When Walt Disney World reopened back in July, guests were spaced out on rides. This was to keep people six feet apart. It worked great, at first. Once the crowds started to pick up a bit and capacity was often reached, spacing people apart led to long Wait Times. It wasn’t unusual for a ride such as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to have a wait of over two hours! That wouldn’t be surprising during a normal year, but 2020 has been anything but normal.
The problem that Disney has been dealing with is how to increase ride capacity while still keeping people apart. The solution has become adding more plexiglass barriers. There has been plenty of plexiglass to be found around Walt Disney World since July, but it’s mostly been to keep Cast Member safe in places like stores, and to keep guests apart in parts of the queues where social distancing isn’t possible. Recently, more and more plexiglass has been added to the actual rides. This allows more people to ride, but there is a cost.
For Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, I’ll admit that the plexiglass is necessary. It allows two parties per car instead of just one. Potentially this could double the number of people who ride daily. I’ve ridden in the back with the plexiglass, and I didn’t find it overly distracting. There is so much going on with the ride that it’s easy to get caught up. Where I did find the plexiglass a problem was in the room with BB-8, and then again in the shuttle. Depending on which color dot you’re assigned, you’ll either see everything or see nothing. The spacing doesn’t work well.
I’ve also ridden Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway since they installed plexiglass. This one was a bit harder for me. The problem with plexiglass is that it is reflective, and this is a very bright ride. Throughout the experience we were seeing everything twice because of the reflections. I’m still glad that the plexiglass was added there, because more people can ride. The Wait Time has dropped quite a bit lately.
The one ride that I still don’t feel comfortable about with plexiglass is Smugglers Run. The space is just too small! I know that Disney has great air filtration and circulation, but it’s still not something that I want to experience right now. I’m glad that we rode the last time we were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, from what I’ve heard the plexiglass was there the next day.
Disney is still not seating you with other parties. That’s good. I never liked being crowded in with total strangers, even before the pandemic. The capacity of the rides is still down because of this. Not crowding people in is something that I hope they keep around, even after things return to normal. I think that almost sitting in the lap of a total stranger is more distracting than plexiglass.