Ok wow hi, I know you’re like what in the world?! You went to Disney World during a pandemic…yes I did! It’s quite the story that I debated on sharing or not. Although I share my life online there’s still a lot that I don’t share. This is a crazy story and I would like to preface it with I have been home for three weeks now and in the COVID clear. You might not agree with my decision and I completely understand that, again, I really debated on if I should share this or not because I really don’t like ruffling feathers, but I feel like this is a memory I want to write down to capture for my future self. I also didn’t really take that many pictures because I was trying to enjoy it and not think about capturing this for Thrifty Pineapple because I wasn’t going to share, but I did snap a few pics!
If you follow me on Instagram you might remember when I was really struggling with if I should go with my family to Disney World or not. I polled everyone and the votes were very much split 50/50. I got a lot of DMs that were also split 50/50, people felt strongly on both going and not going. I even got some messages that said if you go I am unfollowing you, which I think is totally fair. Everyone is at different stages with their level of comfort in today’s current conditions. So after a lot of discussion with Jared, we decided I shouldn’t go to Disney World during a pandemic.
I had done a lot of research and although I felt comfortable going to Disney World during a pandemic it was the airport and flying that I was most nervous about. I kept going back and forth because I knew I was going to have serious FOMO, but I had a wedding the weekend my sister and mom were going, so I was like you know what this is perfect I can’t go.
So I wake up the Sunday after one of my closest friend’s wedding and my mom and sister were Facetiming me telling me that I should come and it’s so safe. So I think and think and think some more and call them back about 3:30 and they convinced me, ok… I’m going. I am buying my flight right now and I am coming. Since my mom is now 60 and the last time we went to Disney World was 18 years ago I knew this would be a special memory I would regret. (Yes, I blame them for even going in the first place and peer pressuring me into going, but it was worth it).
This is the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done in my life. I booked a flight at 3:30 for a flight that left at 5 and the airport is 30 minutes away from my house…so you do the math, it was a close call. I literally threw everything I thought I needed in a backpack and sped to the airport. I knew Florida was hot so I grabbed workout clothes and sneakers and didn’t even consider makeup or hair styling products at all. Our airport is VERY small and TSA rarely has anyone in line, but of course, the day I am running to catch a flight there was a long line of people who had never flown before with full-size travel liquids, snacks, the works. So I finally make it through and ran to the gate. When I get there no one is there… finally the gate agent came out from the door and says we called your name but we just shut the door and can’t reopen it.
I think it might have been the adrenaline because I started crying, not because I missed the flight but because they had to decided to let the plane leave early. I got to the gate at 4:48 and the door was supposed to close at 4:50 but they decided to close it early…so I missed it. The next flight was not until the following day. I had communicated to my boss what was happening and my plan was to get to Orlando late Sunday night, work from the hotel on Monday because she had already planned to take off and I was her coverage for the day, then meet my mom and sister at Epcot for the evening, enjoy Magic Kingdom Tuesday and then come home on Wednesday. It was obviously a very quick trip because I decided all of this at the last possible second.
So then what… the next flight was at 6 AM the next day, putting me in Orlando at 11 AM, but I couldn’t be out of pocket for that long. I was supposed to be working and needed to be available for calls and meetings. I ultimately decided to take the same 5 PM flight the next day and I would not be late this time.
The flying experience was different but also the same. Masks were enforced but I did some people without them on and obviously a lot of the restaurants in the airport were closed. My flight from Northwest Arkansas to Atlanta was totally fine. It very spacious and everyone followed the 6 feet rule perfectly. My flight from Atlanta to Orlando was quite the opposite. It was a full flight minus the middle seats. As I was talking with the man beside me apparently a lot of people who were supposed to be flying into Charolette for their connection to Orlando had been rerouted to Atlanta because of the hurricane. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention there was a hurricane headed to Florida as I was trying to get there. So the flight to Orlando was definitely more nerve-wracking just because it was so full. They did provide snack bags with water, snacks, and hand sanitizer. I chose not to enjoy the snacks because I was observing, as soon as they passed them out everyone took off their mask to eat which in my opinion made it worse because then everyone was mask-free at the same time. I was not taking my mask off for the life of me. I also added an extra filter in my mask, I don’t know if it did anything but it at least made me feel better.
I made it to Orlando around 10 PM and then to the Disney resort around 10:30. I immediately showered and didn’t touch anything because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t transferring anything.
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Magic Kingdom. Since we were staying on the property we could take the Disney bus transportation to the park. The line was pretty long but everyone was adhering to the 6 feet rule with standing lines Disney provided on the ground as markers. The buses were running with limited capacity at a max of maybe 5 parties depending on the party sizes. On the bus, there were plexiglass dividers and seats blocked off so everyone could keep their distance.
Once we got Magic Kingdom our temperatures were taken before entering the park. I will say this did make me nervous because I was like what if I got too hot standing outside or heaven forbid got COVID on the plane and have a fever and don’t know it. Luckily, I was fine and entered the park as normal. When we walked into the gates the classic Disney characters were standing on the bridge waving and greeting everyone. This was about as close as we were going to get to them all day, but it was a nice hello to get the day started.
Initially, Magic Kingdom was pretty crowded, but when I was researching I found that a lot of people said Magic Kingdom felt more crowded because there were fewer big rides and more walking/site seeing, so naturally there were more people around. We also assumed that Magic Kingdom is the park everyone visit. Some people might skip Animal Kingdom or Epcot but everyone wants to see the castle so it’s a little more crowded. My mom and sister agreed that it was the most crowded of the parks they had visited but it was still very open and I really didn’t get close to anyone the whole day.
It was definitely a pleasant experience because we didn’t have to hurry or rush to get everything in since the longest line we waited in was about 20 minutes, which was surprisingly “It’s A Small World”. The food and dining experience was different because everything was done by mobile ordering to reduce contact. We did have a reservation at the Beast’s Castle for a decadent 3-course meal for lunch.
Upon arrival at the castle, we were instructed to stand on a green dot that were spread out around the waiting room. Once our table was ready we followed the cast member to our table and we were able to remove our masks. We sat in the West Wing which was dark and tattered just like in the movie with the enchanted rose in the middle of the room. There was about 4-5 other parties in the room which were all very spread out. The meal was definitely not cheap, but you’re paying for the experience. I ordered the charcuterie board (shocker), the filet, and the trio of desserts, which included the Grey Stuff…it was in fact delicious. I would imagine in a normal world the Beast and Belle along with the other characters would come around and do photos and possibly sing/dance, but sadly there was nothing like that. The Beast did walk in and out of rooms and wave but there were no personalized photos or meetings.
After lunch we continued to enjoy rides, snacks, site see and shop. At about 3 PM a rainstorm rolled in which ended up sticking around until close. We just put on our ponchos and kept going. After all, I literally came all the way to Florida to go to Disney World for the day so nothing was going to slow us down. I got my Dole Whip, we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin which was definitely up there on top 5 rides.
The entire park felt so safe and clean. There were markers for standing in lines both for rides and food. The rides were temporarily put on hold to clean in between rides. Parties were limited when getting on rides. Most of the time you had the ride completely to yourself. Lastly, masks were taken VERY seriously. Here are a few examples of how serious masks were enforced. When we were on the Jungle Cruise one boy about 7 years old had his nose exposed and was asked politely to pull his mask up. My sister and I even rode Space Mountain, which if you don’t know is completely in the dark, we were the only ones on the coaster so my sister pulled her mask down. Well, they take your picture on the ride and when we got off the cast member let us know that masks always have to stay on even during rides. Lastly, I really wanted a photo on the teacups so I took my mask for approximately 5 seconds to snap a pic and was told to put it back on immediately.
It was Florida in the middle of the summer so it was definitely hot with masks on but not unbearable. My sister bought a mask at Disney World and said it was very comfortable, but my mom and I opted for the disposable kind because it was easier to breathe in and not as hot. My mask ended up breaking at about 6 PM, but luckily I had a backup.
A couple of restrictions to mention are there are no shows or parades, no characters close up and park hours are limited. You could also not be moving and eating/drinking. You had to be standing or sitting still to eat/drink with your mask off. Since park hours are limited you have to reserve your park day ahead of time so they can limit capacity.
Magic Kingdom opened at 9 AM and we arrived at about 8:30 (you can enter early the park early if you are staying on property) and closed at 7 PM. So we stayed up open until close. We headed back to our room to dry off from the rain but also freshen up before we went to Disney Springs for dinner.
This was my first time going to Disney Springs so I didn’t really know what to expect, but because it was a Disney property our temperatures were also taken upon entering Disney Springs. This was a mega outdoor shopping center with normal stores like Vera Bradley, Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer with exclusive Disney collections, along with the largest souvenir store, The World of Disney, and lots of restaurants and bars.
We had a different restaurant in mind for dinner but ended up at the Polite Pig simply because our feet couldn’t walk anymore. It was absolutely delicious though. We then did some more shopping and enjoyed some popcorn and headed back to the hotel. Disney Springs also adhered to all of the same policies and CDC guidelines as the parks did and overall it wasn’t really that crowded at all either.
We then woke up early caught the Disney bus to the airport and headed home. My flights were about the same as getting there with it being more crowded going to Atlanta and pretty empty going to Northwest Arkansas (I mean those flights are pretty empty to begin with going to NWA). I kept my mask glued on and three weeks later I am COVID free.
It’s absolutely insane to think that I flew all the way to Orlando to go to Disney World during a pandemic for one day, but I am really glad I decided to do it. I was able to create some life long memories with my mom and sister that we’ll cherish forever. It was absolutely 100% insane but also absolutely 100% worth it.