If you’re a Disney fan, you know that the prices for resort lodging and tickets at Walt Disney World are lower than ever due to the pandemic. If you’re also like me, you may consider capitalizing on this opportunity to enjoy a Disney vacation.
I previously gave my Disney tips, but I am going to edit those tips here. If you have to fly to get here, this is my post about flying during COVID-19. Also, since it is a million degrees out, check out this post about the perfect theme park outfit.
Planning ahead is key, so you’re already on the right track:
This is STILL my best tip.
The most important thing you can do is download the MyDisneyExperience app, bring a charged phone and maybe have a backup power source (more on that later).
If you are going with friends, you will need everyone who wants autonomy over their tickets and plans to download the app also and connect with you on the app. Don’t worry abut kids 2 and under.
fast passes and dining
Once you download the app, you must make a reservation for the day you plan to go to the park. Everyone needs a reservation in advance for the same park.
You cannot park hop. Some parks are only open to certain groups like resort guests and Annual Passholders. You may not get to visit every park.
That also means that you need to get your tickets. Florida residents have amazing deals right now.
Also, there are no Fastpasses available (although you may see people in the lines if they did ride share or something).
I would also book your dining reservations ASAP as not all dining is available. You can always order to-go (but that is also limited). BIG THANKS to the random guy who told us about mobile ordering last summer when I was starving and the lines were insane. It is the fastest, easiest and arguably cheapest way to dine at Disney.
Kids under 2 are still free. PRO TIP: Don’t add your small child to your MyDisneyApp until they have to have a ticket. When you add them, you include their date of birth. I don’t encourage scamming, but I have only seen one person ever be asked, “how old is he?” Many three-year-olds are in the park without a ticket. #justsaying
If you’re a Florida resident and you think you may go a few more times, I would highly recommend the annual pass. One day is normally $120+ per person. The Annual Pass (Weekdays) will use that as a down payment and then charge a monthly fee. Plus you get free parking ($25 savings) and 10% off food and merchandize if you are an annual pass holder. You don’t get a discount as a Florida Resident for one day, but you can also by a pass for several days and it is down to $65/day. That can be used within 6 months + from the first day of use.
For everyone else, check for current deals and discounts. You always get a deal per day when you pay for more days. If you’re coming for a long week, the meal plans are helpful.
where to stay
Resort hotels are insanely cheap. Let’s not forget that “resort hotel” for the purpose of park access includes the Hilton by Disney Springs, the Dolphin an Swan which are Marriott hotels, the Four Seasons and the Bonnet Creek hotels.
If you’re doing Magic Kingdom, consider the monorail hotels. If you’re going to Epcot, the Dolphin and Swan are down to less than $120 / night and you can walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Resorts hotels (including the ones off property) have access to shuttles and Disney transportation to the parks. But try to avoid transportation because you could be too close to people or it will take forever as they space people out.
I still would not stay at the “World of” hotels as they are glorified motels. Don’t bother.
My favorite hotel to stay at for a quick Disney trip is the Swan.
The benefits of booking through Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors normally outweighs paying premium for a Disney hotel and you get more bang for your buck, but with the low prices, you may want to enjoy a Disney Resort.
resort safety and changes
The reason the prices are low is obviously because crowds are down. You should feel safe at the resorts since there are few people.
However… the pools are a little scary. People are packing into the pools and not wearing masks. I would avoid the pool or consider getting a cabana. Some resorts have a quiet pool with less of a crowd that may be a good alternative.
Playgrounds, arcades and other similar places were not open, but the resorts added fun things like a giant slide.
Less visitors means less staff. Your room won’t be cleaned every day (don’t be a dick about it). Bring some sanitizing wipes and spay and keep your room clean.
Common spaces may take a while to clean up. I saw a lot of messes (which is unusual) because they simply don’t have the manpower to quickly clean up. I kept some wipes handy to clean my own areas.
Check-in/check-out and room keys are all contactless. Your magic band may double as your room key and you can check-in and out on the app.
Things link ice dispensers are not in service, but hand sanitizing dispensers are everywhere.
when to go
I recommend weekdays as soon as possible to avoid the most people. The low prices are going to end (or change) in 2021.
The parks are opening later and closing earlier. If you can avoid nap time and still have 5 hours in the park, do it.
If you cannot avoid nap time, make sure you have a reclining stroller and a game plan for nap time like lunch or ride share on a ride that your child cannot enjoy. There is nothing worse than a tired child at Disney who cannot sleep.
Getting into the parks
Getting into the park is easy. First, you have a temp check. Next, you go through security, which is more high-tech to have nearly contactless security.
Your stroller will stay in one spot while you walk through the detectors with all bags and (if needed) have your bag searched. Which means…your kid can stay in the stroller! Not everyone’s bag need be searched. If you have an extra battery for your phone or an umbrella, take those out and hold it in front of you.
Once you get to the gate, you just scan your card or magic band (no finger scan) so it moves quickly.
in the parks
It’s oddly not crowded unless you get to an attraction and then you see these crazy long lines.
DON’T LET THE LONG LINES SCARE YOU. Disney is normally very good about knowing the wait times. But with the social distancing markets in the lines, they cannot accurately predict how many people are between each marker. Could be one. Could be 10. The lines may look extremely long, but they are not. Just go for it. The hottest new ride is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and it was maybe 70 minutes (which is good time). And we were away from other people the whole time.
If you hear loud music, a mini-parade is heading your way! You’ll notice many characters are not around (only the classics). Apparently, the performers are on strike and that may settle soon, but you won’t get to see your favorite character up close and there is no character dining.
We were able to ride every ride once we realized how fast the lines moved.
what to wear
I have previously posted about the perfect theme park outfit for summer, but honestly it is always hot in Orlando. I cannot recommend dry-fit athletic materials enough. Definitely bring good walking shoes and layers if it gets cold.
If it rains, those rain ponchos are gold, but buy them from Amazon before you go.
Of course, you masks for the whole family. My son wore his mask the whole time because cast members WILL remind you if you’re not wearing it.
The mask was not too hot. I wore a thick cotton mask, and could have switched to a disposable that I also brought It was not a big deal and I was not any more hot because of it. Mostly it just made it hard to breathe pushing two four-year-olds.
If you are not in good physical health, you may not be able to handle the heat plus the masks affecting your breathing. Take care of yourself.
The heat and the sun are still very dangerous even without a mask. I cannot tell you how many times I have been dangerously dehydrated or sunburned. It makes the day so much harder, so drink lots of water and protect your skin! There are relaxation stations for your to cool off and get in the shade if needed.
An easily maneuvered, easy to fold stroller with good handle storage and AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!
I know when you have small kids or babies, you need so much crap. But I would HIGHLY encourage you to get everything down to one small diaper bag or backpack. Do you really need seven pull-ups for five hours?
You should know that every park has first aid, every park has a baby care center that you can buy incase you *really* need an item of clothing or extra diapers. There are water fountains every where.
Here is what I bring:
A fresh can of sunscreen.
Rain ponchos for adults.
Two diapers/pull-ups per child.
One travel-size wipes.
Jammies or a change of clothes for the ride home.
Portable phone charger.
iPhone with attached credit card hold and only bring one credit card, annual pass and ID.
Rain cover for stroller.
A wet storage bag (just in case).
I have linked my favorite products below. I am a big fan of the City Tour for one or two kids. The Skip Hop stroller caddy is awesome also.
The phone charger that I bring is actually one that I got in the park from one of the designated kiosks in the park. I paid $30 one time for a battery pack that included the charging port. Every time I go, I bring it with me charged, use it, then switch it out for a full charge replacement for no additional cost. It’s awesome considering a year ago I would find an outlet in bushes and just sit there for a few minutes.
Also – Bring a positive attitude and low expectations. If there is something really important that you want to do or want to see, add it to your plans. Make a reservation if possible. Otherwise, just go in an enjoy the day. A positive attitude can go a long way.
Going to Disney? Tag me on Instagram @mrsmakeitrainka is your enjoyed this guide!