The Great Debate: Current vs. Pre-COVID-19 Disney World

The most common question I get these days isn’t necessarily if it’s “worth it” to go to Disney right now (anyone who has ever gone to Disney can agree ANY Disney is better than NO Disney) but rather “what” is it like being at Disney RIGHT NOW. This is something a bit more concrete in facts while also ever changing as our world evolves and adapts to living among COVID-19.

Asking if Disney is “worth the value” is VERY broad question that has infinite possibilities depending on a family’s interests but asking what is it is like is a much easier to break down. So… here we go!

Logistics are more important than ever

After having recently gone as well as assisting several families over the last several months, the most noticeable change in our current climate is the impact of social distancing on Walt Disney World logistics.

Here are just a few examples of what I mean:

  • Limited bus capacity. While they are increasing the number of buses as well as increasing the use of plexiglass, they still must operate bus transportation to and from parks, resorts and Disney Springs at limited capacity for social distancing purposes. Thus, it is important to plan accordingly and be at the bus stop early if you want to hit that rope drop or Dining Reservation.
  • Sklyliner is limited to one family per Skyliner vehicle. These lines moves quickly and isn’t as noticeable as busing but it is impacted. Note that you can take a single stroller or wheelchair/scooter onboard without needing to fold or get up but double strollers require breakdown before loading.
  • Parking lot opening times vs. when Disney actually allows guests into the park.
    • The transportation and security teams are working hard to keep the flow of guests smooth and socially distanced. With that in mind, on most occasions, the parking lots are not opening until 45 minutes – one hour before park opening. The buses are running around that time or slightly earlier as is the Skyliner. The biggest concern for Disney is that they don’t want LOTS of people at the front entrance of the parks waiting to get in, i.e. minimizing CROWDS.
    • If you are driving you may be waiting at the parking lot entrance for a while or get turned away and told to make a u-turn if you are too early (this is true and happened to us on our visit).
    • Being on property gives you the shortest distance and logistics to and from your hotel/park destination. It makes it easier to go back and take afternoon breaks when crowds are at their highest and return in the evenings when many who came for a day trip are now departing. The on-property experience is quite a difference. While extra magic hours are not currently available (Walt Disney World resort guests typically get one hour earlier access in pre-Covid times to certain parks on predetermined days), as long as you are on-property you have the ease and flexibility of using Disney’s transportation (or Uber,Lfyt) to get to your resort quickly and then off to your next adventure.


Another way Disney is working to avoid crowds/lines is through mobile ordering for quick service restaurants. Mobile ordering can be done in the My Disney Experience (MDE) app on your smartphone. While not all carts and quick service locations have mobile ordering, they seem to be adding more and more mobile capabilities each month. Additionally, Disney has added an option to join a virtual waitlist for table service restaurants. Thus, if you were unable to obtain an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) you still may be able to dine at that location if the virtual wait list is available. Mobile ordering and doing a little pre-planning of when you will eat so that you can get the food pick-up window you’d like for your quick service is extremely beneficial to maximizing your time in the parks and dodging hangry family members.

Disney also has leveraged MDE for virtual queuing for attractions such as Rise of the Resistance and also remains a helpful tool at checking attraction wait times, finding PhotoPass Photograghers, as well as bathrooms and Guest Services locations.

MDE will be even more important as Disney transitions away from providing FREE MagicBands to on-property guests. MagicBands can still be purchased and utilized but they will no longer be a part of a Disney vacation package beginning January 1, 2021.

Shorter planning windows

Anyone that visited Walt Disney World anytime before April 2020 can tell you that you started planning your Disney vacation 1 year in advance in order to get the table service restaurants and fast passes you were wanting. Now, Disney allows you to book dining up to 60 days prior to your arrival date through the length of your stay (for on property guests, otherwise it is 60 days from each day you trying to book). Thus, if you are staying 10 days, you get 70 days prior to your last day on property to book your table service meals. Again, another benefit to on-property vacationing.

No FastPass and Some Misleading Lines

COVID-19 era lines are quite the topic in message boards. To be honest, if you are going during a peak break period, like Fall Break, Spring Break or a holiday, be prepared to see long lines.

1) The parks are hitting their maximum capacities at the lower capacity caps on guests

2) Lines are socially distanced and are wind around every nook and cranny. In general, most lines run pretty smoothly and quickly. They do stop rides to do cleaning cycles as well as due to social distancing it can make the lines take longer to move. For example, a family of 6 vs couple of 2. Depending on the ride vehicle and type they may only be able to put the two people in a vehicle for 8 because they are their own party and Disney is not mixing parties when additional safety measures are not in place. If there are plexiglass dividers on the ride vehicles and/or their is ability to load every other row, this can speed up the capacity of the attraction.

Disney did recently announce that they have increased their capacity to around 35%.

Some think FastPass is the greatest thing ever, while others rejoice it’s gone. To be honest, I could go either way. My family has enjoyed the ability to not have to zigzag the park all day to hit FastPasses while also being able to ride some of our favorite rides multiple times in one day. It’s all a new way of thinking and with the right planning, can be just as good or better without FastPass.

Less Shows and No Fireworks

Disney is working hard to come up with creative ways to socially distance guests and bring back the entertainment we love. The calvacades are excellent example of that. A few attractions, such as the Frozen Sing-A-Long are back and hopefully more will follow suit. While there are no fireworks, Disney has been displaying some incredible projections on the Hollywood Tower of Terror and Cinderella Castle for the holiday season. At anytime, Disney could surprise us with more opportunities like those as well as maybe even a firework show at some point. The key is Disney will do this when they feel like they have a plan that is safe for guests.

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About Crush on the Magic

I'm a Midwestern mom that embraces fun whenever possible! Crush on the Magic is focused on all things Disney and Universal Destinations. I'm here to provide insights for all Disney/Universal vacationers, from the theme park regular to the once-in-a-lifetime trip goer, this site is for you! Thinking of booking a trip? I am happy to provide my expertise at no additional charge. Contact me at or complete my no obligation form at