Disney World Reopening Report

We spent the day at Walt Disney World for reopening day, visiting Magic Kingdom as a follow-up to our Annual Passholder preview day two days ago. In this report, we’ll share photos, crowds & wait time info, eBayer thoughts, health & safety measures, mask compliance, and more.

Essentially, this is a continuation of Our First Day Back in Magic Kingdom, as there was a ton of overlap between the two visits. In large part, we’re using this post as a chance to address a few topics we either forgot to cover in that, plus some changes we’ve observed between the two days.

In hindsight, it probably would’ve been wise to do Animal Kingdom today to space out our Magic Kingdom visits, but we clearly didn’t think things through. (Stay tuned for a report from that park soon.) Regardless, we think this update should prove useful, as we quickly hit on a variety of topics in a photo and caption format…

One thing we’re going to gloss over is the mood in Florida right now, and Walt Disney World’s decision to proceed with today. That has been making waves in the national media–and it’s absolutely a topic worthy of thorough discussion. We did exactly that in our Should Walt Disney World Stay Closed? post.

That offers a nuanced look at the pros and cons of resuming operations versus waiting, plus the pitfalls of both approaches. While snap judgments are a time-honored American pastime, we’d recommend reading that before jumping to conclusions. As we’ve said before, the challenges facing Florida are multifaceted and simply shouting “stay closed!” is not a serious solution to a complex problem.

On the flip side, we’d also caution against reading this and reaching premature positive perceptions, too. Certainly do not plan a Walt Disney World vacation on the basis of these preliminary reports. While Walt Disney World is doing a superlative job thus far, it’s still early and a lot can change in a short span of time.

On top of that, there’s the real world situation outside the Disney bubble. That, coupled with the compromises and risks you’ll have to make and take if traveling now should make “wait and see” the default. In short, we’d actively discourage most people from planning trips until we have more information and data sufficient for making credible forward-looking predictions.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s take a look at reopening day at Walt Disney World…

We once again delayed a bit, and rolled up over an hour after rope drop to miss whatever opening rush there might’ve been.

Let’s start by checking out the new walkway to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which remains far and away the most efficient way to access that hotel and Bay Lake Tower.

We experienced zero lines at the temperature screening and bag check.

Speaking of which, above is a look at the sign for the new security screening. Both times now, my camera bag has set off the metal detector (no surprise there). Contactless bag check thereafter has been a breeze, with me just quickly lifting up lenses for security to visually inspect.

Entering Magic Kingdom was likewise hiccup-free with no lines whatsoever at the turnstiles.

Apparently there was an issue that caused a back-up at Guest Relations earlier in the morning, but this line had dissipated within an hour or so of park opening. The whole arrival and entry process was once again easy and friction-free.

Here’s a look at Main Street when we arrived. Pretty quiet once again.

This was more or less the scene on Main Street throughout the day.

Attraction waits, on the other hand, were definitely longer today.

Part of this is undoubtedly that park capacity has already ramped up between the preview days and the reopening day. (We’d expect this trend to continue to the extent that there’s demand.) Another part is that various attractions kept going down throughout the day–it seemed like 2-3 were down whenever we checked.

I tried to capture the lines for “it’s a small world” and Peter Pan’s Flight in one photo, failing at both in the process.

You can’t tell, but both are spilling out their respective entrances into overflow areas. Each have 20-25 minute waits at this point.

Haunted Mansion had a 25 minute wait shortly after come back up from a brief downtime.

This died down shortly thereafter, settling into near walk-on status by late afternoon.

The longest line each of our visits to Magic Kingdom has been the Splash Mountain gift shop. We haven’t been inside it, but it looks like only some plush and very ordinary t-shirts are in stock at the moment. The rest of the merchandise has been scooped up by eBay pirates.

My view on eBayers is generally “don’t hate the player, hate the game,” which is to say that Disney could easily eliminate this problem if the company so desired. Nevertheless, I’ve gotta admit seeing so many people with tons of bags–and even entire cases–of merchandise left a sour taste in my mouth. It has gotten out of hand. (On a related note, the Splash Mountain reimagining is probably over a year away–expect this stuff to be restocked many times between now and then.)

Notice anything missing from this photo?

(Aside from guests.)

This should make it more obvious.

In both visits thus far, we’ve noticed barely any strollers. It makes sense, but is still odd to see. Reminds us of Tokyo Disneyland.

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is still down, but “should be operating soon” per a Cast Member. We’ll take that with a grain of salt, as it was down in the pre-closure days in March, too.

Also, don’t touch this…for your safety. 

We’ve seen several comments on social media from people who don’t want their photos taken while wearing masks. That’s an understandable position–there is something incongruous about the visuals.

Our perspective is the opposite. When this all inevitably ends and society emerges out the other side of it, we’ll have these photos as tangible reminders of what 2020 was like. Not that this abominable year won’t be burned into our memories regardless, but I’d rather have historical documentation of what visiting Walt Disney World was actually like, not a rosy misrepresentation.

I don’t fault anyone for disagreeing with that view; it probably would not be my take if this were our first and only visit. (Then again, we would not make a first visit right now.)

If you do want to “wear a smile,” there are always prop options or even the character masks that Walt Disney World is selling. Those are a good choice if you want something cheery or themed.

As someone with “resting scowl-face,” I’m fine with the masks. Adding in sunglasses and a hat actually makes me less self-conscious and nearly invisible, which I also like. I can’t wait until the weather is cooler so I can start dressing in full-on John Marston garb, and look really ominous and enigmatic.

The biggest downside for me is hearing and recognizing others. I’m really bad at both of those things to begin with, and the masks just exacerbate that.

While we’re on the topic, guest mask compliance wasn’t quite as stellar as the AP preview day when we reported observing 100% perfection on that front.

On reopening day, it was more like 97%. We saw a few instances of guests walking and eating, as well as masks not covering noses. In a couple of cases, we actually overheard Cast Members politely but firmly correcting this behavior. We consider anything about 95% compliance really solid, so no major complaints here.

If you want to remove your mask, restaurants, designated dining seating areas, and the Relaxation Stations around the park are your options.

Above is the one indoor Relaxation Station, which is located back in Storybook Circus.

The best of these is Tomorrowland Terrace. This one is open air, which is crucial to us, and also offers great views and a nice breeze off the water.

Our only criticism is that Cast Members have been closing off the lower, waterfront tier if the top area isn’t full. Why not just leave the whole thing open? There’s no shortage of Cast Members to wipe down tables, and providing more space to spread out makes guests feel more comfortable.

It’d also be nice if Tomorrowland Terrace were one of the operational restaurant options. That’s unlikely because it has always been seasonal, but having an outdoor and open air dining option would be great. (It certainly has not yet, but we predict guest demand will ultimately come around on this and outdoor seating areas will become favored.)

In general, the current dining slate at Magic Kingdom could use improvement. Especially on the counter service front.

At this point, our biggest preliminary takeaway/recommendation is to arrive late and stay late. Not only will you bypass potential logjams and hiccups at rope drop, but you’ll be positioned to last longer in the Florida heat and humidity, which will allow you to enjoy lower wait times.

This will also give you more time to eat a big breakfast or early lunch, thus avoiding the paltry dining options at Magic Kingdom right now. Really though, not much strategy is required at all–the Walt Disney World experience is currently pretty frictionless and allows for plenty of spontaneity.

Ultimately, another good day in Magic Kingdom with low crowds and a reassuring array of safety measures coupled with near-perfect guest compliance. We realize this doesn’t cover a ton of new ground as compared to our previous report, but the less that changes in terms of crowds, compliance, etc., the better. Walt Disney World is still crushing it on this front, making it a solid time to visit if you’re a local Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club member with points to burn, or frequent guest who otherwise feels comfortable and safe visiting.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Did you attend the reopening day at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom? What was your experience? Thoughts on any topic discussed here? Are you eagerly awaiting your next vacation ‘escape’ to Walt Disney World, or still apprehensive about everything going on right now? Do you have any questions about the current modified Magic Kingdom experience? Will you be attempting to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or are you waiting until 2021 or beyond? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


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