Disney is taking COVID19 safety seriously. They have everyone from guests to cast member’s safety in mind with their reopening plan. We noticed a few keys things at the passholder preview that shows they are not taking the COVID19 situation lightly.
Cast Members Not Always in Character
Disney has always been an immersive theme park. This idea makes Disney Parks very different from any other park. From the second you enter the property things are just different. Cast members are friendly and helpful, everything is clean, and the air just seems a little bit lighter. But due to COVID19 sometimes cast members are not in character.
We attended the passholder preview at the Magic Kingdom on July 9th a few days before the parks open up to the public. We stopped by one of our favorite attractions, the Haunted Mansion, and noticed the usually role that the hosts and hostesses play was not there. The pandemic has forced everyone to social distance which includes many of Disney’s preshow elements. The stretching room is one of the highlights of the Haunted Mansion. Guests get a chance to see the room actual stretch while the spooky voice of Paul Frees.
No Fast Passes
During the reopening phase Disney is not utilizing its Fast Pass system. In the past guests could select times to return to attractions by using the My Disney Experience. In order to keep the lines from spilling into the pathways Disney is opening up extended queues inside the ride or using the fast pass line as an additional line.
We went on Peter Pan’s Flight during our visit to the Magic Kingdom. The full queue was open, which we had never seen before. Scenes from the movie hung as pieces of art on the walls and we even got to go inside the Darling family home. Social distancing was made a lot easier with this extra space opened up. Disney is still prepared for later phases of the reopening when crowds are larger. Social distancing markers are also on the pathways outside of rides placed 6 feet apart.
Required Mask Policy
Disney has been consistent in its message that masks will be required on their properties and in the parks. Everyone we saw was wearing a mask or some other kind of face covering. Cast members are also all wearing masks. The policy is being enforced and no guests were seen complaining.
We wore masks purchased at Disney Springs all day and found them to be comfortable and lightweight. It’s July in Florida so it’s very hot. We were fine all day. I would suggest if you do wear a disposable mask you might want to bring extra because it will most likely rain and the material they are made out of does not hold up.
Banned Mask Types
Disney recently updated their face coverings policy to ban neck gaiters and bandanas as options for guests. According to the guidelines, all face coverings must fit securely under the chin and fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face. Earlier this week during Annual Passholder previews guests were informed that gaiters were not allowed.
Here is Disney’s official policy for face coverings
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.
Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.
Disney also wants to remind guests that the use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Disney has provided guests with a few relaxation zones throughout the parks. These areas allow guests to sit down and remove their masks. It is not clear if guests have a set time limit or if a virtual queue may be implemented due to high demand. The tables inside the zones have a limited amount of chairs and are placed 10 feet apart.
Inside the Magic Kingdom, we spotted three of these zones, Tomorrowland Terrace, on the edge of Frontierland and Adventureland, and Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybrooke Circus. The Tomorrowland and Frontierland/Adventureland locations are outdoors and the Pete’s Silly Sideshow is inside.
Social Distancing Being Enforced
Social Distancing Markers
Disney is taking social distancing very seriously. The markers are placed in the queues and cast members are enforcing that people use them. We saw a few instances where a group of people just weren’t paying attention in line and either didn’t move up to the next marker or moved too quickly. Cast members are stationed in the different parts of queues for more popular attractions to make sure people are following the markers.
We also saw a virtual queue being used at the Splash Mountain store. Disney recently announced that they will soon be re-theming the attraction after The Princess and the Frog causing a surge in merchandise sales. So in order to keep crowds under control and prevent a long line a virtual queue was put in place. A cast member takes you information and inputs it in an iPad. When it is your parties’ turn to enter the store you receive a text message. We have seen Disney do this at Disney Springs at The World of Disney store. We suspect that if its needed Disney has a plan in place to implement a virtual queue for other stores.
Rise of the Resistance
We also know that Disney is using the virtual queue system for the Rise of the Resistance attraction at Hollywood Studios. The attraction previously used a virtual queue but Disney has since modified how it will work. Before the shutdown guests arrived at the park hours before it opened and waited at the front gates. Crowds grew to enormous sizes which would not work with social distancing protocols.
Disney has decided to eliminate that problem by allowing guests at certain times to join the virtual queue by using the My Disney Experience app. Guests can enter the park as normal and there is no need to arrive extra early in the morning. At 10am, 1pm, and 4pm guests will have the opportunity to join the virtual queue. If the main groups fill up backup groups may be available.
Quick Service Food Locations
All quick service food locations are not available. Yesterday at the Magic Kingdom, restaurants that had low roofs or small spaces were not available to guests. The quick-service options were limited and a mobile order was necessary to order food. Cast members will not even let you in the restaurant until you have confirmation that your order is ready. You are able to eat inside the restaurants but tables are limited due to social distancing.
Disney is also requiring guests to choose an arrival time window on the My Disney Experience app to visit quick-service restaurants. When we were there only a few quick-service options were available Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Peco’s Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Tables inside are available but many have social distancing signage on them making them not available.