Doing Disney during a Pandemic


Although things in the world have not been normal for almost a year, my husband and I decided at the beginning of all of this that we would try to keep things as normal as possible for as long as we could for our three boys. Over the summer we continued to go to local parks, see close family, and spend time at my in-laws’ lake house in Michigan. However, there was one thing on my mind all summer that I just wasn’t sure we were going to be able to pull off: Disney World.

We had a trip to Disney scheduled for the beginning of September 2020. We had strategically planned this trip to fall just before our middle child turned 3, so that he would still be free. We also planned to go over Labor Day, so we would only have to pull my Kindergartener from school for 4 days. We were also very excited to experience Disney during their Halloween months and go to the infamous Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom.

With all of the new restrictions at Disney, many of the restaurants being closed, rides and attractions shut down, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party being cancelled, and of course my biggest concern–my small children wearing masks all day outside in the Florida heat, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth going during all of this. We were a week out from our trip, and I literally hadn’t planned anything except having our room and flights booked. After much deliberation and changing our minds everyday, the week before our flight took off, my husband and I decided we needed to cancel our trip for the following week. However, we decided not to cancel, but to reschedule! We knew with better planning, we could make this trip work in October 2020.

So, October 17, 2020 we hopped on a flight to Disney World! We had an amazing trip, and I think families who are comfortable, should continue to safely travel. So, here are some of my top tips for traveling to Disney World during this global pandemic.

Number One:
Probably most important. Find a good mask that is comfortable for you.

Whether you are for or against masks, one thing you need to know when traveling to Disney is that they do not let up on the mask requirements. Anybody on Disney property, ages 2 and up, must wear a 3-ply mask at all times on Disney property. Gators, face shields, and other alternatives are not acceptable in place of a mask. Three ply masks that cover the nose and under the chin must be worn at all times.

Not going to lie, it was hot. But at least I felt like a celebrity incognito like this!

The only time masks are allowed to be taken off is while you are in your resort room, while eating/drinking in a stationary position, or while sitting in one of the parks designated “relaxation stations.” Other than these three places (and the pool deck at your resort), masks are required everywhere on Disney property, even while walking around outside at your resort. And I’m here to tell you, that they are strict. My middle son had just turned three, and cast members would remind us to pull his mask up over his nose when it would fall down. Masks aren’t allowed to be pulled down even for a quick picture, and they have cast members policing all over the park. They will tell you to pull your mask back up, and if you don’t comply, they will escort you out of the park. All of this being said, our kids who were required to wear masks (ages 5.5 and 3), did amazing! We would actually have to remind my 5 year old to take his mask off when he was allowed to. The ones who hated wearing the masks were my husband and me. For me, it was totally worth being in Disney. I definitely didn’t love wearing a mask and sweating around my mouth and nose all day, but being in Disney made wearing the mask bearable.

So find a mask that works for you, and go for it! For us, our favorite masks were just simple disposable masks. They seem to be the most breathable and get you the least hot and sweaty. My five year old did love his rainbow Mickey mask that we bought in the parks, however. So if you have a child who you’re afraid may not want to wear a mask, maybe a special Mickey one will do!

Disney themed masks can be purchased in the parks and at resorts. (Too hot for me. I switched back to my disposable soon after this.)

Number Two:
Be prepared for long lines.

And by long lines, I mean, physically long lines. I honestly felt like hardest part to waiting in line was finding the end of it. The wait times themselves, not bad at all. Great actually! But because of social distancing requirements, the lines LOOKED very long. To this I say, don’t be intimidated. The actual wait times for the lines were shorter than what was posted on the sign for every ride we rode.

We did find that waiting in line was a good time to grab a snack! It seemed that the cast members didn’t mind when masks were off while snacking in line. So we took this opportunity as often as possible for the kids (and us) to have a mask break. Usually when in Disney you can grab a snack and eat it on the go, but not anymore. There is no walking and eating allowed, so grabbing a snack and taking it in long lines with us was definitely a time-saver!

Eating a snack while in line.

Another MAJOR bonus to the physically long lines was that we were able to keep our strollers with us for most of the time in line. If you’ve been to Disney before, you know that you typically have to ditch your stroller as soon as you get in line and park it in stroller parking with the other 500 strollers. Then you get in line and wrestle your kids for 1-2 hours just to ride a 3 minute ride, but with most of the lines being outside because of social distancing, your kids can stay strapped in those strollers for a little bit longer (this was especially helpful if someone was napping)! Huge bonus for us.

Number Three:
Understand that things will be closed.

I am a pretty firm believer that Disney is truly the happiest place on Earth! The first time I went to Disney as an adult was in 2016. My (then) one year old and I tagged along with my brother and his family for a long weekend trip, and I was hooked! Since then we’ve been back to Disney as a family in 2018 and 2020, and we also did a Disney cruise in 2019. So we really believe in the Disney Magic.

That being said, I do feel like people need to understand that Disney right now is not the “same.” Personally, I don’t think it was “worse” than pre-covid, it’s just…different. There are no big parades, but they have replaced those with smaller cavalcades. Although we love the big parade in Magic Kingdom, there is also something very special about seeing smaller cavalcades throughout the parks all day. We really probably saw the characters more often this way. Usually the big parade comes through two times a day, and people line up for the parade an hour or more before it even starts. With small cavalcades coming through the park every half an hour or so, you don’t feel that pressure to carve out a couple hours of your day to get a good spot for the parade. Instead, you find yourself walking to your next ride, and a cavalcade with Mickey and his friends just happens to pass you! You stop for 3 minutes, smile, wave, and dance, and then you keep walking! We really enjoyed this change to Disney!

Some rides and other attractions are also still closed. Most shows are closed due to not being able to social distance, and all indoor and outdoor playgrounds are closed. There are also other hands-on experiences that are shutdown due to not being able to clean/sanitize efficiently in these spaces. All of this leads me to my next tip.

Number Four:
Do your research.

Although I’m attempting to write a blog to give you some tips for your possible Disney travel during covid, I cannot begin to write down everything here. There is just so much to tell! So, do your research! Figure out what exactly is open and closed, so that you’re not surprised when you get there. Make dining reservations early if you plan to eat at sit down restaurants and do character meals. Use Disney’s website and join Disney groups on Facebook where you can get real, firsthand advice from people who have gone to Disney in the last 7 months. One of my favorite things about Disney right now is that you don’t have to do so much planning! However, knowing a bit about what to expect is always a good idea.

Number Five:
Download the Disney app.

These days you basically can’t do Disney without the app. Through the app you can reserve your park days (something that is currently required because of covid), order your food ahead of time (also required for most quick service meals at this time), see maps of the parks that include wait times for the rides (so helpful), and more. Before you head to Disney, be sure to download the app!

Number Six:
Go to the pool!

One place on Disney property where masks are not required: the pool deck! Masks obviously do not have to be worn while swimming, but they also don’t have to be worn while walking around, sitting, or laying out on the pool deck. So when we weren’t in the parks, we were spending time at the pool or the splash pad at our resort. Who doesn’t want to cool off by the pool with a frozen drink and NO MASK?

Relaxing by the pool with
my littlest buddy.

Number Seven:

Traveling with young kids in tow can be stressful in itself. Add in a global pandemic happening during travel…well, that can add a little more worry than usual. If you choose to go to Disney, which I hope you do, remember that Disney is known for doing everything the best! And they certainly do. Their standards for cleanliness are higher than any amusement park on a normal day, so their standards during covid exceed all expectations. There is hand sanitizer literally around every turn. There are hand washing stations, markers on the ground for social distancing, strict mask requirements, and many other health and safety guidelines put into place that make you feel safer than being at your local grocery store (literally).

After we went to Disney in 2020, all of our friends and family asked us how it was and asked if it was still fun and magical. My answer to that is, YES! Disney has NOT lost its magic. It is still the most magical place on earth, and we absolutely had the best vacation ever with our three sweet boys. If you’re considering going to Disney in 2021, this is my final advice: in my own, personal opinion, if this is your once in a lifetime trip to Disney, and you will never be back with your kids. Wait. Don’t go this year. Wait another year until the mask mandates are lifted (hopefully 2022, right?!), and wait until ALL of Disney is open. If you choose to go, will you still have an amazing time? YES! Will your kids know any different? NO! But in my opinion, if I was going all out and taking my kids to Disney one time in their childhood, I would want to do without the masks and with everything open. However, if you’re like us, Disney fanatics, and you go to Disney every few years, or if you’re just passing through Orlando for a couple days, GO! Do your research, follow the protocols, go to Disney, and see the magic! You won’t regret it. Disney is as magical as ever, and I am so thankful that we did Disney during a global pandemic.

FYI: My husband DID get yelled 
at for removing his mask for 
this picture.
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Liz Malone
Liz was born and raised just across the border in Bedford, Michigan. She married the love of her life, Jared, in 2011 and moved to his hometown, Sylvania, Ohio, with plans of moving back to Bedford in the near future. Nine years later and she has fallen in love with the parks, the trails, and the people in Sylvania, and the Malones have no plans to ever leave. Liz is a former high school English teacher who is now living her dream of staying home with her three young boys: Jack (5), Huck (2), and Jed (10 months). If you happen to walk into the Malone household on any given day, you will likely find naked boys running amuck whose favorite words are poop, potty, and *insert tooting noise.* Her favorite thing to do with her family is to spend summers at the lake boating, swimming, and just soaking in the sun. In her spare time, Liz enjoys working out, running, playing pretty much any sport, and anything that involves the outdoors (some people might even say she is a little bit competitive...????). She also enjoys playing guitar and leading worship with her husband at their church in Sylvania and making new friends. Liz is passionate about finding the joy in all things and investing in and building relationships with the younger generation. Some days Liz feels that her life is utter chaos, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves the wild life that boys bring, and she truly feels blessed to be a #boymom.


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