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!
Thank you for the mask tip. We got our SUAY masks and the whole family loves them. Just wore them to Hershey park and they held up in the heat.
I looked at the mask website.. One key thing to remember.
Our mask is not meant as a substitute for medical grade personal protective equipment. It does not help prevent you from being exposed to COVID-19 or any other disease. Rather, it is intended to protect other people from exposure in case you are infected.
This key information to know.
That’s the main reason to wear a mask — to protect others. And if others wear masks, you’re protected too. If everyone wears a mask, transmission and infection are less likely all around, and maybe we can get some control over the spread of this thing.
Every non-medical mask I’ve seen carries the same warning. Wearing one isn’t for you. It’s for others.
I truly appreciate the science behind the mask wearing! Love you Brickers!!
You two are some of my favorite Disney bloggers, and when I just read your reference to the Harm Principle when discussing mask policies you struck a chord in my philosophical heart! That reference tells me the thought that is behind all you bring to Disney. Thanks for all you are doing with your level-headed approach.
We’ve got a trip rescheduled for December 2020, so appreciate all these updates and honest assessments so that we can make an informed decision about that visit. Stay safe and keep up the good work!
I feel like every Disney fanatic has spent a moment fantasizing about having the property all to themselves. The reality just seems sad. Thanks for taking one of the team and keeping us informed, Tom!
Gonna pass on this until we are in the clear.
Kudos to those willing to go but for me… not worth the money for a modified half experience.
Both my daughter and son enjoy Walt Disney world resort. We go twice a year and they enjoy every moment. We as a family share many precious moments and have a great time. However, due to this pandemic we will not be returning until cases decrease and we feel it’s safe to return. My family is to important to be placed in danger. Hopefully, this all ends soon so that we will be able to enjoy Disney World again.
We love Disney and have spent most of our vacations for the past 15 years there. However, we will NEVER go back having to wear a mask and be inundated with signs, A plethora of extra rules, feeling like we’re walking on eggshells. I want to go there to escape reality….. not be worried every step of the way if I’m doing something “wrong” Doesn’t sound enjoyable at all. Hope this passes quickly bc we love Disneyworld but will not be returning anytime soon.
Well said! This is escapism… they are taking it away!
So….other people, including cast members, should put their lives at risk so you can “escape”? This attitude is exactly why the virus is surging again.
For all readers – we were previously scheduled to stay at Port Orleans Riverside. When I called last night they changed it to Caribbean Beach, but when I asked if we could at least get a preferred room (we had standard), they did that for us. Just have to ask. They said they won’t move people to the Contemporary unless Caribbean Beach is sold out (for those who were staying at Port Orleans).
Nice to hear your report, thanks!
As for this:
“They said they won’t move people to the Contemporary unless Caribbean Beach is sold out (for those who were staying at Port Orleans).”
There’s a window of time during which Caribbean Beach is not open but Contemporary is. It’ll be interesting to see what they do during those few weeks.
We had a reservation at Caribbean Beach that overlapped with their opening date. We were moved to Beach Club Villas. I was told this was our only option, not that it’s a bad option.
Interesting Diane… my CB reservation also overlapped with the reopening dates and I was given the options of old key west or pop century. We went with pop with our fingers crossed that the skyliner is in fact running… otherwise I’ll feel foolish for passing the chance for the upgrade to old key west.
Though I wear a mask at work and when grocery shopping, it causes anxiety attacks for me. I really want to plan a trip, but will have to wait until “normal’ returns. I go to Disney to become a kid again, leave my adult reality behind and I am afraid that dealing with social distancing and mask wearing will not allow that level of escapism that I need. But that is just me. I hope those folks who choose to visit now can have fun and stay safe. Thanks for all of this info.
Thanks for the vivid picture of WDW practices. We were at Disney in March on the last day it was open before the shutdown. We do not plan on going back until masks are not required. Will happily spend our vacation money in non-mask requiring places around the country before then.
You refusing to wear a mask will prevent places like WDW from opening sooner. The virus will continue to spread and propagate. You realize that don’t you?
WEAR A MASK!!! even if not required. It is the only way to stop the spread. The ease at which we all used to move about, and took for granted, will never be again if we don’t all start wearing a mask.
My husband and I have reservation for November “last week of Wine & Food Experience”. Still waiting to see if they open Park Hoppers then, can’t imagine not ending the evening in Epcot. Being a OR Nurse, I too don’t like wearing masks beyond my work day. I almost feel if you can’t get the full Experience of Disney should we even go? I still want to support “The most wonderful place on Earth”, but also don’t want a different experience than the one that I get on a regular disney trip. Are they having people make reservations to go to the pool? Im sure more will change as the weeks go by. Thanks for the updates..
We visit every year at Xmas and have a reservation for this year too. I believe we will be cancelling the trip. Having to wear masks and the crowds and now not even knowing if we can get entry to parks when we want – it’s just too crazy, esp during the crowded Xmas week.
I think we will see what everyone else has to say before we cancel but it doesn’t sound good.
Tom, how do I subscribe to your blog?
You can subscribe to our newsletter here: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/newsletter-2/
Hi Tom! I’m going to try the Suay masks for our upcoming trip in July. Have you tried the ones that tie from them? I’m thinking that’ll be easier on the ears than the loop design.
We did the loop for the sake of convenience (since we take them on and off a decent amount), but a friend of ours has the tie ones, and it appears they’re more comfortable.
My thoughts exactly. Unless you’re one of those people whose head is exactly right for the ear loop style, then tie type seem much better.
Good detailed article and I appreciate your emphatic support of masks and social distancing!
I was wondering how do you ask for a upgrade. Is it possible to get a 1 bedroom if you are booked for a deluxe suit through DVC?
Did you say that we cannot make resort restaurant reservations if we aren’t staying at that particular resort? I just checked on Disney’s “Dining Know Before You Go” page and it says you have to have a reservation to dine at a Disney resort as a day guest, but doesn’t bar day guests entirely.
Just looking for a little clarification before we get our hearts set on eating at a resort!
Also, I’m not digging the clown slide–it’s the one thing I’m not looking forward to regarding our stay at BoardWalk. Where is the cute elephant in relation to the clown? That’s the part of the pool we’ll be at 🙂
You can’t currently make ADRs at all if you’re not a resort guest. If you are an on-site resort guests, you *can* make them for hotels at which you’re not staying.
At least, for now. I’d expect that to change at some point in July.
We were there the first week of Feb. before the virus was known. Needless to say social distancing wasn’t happening nor was additional cleaning. My husband and I both got Influenza 1A during the week and I ended up in ICU four hours from home because of the progression of the disease. You couldn’t give me the Cinderella Castle suite for a week at no cost along with V.I.P. everything for free for me to go while the virus is still going on. Stay safe and stay home.
Oh dear, so sorry to hear that.. I am the biggest Disney fan and as a FL AP holder try to go as often as possible. We were there on Valentines day. Teachers holiday , too. It was packed beyond packed. Of course the virus was there. It had to of been!
I understand the need to open but the numbers are growing in that area too..What a mess….!
Are you sure it wasn’t COVID-19? I agree stay home. My daughter was diagnosed with flu type A mid January before Covid became prevalent. She’s had the flu before too but this time it was completely different. Looking back her symptoms were more like Covid-19. More Americans need to think like you. Stay home and stop the spread.