We did it. We left the house and we went to EPCOT. Save your judgment for the end. I’ll give you all my thoughts just hang with me!
Let’s start with some basics here. Our family has an annual pass. It will expire soon, and we will probably let it. As much as it breaks my heart. We also live two hours away and can drive to Orlando. We had already visited some of the resorts earlier this summer, which you can read about here, and had a good experience. We decided for a day trip to Epcot with the stipulation if it felt too busy we would leave.
I am going to start at the beginning in case you have not been keeping up with the changes Disney has made for increased safety.
When we arrived, about an hour after opening, there we quite a few cars waiting to drive through to parking. Not what I was expecting to see. The cars were parked in everyother row. So from the get go you were spaced out. There was no tram to ride to the front of the park. So plan ahead for that.
Everyone was guided toward the screening tents to have your temperature scanned. We did have to wait about seven minutes in line for this. Everyone had their temperature checked and if you were a little warm they had cool down tents available. These tents had a fan and chairs as well as some cool water. They will then re-check your temperature. If you are not used to Florida summer, I could see how you may be warm. All along the way, they had markers for you to stand on so you could maintain social distance.
Security was also a new set up. We were asked to remove metal water bottles, aerosol containers ( think spray sunscreen), and umbrellas. Next, you would pass through a metal detector with your bags in hand or on your back. It was actually a much faster process than before.
From here you line up to enter the parks. Again they had plenty of markers on the ground to spread out. You still tapped your magic band or park ticket to enter, just without the fingerprint component.
So let’s talk about the changes to the park experience. First and foremost Epcot as a park is a big construction mess of walls. Several shops and restaurants are still closed. No Character dining.
The major changes and things we missed because our boys love them are kid-friendly activities. No pin trading in the parks. No playgrounds or interactive activities. When I say interactive activities I mean all the games as you exit Spaceship Earth or at the exit of Mission Space.
No KidCot stations as you travel the world showcase. If you don’t know what Kid Cot is take a detour and check out this article by Nicole. The kids were able to pick up the suitcase at one location. In the little ziplock suitcase were all the cards and stickers, so you only have to make one stop. You can not stop and color in each county as before. This makes sense for three reasons: 1. Most of the international staff are gone. So they can’t write your name in their language or teach you a new word, 2. less interaction with others and 3. no sharing of markers!
Because I always have crayons in my park bag we made our own little kidcot stations as we traveled the world showcase trying new foods.
No character meet and greets. They had an ongoing “cavalcade” of characters riding in cars throughout the park. You will know when they are coming as the volume of music goes up and the style changes. There are also some characters who popup around future world. You can stand in front of them from a distance and snap a picture.
First off, NO fast passes. Everyone waits in line. The lines are very spaced out, but since the park is at lower capacity, the lies are relatively short. Some of the rides look different. Living with the land and Soarin’ both had physical barriers separating the seating areas/rows on the ride. In addition to this many rides spread people out. For example, the first and last row only were filled on the Three Caballeros ride in Mexico.
When waiting in line many of the queues with multiple switchbacks had six-foot-high barriers so you would never have to pass close by to someone. If you are prone to feeling claustrophobic then this may not be appealing.
We saw some Cast Members holding industrial-looking spray bottles to disinfect ride vehicles with after departure. By industrial I mean it looks like something the exterminator would carry.
Yes, you have to wear masks. Yes, it was ridiculously hot. You can take them off if you are actively eating or drinking. However, you can’t sip and stroll in the park. you need to pull over the side and remain stationary if you want to eat. There was a relaxation station where you can sit in AC and take your mask off for a bit at the Akerhus restaurant near the Frozen ride.
We did see some indoor entertainment open. The Awesome planet movie and Impressions de France were running. We did not go to any of these on our visit. We did however stop to see the Mariachi band play at the American Pavillion in a nearly empty amphitheater. They are so great and it was nice to sit and enjoy them without fighting the crowds to see. The Jaminators also play here.
On a side note, it was sort of sad to not hear the pounding of the drums from Japan or the sounds of our favorite band from the UK at we walked around the world showcase. I hope they eventually come back to Epcot.
Overall I was glad to be back. However, Epcot did lose some of its shine for me. Would I get on a plane to visit this version of Disney? Probably not. Will I return? Yes. Our passes now expire in October and I am ok ( ish) with that. We have a few trips planned before October. Did I feel safe at Epcot? Relatively yes. Although no place is really completely safe now? Am I right?