Wow, how much things have changed since March 4! That was the day that I had my eye on for quite a while, since it was the opening day of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Just one day earlier I attended the media event, and I had a fantastic time! There was talk of coronavirus, but it was more of a “wow, I feel sorry for those people in China” type of problem.
March 4 was also the first day of the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. That’s my favorite of the four annual festivals, and I was trying to figure out when I would be able to stop by for the first time this year because I had other plans. That weekend I was flying to Massachusetts to celebrate my parents’ birthdays, which are a week apart. We had 14 people and four generations at the party. It was so much fun. I will admit that I wasn’t happy on my flight up to be seated next to someone with the sniffles, but I’ve carried hand sanitizer with me since before it was cool, so I just kept it close and used it often.
Things started to change a bit the day that I was to fly back. My flight got moved to a smaller plane, and the email offered a refund and generous flight voucher in order to give up my seat. I jumped at the offer, the voucher was enough to cover my flights for a trip that I’m planning to California this August. I was able to book a cheap flight on a different airline, and the time was quite a bit later. That meant a few extra hours with my parents.
It didn’t take long for things to change even more. Coronavirus made its way to Florida, but it still was far away. Walt Disney World upped its procedures for cleanliness. On Thursday, March 12, I stopped by Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the park was still packed. I took a lot of pictures, and even wrote up something about it. That evening, the bottom dropped out. A little after 8:30 it was announced that the Walt Disney World theme parks would all close. Universal Orlando Resort made a similar announcement, and the other local parks eventually did the same.
The last day that the theme parks were open was Sunday, March 15. I decided to go to EPCOT to see it one last time before the closure. I still hadn’t been to the Flower & Garden Festival, and that was my main goal. I had no intention of riding anything, I wanted to leave that for people who couldn’t easily come back once the parks open again. I just walked through the whole park and took a lot of pictures.
EPCOT was strange. The festivals are normally packed on the weekends, but the crowd was light. It wasn’t Disney After Hours light, but it was easy to walk around and practice “social distancing”. The hardest part of all was the mood. The Cast Members all had smiles on their faces, but there was a sadness that lingered over the park. I was there in the middle of the day, and it was hot! I’m sure that the crowd picked up as the day went on so that people could end the day with fireworks.
Things changed even more right after midnight. A friend of mine who knows that I don’t use Twitter wrote to me to tell me about the additional cancelations. I made sure that I added the info on Facebook and Instagram immediately, as well as updating the list that I have on the top of my website. I’m doing my best to keep that updated, so please continue to check it and share with others.
I don’t know how long it will be until Walt Disney World is fully functional once again. I don’t know how long it will be until we can watch the news and not hear the words “social distancing”. I don’t know if the current efforts will “flatten the curve” or not. What I do know is that things can change quickly. A week ago right now I was sitting with my parents, enjoying the extra hours that I had with them. Two weeks ago, I was excited about the upcoming media event. Here’s hoping that two weeks from now we’ll be talking about how the parks are about to open again. I don’t know what is going to happen, but we could all use some Disney magic right about now.