I was recently looking through some old posts that I’ve written here at Disney Over 50, and I came across one about spontaneity. A lot of it had to do with FastPass+ and making dining reservations 180 days in advance. Of course, that was all before COVID-19 and the changes that have been made to the way that things operate at Walt Disney World. It got me thinking, is spontaneity still possible the way that things are now?
The answer to my question is both yes and no. I’ll start with the no. We don’t have Park Hopper at the moment, so we need to carefully choose which park we want to visit. Once you make the reservation and scan your ticket or MagicBand, there is no changing your mind. If you’re an Annual Passholder, you might be restricted even more, especially if you want to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We have to make sure that there is availability before we even leave home.
Now on to the yes. Once you are inside a theme park, I think that there is more spontaneity than before. We aren’t tied down to FastPass+ return times. Many full service restaurants remain closed, which means we might not have to worry about the timing of a dining reservation. We can eat when we want instead. Most lines have been short since reopening, so we aren’t tied to Wait Times. We know that there is a good chance that we will be able to do everything that we want, and possibly more than once.
I also think that right now we can visit at a somewhat slower pace. We don’t have to hurry from one spot to the next because we’re late for our FastPass+. With shorter lines we know that we will still be able to ride the more popular rides, so we can take the time to watch the Character Cavalcades. If we miss one, that’s okay. Another one will be along soon enough.
One thing that I’ve also noticed since the reopening is that I’m riding things that I would usually ignore. These are rides that traditionally don’t have long waits, but I skip them anyway because there are other things higher on my priority list. It’s easier right now to visit a land and experience everything, and then move on to the next one. There’s no looking at the My Disney Experience App and hightailing it across the Magic Kingdom because Space Mountain is down to a 40 minute wait. Lately, I’ve been able to better enjoy just being back.
One of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is literally nothing. Since I’m local, I can afford to do just that. I like to head to a park and soak in the atmosphere. When the Disney Park Pass System was first introduced and the spots were quickly snatched up for Annual Passholders, I didn’t think that would be possible any longer. I’m glad to say that I was wrong. On most days (but not all), it’s still possible as a Passholder to grab a day-of reservation and head to a park for a couple of hours. I’ve now done that a couple of times since the parks reopened. I’ve seen what is available, then went to a park for a little while. For me, that last minute visit is the ultimate in spontaneity.
Of course, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently the exception to all of this. With the Boarding Groups for Rise of the Resistance, you need to try to plan things out. Don’t expect a short Wait Time for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway! There’s still some spontaneity, but at DHS there isn’t the luxury of it that can be experienced at the other three Walt Disney World theme parks.