The day is finally here. A day I didn’t think was going to happen this year. I already canceled 2 trips to Walt Disney World this year.
One in May…… well Disney canceled that one. I canceled another in early August since I didn’t feel comfortable paying all that money for half an experience. I ended up doing a Pandemic road trip.
Well less than a week ago I decided to book a flight and Disney vacation. I did it for two reasons. One I was seeing the empty parks and low ride times. The second reason was because of everything I learned on my Pandemic Road Trip.
The virus is out there but if you follow the advice you can keep yourself and family safe. Wear your mask. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing.
So far I have followed all the advice and have kept myself safe. Besides I work in a building where social distancing is not a thing. We had over a hundred cases in the beginning and I was lucky enough not to catch it. I even self-isolated myself from my daughter and family to keep them safe during the height of it. Now it was time to get back to a somewhat normal life. As normal as we can get with masks and social distancing.
Three in the morning comes pretty early as you would guess. Our bags were packed the night before so all we had to do was wake up and head to the Philadelphia International Airport for our 05:55 am boarding time.
Of course, the drive to the airport was easy. Not a lot of traffic that early in the morning. We arrived and parked in one of the parking garages and made our way to security.
Getting through security wasn’t an issue. Just had to remember to empty your pockets. Take out all electronics and can’t forget to take off your shoes. I forgot to empty my pockets as I usually do. Of course, I got a nasty look from a TSA guy who was waiting for me. What can I say I don’t travel through airports at all!
Once we made it past security we headed to our gate and waited for our flight to start boarding. We overpaid for water and unsweetened tea and just waited. The time seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, it was time to start boarding. Plus this whole time my daughter didn’t know she was going to Walt Disney World. She thought we were going to Texas.
Our time to board came and by 06:00 am we were in our seats waiting for everyone else to get on. It was a pretty full flight too. I only noticed a handful of seats around us that were empty.
Our flight left on time (maybe even a couple of minutes early) and our flight was a smooth one. We also got a nice surprise with a beautiful sunrise coming up over the Atlantic Ocean as we were cruising 30,000 feet in the air.
Now our flight was scheduled to land at 08:55 am. By 08:30 we were landing. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my Pandemic Disney Trip.
So far everything was great. Boarded on time. The flight took off on time. The flight landed early. Could I ask for anything more? No, no I really couldn’t.
Now like I said this whole time my daughter thought we were headed to Texas but she was wondering why we landed in Orlando. As we headed towards the Magic Express I told her we were headed to Disney.
Her eyes got so big and said “REALLY!!!!” She was just filled with so much joy. I knew at that moment I made the right choice by surprising her instead of telling her a day or two before.
We ended up getting on the Magic Express with no wait and there were 4 other families on the bus as well. On the bus, they were skipping two rows of seats between groups. Plus you would see markings on the floor that were spaced out 6 feet apart. Of course, we also saw plenty of signs reminding you to wear a mask and keep your distance.
We were at our resort (POP Century) around 09:15 and checked in and dropped off our bags until our room was ready. Before we even left I already did the check in on the Disney app. However, since I just booked the vacation less than a week ago we had to go to the front desk to picked up our magic bands. Once we had our magic bands and dropped off our bags we headed towards the buses to head on over to the Magic Kingdom.
We took a bus over to the Magic Kingdom like many families do that fly into Orlando. We didn’t rent a car so I would be relying on Disney transportation to get to the theme parks and Disney Springs. Due to the current environment, they are only filling the buses by no more than 50%.
We were able to get on the bus with no problem. My daughter and I were the last two guests on the bus and it pulled off heading towards the Magic Kingdom.
Once we arrived at the Magic Kingdom we had to go get our temperature checked. I was a little concerned with the temperature check just because of the Florida heat. You are sitting on a bus with the ac blasting so there really isn’t any effect on your temp because of the Florida sun.
I really didn’t know what to expect when we got to the temp check tents. I figured there would be a long line or something. There wasn’t. You just walk up to one of the temp takers and they aim the thermometer at your forehead. It was really simple and easy. Plus it only took a second.
After we got our temps checked we headed to bag check. Right now they are not checking bags unless you set off the metal detectors. You have to hold things like metal water bottles, umbrellas, and cameras in front of you but pretty much everything else can stay in your bag.
Bag check used to be such a pain. I always felt like I grabbed the wrong line. Now we didn’t have that problem.
After bag check, we went to get our magic bands scanned and were able to head right into the Magic Kingdom. No fingerprint scanner at this time due to COVID. When you scan your band they are checking to make sure you have a ticket AND a theme park reservation for that park for that day. Right now really isn’t a problem getting a theme park reservation for any of the four parks. Weekends fill up a little faster but it appears there is plenty of room. I am sure that will change in the coming months as more and more people take the risk to travel.
Now, we were into the Magic Kingdom by 10 am. From the time we landed at MCO to when we took our first steps on Main Street USA it was only an hour and a half later. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it and not what it used to be.
We took our time down Main Street. It was an odd feeling walking down Main Street and not being shoulder to shoulder. We took some pictures of the castle. Took some pictures of the emptiness of the park. Sure there are plenty of people all around but nowhere what it used to be.
At this point, we were very hungry. We had a small snack that we brought on the plane but other than that we didn’t eat. So we were on the lookout for some food but we also wanted to ride some rides.
We jumped on Peter Pan which only had a 5 minute listed wait. It was a walk-on. All we did was walk through the queue. Now if you don’t know Peter Pan would normally have 45 minutes or longer waits before the Coronavirus Pandemic.
After Peter Pan, we walked across to it’s a small world. Now we probably should have waited till later to go on this ride since I had that song stuck in my head for a couple of hours after this. But hey, it’s a classic ride that you have to do at least once on your Magic Kingdom day.
After we learned that it’s a small world after all we placed a mobile order at Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn. Now, this is one of my favorite places to eat in the Magic Kingdom. The food is always delicious.
This time was no different. My daughter got the mac and cheese and I got the beef nachos. Now the toppings bar is currently not available but they did give me a plate with lettuce and tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, and a few other things. I am not sure what usually comes with the nachos but it was nice to still be able to get the “extras”.
Once we finished lunch it was time to hit up as many rides as we could do. Most of the wait times I was seeing were between 5 and 15 minutes. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Pirates were the only 2 I noticed that had a 25 minute or longer wait around 11 am. Splash Mountain was currently down and would stay that way for the rest of our time we visited today.
We stepped outside to head over to Big Thunder Mountain but was quickly stopped. One of the “pop” up parades had started and been making their way through Frontierland. It definitely sucks that you can’t meet any of the characters right now. However, this was a nice little thing that did add that touch of Disney Magic.
Between 11 and 12 we managed to do Big Thunder Mountain, Jungle Crusie, and Pirates. After we did a couple of rides it was time for a snack. Now to me, there is no better snack in the Magic Kingdom than a Citrus swirl float at Sunshine tree terrace. Now the girl got my order wrong but I was still able to enjoy a citrus swirl in a cup. Boy was it worth it. It is the perfect flavor combo.
After our snack, we started heading over to Tomorrowland but wanted to walk by Seven Drawfs Mine Train just to see how long the line was. Above the ride, it had a 25-minute wait listed. However, I overheard one of the cast members telling another guest that it was more like a 15-minute wait. We decided to jump in line and wait it out. After all, we both love this ride and even 25 minutes wasn’t a long wait.
Pre Pandemic we would only wait in a line if it was under 30 minutes. During the Pandemic it looked like all rides today were under 30 minutes. For our wait, today was about 15 minutes. The line kept moving and it never really stopped.
Once we got to the loading area they were just filling the first, middle, and last car. When it was our time to get our spot we and the first car. Now the first car doesn’t seem to go fast at all but it feels like it moves side to side more than the other cars. I don’t know if that is really the case or not but that’s what it feels like to me.
Our ride with Snow White was over and we just hopped in line like Tigger onto The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Ride. We could have jumped back in line for 7DMT but we wanted to do other things too. It was our first day and we always go to Disney Springs so we wanted to make sure we did that.
After we got off the Winnie the Pooh ride we finally made our way to Tomorrowland. Once there we rode the Tomorrowland Speedway twice and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We also could have easily done Space Mountain since all day it was showing a 5 to 10-minute wait. However, I am a bigger guy and that ride is a little tough on my knees so we skipped it.
Once we left Tomorrowland we headed to do Dumbo. Now Dumbo is my mom’s favorite ride and my daughter loves it too. It was just a walk-on ride. We ended up doing it 3 times in a row! Then we headed over to The Barnstormer kid’s coaster. This too was just a walk-on ride. After she had her thrill on the Barnstormer, I let her go on and ride Dumbo one more time.
After the fourth ride on Dumbo, we headed towards the Little Mermaid ride but first I wanted to stop in the gift shop.
Sadly, Big Top Souvenirs was closed. This is my go-to spot for caramel apples, fudge, cookies, and everything else. I guess Main Street Bakery will have to do. Even though I was a little disappointed we had to move on.
The sky was getting darker and you just knew it was going to rain very soon. We had to get in line for an attraction and fast. Luckily, we were only a minute away from Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Just like almost every other ride at the Magic Kingdom on this Thursday. It was a walk-on. All we had to do was walk and keep ourselves 6 feet from the group in front of us.
Now the Little Mermaid ride in the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite rides. I like it because once you get to the inside part of the queue it is nice a cool. I am usually sweating badly at the theme parks. It’s just so hot and humid. It’s nice to cool down. It just cools your whole body down. From the queue to the ride. Sometimes you can even feel a little cold. It’s great!
Now when we got off the ride there was only one other ride we wanted to get on before we left for the day. That ride was the Haunted Mansion. This was another ride we were able to just walk-on. I also must say it was weird not having the “pre” show. Having that pre-show really helps your eyes adjust to the darkness. Let me tell you it is really dark in there. But hey, it goes with the theming great.
You want to have that spooky feeling. Just right now you don’t want anyone you don’t know touching you.
So we rode all the rides we wanted to ride this day and it wasn’t even 4 yet. At this point, I was thinking I made the right choice to come to Walt Disney World. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of things that suck about WDW right now (read about them here), but on this first day I was pretty happy with my decision.
|Haunted Mansion||Barnstormer||Tomorrowland Speedway x2||Dumbo x4|
|Peter Pan||It’s a small world||Winnie the Pooh||Little Mermaid|
|Buzz Lightyear’s Space ranger spin||Pirates||Big Thunder Mountain||Jungle Cruise|
|Seven Dwarfs Mine Train|
We headed out of the Magic Kingdom and walked towards the buses. Now our bus was at number 26. I remember thinking “great even with most of the resorts open they are putting our bus all the way at the end”.
However, my thinking was wrong. Sure it wasn’t in the first row of buses but in the second and even though it was in the second loop of buses it was the very first one to get to. No long dreaded walk back to the bus. Even better for us was a bus was already there and waiting.
We hopped on the bus and within minutes it was heading back to the resort. All we had to do was get off the bus and head to our room. I got a message around noon that our room was ready so I knew where we were going and that our bags would be waiting for us in the room.
We had a first-floor room in the 70s section of POP Century. I had asked for a 70s building and high floor as my room request. I also said that having the room ready early was more important than meeting my request. Hey, I did get one of my requests so that was nice.
For a more in-depth look at POP Century resort check out my post. I just love POP. From the location to the Skyliner to there own buses (POP doesn’t share buses like the All-Star resorts). Plus all the rooms are updated and have nice hardwood floors instead of carpet. A really nice touch especially now due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Wood floors are much easier to sanitize than carpet.
Now we didn’t spend too much time at the resort. We wanted to just check out the room and make sure our bags made it to the room. Everything was there and like I said the room was amazing.
Now it was time to head to Disney Springs for a little shopping and to get dinner.
Now I always visit Disney Springs on my first day in Orlando. Of course, I usually drive and spend my first night outside of Disney property so a visit to Disney Springs helps get me in the Disney Vacation state of mind. It’s Disney but not in your face Disney.
Our first stop was the World of Disney. I wanted to get an idea of what they have in the store so I wouldn’t need to get it or forget it when I was at the different theme parks. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom we would only be spending one day in each park.
The World of Disney in Disney Springs is huge. They have just about anything Disney related you could be looking for. From mugs to t-shirts, to toys, and anything else you can think of. I could easily spend an hour looking around.
OH, and if you are a fan of The Child AKA Baby Yoda. You will want to visit World of Disney at Disney Springs for the vast selection of merch. So many different things you can pick up. T-shirts, Loungefly Backpacks, cups, mugs, bibs. So much to list. So much to see.
Once we left the World of Disney we headed over to the Lego store to see what new ideas they had. It was so sad when we walked into the store to see all the fun stuff was currently gone. No chance of building your own mini-figures. No kids building cars. Heck, you couldn’t even go over and do the pick a brick. The store just looked so empty in the middle with everything missing. It’s times like that when I can’t wait till things get back to normal.
After we checked out the Lego store we decided to order from Deluxe Burger. It was the right pick. I ended up getting a burger and fries and my daughter went with the chicken nuggets. Both of our meals were delicious. We even ordered a chocolate shake.
Yummy. That shake was so good. They only thing that sucked…… paper straws. I really do hate the paper straws and I forgot my metal ones back in the room. Forgetting my metal straws became a common thing on this trip.
It didn’t really impact us too badly. We still enjoyed our dinner and we still had fun.
After we ate we took another walk around Disney Springs to see if we noticed any other changes. Other than markings on the ground, signs reminding you to wear a mask, and fewer people. Not much seemed to change at Disney Springs.
We also stopped in a few more stores. Of course, we had to stop at the pin trading store. Now I don’t trade pins but I do collect them. Pins are one of the things I buy everywhere I go. I have a nice little board set up that displays all the different pins I’ve gotten from around the US.
We finished shopping and made our way to the buses. Now unlike at Magic Kingdom, the bus for POP at Disney Springs is far. Of course, we missed that first bus and had to wait around 15 minutes for the next. As we were waiting the line started to fill up. By the time the bus came, there must have been 8 or 9 groups waiting. Unfortunately, a few of those groups would be waiting longer.
We arrived back at our room around 8 pm. My daughter wanted to go swimming and we could have and we did but since we were up at 3 am It was going to be a quick dip. We had a long, eventful day. I walked 24,634 steps on this day. My legs were tired and tomorrow we would visit Hollywood Studios and Galaxy’s Edge. Something we both were looking forward to.
I hope you come back tomorrow and follow along with day 2 of our Pandemic Disney Trip. Have you taken a trip to Walt Disney World during the Pandemic? Let us know what your thoughts and feels were. Also let us know if you are planning on booking your own Disney Pandemic Vacation.
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