Disney World is keeping ‘the magic alive’ with COVID-19 safety measures

Amaris Menjivar, Reporter

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida made detailed reopening guidelines in order to protect employees and guests, which makes it the ideal place to visit for a dose of magic and distraction.

I think their current practices make trips easy and as safe as possible for everyone. They adhere to a 25% maximum capacity at all parks and require reservations for all guests prior to visiting.

Reservations are made through their website and require an account linked to valid park admission, which makes contact tracing easier if it becomes necessary.

In the parking lots, an empty space is left between cars to between them to ensure a six-foot distance between arriving guests. Parking lot attendants are also wearing face coverings and masks to remind guests to remain physically distant as they walk to security and temperature screening tents.

According to the Disney Blog Inside the Magic, all guests in your party must have a temperature below 100.4 F to enter and temperatures are checked upon arrival to the park.

Disney’s website explains the specific criteria for what constitutes an acceptable mask. Masks are required for all guest above the age of two and some of the criteria includes having two layers of breathable material, covering the nose and mouth, fitting comfortably against the side of the face and being secured with ear loops or ties.

Their security screenings have also been updated, according to Isaac Gonzalez, a Disney fan who recently visited the Orlando, Florida resorts with his family.

Gonzalez said the resort no longer has guests approach a table before walking through metal detectors.

They use sleeker models that guests must walk through, and bags are only checked if they have larger bags that are not transparent.

Gonzalez said he was asked to place the bags on the table and open compartments or remove items so that security may look inside without touching his belongings.

This close attention to detail and limited contact made him feel “safe and secure that Disney is putting [his] safety first and doing their best,” Gonzalez said.

The parks also use cards and MagicBands, which are tapped at sensors located at the gates instead of paper tickets so that cast members verify on their devices that admission is valid for the day without touching your card.

This new method is another way Disney is aiming to keep their guests and cast members as safe as possible.

There are a limited amount of attractions open and services such as FastPass+ are on hold, in order to allow for greater physical distancing. 

Gonzalez also said when he was at Disney World the rides were being sanitized on what appeared to be a two hour schedule and they let the ride dry by running it without guests.

Additionally, boat rides are being loaded differently now with one party at the front of the train and another in the back, leaving the middle rows empty.

The restaurants on the property have also implemented new guidelines. Table-service restaurants require a reservation linked to your admission account and have limited seating and hours of operation.

Nikki Meadows, a food critic and Disney enthusiast who recently visited the Walt Disney World Resort this year, told Travel + Leisure that she enjoyed her experience.

“Tables are distanced six feet apart. Some of the locations even skipped parties in between tables. Waitstaff wore masks and didn’t linger longer than they needed to,” Meadows said. “They had QR scanners for the menus, so that multiple guests weren’t touching shared surfaces. I also saw a lot of sanitizing going down. I was overall truly impressed.”

The resorts have strict rules regarding eating and drinking as those are the only times guests may remove their masks, and they must remain stationary while they do so.

Gonzalez said his wife “couldn’t go into the Maharajah Jungle Trek with her open [beverage] cup, although she wasn’t going to drink from it.”

All of the new guidelines and precautions that Disney parks are taking to protect guests show that they are doing all they can to make it a memorable and safe trip for everyone and these efforts are reflects through the praise of those who have visited the resorts.

“We definitely felt safe and taken care of during our trip. They really care about guests and do what they can to keep the magic alive for the kids, like that Disney magic is still there for them,” Gonzalez said. “It was a great time for us and [a] distraction from what is happening… like I haven’t seen [my daughter] that happy in a while and would want to come again for that alone.”