I had several people ask me throughout our stay at Disney what it was like, so I thought I would share! I always love to hear other people's experiences and learn from their tips before planning, or just to gain a little insight, so I thought this would be helpful! if you're planning to go, or if you just want to see what it was like in January of 2021, just keep reading.
Let me start off by saying, we did not stay within the parks. One day we'll have that adventure, but so far we have only stayed right outside the parks, but have still had wonderful experiences.
We all know the world is a little different right now, and that includes Disney. Disney has always been top notch on customer service and guest relations and I can say that during Covid, it was no different. They took many precautions to make sure everyone felt safe.
The parks were operating at 30% capacity, with Magic Kingdom being the "most crowded" just because it is so big. But even in Magic Kingdom, the wait time for the most popular rides were about 70-90 minutes, at the most. We found that the wait time was much shorter than expected, which was a nice surprise. The most we waited was around 70 minutes, but we were constantly moving because the lines were so stretched out, it never seemed unbearable. If you decide to go, just check out the new crowd limits before you reserve your day.
Reserve your day? Yes. When you purchase your tickets online, or through an agency, you will be required to reserve your park ticket for the day of your choosing. This is how they make sure they don't go over the 30% capacity. It was easy peasy online. I just purchased the tickets, and waited for the prompt that led me to select the day we wanted to go to which park. The parking attendants asked every time, "do you have a reservation for this park today?", and I was so relieved to say "yes"! (I have a history of scheduling things on the wrong days. haha)
Here are a few ways they made sure social distancing was “in place":
~while waiting in lines, there were markers on the ground like you see everywhere to let you know where to stand ...
~signs posted to remind everyone to wear a mask, even during photographs. We rebelled on this one a few times to be honest... we made sure no one was around or felt uncomfortable
~ plastic dividers were placed in lines to eliminate possibly passing by another person when being 6 feet apart wasn't an option
~ sanitizing stations were available everywhere...especially after each ride.
A lot of "shows" or "sign alongs" were suspended.
Magic hours were suspended when we were there but it didn't apply to us since we were staying outside of the parks. Normal hours were cut a little shorter than usual, as well. Magic Kingdom closed at 8:00, instead of later, but by 8:00 and walking over 7 miles in the park, we weren't complaining. :)
There were no fireworks shows, or scheduled parades. Instead of scheduled parades, there were spontaneous small parades that happened all throughout the day. It was still an exciting time to hear music and see a few parade cars come through with all our favorite characters.
If you are a STAR WARS fan, the new addition to Hollywood Studios is amazing. The characters stayed at a distance but still made their appearances. We just weren't able to take pictures with them or get any autographs. We rode the Melinnium Falcon and it was amazing. It was a virtual ride so needless to say, I sat with my head down and just tried not to throw up the whole time. I am learning that "as I get older", I cannot deal with virtual experiences. This was true for the Pandora ride as well. I waited in line with everyone, but chose to skip out to save my stomach. I'm getting a little dizzy just typing about it. Let's move on...
We were bummed that we didn't get on the Star Wars "Rise of the Resistance" Ride. The way this works was a little disappointing. There is a virtual queue that you must "get in" because there are only 2 openings a day for you to ride. I set my alarm for both times to get in, and within less than 5 seconds, the ride as full. I knew I was doing it right, because within 60 seconds, the announcement came over the entire park to let everyone know that the queue was full. If this is the main reason you are going to Star Wars, you may want to speak to a Disney Travel agent or expert to know all the secrets on how to "get in". We saw everyone sitting out with their phones waiting to hit "join", and we even head a girl beside us yell, "We got in!", so yea... the stakes are high friends. We aren't die hards, so it wasn't too much of a let down, but I can imagine it can be for true Star Wars fanatics. :)
Overall, would we go again under these circumstances? YES! We made sure we washed our hands, kept a distance and took all precautions available. We all agreed there was so much to distract us, the masks were the least of our worries. There were designated "relaxation areas" where mask could be removed, but we found that sitting and eating with them off was enough time to have a break. Slinky Dog was our absolute favorite ride. We were excited to get to do it twice! The turkey legs are just as good as they were 20 years ago, and the memories made are certainly never forgotten. Well done, Disney! You made life during a pandemic a little more enjoyable. Until next time...