For the past several years we’ve had what we call the “Right Now” series. We would update it five times a year; once for each season and then a special edition for Christmas. It lists the reasons why you should drop everything and head to Walt Disney World. Like everything else, the “Right Now” series was put on hold because of COVID-19. The Walt Disney World theme parks have been open again for a few weeks, and so far things are going smoothly. A spur of the moment trip may not be possible for everyone, but if it is, here are ten reasons why you will want to consider it.
A quick reminder, there are travel advisories to and from Florida for several different states. Also, there are rules that need to be followed if you plan to visit. Not only does Walt Disney World have a face covering rule, it is law in both Orange and Osceola Counties (Walt Disney World is located in both). There are social distancing markers everywhere, but guests need to actually follow them. If someone in your party is not feeling well, it is better to postpone. Walt Disney World feels like a safe haven right now, and if we all follow the rules it will continue to be just that.
10) Cast Members
Even several weeks after the parks opened again, most Cast Members seem thrilled to be back at work. The air is filled with “welcome back!” these days. Please be nice to the Cast Members, especially if they remind you to pull the mask over your nose, or to keep space between you and the party in front of you. They are only doing their jobs.
9) Social Distancing
Disney has measured and marked off where you should stand in line in order to maintain social distancing. Honestly, it’s kind of nice. You don’t have to worry about a child behind you who keeps accidentally bumping into you, and if someone forgets to use deodorant it isn’t as much of a problem. Social distancing on the rides is nice as well. Instead of cramming too many people into a row on Pirates of the Caribbean, you and your party could have three rows to yourselves! You will love all the extra space.
8) Pictures You Never Thought Possible
The theme parks are at extremely limited capacity right now. That means that you can get pictures that you never thought possible. You can have a picture in front of Cinderella Castle with few people in the background, or near the Cooties in Toy Story Land. All four theme parks are filled with picture opportunities, and this is a great time to take advantage of as many as possible.
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7) Short Wait Times
Many people feared that without FastPass+, wait times would be insanely long. For the most part, that hasn’t been the case. Avatar Flight of Passage, for example, in the past often had a standby wait time of two hours or more, but that isn’t the case at the moment. Lately a ten minute wait for the popular ride is not unheard of! The park with the longest waits right now is usually Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The waits there tend to be long first thing in the morning, but the times do usually go down as the day goes on.
There are currently no character meet and greets at Walt Disney World. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get great character pictures! There are MagicShots in all four Walt Disney World theme parks. A new favorite can be found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The Child (aka Baby Yoda) could be in your picture! MagicShots are included if you have Memory Maker. If you don’t, you can purchase individual photos so that you will have your favorite forever.
5) Character Cavalcades
Walt Disney World without Mickey sounds like a terrible idea. Even though you can’t hug him at a meet and greet, you can still see him in all four theme parks. Character Cavalcades are like mini-parades. A small number of characters will follow a set route, and will interact with the guests who are watching. Mickey and Minnie are in cavalcades in all four parks, so they will still be part of your vacation. The other cavalcades are themed for the park that you’re in. Character Cavalcades don’t run on a set schedule, so crowds don’t gather. If you miss one cavalcade, don’t worry. There will be another one soon.
4) Extra Characters
One more character note. Even though Character Cavalcades are the main way to see characters, they aren’t the only way. Characters turn up all the time in various places. You might see Pinocchio above the restaurant that bears his name, or the stepsisters on the backside of Cinderella Castle. A favorite new character experience is either Winnie the Pooh or Joy at Epcot. They can be found in the field to the right and back as you head towards Journey Into Imagination With Figment. There is great interaction with either character, and it’s an experience that many hope is here to stay.
3) Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival began on August 29 last year. When Walt Disney World closed in March, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival had barely started. A full festival isn’t feasible right now, so Disney has rolled out the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The emphasis is on “taste”, there are 20 Global Marketplaces that will allow you to dine around the world. Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak is back as well. There are a couple of topiaries from Flower & Garden, and currently the Flower & Garden merchandise is for sale. It is not a full festival, so don’t expect concerts or seminars. It’s still a nice addition to the park.
2) Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Mickey & Minnie’ Runaway Railway opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 4. Less than three weeks later, the parks shut down. The first ever Disney attraction that features the two most famous mice in the world has surprises everywhere you look. Since lines are shorter right now, you might even be able to ride more than once.
1) Cinderella Castle
Remember how you felt when you saw Cinderella Castle for the first time? That feeling is still there, especially in these unprecedented days. Not long before the closure it was announced that Walt Disney World’s icon was about to receive a makeover, and it looks glorious. Pictures don’t do it justice, this is something that you need to see for yourself. Things are different right now. There are no parades, no fireworks, and many places have not yet opened, yet there is something special about Cinderella Castle. Once you see this magnificent building, you will feel as if you are home. The magic may not be quite the same at the moment, but there is still plenty of magic to be found.