Tips for a Relaxing Disney Vacation During COVID-19

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Normally, I do not really think of Disney World as a relaxing vacation destination. But after hearing stories of amazingly short lines and no crowds, not to mention the constant begging of our teenage daughter, we decided to take a leap of vacation faith and try it out!

The crazy people that we are, my husband and I took three teenage girls to The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  And yes, I can honestly say that it was a relaxing vacation!  

In this article, I am going to cover some “need-to-know” facts to make the inconveniences easier to handle. 

Tips for traveling to Disney during COVID-19

DISCLAIMER: As always, we urge you to follow all local, state, and federal guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are planning on traveling, please check all the safety guidelines and rules/restrictions at your destination(s).

Of course, the COVID-19 virus has brought a new normal to our world. Disney is taking this very seriously and has implemented strict safety standards. 

Here are some, “we wish we had known that” things to help you have a relaxing Disney vacation:

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • You must make a park reservation before you go. You must reserve your day as well as buy your tickets in advance. You cannot walk-up and buy tickets on the day of your visit. 
  • Magic bands only work if you are staying at a resort property. If you are staying outside of the Disney World Resort you do not need your magic band.

MASK RULES

  • They are not kidding around about the masks! You must wear your mask at all times, even in the parking lot, unless you are actively eating or drinking. 
  • The above goes for the kiddos too. Everyone two years old or older must wear a mask at all times.
They are not kidding about the masks!
  • The masks must cover your nose and chin, as well as your mouth.
  • There are “no mask” relaxation zones in all of the parks. Some are outdoors, but we found a repurposed restaurant with AC in the Animal Kingdom.  Ask any cast member where they are. 
  • Yes, even though you want the “smell-o-vision” experience on the Avatar ride, you still need to have your mask on.

SECURITY

  • Security was different at the Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom. At the Animal Kingdom, they were not checking through bags unless you set-off the metal detector. But, they were checking them at the Magic Kingdom.
  • They are no longer having people use their fingerprints to enter.
  • You will need to have your temperature taken before entering the park. It’s easy: you just quickly walk up to the person and they run a thermometer in front of your forehead.

FOOD

  • Getting food is actually one of the more stressful parts of the Disney experience right now. For a relaxing vacation, I suggest bringing snacks with you into the parks.
  • Make sure you have the My Disney Experience app on your phone. You are going to need it to get food.
  • Many of the restaurants, both walk-up and sit-down, are closed. Use your My Disney Experience app to find out which restaurants are open in which parks. For example, there was NOTHING open until 11 AM in the Animal Kingdom except for a coffee place in Asia that served donuts.
  • If you want to eat at a sit-down restaurant in any of the parks, or at Disney Springs, you MUST HAVE A RESERVATION.  Let’s just say that we learned this lesson the hard way.
  • The walk-up restaurants are functioning fairly efficiently. But, you must order in advance on the app. You place your order and pay through the app. Then when you are ready to go eat, use the app to tell them that you are arriving. You will still have to wait outside for the app to tell you that your food is ready. But, it does not take very long once you let them know that you are ready.
  • Very few of the food kiosks are open. If your kiddos are looking forward to that special pretzel they sell in Frontierland, it’s most likely not going to be available. Let your kids know in advance about this.

ON TO THE RELAXING VACATION PART!

Now that you know some of the ins and outs of the “new normal” for Disney World, let’s get on to the good stuff!

SHORT LINES & SMALL GROUPS & SOCIAL DISTANCING – YAHOO!

Short lines, social distancing, and far fewer people created a truly fun and relaxing vacation at Disney World on this visit. My husband and I are originally from Southern California. We were remarking on how the Magic Kingdom reminded us of our visits to Disneyland as kids in the 1970s and ‘80s. It was truly pleasant despite the masks. 

Tomorrowland was completely empty!

As of the time of this writing, September 2020, none of the Disney parks were using fast-passes. But, don’t worry, you do not need them! The lines are super short. With the exception of the Na’vi River Journey ride in the Animal Kingdom, even when the “Stand-By” time said 20 or 30 minutes, the line took far less time.

It says 40 minutes, but it was really only 20.

Instead of extra-large groups of people wearing matching shirts pushing their way ahead of you in line, we witnessed small families and couples strolling leisurely and never coming near one another. It was truly lovely.

COVID-19 ERA RELAXATION STATION/ NO-MASK ZONES

In the Animal Kingdom there are several different areas with tables and chairs that you can rest by the Discovery River. Right now there is a Relaxation Station in between Asia and Africa and one on Discovery Island. There is also the air-conditioned repurposed restaurant as you enter Pandora The World of Avatar.

The official Relaxation Stations are a bit far flung in the Magic Kingdom. There is one in Adventureland, one in Tomorrowland, and one way out in the far reaches of Fantasy Land. 

HAVE FUN, RELAX AND ENJOY THE DISNEY PARKS

As long as Disney is still curtailing the number of people allowed in the parks, a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort definitely qualifies as a relaxing vacation destination. Take the opportunity to have fun, stroll around the parks, and enjoy the short lines. 

But, by all means, take a mask break at one of the relaxation stations! It will help your visit to be much more pleasant!

Have fun and safe travels!

Jen