The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal kingdom opened for the first time in four months at Disney World Resort in Florida. This was part of the phased reopening, which means all four Walt Disney World theme parks were open. Much has changed since the Disney world was last open with new measures to contain the spread of the virus. The theme park has taken enhanced health and safety measures with specific instructions to every guest. These instructions can make the experience different from what most people are used to when visiting Disney World.
This most famous and iconic theme park destination opened despite a surge in corona-virus cases. Thousands of people visited the theme park after its reopening with a mix of fear and doubt regarding being in public with corona-virus risk. With the many changes implemented in park operations to make it safe, we seek to determine whether the company achieved its objectives. We take a look at how Disney world has changed and whether these changes affected the fun.
One of the notable changes in the reopening of Disney world is a reduction in the masses due to limited entrance. The finite crowds make it easy for every guest to keep socially distant as they enjoy the reopening. Park attendance is one aspect that is well managed to contain the number of people entering the theme parts. Guests are required to make an advanced reservation before they travel into the parks. The guests are required to present a park reservation and valid admission for the same park before allowing entry into the park. Only guests with a valid ticket are granted access to the Disney Park pass reservation system.
Due to the limited crowds, the wait times are also primarily reduced, which is one of the positives. Some rides that had longer wait have reduced drastically while wait times move quicker. The park has limited capacity, which meant wait times were not more than 15 minutes to enjoy the attractions. With few people entering the parks, guests can move quicker and experience some magical experiences within the park. Security is also heightened in Disney’s theme parks with temperature checks done at every entry point.
Cavalcades in place of parades
Another change noticed with the reopening of the Disney world is the controlling of shows. Instead of the enormous parades, Disney offered smaller character appearances that are not long enough to draw crowds. Usually, the parade situation causes masses, but this would not be possible with the current situation. The use of characters integrated into the park as opposed to being in long and congested parades helped bring order in the theme park. There are no parades or fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The cavalcades, such as Mickey Mouse and his pals, attracted a small crowd of about 15 groups, with everyone practicing social distancing.
No more fast-pass
Disney dealt with the issue of social distancing by doing away with the fast-pass within the theme park. The park has reinforced the social distancing rules that require keeping a one-meter distance between guests. Virtual queues are in place to get into popular stores as part of social distancing rules. The queues have Plexiglas dividers between the switchbacks and social distancing markers on the ground to ensure that every guest is safe. The requirements for boarding a Disney bus are also changed with only six parties allowed on the bus at one time. The dividers between each section ensure that groups do not accidentally touch each other.
Mobile phones to order food
With the social distancing rules in place, Disney has reinforced mobile food ordering to avoid crowding. This eliminates the need to get in contact when ordering food and to pay for the meals. Disney has enhanced mobile ordering and cashless payments in the park to limit contact. The mobile ordering is super-efficient in reducing touchpoints. In some places within the animal kingdom, guests are not allowed into the building until the mobile food order is ready. A single-use paper with a QR code on the table is used in the sit-down restaurants instead of a print menu. In essence, Disney is relying on technology to effect changes regarding social distancing.
Cast members in the theme parks were spraying down rides at some intervals as part of the frequent sanitization. They were also wiping down tables inside the mask relaxation zones where guests could take their masks off and cool down. For example, the tables were wiped after each group left and before another group sat down as part of the enhanced safety measures.
The rides were stopping for regular cleaning and disinfecting before they could continue with the trips. There are portable hand wash stations within the park that allow for periodic stops to wash your hands. At the same time, there are hand sanitizer stations everywhere within the theme parks, with guests encouraged to sanitize regularly. This means you can sanitize your hands before and after every attraction.
You will be wearing masks
Of essence is a mandate to wear masks for every park-goer as a requirement for entering or staying in the park. There is a rule in place that guests must have their face cover on if they get up from their table in the restaurant for any reason. Masks are mandated for all guests two years and older while inside, outside, and virtually everywhere within the Disney world. This is the basic rule that is meant to keep all guests and workers safe as they travel to the park. If everyone can wear their masks appropriately while having fun, then the full reopening will succeed.
Mask wearing is mandated despite the high temperatures in Florida during the summer. It is even hotter wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose, which is why Disney has designated an area where guests can sit and remove their masks. You will need to take a break now and then to cool down. You are also allowed to take masks down when having meals and drinks, but you cannot walk around without wearing a mask.
Few problems that remain
Disney got many things right regarding the reopening of the theme parks. However, certain aspects need improvement to make it a better place. For example, the company has not designated social distancing rules in the bathrooms or tighter sections of the store where crowds are big. Also, Disney should put in place measures regarding wearing masks as several guests could be pictured wearing the masks inappropriately. For example, some guests were not following protocol by putting their face covering down. While it is a small percentage of visitors, they can jeopardize the whole effort to combat coronavirus.
Disney took the health and safety of all guests and cast members into consideration as they travel into the parks. Everyone is expected to follow the rules and be respectful of each other. For example, the coronavirus containment’s success lies in people wearing their masks correctly, washing their hands, and practicing social distancing.
While things may seem a little different, the reopening was a success, and guests can still have a magical time. The fun is still there, depending on your flexibility and willingness to accept the changes. In all sense, Disney World is still a place built around pleasure even with the social distancing, masks, and other suspended offerings. The company has put enough measures to ensure you are safe even as you relax and enjoy the fun. In essence, while success is relative, this reopening can be deemed a success with a lot of high points compared to the low points.
There were many highs and a few lows from the reopening, but the whole experience can be considered a success to no small extent. Many of the attractions were open with extra caution to provide the best experience to guests. You can hop on Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions without issues, and with wait times under 20 minutes, you will get as much fun as you need.