 feet apart, but are also staggered in places where overlap occurs. These overlap areas are where guests are often ignoring them.
The natural temptation is to keep moving forward and move the queue. Under normal circumstances that is the expectation and what’s best for everyone, but that’s no longer the case. Now, it’s key for all to keep an eye on the ground and pause slightly from station to station to make sure distancing is held firm.
#3: Crowding at Entrances and Exits
Overall, guests have done a fairly good job at avoiding each other in lines and walking around the park. Where things tend to fall apart is at the entrances and exits of attractions and restaurants.
When entering, people are so focused on getting in the queue they lose sight of the space around them. At restaurants, the new mobile ordering requirements have reduced crowds overall, but have created bottlenecks around the doors. For all the distancing markers in place, they are suspiciously absent outside Docking Bay 7 and Ronto Roasters. Part of this is due to limiting entrance to those with ready to pick up orders.
The key to avoiding this situation, particularly at high volume eating times like lunch or dinner, is to click the “I’m here” button ahead of your arrival. This will reduce your wait time as you’ll be walking to the area during prep time and limit the standing around you’ll have to do.
For attractions, the key is to be more mindful of your surroundings. This is especially important during weather situations. Crowding the exit as you put on a poncho puts everyone at risk. A small bit of rain won’t hurt you nearly as much as a COVID-19 infection might.
#2: Skipping Hand Sanitizer Stations
Hand sanitizer is everywhere at Walt Disney World. At every entrance, exit, and throughout Black Spire Outpost you’ll find hand sanitizer dispensers and hand washing stations. Use them. Every time.
Using sanitizer stations is especially important before entering or exiting a ride vehicle. You’re about to touch all the things, especially on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Having clean hands going on keeps others safe, and cleaning your hands when you leave makes sure you stay safe too.
#1: Improper Mask Usage
Disney requires masks to be worn at all times when on property and not eating or drinking. It’s not negotiable, so if you have a problem with masks, either personally or politically, don’t go. It’s that simple.
There are specialized relaxation zones that allow you to take your mask off while distanced from other parties. In Galaxy’s Edge, the zone is located by “the big door” near the entrance to the Marketplace bathrooms.
Almost all guests abide by these rules, but far too often we see travelers on Batuu wearing their mask improperly. Your mouth and your nose should always be covered. This is to prevent the spread of the virus by asymptomatic visitors. While most masks, including those sold by Disney, do little to directly protect you, the goal of the masks is to keep virus particles you may be breathing out confined to your personal space.
Proper mask usage is also important when eating or drinking. The majority of guests we’ve seen pull down their mask while walking to take a drink or munch on a quick snack. Hydration is vital during the Florida summer. If you need a drink, there’s a good chance you’ll also be breathing heavier and expelling more particles through your nose. Keep your nose covered while drinking and you’ll be keeping more people safe. If you must take your mask off to eat or drink, the official Disney policy is that you stop, get at least 6 feet from other parties, and then proceed to de-mask and eat/drink.
Visiting Galaxy’s Edge during the pandemic can be as safe an experience as is possible in public. In our experience as local Floridians, Disney is miles above other stores and even theme parks when it comes to keeping guests safe. If you avoid these 5 social distancing mistakes guests make at Galaxy’s Edge, you should be just fine.
Be patient, pay attention to your surroundings, and above all, wear your mask!
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