Magic Kingdom during a pandemic - is it worth it?
Walk into Magic Kingdom at park open on any given day in early 2021 and you may feel like you are entering the twilight zone. Where are the crowds of happy families? Snap a few pictures walking down Main Street USA and marvel about the day you're about to have without crowds at the happiest place on earth. You've made the best decision! Best time to go to Disney World ever! Your husband might even crack a smile.
Stay for a few hours and you may think to yourself, "What am I doing here! I have been so cautious during this pandemic, and now I'm around all these people from all over the world. What have I done?"
What you may not realize is that Disney is utilizing all outdoor space possible to socially distance the lines. So even though the park capacity is still 35%, everyone is outside! You have a 6 foot bubble around your family at all times while waiting for an attraction. That means the Splash Mountain line could be wrapped all the way to Adventureland.
If you haven't been around people for awhile like us, anxiety might come over you after you see your children touching railings, climbing things, and the cartwheel they perform as you walk into Tomorrowland will make you want to cringe. "Best day ever!" they will exclaim in excitement as you reach for the hand sanitizer out of your trusty fanny pack.
When you look at the MyDisneyExperience app, you may notice that many of the wait times are high. This is on par with what you're seeing in front of you (people everywhere!). That smile your husband cracked a few hours ago is now long gone, and he's threatening to fire your travel agent. But Disney hasn't quite perfected the wait time estimates in the app, and they look way higher than they are!
My family visited Magic Kingdom Park on Thursday, January 7, 2021 and this was our experience with attraction wait times.
8:15 a.m. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Published Wait: 25 minutes, Actual 11 minutes
8:30 a.m. Space Mountain Published Wait: 30 minutes, Actual 13 minutes Ariel's Grotto Published Wait: 20 minutes, Actual 7 minutes
Between 9:30 and noon we were able to do all attractions in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Well, except Dumbo because "that's for babies, mama." After lunch, we walked right on Haunted Mansion. At 1:30 p.m. we got in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which had a published wait of 55 minutes. This was the most accurate wait time we had all day. We waited 50 minutes for this attraction.
We needed a break after all that waiting, and did a quick mobile order at Aloha Isle for Dole Whips. Mobile ordering was very fast and efficient! It took about 10 minutes to place and then pick up the order.
By 5 p.m. the line for Splash Mountain had a published wait of 45 minutes. We were able to ride it 3 times in 45 minutes! At the end of the day, Space Mountain was showing a 55 minute wait, and we waited a solid 45 minutes. At this point my kids were hanging on the railing, trying to sit down, and touching everything in sight! Disney has a hand sanitize station literally every 20 feet. They are everywhere! As we were walking out for the evening, one of my girls said, "But mama, we can't leave yet, we haven't seen the fireworks show!" So some of the magic is definitely missing, but we have never been able to walk on so many rides in Magic Kingdom in one day! The parades are always a highlight for us, but the calvacades were fun, too. We saw all the princesses and Mickey and friends several times during our day.
So the question remains, "is it worth it to visit Disney World right now?" I feel that is such a personal decision! We felt safe with the sanitizing protocols, and the cast members who were strictly enforcing mask wearing. I didn't see a single person not wearing their mask over their face and mouth during my day at Magic Kingdom.
If you are the type of family who wants to plan ONE trip to Disney for your kids to remember, this is probably not your year. But if you visit Disney World every year or every few years, I would not skip this year! We hope to visit at least one more time in 2021! The promotions are fantastic right now, some of the best I have ever seen! If you're looking to add some Disney magic to your life, send me an e-mail! I'd love to get the planning process started.