We can all agree that 2020 has been unprecedented as we learn how to navigate living during a pandemic. I personally adopted the motto, “Be kind or be quiet,” which equated to a lot of silence. One thing I couldn’t stay quiet on was my enthusiasm and anxiety in going on vacation to Disney and Universal.
Let me preface this by saying we already had a trip planned to Orlando for a work conference pre-pandemic. We added on Disney and Universal, and we had friends coming along as well. The conference was canceled, and I didn’t know what to do next. I will be honest that I changed my mind daily. This was out of fear for our safety, the possibility of negative social feedback, and worrying about how great the parks would even be with so much modified. We ultimately decided to still go. I wanted to share our personal experience based on the top questions I have received since traveling during a pandemic.
How was it wearing a mask all day in the heat?
Wearing a mask in the heat in Orlando was my number one concern prior to the trip. To prep, I purchased a plethora of mask options. I recommend taking multiple options. While I ended up loving the adorable masks from the Disney gift shops the most, they fit a little tighter on my husband. He was happy to have his own homemade masks.
As for wearing a mask, it was truly a non-issue. You are so busy having fun. You don’t forget that you have on a mask, but it doesn’t bother you at all either. When I would get back to the hotel, I was definitely excited to take off my mask, but I was equally excited to take off my bra. In the same way that I happily put on my undergarments the next day, I also eagerly put on my mask in anticipation of the day’s activities.
Did you feel safe; are the rules enforced?
I have two opposing viewpoints that ask me this question. The first are the ones who ask because they want to know what they can get away with. The second group are those who ask because they are trying to avoid the first.
There were signs everywhere stating the rules as well as temp checks at both Disney and Universal. The park employees did their best, but there is always that person who believes the rules do not apply to them. You will occasionally see people with their noses poking out of their mask, but the employees were constantly walking around reminding to keep it pulled up. I would say 95% of park guests followed the rules, and it was overwhelmingly easy to stay at least six feet away from other people while at the theme parks due to the low attendance levels.
The only places where I felt like I couldn’t help but be in close contact with others were the airport, CityWalk, Disney Springs, and Volcano Bay. We made the choice to leave CityWalk and Disney Springs when we felt like they were getting too crowded. At Volcano Bay, everyone seemed to have a false sense of security since you are not always wearing a mask.
The airport is where I felt the least safe. Granted, many people were switching to our flight trying to beat the hurricane out of Orlando. As a result, our flight was packed full, and there were many people that placed their mask under their chin or dangled them from their ear. Overall, if you want to maintain your distance from others, I suggest skipping the water park, avoiding CityWalk and Disney Springs on weekends, and drive if that is a possibility for your family.
Why did you choose to still go with all of the modifications and no price changes?
We are annual passholders, and with the passholder room discounts, we were eager to check out the new policies and decreased wait times for rides. I definitely believe magic is still there to be found. The cavalcades were very special with personalized eye contact and socially distant interactions with the characters. We walked on to almost every single ride at both Disney and Universal. I noticed little details that I was never able to notice before since I wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with other people.
We went with three other couples. The couple that was brand new to Disney enjoyed it. (Though they didn’t have anything to compare it to.) The other two couples said they preferred the reduced crowds. However, they wouldn’t necessarily take their children which brings me to the next question.
Would you recommend going with small children?
This is entirely dependent on your family. If your child is over two and will wear a mask, then it comes down to what your family loves at the parks. If you want autographs and fireworks, then this would not be the time to go. The four couples that I just went to Disney and Universal with all had trips rescheduled with their children in September. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Three of the families decided to cancel their September trip and wait until post-pandemic. My husband and I just have one daughter (7), who has been to the parks numerous times. We are eager to still take her in September. The rides are her favorite part. We want her to experience the ability to ride the rides over and over with little to no wait.
If you had to choose between Disney and Universal right now, which one would you pick?
This also comes down to personal preference. I personally preferred Universal in regards to safety. My husband and I loved that they did temp checks every day at the hotel and then gave you a wristband if you did not have a temperature. You could not enter any Universal property without a temp check and that subsequent wristband. At Disney, you are only temp checked at the parks and Disney Springs. According to that theory, you can fail the temp check. Then, you can take Disney’s public transportation back to your hotel. From there, you could just hang out while ill at your hotel’s pool all day around the other guests.
Please feel free to drop any questions about our trip to Disney and Universal in the comments below. Just remember, my answers and this post are based on my own personal experiences. You have to choose what is best for your family if you are considering any type of vacation during these unprecedented times.