What Orlando, Florida Theme Parks are Really Like During a pandemic

My Experience: My family and I visited Orlando, FL at the beginning of February 2021 during the Corona-virus pandemic. My husband and I had previously traveled during December 2020 & January 2021 via plane so we knew what to expect in that regard. Many airlines are doing a great job at enforcing pandemic protocols and our travel experience to Orlando was no exception. For more details, (View my previous post on traveling during a Pandemic.) However, I was a little anxious about how the theme park visits would go during our trip. We visited the following theme parks: Epcot, Magic Kingdom & Universal Studios Orlando.

I’m sharing my opinions below separated by park and how my personal experience was in order to help you decide if visiting Orlando during the pandemic is right for you. Everyone has their own risk tolerances and can decide based on their own health situation what’s best for them and their travel partners. I do highly recommend testing for COVID-19 before and after travel to eliminate any risk to the general public & your loved ones.

Right now, Disney is limiting capacity to 35% (FL regulations state 50% is permitted). Once you purchase your tickets, you will need to also make a reservation for the day you plan to visit the specific park to ensure you’re able to visit on your desired day. Another notable difference is that fast pass services at the time I visited weren’t available.

Disney (Epcot):

This theme park was the least crowded. If I based my decision solely on this theme park, I definitely felt comfortable being at this theme park in Orlando even during a pandemic. With capacity being limited it was nice to have a smaller crowd and shorter wait times for food & rides. But, also keep in mind some restaurants, shops, and attractions were closed or not available.  

We visited during the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts (January 8-February 22, 2021.) We sampled many different food & beverage items throughout our day. 

By far my favorite was the Epcot World Showcase. It represents unique architecture and food from 11 different countries throughout the world. It truly transported me to the UK & France. If there’s one thing I’ve missed so greatly during the pandemic, it’s European adventures!

Disney was great at enforcing COVID rules. Masking was required while not actively eating & drinking. You also have to stop and be stationary to eat or drink. Spoiler alert: you won’t be able to walk and have a drink unless you plan on stopping when actually drinking. If staff members catch you not following these guidelines, they will definitely call you out! Due to limited crowds, we never had an issue finding a table to enjoy our food & drinks at a distance from others.

Disney (Magic Kingdom)

As we entered the Magic Kingdom, at an area where people frequently take pictures there were even staff members holding signs reminding everyone to not remove their masks for photographs.

The crowds here were larger but still manageable. I did notice many restaurants weren’t operating. Another notable difference is the fact that character interactions weren’t as personal to support reduced contact. It was more of a “drive by” or parade style experience. 

There were hand sanitizer stations abundant in main areas & before as well as after rides. In lines, there are markers for your parties to stay distanced from each other while waiting.

While we didn’t experience it as much at Epcot, many food services you were required to mobile order via the app then once you arrive you alert them on the app and then pick up the food once you receive a notification that it’s ready. If you’re visiting Magic Kingdom, I highly recommend downloading the app prior to arriving.

Overall, I was happy with the experience at both Disney Parks that we visited and their accommodations for the pandemic.

Universal Studios Orlando:

My experience at Universal Studios was vastly different than Disney. They were offering Express Pass tickets (which sadly we didn’t purchase!) I would recommend shelling out the extra money to maximize your time regardless if you visit during the pandemic or not. 

They are limiting capacity but haven’t published what % it is. In my opinion, at times made it feel really dicey. Especially in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where there were a lot of smaller areas that seemed too crowded. There were many instances where we were way too close for comfort to others in shops. 

It wasn’t as bad in other parts of the park. But, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was extremely crowded. If you are worried about COVID travel and really want to see this part of the theme park I honestly would wait to go.

Overall, Universal had distancing in ride lines mapped out and some hand sanitizing stations. It wasn’t horrible but in my opinion it could be better especially with capacity and limiting the number of people that can enter the theme park each day.

Keep in mind, the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is ever changing. The above opinions are mine based on my recent experience.

If you have specific questions regarding traveling during the pandemic please use the following links for the most up to date information:  

Travel Guidelines

Disney World COVID-19

Universal Orlando COVID-19

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