We just returned from a week in Florida visiting our oldest daughter. She has been a cast member at Walt Disney World for several years, so this is a trip we take often. This year, however, things were a little bit different. Not bad, just different.
Here are a few changes we noticed throughout our vacation:
- Yes- masks are required in airports and on aircraft. Seems simple enough, right? I mean- we’ve been doing this for over a year. Unfortunately, it also seems like people have figured out some shortcuts to following rules. I didn’t see it during our flights, but the airports were a different story. No employee in sight- no masks. Entire families stood around without so much as a mask hanging off their ears! Other people took masks down and leaned around the Plexiglass to talk to airline employees! Then, there were the fake masks, like the pretty rhinestone ones that are really just a bunch of camouflaged holes. Gaiters? C’mon. This isn’t new, people.
- We usually stay on the Disney property but chose to stay at a Marriott resort because we had some free nights to use before they expired. The most significant change here was with housekeeping. Staff wasn’t allowed inside rooms. It really wasn’t a big deal at all, though. We simply set our towels and trash in the halls each day, quickly taken away by staff. We requested any toiletries and linens from the front desk. Easy! Honestly, we liked this process.
- Capacity at Disney Parks is still limited, which meant that crowds were not an issue. Fast Passes aren’t available but also not needed. Wait times were not bad at all. It was also lovely to stroll through the parks without bumping into others with every step.
- Mobile ordering for food and beverages at the parks was a must. Use the My Disney Experience app. Easy and efficient. There are still smaller shops available for certain snacks and drinks.
- Many shops and restaurants are closed throughout the parks. No worries- there are enough to handle your needs. Even with some limited options, you will not go hungry, and you will find all of those souvenirs!
- While there aren’t the true Meet-and-Greet times or parades with characters, you will see Mickey and friends throughout the parks. They randomly show up to wave from behind barriers or from balconies. Instead of the big parades, smaller cavalcades come down the paths at unscheduled times. Keep your eyes open- you’ll see your favorite characters!
- Contactless payments were necessary almost everywhere we went during our vacation- from playing in the parks to shopping at the outlets to restaurants. Leave your cash at home.
- Lots and lots of Plexiglass! It’s there to protect you and the staff. As I mentioned earlier- don’t pull down the mask and lean around it to talk to the workers. They can hear you! Keep them safe.
- There’s some bad behavior happening out there. The folks blatantly ignoring mask rules is just one example. Many places- especially in restaurants and airports- were short-staffed. Sadly, I was surprised at the rude ways some folks talked to people just trying to do their jobs in challenging situations. A lady at the airport gift shop said that she cried earlier that day after a customer continued to curse and yell at her because his flight had a weather delay. Have a little patience. Be kind. Or stay home!
Is traveling a little different right now? Sure. That’s okay. It’s still a wonderful experience. Disney World is still magical. Florida is still warm and sunny. The travel industry is still doing an incredible job despite the restrictions. People are still awesome. Get out there! Maybe you’ll visit Disney like we did. Maybe the mountains are more your vibe. Go ahead- travel again!
Thanks for sharing your observations, and for giving me a slice of life from Florida! Am Malaysian so I don’t think I’ll have much opportunity to see much of your end of the world, especially with no answer to the pandemic yet. Anyway, thanks for this post!
Hi Stuart! Thanks for your response. I’m glad you got to see a little bit of what travel is like in this part of the world. COVID restrictions still need to be in place but the vaccines are helping us to start doing more normal things- like travel- again. Stay well!