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I Went to Disney World in the Middle of a Pandemic

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

Now that COVID-19 has taken hold, the way that we experience everything has changed, one of them being Florida’s Walt Disney World. The reality of COVID-19 forced Disney to adopt new policies and make a number of changes. 

Many businesses across the country are still closed, but all major Disney parks are open, albeit with limited hours. All the resort and hotel water parks, however, stayed closed. 

Of course, the parks have new rules, one of them being face coverings. All guests older than two years old must wear masks at the resorts and parks; you will not be able to enter the parks without one. I visited Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot, and all of these parks are doing a good job of implementing these guidelines, with many signs around the parks. Disney also does a good job of selling masks in the stores around the park. The next precaution they take is temperature screenings, which are completed before entering theme parks or Disney Springs. Cast members will screen you with touchless thermometers, to check your temperature. Disney has also halted Extra Magic Hours and there are no fast passes.

Disney also implemented social distancing queues to maintain social distancing in ride wait lines. Scheduled parades, nightly firework displays, and character meet and greets were canceled to discourage large crowds from gathering. To make up for all the cancelations, Disney put together pop-up parades throughout the parks. During random times, characters in parades will come out and put on a mini-show. Now, they are still at a six-feet distance and they move fast, but this is still a great way to make up for the canceling of many events.  

One thing to keep in mind when going is that attendance is limited and reservations are required to visit the parks. Disney does a good job of utilizing their app called My Disney Experience. You can stay on top of the latest updates and take advantage of new features at the park, such as mobile ordering at restaurants, digital restaurant menus, ride wait time updates, park maps and photo passes. In order to get food at a kiosk in a park, you must place a mobile order through the app, which again discourages large crowds from gathering.

There are also various cast members around the park — that may not even look like cast members — who will stop you if you’re not wearing a mask and tell you to put one on, so I think they are doing a good job of following the guidelines. 

Now, I know this all may seem crazy, going to Disney World in the middle of a pandemic. Well, it was actually not as bad as I anticipated. This all started off when my boyfriend surprised me for our one year anniversary with a trip to Disney World. I was a little hesitant in the beginning about going to Disney World in the middle of a pandemic, especially given that Florida is such a hub for COVID-19 cases. Of course, as I said, Florida laws still apply to Disney World, and all guests are required to wear masks and social distance.

I believe that Disney does a great job of keeping guests safe while still allowing them to have fun and enjoy the Disney experience in these extremely weird and difficult times. Overall, this was definitely an experience that I will never forget, not only because of the COVID-19 circumstances but also because it was an unforgettable and amazing trip with my boyfriend.

So if you’re interested in going to Disney World in the middle of a pandemic, don’t be afraid. Just follow the health and safety guidelines, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask!

Gabby is a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying advertising and public relations.