I just returned from a week at Walt Disney World and man, it was: cold, warm, relaxing and EXHAUSTING! BUT…WORTH EVERY PENNY!
This particular trip was a multi-generational trip that included two sets of grandparents and grandchildren (ages 5-69). We had a one night stay over at Art of Animation and then spent the remaining part of our trip over at the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.
We celebrated a birthday and did lots of first time things! I will be sharing some first time experiences as well as a little about celebrations later this week.
In this article, I’m covering the most pressing questions: current logistics.
COVID19 Policy and Procedures
Much like our September trip, we experienced socially distanced lines, plexiglass in places where folks can’t easily socially distance and masks are still required for anyone over age 2. Disney is also very strict on types of masks. You may only eat while stationary or seated. Masks must remain on at all times unless stationary and eating. This includes in queues, during shows and you must have your make on properly in order for a Photopass photographer to take your photos. If a Cast Member sees you or a family member not wearing your mask properly, they will kindly remind you and coach you on how to wear your mask. Failure to comply with mask policy will result in your party being asked to leave. We noticed Cast Members in every park reminding folks about the mask policy, warning parties not wearing their masks that they would be removed and even not beginning shows until guests were complying. You also cannot eat while standing in a queue.
I HIGHLY encourage my clients to read the Know Before You Go for the latest guidelines.
Arriving early to the park pays off in terms of being able to get a lot of attractions checked off right away. I highly recommend planning to leave your resort at least 1 hour before the park open for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and about 30 minutes before for EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. Be sure to take into consideration your wait time for the bus or Skyliner as well.
Staying at POP Century or Art of Animation will require a transfer to a new Skyliner line for Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. Thus, you will end up standing in two lines in order to get to the park (one at your resort and one at the transfer station located at Caribbean Beach Resort).
The Skyliner and buses are said to begin runs to the parks about 45 minutes before the parks posted opening time. We noticed during our trip that transportation starting times just depends on the day. To be safe, I would say about 45-60 minutes before the parks open they will begin running transportation. This seems to be the same as to when the parking lots open. Most are 45-60 minutes before the parks open and they start allowing in guests. A perk of staying on property with a car is that you can drive your car to the park for NO additional charge. The only parking fee you pay is at your resort (parking fee will vary based on resort category).
With these logistics in mind, this is one of many reasons why staying on-site is worth it. Staying on-site gives you the option of choice. The option to leverage all Disney Transportation (bus, boat, SKyliner, monorail) to and from your resort to the parks, Disney Springs (and in some instances, other resorts). Additionally, if you have a vehicle on-site you have the ability to drive yourself to the parks and resorts within minutes and with only your resort parking fee (staying off-site you are likely to incur a parking fee at that resort plus a daily parking fee at the parks or an UBER/LFYT charge). With small children, convenience of being close to your resort and having transportation options is a HUGE benefit!
Hours of Park Operation
Posted hours for the parks seem to be changing about two weeks prior to the week you are planning to go and parks are continuing to stagger opening times to cut down on lines and crowds to transportation. EPCOT and Magic Kingdom are typically the two parks open the latest, with Friday-Sunday being the longest hours and busiest in terms of crowd level.
Lines have continued to vary and most lines are under an hour. The only lines we experienced with 60+ min waits during our visit were Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (as only half of the attraction was operating) and for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Most lines were slightly shorter waits than the posted time (anywhere from 10-15 minutes). Wait time really depends on the cleaning cycle of the ride and if they have to stop and clean the ride during your wait. Longest line in Animal Kingdom was Na’Vi River Journey around 55 minutes and in EPCOT was Test Track around 30 minutes.
Mobile Ordering is king! There are so many locations with mobile order in the park as well as to-go options at resort quick service and table service locations. There is also an opportunity to do Walk-Up wait-lists for table service restaurants within My DIsney Experience. The My Disney Experience app will determine your location and the wait-list option will show up on the restaurant page when you pull it up. You can join the wait-list straight from the app or go to the host stand. Sometimes the wait list was full but when we asked a Cast Member at the host stand, they were still able to accommodate. Availability will honestly vary based on crowd levels/demand as well as staffing within the restaurant.
We did experience some snags with mobile orders not going through during our time in the parks. Be sure to reach out to a Guest Relations Cast Member if this occurs for you. They are usually in blue uniform shirts and almost always have an ipad or a couple phones on them. An issue we did experience with dining was that some quick service locations in the parks were not open all day and thus closed before dinner. Be prepared to be flexible or have a dinner planned in advance so you aren’t scrambling to find food for your family.
Mobile Dining Tips
- Make sure your credit card/debit card is setup in on your My Disney Experience account.
- If you don’t have a table service planned, start thinking about lunch while waiting in a queue. Build your order and place it before getting on the attraction. Once you are off the ride you can head to do something else or head over to the restaurant and hit “Prepare my order.” This will make your meal planning easy and keep family members from getting “hangry.”
- You can use Disney VISA Redemption Rewards or Disney Gift Cards to pay in your app but will be required to key your card when checking out. It does not save gift cards or redemption cards in your account.
Resort Grocery Delivery
I am a big fan of grocery delivery to your resort for beverages, snacks and light breakfast needs. You can also do full meal groceries if you are staying in the Cabin’s at Fort Wilderness (or even Copper Creek Villas and Cabins), studios or other larger accommodations that have kitchen spaces. If you have an Amazon Prime account you can shop Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods straight from your Amazon app. You just need to key in the hotel’s mailing address (available on your My Disney Experience when your hotel is linked or from the Disney World website).
There is no charge from Amazon to use this grocery service; however, they do ask if you’d like to tip. Additionally, it will vary by the hotel and the amount of space they have available to store items (especially cold storage) but in most cases they will accept your packages for you and charge you a $6 handling fee. This has varied for us based on the hotel we have stayed. You can also track your driver on your app and try to meet them in the parking lot so that you can avoid a handling/storage fee from Disney. There is a good variety of items you can order, from sports drinks, water, juice, to typical kid snacks. Additionally, you can even Amazon prime supplies like band-aids (but most toiletry and first aid supplies are available in each resorts marketplace/gift shop).
Another grocery service that gets good reviews is Garden Grocer. I have not personally utilized this service but when compared to competitors like Wal-Mart, these two options seem the most reliable and competitive in pricing.<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><em><strong>If you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, please reach out to me <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank">Blair@wickedmousetravel.com</a> for a no obligation quote. </strong></em>If you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, please reach out to me Blair@wickedmousetravel.com for a no obligation quote.