Hi and welcome to Fairytale Journeys by Monica, where all of my services are FREE! I can’t wait to learn more about you and how I can help you plan your perfect vacation! I would love to share with you why travel and travel planning is my passion.
Welcome to the third and final blog of my 3-part blogging series on our trip to Disney World during Covid-19. My first blog was an overview of our trip and why we chose to go. The second blog was about the safety and security we witnessed while on Disney property. This blog is our Top 10 lists of what we hope Disney will keep/what wasn't missed, and also a Top 10 list of things that annoyed us and things that were missed. Let’s dive in.
There are a lot of changes at Walt Disney World currently. Some are good, and some are a little annoying. No matter what’s in this list though, keep in mind that our experience was not hindered by these things. These are just observations that we made during our time at the parks!
What Do We Hope Disney Will Keep/What Was NOT Missed
1. Extra cleaning procedures
We loved seeing the ride cars disinfected regularly. We didn’t love the rides getting shut down while they were doing it, but we are hoping to see this type of cleaning continue!
2. Hand sanitizing stations/Hand washing stations
Disney World was overdue for these! If you go on a Disney Cruise, there are places to wash hands and sanitize regularly. Now, Disney World has the same!
3. Partitions on the monorail
Normally the monorail is one large car with 4 seats, 2 of which are back to back to one another. The partitions went in between the middle seats, separating a large car into 2 smaller cars. We liked the separation!
4. Keep the “don’t fill in all available space”
While we missed the pre-shows before rides, we did not miss having to fill in all the available space. It was nice to not be touching other people in these large rooms
5. Mobile Order
Mobile Order, especially at Quick Service restaurants, made it much easier and faster.
6. Shorter window for dining reservations
Before, we were able to make dining reservations 6 months in advance! That is a long time! 60 days is much more reasonable to firm up your plans and get ready for your park experience
7. Family Style instead of buffets
From what we’ve heard, the buffets are going away. This means that most character meals will now be family style. We loved the family style options. You get to try more things, you don’t have to get up at a buffet line, and everything is fresher!
8. Random character interactions and small cavalcades
There were impromptu cavalcades throughout our day. We enjoyed the fun surprises on who we would get to see next! Sure, we love meeting the characters in person and giving them a hug, but all the characters were still very interactive on the platforms and cavalcades!
9. Fast passes were not missed
I’m not suggesting we never do fast passes again, but for this trip, it was nice! You weren’t rushing around to make a ride by a certain time and the lines moved faster.
10. The 30% annual passholder discount at the shops
Haha! Seriously though, it was awesome, and we may have bought way more than we should have!
What Was Annoying/What Did We Miss
We get why we need to wear them and we are thankful Disney is enforcing masks, and we honestly got used to them. But they’re still annoying in the humid Florida summer.
2. Social distancing on transportation
They are now limiting how many people get onto a bus, which created longer wait times for busses.
3. Narrow lines with the clear partitions are a little tight for people who may be claustrophobic
There are now clear partitions throughout rides where social distancing isn’t possible. Some of these spots are incredibly tight. For example, when we were in line for Big Thunder, I almost had to close my eyes until we made it down the ramp!
4. We didn’t care for the partitions on the Jungle Cruise boat
There are partitions between parties on the Jungle Cruise boat, which makes sense! But it made the interactions less fun with the skipper jokes.
5. Park hours
On the one hand, I didn’t miss getting up before the sun to get to the park at rope drop, but on the other, I really missed being in the parks at night.
Because of the Union, we couldn’t have any live action shows. This was most missed at Hollywood Studios, where there are so many to choose from. We also, of course, missed the night time shows, especially the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
7. We missed the pre-shows on rides
All of the pre-shows on the rides were bypassed. They just became part of the ride. We especially missed the stretching room in the Haunted Mansion, the Twilight Zone scene in the Tower of Terror, the Steven Tyler scene on Rock N Roller Coaster, and so many others!
8. Disney’s Magical Express Changes
The lines are long to get on to the magical express at the airport, and you have to pick up your luggage – it isn’t delivered for you! You also can’t check your bags to the airport at your resort right now. Hoping these changes are short!
9. Shops and restaurants being closed
Several shops and restaurants were closed. Big Top Souvenirs, for example, is one of our favorite places to grab a snack, and it was closed. I won’t list all the closures, but I noticed the most at Hollywood Studios.
10. We missed park hopping
There were moments where we realized we had done everything we wanted to do at a park before closing. Since we couldn’t go to another park, we spent more time at the resort, which was nice! Choosing your resort is very important right now because you will be there more!
No matter what Disney does or doesn’t do, it’s still Disney World. It’s still magical. It’s still a vacation, and it’s still our happy place. We all had a wonderful time. We loved so many of the changes. Even though we missed a lot of things, there was a lot of good things added too! If you’re on the edge of going to Disney because you aren’t sure on the experience, let’s chat. Let’s chat about your specific concerns. Maybe it isn’t the right time for you, but maybe those experiences were replaced by something even better. Thanks for reading and following along in our journey!
Welcome to Blog 2 of my 3-part blogging series on our trip to Disney World during Covid-19. This blog is going to focus on everything we witnessed as far as safety, security, and cleanliness. Please note that I am a travel professional, not a medical professional. My observations are simply that - observations. Thanks again for following along in our journey! Let’s dive in.
Safety & Cleanliness Disney has done it right. I honestly felt safer at Disney than I do at my local grocery store. It’s not an exaggeration. Anytime I go out into my community, I encounter several people who do not follow the rules of wearing a mask or even social distancing. While we were at Disney, the only time we personally witnessed anyone without a mask was when a person was eating or drinking.
Masks Masks are required everywhere you go. I mean everywhere. In the ride queues, on the rides, in the bathrooms, walking around anywhere. They are required every single place. If you take a drink, you need to put your mask right back on or a cast member will politely remind you. The only exception is at restaurants. Once seated at your table, you can remove your face coverings for the duration of your meal. You do need to put them back on, though, if you leave your table.
Was it annoying to wear a mask for 10 hours a day in the Florida humidity? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Absolutely! We totally get it, and we knew what we were signing up for! We want to be safe and keep those around us safe! So, we did it. We wore masks the entire trip. And guess what?! It was fine! We got used to them and we even picked out our masks for the day each morning, just like we would our clothes. We complimented other people’s masks and they complimented ours. It was just another piece of clothing and it worked.
The biggest inconvenience for mask wearing is the glasses. I finally ditched wearing sunglasses because they kept fogging up. If you wear glasses regularly, I recommend an eye shield to help with the fog, or switch to contacts for this trip.
It’s the word of the year to be sure. Disney did it right though! There were social distancing markers in every ride queue, in the restaurants and quick service dining and even on the resorts where it was necessary. Not only did everyone adhere to the social distancing guidelines, we all became trained in it! Lulu and I were in line for Rock N Roller Coaster, and the line had gotten a little long to where it stretched outside. There were no markers for social distancing when we entered the queue. Oh no! What should we do?! Then, the remarkable happened. Every guest naturally social distanced! Every person in that small section naturally social distanced from one another the same distance all the markings are normally placed. Disney trained us to naturally social distance!
Social distancing was done very well in the parks, and it was also put into place on all the Disney transportation. The monorail had a partition up in the middle of the car, which was actually kind of nice. We also got an entire car to ourselves! We never had to wait for the monorail either which was also nice. The busses had clear partitions throughout them and limited the amount of people who could enter. Because of the social distancing on busses, though, the wait was longer. When we would walk up to the bus stop and noticed the line being pretty long, we would just order a Lyft. We didn’t want to chance missing out on park time to wait for the bus. So, if you are staying at resort that utilizes only busses, give yourself extra time to get anywhere you need to go.
Cleanliness Wow. The details! Disney would shut down rides throughout the day to clean every single ride vehicle. We personally witnessed how they are cleaned with a portable sprayer as we were waiting in the ‘It’s a Small World’ line. They would spray the ride vehicle and send it through the ride once to let it dry, then allow guests to get back in it.
In addition, hand sanitizing stations were placed before and after each ride and throughout the park. We were never in want of a hand sanitizing station. I have to say, I think this should be a permanent change for Disney. It is long overdue to have hand sanitizing stations throughout the park, so I hope this is here to stay.
I also witnessed bathrooms being cleaned regularly, and I even watched a cast member clean a trash can. Now, let’s be honest. Disney is always incredibly clean. You never see an overflowing trash can, and rarely catch litter on the streets. They are always on top of it. Now is no different. They are doing an impeccable job.
Temperature Checks I was a little nervous prior to our trip about the required temperature checks, but that was the easiest part of entry to the park! We went to a tent, they scanned our heads, then we went in! It was super easy. I never witnessed anyone who had a temperature and what they would do, but I imagine they would deny admission at that time.
Conclusion All this to say, I never once was worried about catching Covid-19 on this trip. Could I have caught it? Sure – it is a highly contagious virus. With all that Disney is doing with sanitization efforts, temperature checks, mask rules, and social distancing, I believe Disney has done everything possible to minimize your chances of getting sick.
Here’s the silver lining of all of it - With the reduced crowds, you get to stop and take a minute to appreciate the details of things around you. It really felt like a vacation. We still got to get away and escape the harsh realities of the world that awaited us back home. We did this despite having to wear masks, practice social distancing, and constantly being reminded through audible messages by cast members and park speakers and abundant signage. Even through all of that, we felt like we were at Disney World. We still teared up when we walked down Main Street toward the exit, taking that one last look at the castle until next time.
Thank you, Disney, for doing everything in your power to keep us safe. Thank you for caring about your cast members and your guests. And thank you for giving us magic when we needed it the most.
Hi friends! I am so excited to share our experience at Walt Disney World during the Covid-19 crisis with you. I plan on writing a series of 3 blogs about our experience. This first one is going to be a general overview of our trip and why we went on it to begin with. The second will focus on safety, what was done great, and things we missed. And the third will be more of a generalized blog about travel right now. Thanks for reading, watching our vlogs and following along in our journey! Let’s dive in!
First of all, I know not everyone understands our love of travel, especially to Disney World, especially during a pandemic. We were asked a number of times – why do you need to go to Disney World right now? Why is it important to you? Haven’t you seen the spike in numbers in Florida? You know you’ll have to quarantine for 2 weeks when you get back.
Through all the skepticism, though, my husband and I both felt this was the right decision for 3 main reasons:
Reason 1: Because We Needed Something Positive In Our Life
Our family is going through a very tough time right now, facing illness after illness with different family members. Our hotel business is suffering and continues to suffer, my travel agent business is almost at zero because of the lack of people traveling. Every day is filled with bad news, a lot of tears, and a lot of stress. I know a LOT of people are going through the same things. A lot of people are trying to find the positives in life. A lot of people are losing jobs, losing businesses, and wondering how to make it to the next day. It is not easy for anyone right now. However, despite all of that, we are adults. As adults, we should be able to handle the storms as they come and persevere to keep moving forward.
Children, on the other hand, should be allowed to be children. They shouldn’t have to hear about how many people have Covid-19 everyday, or if they’ll ever get to actually play with their friends again. They shouldn’t have to worry about “adult” things. They should just be allowed to be kids.
Even though, as parents, we try to shelter our kids from all the bad in the world, it is surrounding them right now. Why? Because it’s surrounding us, and also because they can’t do anything. They can’t go to school, they can’t go to camps, they can’t go to church. They have nothing to look forward to because they don’t know what’s going to happen next. Yes, we have done everything possible for our kids to have a “normal” summer. We’ve gone to the beach, visited our ranch and been with family as much as possible.
But here’s the thing – we were supposed to go to Disney World and a Disney Cruise in May. We had been planning this for a year and a half. Cancelled. We were supposed to go to Disney World in October with our family. Cancelled due to our annual hotel convention getting cancelled. With trips cancelled, camps cancelled, church cancelled, group get togethers cancelled, it gets to be a lot. And for an adult, we understand the full picture and can convince ourselves there’s always next year. For a child, who’s world is in the here and the now, this is devastating. So, we booked our trip to Disney World to celebrate Lulu’s 7th Birthday. We kept the trip. We went on the trip. And it was everything we needed.
Reason 2: Because We Knew Disney Would Do Everything Right In Keeping Guests Safe
I plan to write another blog about all the safety procedures Disney has put into place, so you’ll have to wait until that blog to see the details. But, I will scratch the surface by saying that I felt safer at Disney than I do at the grocery store or even a family gathering in a way. I felt safe because every single person there, guests and cast members, had a mask on and respected the people around them. I felt safe because I was never close to another human being outside my party. I felt safe because I personally witnessed rides getting shut down and deep cleaned. I felt safe because everything was being done right. More to come in Blog Number 2.
Reason 3: Because It’s Our Happy Place
When you’re feeling down, or sad, or just having a hard time, don’t you want to escape to your happy place? We have a few places we call our happy place – the beach, our ranch, and Disney World. We’ve been to the first two this summer, but we needed that third place to round us out. If you’re a Disney skeptic reading this, I am positive you are rolling your eyes right now, and may even stop reading. And that’s okay! I promise you I don’t understand everything about what makes you happy and you don’t have to understand me either.
But, on our last night in Magic Kingdom, we booked a late dining reservation at Tony’s, which is close to the entrance of Magic Kingdom, adjacent to Main Street USA. The park closed at 7 and we finished eating around 8. We walked outside to an empty Main Street. We took some amazing pictures in front of the newly painted castle, and just soaked in the emptiness of the park. Then, the lights came on, lighting up Main Street and Cinderella Castle, and I cried.
I cried because I was able to bring my seven and five year old daughters to the most magical place on earth during a pandemic. I cried because we were able to experience pure joy this last week of being together. I cried because just for a moment, all the bad things in the world – all the sickness and violence and hate and judgment – it disappeared. All that mattered was my family. My husband and my 2 girls.
We will never forget our time together at Walt Disney World during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will never forget that we were able to experience joy while the world was hurting. And now that we are back, I can honestly say I feel stronger to move forward and fight. To be strong for my family members who are battling sickness. To be strong for those who are battling loneliness. To be strong for my children who miss their friends. To be strong for my employees who worry every day about our business.
I’m not saying Disney solves the world’s problems. I’m saying that for me personally, it was a breath of fresh air. It allowed me to let go, so I can hold on tighter, and it allowed us to live when the rest of the world is standing still.
Who wouldn’t want to get married at the happiest place on earth? I know I would! And, to my surprise, a Disney wedding is actually not out of reach on cost. Granted, it’s not cheap, and depending on what you want, you can spend more than a small home, BUT it can be done on a budget! Let me go into more detail for you.
The first place I went was to the Grand Floridian Hotel. I journeyed around the resort to Franck’s Studio. Franck’s is actually named after the Martin Short character in Father of the Bride and has been in Disney for 15 years. It recently went through a renovation, and is the epicenter of the wedding planning. If you decide to book a wedding at Disney, you can meet with your Disney wedding planner here. Franck’s has a lot of samples for you to look at – from cakes, theme ideas, photo albums, table settings, and more.
After I explored Franck’s, I made my way over to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian. It absolutely took my breath away. Not only is the venue stunning, you can get married in front of floor to ceiling windows with Cinderella Castle in the background. It’s absolutely perfect. Of course, this is one of the more expensive venues at the Walt Disney World resort, but it is the perfect fairy tale.
I also learned you can get married almost anywhere at Walt Disney World. From the Tower of Terror to the World Showcase to almost any resort, there are venues everywhere. If you choose to get married at the parks, you will be subject to specific hours either before opening or after closing, but if that’s your dream, then it’s worth it!
What’s the time frame?
First, you can start planning 16 months in advance.
I will help you connect with a Disney wedding planner to start the dreaming process.
At one year out, you can secure your date and your venue.
How can I help you?
Leave your guests to me. You plan your perfect wedding and I’ll help with all the guests!
I will help set up a group block for your family and be the point person to get all of them booked into it.
In fact, they can even receive specialty priced theme park tickets if they’re part of a group.
All this to say, your Disney dream wedding doesn’t have to be just a dream. If this is something you’ve dreamed of, let’s at least explore it. Then, we can look at a dream honeymoon too. Maybe it’s a cruise post-wedding, or longer at Disney, or somewhere different entirely. As Walt Disney said, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” So, you do the dreaming and leave the planning to me.
Posted by ftjtravelbymonica on May 19, 2020 in Personal
GRAND FLORIDIAN SENSES SPA ADVENTURE
Wait, what?! I went to Disney and went to the SPA! It really isn’t out of the norm, but it’s also not something you think about either. I assume for most people, a Walt Disney World vacation is not deemed a ‘relaxing’ vacation. In fact, it’s probably a vacation you need a vacation to recover from! But, it doesn’t have to be that way! See my blog about Doing Disney with Less Stress to see more tips!
That being said, the spa is a wonderful escape. There are two Senses spas on Disney property – Senses Grand Floridian and Senses Saratoga Springs. I chose the Senses Grand Floridian because the time worked out for me better and I thought it would be easier to travel there. I was staying at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, so I had to travel pretty far to get to the Grand Floridian.
I took a bus to Magic Kingdom, went through security at Magic Kingdom, boarded a monorail and rode the monorail all the way around and finally arrived at the Grand Floridian 47 minutes later. It just goes to show that you need a minimum of an hour to travel around the Walt Disney World resort.
So, how was it? It was wonderful! I was greeted upon entry, taken to the relaxation room, then escorted back for my 50 minute Swedish Massage. It was truly relaxing and wonderful, then I had as much time as I wanted to relax, enjoy the steam room, or pack up and be on my way. In the relaxation room, there were snacks and drinks that you could enjoy before or after your treatment.
The spa is a full service spa and offers a wide variety of services. They even have their own product line you can purchase as well. It really is the perfect gift for that family member who really may need a break on your busy busy trip. I would absolutely recommend the Senses Spa to anyone who can fit it in during their Disney vacation. Disney doesn’t have to be all about the kids – you can take some time for you too!
If you are interested in more information on spa reservations, please let me know! I’d be happy to make this happen for you or help you plan a surprise for someone!