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I’ve Been Back. Why I’m Now Postponing a Disney Trip

Visiting Disney World this summer was a lot of fun! This fall? Well, read on to see why one KTP writer will be waiting to go back.

First of all, I (Rebecca) realize that everyone has a different risk tolerance. Further, in terms of the pandemic, “risk” is unique to each one of us and our family situations.

Me, at Disney one year ago today!

I personally try to toe the line between careful and carefree as much as I can. I want to be cautious but not overly so.

Disney World Reopening

I was supposed to go to Disney World for the writers trip we had accidentally planned for right after reopening.

Not Pictured: Me. Because I wasn’t there.

We set the date back in the fall. It was mere coincidence that we would all be getting together at the most magical place on earth for the July reopening.

At the last minute, I backed out. Part of it was the uncertainty of whether the safety measures Disney promised to implement would truly mitigate risks.

Christmas 2020 was the first one we skipped in years! Seen here in 2017

The safety measures, in particular the low crowd levels and social distancing protocols, seemed to be effective.

Our Summer Trip

The Instagram shots of empty parks called my name, so we booked a trip for Labor Day weekend.

Toy Story Land, July 2020

I closely followed the coronavirus statistics in Orange County, Florida and in my home county of Fairfax Virginia. While 5% positive or less is the recommendation from the WHO for “reopening,” I reasoned that because it was just a little above that, we would go.

We had a nice trip. Indeed the crowds were low, the lines were short and in the parks and resort (Bay Lake Tower), and social distancing was done with ease.

I didn’t find myself even really missing FastPasses. I utilize the Disability Access Service, which usually complements the FastPass system, but now I only needed it for a handful of attractions that still had long waits.

One issue I did have was with indoor dining and the lack of take out options at that time. We did talk The Wave into giving us food to go. We also ate there plenty of times with very few other guests near by.

Soon after our trip, Disney implemented mobile to go orders at several favorite resort dining spots, including The Wave and Sanaa.

Heading Back in the Fall

We decided to take another, shorter trip over Halloween. Halloween and the start of November tend to draw larger crowds than Labor Day, but we figured we would spend more resort time than usual if it felt over crowded.

Halloween 2017

We had a good stay at Disney’s Yacht Club resort and enjoyed the amazing pool even though it was unusually chilly.

This time, the crowds definitely bothered us. More people meant it was more difficult to keep our distance and ride queues were much longer.

Though I understand that social distancing within the queues makes them appear artificially longer, many rides had their queues stretching beyond their section of the park.

In Disney’s Hollywood Studios specifically there were clusters of people who seemed to be disregarding social distancing in favor of clamoring to ride the next ride.

What’s Different Now

Increased Capacity

It seemed to many of us that Disney had increased capacity. Later that month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek admitted during the financial call that they had increased capacity from 25% to 35%.

January 18, 2021 DHS Crowd

While that doesn’t seem like a big jump at first glance, just 10 percentage points, it’s almost one and half times the initial capacity.

Fans speculate that capacity increased again for the busy holiday season, but that has not been confirmed.

Chapek claimed that Disney Imagineering had figured out ways to maintain recommended social distancing with the increased capacity.

Longer Queues

As I stated above, I don’t have the physical stamina to queue for very long. I do utilize my DAS pass for the so-called “E Ticket” attractions.

However, on our last visit I found that I would almost need to use it for less popular attractions, such as Alien Swirling Saucers. We waited in queue with our friends for the saucers for about 25 minutes, which is difficult for me.

A guest can only be waiting for one ride on their DAS pass at a time. I totally agree with this policy and do not want or expect them to change it.

However, normally we have been able to fill in that time with other things such as shows or shorter queue rides, like the tea cups.

Nothing makes my son happier than the teacups

If I find that the tea cups line is a bit too long for me, I’ll need to utilize the DAS for every single attraction we do.

Covid-19 Not Letting Up

During the same period that Disney has increased their capacity, the Coronavirus has seen a surge.

It’s puzzling to me that Disney would shut down the parks from March-July, only to increase capacity during the worst months of the pandemic thus far.

According to the World Health Organization reopening guidelines, Coronavirus percent positives should be less than 5% over a 14 day average.

The percent positive measurement is useful for gauging how widespread the virus is in the area, and a low percentage indicates that enough testing is happening in order to catch cases before they spread.

U.S. plans open international travel
Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

At the time of this writing (January 27, 2021), Orange County, Florida does not meet that criteria according to the Florida Department of Health:

Another tool one can use to check Covid-19 infection risk in a given area, Kinsa Health Weather, doesn’t make Orange County Florida look so great either:

For comparison, my county in Virginia is listed as a 53, with Covid cases “High and Falling.” So, it’s probably best to stay where I’m at until things slow down.

Airlines Relaxing Covid Protocols

Last year, I wrote a piece about flying to Disney with the thesis that it’s not as risky as it seems. However, that point of view was based in part on the precautions that airlines WERE taking.

Now, few major airlines are continuing to leave seats open to allow for social distancing. My beloved Southwest airlines no longer leaves middle seats open. I’ve heard Delta airlines still does, if that’s an option for you.

Southwest Airlines CEO: Disney World Needs to Reopen for Travel to Resume

My husband and I both have Southwest companion passes, where our kids fly free with us. But those passes will continue to collect dust.

We don’t feel comfortable flying until our Coronavirus risk decreases either due to a drop in cases or protection from the vaccine.

I feel like we’ve gotten lucky, but we just need to sit tight a little longer.

Disney will be There

Look, Disney World isn’t going anywhere. And I’m not saying you should not go.

Lots of people with different risk factors than myself or different tolerance for risk have taken amazing trips recently!

Check out Donna’s article on the Capture Your Moment photo package here!

Just within our small writing team, there’s a great deal of variance in terms of how eager we are to go back to Disney.

Some of the team went right away, even attending the Annual Passholder preview days!

Some of the team waited for better Covid-19 numbers and went in the late summer or early fall.

Two members of our team just returned home from Disney and had an absolute blast!

Kenny goes all the time! Locals are so lucky

As for me, I’m going to keep watching those numbers and wait for my chance.

Like many of our readers, I crave being in the magic and going “home.” But, I can wait.

I mean, what other grown adult is that excited to see Kevin?

I know everyone will make their own choices. I just wanted to share my reasoning for waiting.

Have you been back to Disney World? How do you feel about going right now? Let us know in the comments on Facebook and in our Facebook group!

-Rebecca W Davis

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Katharine M

Sunday 31st of January 2021

I went in December and felt very safe. It’s easy to distance from others. It’s easy to not be around the same people indoors for more than the required amount of time needed to transfer the virus. Much easier than even the grocery store. My kids spend more time with people and in closer contact at school. We’re going back in April. I can’t wait for the water parks.


Saturday 30th of January 2021

We were there January 13-19. I felt much safer there than I do at Costco on the weekends. Everyone kept their distance and was polite. It was a great trip.


Saturday 30th of January 2021

We havent been back and wont go back for a while. I had covid for 3 weeks and now 2 months later I am still fatigued. My immune system doesnt work very well anyway. I dont feel Disney is doing enough. Im sure crowds are gathering in lines. We get sick during normal times at Disney so we def arent risking it now. Its not worrh it to me. Plus Im not paying full price for less of an experience. Disney isnt even putting out good discounts. Until everything goes back to normal Disney is a no go for us.


Saturday 30th of January 2021

I agree with your assessment Rebecca. The sad truth of the matter is that covid doesn’t just affect the elderly or at-risk. I’ve lost some people to this disease and others who survived are now facing long term complications. It is a serious virus that is not like the flu and it’s important to be informed before traveling. My family had made the same decision not to return until vaccine herd immunity is reached. Disney seems to have relaxed their social distancing measures a lot and that’s their choice. We know Disney will always be there and look forward to returning when it’s safe to do so. Your honest review and analysis is very appreciated!


Saturday 30th of January 2021

Look, you can't live your life waiting for the pre-COVID-19 culture to return. That is not going to happen. Kids are not at a huge risk of being any more sick than the pre-COVID flu. Now, you should know that the "Flu" killed as many children ans COVID-19. Kids need to get the flu shot. As things progress, they should get the vaccine for Covid-19 too. Adults have a higher risk but only slightly higher until you reach your mid 60's. Almost everyone in this category describes COVID-19 as a serious case of the flu. Now, there are two groups that must take extra precautions. First are the elderly. For COVID-19 purposes the government says that starts at 65. Then there are the high risk groups who are vulnerable at any age. The good news here is that everyone up to 65 has a recovery rate of 99% and the high risk group recovers at a rate of 94%.

As a result of the protocols the government has suggested incidents of the flu are down and COVID-19 has developed cycles. We have lost hundreds of thousand of our fellow citizens but not the millions projected at the beginning of this pandemic. When you put politics aside, you see that the federal government developed factual information and created a national strategy that has kept our losses down. States have implemented these in ways that fit each states needs. By that I mean that states with smaller populations and huge areas of unoccupied land have been able to manage COVID-19 in less restrictive ways successfully. States with higher population densities have followed federal guidelines more closely. Some have exceeded Federal Guidelines. From these variances we have learned that there is a point of diminishing returns. There are other factors that must be considered when our leaders respond to the challenge of this disease.

I mention these things because travelers must make their own decisions when attempting to travel. As an individual, you will want to get those shots, wear your mask, wash your hands, keep those hands away from your face, and perform your own localized sanitation efforts. If traveling by car, it will need to be sanitized too. I have an ultra-violet lite I use in conjunction with disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizers. The stay at you travel lodge or even major hotel will probably include you making your own bed and begging for dry towels. Eating at the hotel's restaurant may not be an option. You may have to eat drive through or get a delivery. I have found waffle houses and Cracker Barrels open and clean.

I have n=been to Disney twice since Christmas and will be there again at the end of February. I stay at the Yacht Club. Make your dining reservations in advance, even breakfast. I suggest you purchase a cheap coffee maker and bring it along. Bring your own coffee and tea. Bring packets of creamer, sugar etc. I have an off brand K-cup that cost about $25.00. It is clean, uncontaminated and portable.The Yacht club has sufficient eating facilities for all meals but I like a morning coffee when i get up. Consiege level amenities are not yet available.

Eating in the parks is a hassle too. The selection of food is limited. Starbucks is available! Picky kids may not like everything but there are accommodations to be made in this new era of travel.

Forget about social distancing at amusement parks. I've been to Dolly World and Disney world, the lines can be spaced out but there are kids running around and we are all breathing the same air. Wear that mask! I prefer the KN-95 or the surgical mask. They rate out a little higher than the cloth masks. A surgical mask layered behind a cloth mask is good too. Some cloth masks have a pocket to hold the surgical mask as a filter. Anyway, enjoy the rides and follow the protocols. You'll be fine.

Lots of Epcot is under construction, but the Magic Kingdom is mostly open. They are supposed to fill Tom Sawyers creek and get get those renovations finished soon. The Presidents attraction was open but the seating is reduced. Tomorrow land was under construction and remodeling. I have never seen so many people waiting for the Carousel of Progress in my life. The absence of fast pass is a problem. the lines for good attractions were about 90 minutes and that was with a 35% park occupancy. The park's curfews limit the amount of time you have to ride the attractions. If you wait 90 minutes and have a 15 minute ride, that is 1 hour and 45 minutes between rides. Throw in another 15 minutes of travel time and you eat up 2 hours per ride. Lets allot 1 hour for each meal in the park. That is 2 more hours minimum. I doubt if you spend more than eleven hours in the park. So 9 hours of potential riding time divided by 2 means you can ride 4.5 rides. That could be 4 or maybe five rides.

Park hopper passes don't kick in until 2:00 PM. You will spend an hour of your time in transport to the second park. If you arrive at 3:00 PM you might get in 2 rides. Remember meal reservations are earlier now because the parks close earlier. Its complicated, but I felt safe! Oh, I'm in my 70's! Think about hydration too! The bottom line is our culture has changed and amusement parks are changing to meet the challenge. Go with the flow and have a good time. Disney needs the money and you only have so much time with your kids before they become incorrigible teenagers refusing to be seen in public with their parents!

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