Review: Disney World Hotel Health Safety Changes
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!
Looking forward to going back! Not to the signs everywhere, but as they are temporary I don’t worry about them like those annoying ones all over in CA about the remote chance of lead-based paint, or the alligator/snake signs at all waterways now at WDW.
As for the inflated virus numbers, I ain’t scairt. Been skeptical, and now we know they have been combining antibody positives with active virus positives, AND double counting people who are tested more than once. So the allegedly ‘spiking’ numbers don’t mean anything until they separate the test results. I work in health care facilities across the nation, and I’m more concerned about hospitalization rates. And I can’t wait to go back home to WDW!
Thanks for all you do to keep everybody in the loop with all of the crazy happenings right now!
I just wanted to post a tip. I just returned from a trip to Utah, where it was 100 degrees for 8 days straight. I had purchased face masks from the Purple mattress company…yep they make face masks now…and these are the BEST masks I have used! Especially with the triple digits heat! They are made from a special, breathable material & my glasses did not fog up like with other masks! The material they are made from also cools your face! I plan to order more since I am keeping my Disney reservations for the end of August ! Oh and they are white with light purple ear loops & will match all of my Figment clothing! LOL!
I decided to try out the Suay masks and ordered a few this morning. The owner of the site just emailed me asking where I heard of them, because they are getting “a crazy amount of orders” today. Way to keep the economy humming, Tom!
Haha–hopefully they can keep up with the orders!
Tom. Thank you so much for the mask recommendation! Maybe I will wait a bit to let them catch up with orders ha ha. Our Disney trip isn’t until November when it’s cooler (f the virus lets us go at all) but they sound great for wearing for hours!
Haha, I just ordered some for our family too! We don’t love the masks we have currently and it’s really nice to hear a first-hand account from a trusted reviewer (I’ve also gotten a lot of stuff on the Disney Tourist Blog packing list and have never been disappointed). Breathability is definitely key.
How do they handle giving you your parking pass (I assume you and Sarah drove as locals and DVC members?) if you do online check-in? We decided to rent a car for our stay so we don’t have to rely on bus transportation and/or Uber to get around. Less contact with strangers in confined spaces and we can disinfect our car at the airport!
You’ll need to go to the desk for that, unless they started delivering them to rooms with modified procedures.
May guests wear face shields instead of masks?
Thanks for the info? What were the hours at the fitness center? How early were they open?
What about the refillable toiletries that they had installed in showers to save on single use plastic? Are those still there?
I still don’t get the violent aversion to those units. Soap, by it’s very nature, is not conducive to virus propagation.
@mrnico agree! And they are so much more environmentally friendly. Have used them in national parks and cruise ships and thought nothing of it. And soap is the G.O.A.T!
In your article you mentioned that the Yact club is closed as the NBA will be staying there. Many articles say the Coronado is going to be used for all of the NBA. Can you confirm? Also will the back entrance to Epcot be open July 15? or July 29th? I will be going on both dates and staying at The Dolphin – I love walking in thru the back gate.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be staying at the Dolphin for your first trip. Almost positive they will be relocating all guests to the new JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek. The Dolphin should, however, reopen on July 29.
Walt Disney World has yet to confirm the International Gateway entrance will open on July 15, but I assume so.
With the Beach Club Villas and Boardwalk Villas open, I would have to assume the international gateway entrance will be open on 7/15.
Curious about the rumors of delaying the opening of the parks like Disneyland recently announced? Your photos are both happy and sad at the same time … so many emotions for us all. thank you.
I had planned on visiting in February, 2021; as Thats the month we enjoy goin most. We live in Ohio so the sun is a nice break. I think we will put off our trip. We can wait, and I want to go and enjoy everything, so waiting is the best for us.
Tom, how did you find the breathability of those masks compared to the paper surgical masks?
Slightly better, but the overall comfort level is significantly higher because it’s a clean fit and the material isn’t scratchy paper.
By nose piece do you mean a bendable strip to hold the shape? Those who wear glasses need this to reduce fogging in the humidity. THAT’S a PITA for me!
Did you have to wear your masks while lounging by the pool? We have a trip booked 8/30 – 9/5 and I will have to cancel if masks are required even while poolside lounging/swimming.
Technically, face coverings are required while lounging (but not swimming) and I assume that’ll be enforced when the pools are busier. In practice, we didn’t see anyone wearing masks at the pool, but parties were spaced way more than 6′ apart (more like 25-50 feet) so I can understand why it wasn’t being actively enforced.
My concern is obviously you can’t eat through a mask so they must be letting you remove them. This then points out the question, why? It’s not like this virus says, oh you’re eating, I will stay put for now. And if I could last 8 hours utilizing that prophylactic (like I would wearing a mask at a park there), that would be great. 🙂
While seated at a restaurant, you’re more than 6′ away from other parties, so physical distancing would accomplish the same result–at least towards other guests. However, it does put servers in a vulnerable position.
Mask wearing, social distancing, limits on crowd sizes, and other safety practices are all meant to limit, not eliminate risk. These guidelines have been designed purposefully to minimize as much risk as possible while taking into account the limits of reality. It’s not as if scientists are claiming that groups of 51 people or more are dangerous, but a group of 50 is perfectly safe; they are simply using the data available to determine an ideal balance between limiting risk and allowing necessary human activity in the safest way possible.
I love the idea of the wrapped items such as cups. Something that I thought should have been done for a long time anyway – I never felt safe using the cups that were reusable that were in a room. Other hotels usually have recycled one use cups and I’ve always preferred that as I am most certainly a germaphobe anyway. Glad you and Sarah are healthy and able to share your experience! Do you know if they will be staggering rooms as well? Like each room after a guest checks out will not be used for another 24 hours or anything like that?
I get it’s your job to go and provide information for potential visitors and as Facebook keeps reminding me, four years ago today is when my daughters and I had our trip, but right now, for the amount of money it costs to go to DW, you would have to PAY me to go there and wear a mask for my vacation. That’s simply not my idea of fun. I cannot fathom going on a ride with one. That said, if masks become a new normal and ten years from now we’re still doing it (GOD FORBID) I may reconsider if I have grandchildren and can even afford to take them.
totally agree, wouldn’t be an enjoyable holiday. wont visit again till its all over.but it will be back to normal by Xmas. mark my words.
“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.”
thank you for this.
also, i read elsewhere that CMs are wearing face shields at other locations when doing transactions. if at kiosks, i get that, but if it’s at a register, i think disney needs to not cheap out and add the plexiglass to all register areas for CM safety, rather than shields.
We’ve heard reports from the parks (Cast Members were called back to work yesterday) indicating that face shields are going to become much more common–especially for indoor attractions.
We shall see if that happens. Here’s hoping!
We were at Disney Springs and most of the CMs we saw that were working cashiering, at counters, etc were all wearing masks and face shields. We also saw CMs giving out wrapped packages of Mickey stickers to kids wearing masks.
I was really apprehensive about going, but my husband was jonesing for the ribs from Morimoto (available in the outside counter service) so we went early. They’re doing a good job throughout DS IMHO. I particularly enjoyed the Stormtroopers asking people to pull up their masks. CMs were polite and friendly,
but very direct about telling people to leave space, put their masks on, etc.
“Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” <3
I like that too, been saying that for years! Not for virus reasons, but it certainly applies here.
We will be going in August and staying onsite. I logged in today 6-30 to make dining reservations for sit down meals in the park. I’m assuming some of the quick serve will be open then inside the parks given the encouragement of mobile ordering? Any information or updates would be appreciated!
Here is the link to all theme park restaurants that will be open, including quick service restaurants. Some restaurants will not be open, but most are.
Hi Tom, for the face masks, did you order the same size for you and your wife? Wondering how they fit for her if I’m deciding between small/large. Thanks for all your helpful info and updates!
We both ordered large but probably both would’ve been fine with small–not totally sure but considering another order in that size. Wish there were a medium option!
I almost died when I read “prophylactic”! DaAaaDdD….NOOOO!!!!
Someone has to give you conniving kids the talk. I really wish it were literally anyone but me!
I’ve never had an upgrade on DVC reservation. Just curious on your experience. Have you received an upgraded view or upgrade to larger unit? Also, what are your thoughts on room readiness and late checkout? If resort isn’t filled to capacity, I think it would make sense to have rooms ready as early as possible and allow late checkout. This would allow guests to store luggage in their rooms rather than held at bell services.
We have been upgraded. Once when our room category was overbooked and another time with unclear circumstances. It’s pretty uncommon, but these are uncommon times.
We were also able to check-in early (10 am). Not sure about late check-out as we didn’t try for that.
During SARS, while staying at Contemporary, they upgraded us to a Club level room at checkout. This was on top of a pay for 5 days get 7. 2 years in a row. Since then, nothing.
I meant check in.