Yesterday (July 9) was my Passholder Preview at the Magic Kingdom. The number of guests was extremely limited, at times I almost felt like I was at an After Hours event. I don’t know if it will be the same capacity once the Magic Kingdom opens to the public tomorrow. Since there were so few people there, social distancing was easy. If you’d like to read what I wrote for Disney Dining, you can find it here. A lot of it is the same information, but many of the pictures are different.
I’ll start with the one change that I hope Disney will make. There were three automatic hand sanitizer dispensers at each ride; one at the entrance, one right before getting on, and one at some point after the exit. The Cast Members were not saying anything to guests about using it. I think that they should remind each party before getting on a ride, especially since it is right there. Most people were using it, but there were a few who didn’t. It should be 100% of people riding use hand sanitizer before getting on a ride.
I can’t remember the last time that I spent a full day at Walt Disney World in July. It is just too hot! Yesterday the heat index reached around 105 degrees. My daughter and I made sure that we drank a lot of water, plus that Dole Whip Float tasted especially sweet. I’m heat sensitive and have passed out from heat before, but I was okay. We took breaks and sat down in the shade. We were fine, even with our face masks.
Pete’s Silly Sideshow is a Relaxation Zone, and it was a literal breath of fresh air. Inside you are allowed to sit down and take off the mask. You need to be seated to take it off, and the tables are spaced to keep you far enough away from other parties. Kids were not allowed to run around. There were Cast Members on hand to make sure that the rules were followed. Pete’s wasn’t the only Relaxation Zone, but it was the best. Otherwise, the face covering rule was being strictly enforced. Overall, the guests were following the rule as well. I was pleased to see this.
I have to admit that I’ve become a big fan of social distancing in lines. It’s nice to not have other parties breathing down your neck! Most people stayed on the markers on the floors, although it was difficult if we were behind a larger party. We would sometimes keep an extra marker between us and the party in front of us, if they were not staying on their marker. Rides were half empty, to keep parties apart. It sure beat being crammed in with total strangers!
There were characters everywhere. Most could be seen in Character Cavalcades, which was one parade float along the normal parade route. These ran every few minutes throughout the day, and I really enjoyed them. There were often characters at the Main Street, U.S.A. Train Station. We saw characters a few other places as well. My rule of thumb was to keep looking up, because if there was a second story balcony, there very well might be a couple of characters.
I’ve heard many people wonder how Disney was going to handle the Haunted Mansion stretching room. After all, you’re encouraged to head to the “dead center of the room”, and it’s dark so you can’t see how close you are to other people. The answer is simple, you now skip that room entirely. Instead, the queue takes you directly into the loading area. It’s not quite the same, but you still get to enjoy the ride. The interactive elements of the queue (and other queues) are blocked off.
Cast Members were wonderful yesterday! They seemed so happy to be welcoming people again. We had more random “welcomes!” from Cast Members than ever in the past. If we had a question, they were helpful. We did a lot of just general chatting with Cast Members. Since no one can see your smile, we decided to make an extra effort to let them know that they are appreciated.
Mobile Ordering is being encouraged for food purchases right now, although other forms of payment were accepted. This was hit or miss for us. We didn’t have to wait at all at Aloha Isle, but we still waited for maybe 15 minutes outside at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Inside, the restaurant was so empty that it was eerie. We did eat at an off time, but there were only maybe ten other parties in a normally packed restaurant. Tables were marked off so that you wouldn’t eat close to anyone else. Cast Members standing by, with bottles of disinfectant to clean each table as soon as it was vacant. The toppings bar was filled with packages of condiments; there was no lettuce, tomato, or sauteed onions. The old utensil dispensers have been replaced by single serve dispensers. Not only are these safer, but there is probably less waste.
Speaking of waste, even the trash cans are touchless. They are propped open so that you can just drop your trash in instead of pushing them open. It’s one less thing to touch.
We were able to get everything done that we wanted to and more. The Wait Times stayed low throughout the day, I think that the longest that we waited was 20 minutes. At the end of the night we were able to walk onto Seven Dwarfs Mine Train three times. The final ride we had the whole train to ourselves. The Cast Members running the ride joked that they were going to turn up the speed for us.
Walt Disney World has done a great job of keeping guests safe. It’s up to us to do our part as well. The rules are simple, and it was nice to see 99.9% of the guests following them. It felt really good to be home.