Pandemic Disney: a Different Adventure in a Different Time

Please note: This trip took place the first week of November. I know Covid cases have since risen and we are treating things accordingly, respectfully, and safely. Each family has to make the best decision for themselves and those around them

Do you have a favorite sound? Or rather, a favorite voice? One that you could just listen to for hours and feel like all is right with the world? For me, it would be Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Dolly Parton, Oprah Winfrey, Jen Hatmaker, and Walt Disney. Being a creative-minded individual, I’m fascinated by how these storytellers use imagery to beckon their listeners to pull up a chair in their mind’s eye and share in a tale of camaraderie. 

With two small kids, we have been watching a lot of Disney+ in 2020. It’s been fun to revisit childhood classics and also relearn the story of Walt Disney. The docuseries travels through Walt’s life and the creation of the Disney parks and characters. I wouldn’t call us Disney-obsessed per se, but more like Disney connoisseurs. Walt was a true innovator: passionate, dynamic, and driven. His words have been like a healing balm to my soul and have become some favorite quotes throughout the years. He once said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” I would say if Walt was describing 2020, then he’d be pretty accurate. 2020 has made many of us stop and think—to reevaluate our priorities, and focus on what is most important. Safety, good health, helping others, working hard, learning from various viewpoints, cultures, education, creativity, togetherness, and laughter have been some of the components that we choose as a primary focus.

Thanks to saved gift cards, cashing in points, utilizing Disney hacks from Smart Moms Plan
Disney, cashback programs, selling items online, airline miles, Disney insiders, and specials, we were able to escape to Disney World for a fraction of the cost for my husband’s birthday. (I understand people have their reservations about going to Disney during a pandemic—me being one of them. However, even as a self-proclaimed “germaphobe,” I trusted Disney’s sanitation and social-distancing practices, as well as my mama intuition to help keep my family safe. You choose what is right for you.)

Even with the extreme heaviness of the world, it was comforting to be able to try to set it down for just a little while. When we walked through the gates of Magic Kingdom and were greeted by the beauty of a 30 foot tall Christmas tree, amazing holiday decorations, and the familiarity of our beloved Disney characters serenading us in their wonderful, winter attire, it felt both surreal and comforting. Surreal because Halloween had just ended and familiar because Disney felt like home. Even though we wore masks and sanitized like crazy, and things veered a little off course compared to a “normal” Disney experience, we didn’t really miss a beat. We were blessed with amazing weather, caught all the Disney cavalcades from a great vantage point, caught a glimpse of Santa, and even though they didn’t have fireworks when we attended, we appreciated the incredible holiday projections displayed on Cinderella’s castle. And, oh, the food! Mickey pretzels were a favorite as well as the desserts at Beauty and the Beast’s restaurant. “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious!” True statement!

Here’s what a pandemic itenerary looked like for us on day 1:

Magic Kingdom, Nov 5, 2020, Weather in the 70’s. There was no Fast Past system being utilized during this time and we did not use Rider Swap this go around. 
We left Saratoga Springs Resort on Disney transportation buses at 8:20 am, arrived at Magic Kingdom at 8:45 am, walked right in, and saw Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto on Disney’s railroad platform, waving and everywhere decorated for Christmas. Walked to the rides and at 8:55 we were in line for Snow White’s Mine Train, done 9:20. Said 45 min wait.

My husband and kids walked onto the Little Mermaid ride twice while mama rode Mine Train. Peter Pan Ride was a 5 minute wait. Small World, 10 minutes. Haunted Mansion,  5 minutes. Dumbo, 5 minutes. Goofy’s Barnstormer, 5 minutes (my son’s first rollercoaster).
Tomorrowland Speedway, a 10 minute wait. Winnie the Pooh ride, waited 5-7 minutes. We walked around and got hats, took a sunscreen break and browsed shops. Then we watched the cavalcade parade Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Donald Duck at 11:45, followed by Disney Princesses by Tony’s Restaurant at 12:15. Lunch was at 12:45 at Tony’s “Lady and The Tramp” Italian Restaurant.

In the afternoon we watched the cavalcade with Rabbit, Piglet, and Eeyore at 2 pm. A quick bathroom break and then off to the Buzz Light Year ride. The wait time said 20 minutes, but it was actually less. Then we rode Astro Orbiter after a 7 minute wait, instead of the posted twenty. We even saw Stitch while in that short line.

While my husband rode Space Mountain, the kids and I wanted a Mickey pretzel. Unfortunately, some of the kiosks in Tomorrowland were closed, and Launch Bay that normally sells Mickey pretzels was closed as well, so that was a bummer. By 3:13 pm, I was in line for Space Mountain. The wait time said 20 minutes which was pretty accurate.  Even though the Teacup ride advertised a 5 minute wait, we actually walked on with no wait at all.

After another pit stop at the restroom we watched the 4:10 Cavalcade with Tigger, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and Aladdin. We took a socially distant selfie with Rabbit, Piglet, and Eeyore in front of Crystal Palace. There was no line for the Magic Carpet ride so we walked right on at 4:20. 
For Pirates of the Caribbean, we waited 40 minutes instead of the 30-35 minute posted wait time. Afterwards we took another socially-distanced selfie, this time with Captain Jack Sparrow. 
5:27 pm Magic Carpet ride walk on
5:35 pm Tiki Room show, no wait, just walked in.
5:51 pm Magic Carpet Ride, walk on.
Magic Kingdom Park closed at 6 pm that day.

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either.”

-Walt Disney

The kids maybe took a power nap, but were too excited to sleep that first day! The other visits to Magic Kingdom during the week had similar wait times and beautiful weather. Overall, it was a great way to spend time together and celebrate. Different, yet still magical. No one got sick on the trip and we voluntarily quarantined when we got home to be on the safe side.


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