It’s Spring Break here in Duval County, so we thought we’d kick things off with a trip to Disneyworld while the weather was still nice and hoping COVID might thin the crowds. We went to Hollywood Studios for a day and then the Magic Kingdom. Disney in 2021 looks a lot different than our last visit! The weather was beautiful, but even COVID can’t keep the crowds away from seeking a bit of that Disney magic.
Masks On, Please Wait Here
Disney during COVID is an interesting experience. I’ve never been to a place so packed with people while trying to practice social distancing. Disney is very strict on masks. You have to have a specific type that covers the nose, mouth and chin. No neck gaiters or open bottom bandana triangles. And you have to keep it on the entire time, unless you are stopped somewhere and eating. And there’s no eating or drinking in lines.
The entire park is a mass of “Please Wait Here” stickers, spaced 6 ft. apart. You’ll stand on those in line for rides, for food and even to shop in the stores. In fact, 99% of your Disney visit will be spent standing in line. There is no more Fast Pass, though I’m not sure why. And all the shows are closed, so the only thing to do is ride the rides. So EVERYONE is in line for the rides.
This is what a 5-year-old looks like in line, when he’s not trying to climb the walls:
Disney in 2021 is a Bit Less Magical
We managed to get on four rides during our day at Disney. The lines were insanely long, and wound all around the park. Everything was over an hour wait. We were lucky it was not a summer day, because many of the lines were in the blazing sun. We spent 99% of our time standing and waiting and 1% riding rides. This certainly took an edge off the excitement. Everyone knows to expect lines at Disney, but COVID seems to have made them extra long and slow.
And don’t expect to see all the characters wandering about. There’s no photo opps and no autographs. We had dinner at the Be Our Guest restaurant and the only character we saw was the Beast, who came out for about two minutes at the most. He wandered around and waved, and then went back in.
There’s also no fireworks and no parades. I remember being dazzled by the light parade on our last visit, and this time the best we got was a two float parade that went quickly down Main St. before any crowds could gather. We were actually hoping maybe the lines would be shorter due to limited capacity, but all the shows were closed so the only thing to do was ride the rides. That meant everyone was in line at the same time. This certainly makes you very choosey when trying to figure out what you want to ride next!
The Saving Grace: Disney Hollywood Studios
I thought the Magic Kingdom was going to be the big deal, but Hollywood Studios was the best part of our trip! The lines were shorter, the crowds weren’t quite as bad, and we managed to ride EVERYTHING – even Rise of the Resistance! I could be biased because I’m such a big Star Wars fan, but we had a really amazing day at Hollywood Studios.
We kicked things off with the Slinky Dog rollercoaster, which was a lot of fun! We did spend a lot of time waiting in lines, but most of the lines there were in the shade so it wasn’t as bad. And the rides after the wait were so good I think it made the waiting time not so bad. I LOVED the Smuggler’s Run ride. I chose to be a pilot and got to sit up front and fly the Millennium Falcon so I was fangirling all over myself.
There seemed to be more people dressed up for the day at Hollywood Studios, which surprised me. Mouse ears of all types were everywhere, and a lot of people (not just kids) were dressed in full Star Wars gear. I was about to comment to my husband about how it was funny that everyone in line for Rise of the Resistance was wearing something from Star Wars, then I remembered I was one of those people, standing there in my Star Wars shirt, lol.
A few Disney tips if you are planning a visit in 2021:
1 – Make sure you have the correct kind of mask. But don’t worry if you don’t- they have mask vending machines!
2 – Bring extra masks because you are going to be wearing them ALL day and they get sweaty and yucky after a while.
3 – Disney is all “contactless payments” so don’t worry about bringing any cash. It’s credit cards or gift cards only.
4 – Get all your reservations squared away on the app before you go. You have to reserve your day at the parks because there is a cap on how many people can get in each day. Many of the restaurants also require reservations.
5 – Be prepared for long lines in the hot sun. Wear sunscreen, comfy shoes and bring something to keep the kids entertained in the mile-long lines that wind endlessly around the park.
Over all we had a great trip, even with the lines and crowds. It was way different than our first Disney trip, which we did at the spur of the moment with no advance planning. Now with COVID, everything requires reservations and you will be using your Disney app for everything. It’s still an amazing place filled with nostalgia, but some of the magic has been sterilized to keep everyone safe during these weird pandemic times. They are doing a good job with what they have to work with, and with a bit of advance planning you can still have a magical time.