By Erik Johnson
What a week! It was so good to get back to the magic in Walt Disney World for a few days. A five-day trip like this always feels kind of rushed, though. It takes some time to settle in to our Disney rhythms and feel truly relaxed and comfortable.
The difficulty for my wife and I right now is that we prefer park hopping. We have developed over many visits a system of visiting a park, trying out the attractions we want to see, and then moving on. Want to start the day in Animal Kingdom but have dinner at Epcot? Fine! Want to re-visit Galaxy’s Edge because you didn’t spend enough time there? Sure, let’s start Day Six there!
You see the problem.
Our vacation habits had to change.
That was the biggest takeaway from this trip. Disney World is different now, by necessity. It may never be the same again. Your next trip is likely to look very different from the past.
Our trip style has evolved to the point that we tend to show up well after the opening hours of a park. My wife and I like to shop and eat at the parks, so we do not mind waiting for good FastPasses. We also find success in hitting up long-wait rides later in the day when people are lining up for the nighttime spectacular. We park hop. We have a late-night drink at our hotel’s lounge and call it a day, waking up to run and have a leisurely breakfast while everybody else is lining up for the opening rush.
Our plan kind of works now. Showing up past the opening hours of the day meant no wait at temperature or security checks. The pathways looked empty, but largely because everyone in the parks were waiting in line for rides. Those lines can hide a lot of people, even if they snake outside the normal queue perimeter. As the day goes on, afternoon showers and dinner times cause many to flee. The problem now is, the parks close so very early that we only had an hour or so of short wait times.
In many ways, I think the new ideal is to get up early enough to get your family in the park at rope drop. Have a plan for your first destination. Keep an eye on the My Disney Experience app, because wait times seem to be very accurate right now. While waiting, set your sights on your next ride, trying to keep it close. Know what everybody’s favorites are so you can keep up with priorities.
Plan ahead for meals. Lots of the quick bites around the parks are closed right now. Snacks can still be found, but you have to sit down out of the way to unmask and enjoy your treats. Work with a travel planner to get some good reservations at an ideal time and plan your day around that.
Masks are a big change. If you have not had to wear a mask all day at work or school, spend some longer stretches with one on. Get a bit sweaty! You sure will at Disney World. Bring plenty of changes, but do not expect to have to change much during the day. Unless you get soaked on a water ride, your mask is probably going to be fine all day. Pick up some fun Disney ones! We have plenty of suggestions here.
Feel safe at the parks! Lines are spaced out. Riders are spaced out. Some rides and dining locations have great barriers between people. It’s too bad that not every ride can keep up capacity like Living With the Land or the Kilimanjaro Safaris do using barriers between rows. If you follow the markings and signs and use the widely-available hand sanitizer, you are in better shape than most supermarkets I have visited.
Look for the fun all around you! This is Disney World, after all. Relax and you can see the same fun rides are there plus new, spontaneous experiences. Cavalcades and random character interactions are great! I almost prefer seeing Joy frolicking in a garden to waiting in line to meet her. The Cadaver Dans can pop out on the balcony of Country Bear Jamboree with Big Al and Liver Lips McGrowl and it’s just as great as seeing them on MainStreet a few feet away. Tiny parades give everyone a chance to be up close to the magic without having to stake a claim on a piece of sidewalk for two hours.
The earliest days of park openings were marked by near-zero wait times every day. Those days are probably gone for good, as more people are seeing the safety measures in place. They feel safe enough to go have a good time, something we are all looking for right now. Expect that you may have to wait for more rides and that you may not be able to see everything you want to.
As I mentioned before, that’s the last part we need to figure out in this new Disney World. If your family is staying with enough time for more than one day at each park, you can probably make this work. Park reservations are currently open enough that guests staying at a Disney Resort could make some changes to the end of their week and plan for a return to a park. Guests staying at the resort seem to have more flexibility in choosing their park reservation days.
That would be my only change to this trip. If I could have two more days, we would have probably added more time at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. If we ran out of things to do, rather than park hopping, we could have spent more time at Disney Springs. There is so much to do there now, that I feel the few hours where we ate dinner were not enough to really explore. More time is always better at Disney World!
I hope this little travelogue was helpful to some people. It is hardly comprehensive and certainly could have been planned out a little more. Maybe if I wrote it after returning instead of every night before falling asleep! It certainly helped me frame what I was doing all week, looking for safety measures and fun, new opportunities.
If you want that chance, please contact our travel planners. You know the drill! Our expert planners have been busy these last few months changing reservations and learning all they could from afar. Now that people are starting to take these trips again, we are arming ourselves with as much knowledge as we can get. Disney changes constantly, and these days that is an understatement.
Trust our ConciEARS to make your family’s trip the most magical possible!
It has been my pleasure to pass on what I saw at the Parks this last week. Maybe we can all do this again in Disneyland someday soon!
This blog is part of a series! Check out the previous days below: