On Friday September 18, 2020 Murray and I (Mr. DAPs) flew to Florida to spend a week at Walt Disney World Resort. Generally, this is the time of year I would visit Florida. This year has definitely been a bit different. However, weighing the numbers, the risks, and consulting with some others I know who have traveled recently (including Murray), we decided it was time to get out and see how good or bad things really are. Now, we acknowledge that we aren’t medical professionals. Below are just observations I made and felt as we traveled to Florida.
We flew United Airlines out of John Wayne Airport, via Houston, to get to Orlando. The flights were a really good deal, with a few caveats. First off, the flights were definitely not empty. For the first flight, I had a seat between me at the window and the person on the aisle. The second, this was not the case. I was thankful that the person I had next to me on that flight was very compliant with face covering, was very quiet, and kept to herself. This wasn’t as comfortable as the first flight with an empty seat in the middle was. Boarding is done by row from the back to the front. It is way more efficient and helps keeps things from being too crowded. Exiting was done front to back, row by row. For exiting the flight attendants actually dismissed the rows and asked people to remain seated until their row is called. This system worked out really well and I wish it happened all the time.
Overall, United did a great job of keeping things clean and feeling safe. The plane smelled cleaner than a hospital as we were boarding. Travelers were also given wipes to clean off their seat and area when they boarded. All this to say, it smelled very sterilized. The crew was professional and kind and enforced face coverings and safety protocols. At this time, flight travel isn’t for everyone at this time. If you are at risk for any potential conditions, I wouldn’t fly. There is a definite risk involved with it. However, for me the whole experience was about as good as could be expected for where we are at in terms of COVID-19.
Arriving at Orlando and boarding the Magical Express is where things started to really get magical. Disney is observing health and safety protocols that include face coverings, social distancing, cleaning, and it is a wonderfully comforting thing. It is the Disney magic that is also outwardly promoting and enforcing safety. There are signs everywhere with guidelines, and it is comforting. I don’t think I was stressed on the plane however, I definitely didn’t relax until the Disney Cast Members were welcoming us home. On the bus, guests were seated a part from each other as social distancing was observed even there.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Our hotel, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, had Cast Members clapping for us as we arrived at the hotel. Health and safety guidelines were posted everywhere. The room was clean, as was everywhere we went at the hotel. The hotel gets busier in the evenings when the parks are closed it was quickly observed. Because of this, we stayed away from the Food Court and just stayed outside for the most part. However, even in the food court, stores, and lobby, social distancing was observed and enforced as well. And for the most part, things were quite orderly and guests complied. There definitely was the occasional non-compliant guest. However, they were politely and firmly asked to wear a mask correctly or move into the proper place.
The room was cleaned and even had a map of the room that explained how everything was cleaned. The remote for the TV was in a sealed bag to show that it had been cleaned as well.
Over all, the hotel experience is one of the safest feeling experiences I’ve had in months. There may not be anywhere as safe as being at home, but this would come in second easily.
The Race to EPCOT
Our goal for our first day was to attempt to get into EPCOT before the park closed at 7:00 PM on Friday. We knew this was a stretch but liked a good challenge. Once checking into our hotel, we hopped on the Disney Skyliner (such a great addition!) to head on over to EPCOT. It was completely magical. Even with the face coverings and all the safety procedures, Cast Members were awesome as we went on our “first ride” of the trip.
Off to Disney Springs
We ended our first day by heading over to Disney Springs for dinner. Our experience there was positive as well. We did take a bus to get over there after walking around the hotels near EPCOT. All were clean, quiet, and fairly empty. The bus ride was structured and people were told where exactly to sit. There were barriers between each group that also was an added level of safety.
Disney Springs was the busiest place we saw at Walt Disney World Resort on the first day. However, it wasn’t as busy or full as what I’ve observed at Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort. It also has more room to spread out, which was night.
After a nice dinner at Cooke’s of Dublin next to Raglin Road. This was a wonderful way to end the day. We casually wandered around Disney Springs and made our way back to the bus and the hotel.
Our first day in the parks would be spent at EPCOT the next day. That will come with a later blog and accompanying blog. The whole experience so far was quite lovely. It was nice to be able to see all of the work Disney has put in to creating a safe environment. I definitely have to give Disney a hat tip for all their efforts to make the magic still enjoyable during this unprecedented time.
Have you visited Walt Disney World Resort since it reopened? Have you been watching others who have? Share your thoughts in the comments below!