Review: Magic Kingdom Reopening Cast Preview
What does a mid-pandemic reopening of the most popular theme park in the world look like? We had the opportunity to catch a sneak peek of all the changes put in place to reopen Magic Kingdom Park safely and efficiently.
Walt Disney World begins their phased reopening process this week with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom on Saturday, July 11, and Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios on Wednesday, July 15. With Covid-19 cases on the rise in Florida, Disney has had their fair share of criticism regarding the timing, but after experiencing the park this week we feel fairly comfortable with all of the safety adjustments.
Upon arrival around 8:45am, we immediately noticed that the parking team was spacing out the spots. Every other space was filled, and once the row was full they would then fill in the middle spaces. That way by the time a car filled in a middle space, the guests to each side had already exited their vehicles toward the park.
A required temperature screening takes place outside of the Ticket & Transportation Center. Masks are required at this point forward. The line moved very quickly with little to no wait whatsoever.
Immediately following the temperature screening, you enter the security checkpoint. The only small change we noticed here was the requirement to put your metal items in a clear plastic bag before you passed through the metal detector.
Bus to Magic Kingdom
In addition to the Monorail and Ferry Boat, a bus option has been added to transport guests from the TTC to Magic Kingdom. This appeared to be the quickest and least crowded option. When entering the bus, our group was assigned a number section. Each section has plastic dividers between the seats to limit contact with other parties on the bus. Some seats are not available at all.
Throughout the entire day, it was hard not to notice how empty the park felt. We never waited longer than 20 minutes for any attraction. We are curious to find out if this is how park capacity will remain once the park reopens officially on Saturday. We were never forced to be within six feet of any other party.
Attraction Queues & Rides
There is absolutely no need for Fastpass+ due to crowd levels. Every single attraction queue we entered had a modified queue. "Please Wait Here" stickers placed six feet apart and plexiglass dividers were just the start. At Haunted Mansion, the stretching room was a very short walk through with no audio or "stretching." At PhilharMagic we were instructed to stand on spots on the ground.
All merchandise locations we visited had only one entrance with a limited amount of guests allowed inside. The longest wait time was for the Splash Mountain Shop. Once inside, you were advised by a Cast Member to maintain "physical distance" from other guests.
All dining must be ordered on a mobile device. We feel this could potentially be problematic for those guests who are a bit less tech savvy. Once your order is placed, you cannot enter the restaurant until your order is ready for pick up. This caused a small issue with our party as one of friend's orders was not ready for 30 minutes after ours.
Probably my personal favorite part of the day were the Character Cavalcades. These mini-parades have no announced times or characters to avoid crowds gathering, but seemed to happen quite frequently. Typically a float covered in characters led by some dancers would ride from Frontierland and down Main Street about every half hour. You can also catch Chip and Dale riding a pontoon around the Rivers of America. At the end of the day, Mickey & Friends were standing atop the train station to wave goodbye.
Ferry Boat to Ticket & Transportation Center
This was the only experience that felt slightly crowded and unorganized. There seemed to be a plan in place; however the communication was not all there. With some more direction from a Cast Member, this could have been expedited a bit more efficiently. Once onboard, each party is asked to stand on a sticker spot on the ground.
Overall, we give Disney an A+ for this reopening experience. There are a few kinks that will inevitably be worked out, but we felt safe, secure, and comfortable throughout our entire time at the park. Disney has done an exceptional job navigating this transition into our new world. We look forward to a day where these protocols can be relaxed, but for now, the experience is still magical, just modified.