We returned to Walt Disney World for the reopening of hotels and resorts, and did a stay to review the changes for ourselves. In this post, we’re sharing photos of health & safety modifications in common areas, our room, and more. In so doing, we’ll share our experience and make some recommendations.
We’ve opted to break this up into two posts, covering aspects of the modified resort and dining experience here. You’ve probably already read about all of this in the abstract via our Walt Disney World Resort Hotel ‘Know Before You Go’ Info page. You’ve possibly also been inundated with images of the changes via social media.
Simultaneously, we’re sharing Our Surreal Stay at Walt Disney World. That’s a good read if you’re looking for some semblance of normalcy and want to hear something upbeat, devoid of the recent complaints about Walt Disney World’s reservation systems and all of this. However, if you’re looking for photos of new signage and safety protocol, this is the post for you!
This trip was surreal for a couple of reasons. The first is the more obvious one–the signage and health safety protocol, which is addressed here. The second is the total lack of guests around the resorts, which is covered more in the other post.
We’ll do this in photo and caption form, with the text below each image explaining whatever is going on in the photo. Let’s get started:
Upon arrival at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, we’re greeted by a health liability disclaimer and quick rundown of the temporary rules and protocol.
Suffice to say, this is not the first or last time you’ll see either sign.
Over at Disney’s Riviera Resort, the same signs are also present, but with their positions swapped.
Gotta keep guests on their toes!
More signage appears on the front doors prior to entering the lobby of Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The first two points are being actively enforced by Cast Members. The others are obviously a bit more difficult.
A reminder about Online Check-In.
We did this out of an abundance of caution, and in retrospect, I’m not sure that was the right decision. There were no other guests in the lobby and given hotel occupancy, I think we would’ve had a better shot at an upgrade if we checked in at the front desk.
Spacing markers on the floor to keep parties at a safe distance. These will probably be necessary at some point (perhaps even now when Disney’s Magical Express does drop-offs), but we never saw more than one party in the lobby at a time.
They’re difficult to see, but plexiglass barriers have also been installed for the safety of Cast Members.
As covered in our Good Afternoon from Walt Disney World post, the Cast Members we encountered were in great spirits, universally happy to be back at work and seeing guests.
This is unlikely to be a unanimous position (we know as much given online petitions) and it’s worth keeping in mind that they don’t have much choice here.
Accordingly, do your part in keeping them safe and healthy by keeping your distance and properly wearing a mask. Be kind and friendly. We get that a lot of people don’t like wearing masks–we don’t either. They make the Florida heat feel even hotter and are uncomfortable. However, same goes for seatbelts, helmets, and other prophylactic devices (ahem) but we wear them for the sake of safety.
If you have an aversion to masks, that’s understandable–but the solution is not visiting Walt Disney World right now. The science is clear on masks, and they have proven effective in combating spread elsewhere around the globe. (From a purely economic perspective, even Goldman Sachs supports a nationwide mask mandate, asserting that it could substitute for another lockdown and save the economy from a 5% GDP hit.)
Not wearing a mask is certainly your prerogative–when you’re at home. “Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”
In response to our Topolino’s Terrace Modified Character Meal Review, a couple of readers asked where we got our masks. We bought them from Suay, after hearing rave reviews and testing a variety of other options ourselves.
These are constructed from medical grade non-woven polypropylene surgical wrap and have a nosepiece. They’re great from an efficacy perspective, while also offering breathability–key in the Florida heat.
We plan on testing other masks, but these are our favorite thus far (by a very wide margin). Before buying whatever has a “cute” design, we’d strongly encourage you to consider functionality.
You’ll be wearing these for extended periods in hot and humid weather. A mask that has a Mickey Mouse design might be fun and seem fine in the air-conditioned comfort of your home, but might feel very different after only a few hours in a theme park. Test whatever you buy extensively outdoors before visiting the parks.
Inside guest rooms, there will be extra linens and towels wrapped in single-use packaging, individually wrapped paper cups & dishes, double-cased pillows, and additional items that have been cleaned and wrapped in single-use packaging.
During guest stays, rooms will receive a light cleaning service every other day, which will include removal of trash and used towels, replenishment of towels and amenities throughout the room and bathroom, wiping and cleaning of the vanity and counter surfaces, as well as vacuuming (as necessary).
The enhanced cleaning sign above shows the areas that are cleaned more thoroughly than normal.
Also, note the coffee maker. There were some concerns that these would be removed, but that was not the case in our room. (It seems like Walt Disney World directly spoke to this question, but I cannot recall the policy nor can I quickly find it. A lot has been happening.)
It obviously shouldn’t be after several months, but it’s still surreal to turn on the upbeat resort tv and see “closed” for every park.
Even more surreal: watching the Must-Dos with Stacey.
Fitness centers and sports courts are open, with signs up that guests must maintain physical distancing.
We never saw anyone in Muscles & Bustles, so that shouldn’t be an issue in the opening weeks or months.
Pools were unquestionably the “busiest” spots during our stay.
There was still ample space for social distancing and more than enough usable lounge chairs.
This post hasn’t been terrifying enough, so here’s some nightmare fuel.
(Joking aside, I actually love this water slide and don’t “get” fears of clowns.)
Even with the Disney Dining Plan suspended, refillable mugs remain available for purchase.
The refill process has been modified. Cast Members are now at these stations, and will fill up a disposable cup for you to refill your own resort mug. There are no limits on refills.
The first night of our stay, Advance Dining Reservations were required for dining at restaurants, and walk-ups were not accepted.
By the second night, that had changed due to lack of filled tables. Keep in mind that only resort guests are eligible to make reservations (or visit resorts, period).
In addition to the first seating for breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, we also did the first seating for dinner.
This wasn’t due to the typical blogger race to be first…it was to avoid other guests. We got lucky with no one even remotely near us at either meal, but in retrospect we wouldn’t do indoor dining again in the near future. Not with the spiking case numbers.
Bus service is currently running to Disney Springs, and the Skyliner gondolas have been testing for the last week-plus.
We did not use the buses, but have heard from friends that drivers are directing each party (if there are multiple parties) to specific seats to ensure proper physical distancing.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is closed off as Walt Disney World prepares for the arrival of the NBA.
Apparently, fences have started going up here and at the Grand Floridian, but we didn’t see that in person.
Finally, we’ll leave things on an upbeat note–a look at construction on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the France pavilion expansion. We couldn’t walk over to International Gateway (there’s literally a closed gate and a security guard), but we could see this from the bridge.
After pausing during the closure, construction has resumed on this project and it looks really close to being finished. It remains to be seen when Walt Disney World will open the expansion. Even if it’s ready next month, it seems like there’s a reasonable chance Disney will wait until things are more back to normal, and a grand opening can be held with more fanfare. Perhaps soft openings in the interim, though? (Click here to continue reading Part 2 of Our Surreal Stay at Walt Disney World.)
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!
What do you think of all the modifications at the resorts? Will you be booking a resort reservation for Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or are these rules/restrictions/policies going to cause you to postpone? Have you already done a hotel or DVC stay since the resorts reopened? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!