WDW During a Pandemic

Let me preface this post by apologizing. I meant to get these blog posts out sooner, but the month just got away from me. Anyone else having a hard time believing it’s already September and Fall is finally underway?! I read a tweet earlier that accurately sums up my emotions, “Time flies by when you take two naps a day and contribute absolutely nothing to society.” SAME.

Anyways, this will be the first blog post of a 5 part series. Instead of documenting my whole trip into one long blog post I’ve decided to break it up – one blog post for each of the parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – plus this post regarding our stay at the Swan Hotel and our character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort.

First up our stay at the Swan Hotel!

We drove to Orlando from Louisiana as we didn’t feel completely comfortable hopping on a flight just yet. We checked into the Swan on July 29th. Our trip just happened to align perfectly with the Swan reopening. The 29th was the first day the hotel had reopened for operations since closing in March. This added the benefit that we would be the first guests staying in our rooms, so we felt SUPER safe. Also, the Swan was offering a great discount for Disney World Annual Passholders which is why we decided to stay there instead of a Disney Resort. Overall, we had a great stay and felt super safe and comfortable with all of the guidelines in place.

When we first checked in, the resort was almost dead. We would see other guests around the hotel here and there but not often. The further into our week long stay we saw the crowd levels start to pick up, and it would get crowded in the quick service dining area in the mornings. During pre-covid, I never noticed that area crowded ever, but I think it’s because of the lack of dining options open at the resort. There were only two breakfast options available to guests – one quick service and one sit down, so most people opted for the quick service, but it was easy enough to avoid the crowd if you felt uncomfortable.

A downside of the minimal operations is that the boats that take you from the Swan and Dolphin to Epcot and Hollywood Studios were not running and as of today they are still not. You can either make the walk to both parks, or the resort is offering Mears bus service to and from both park entrances. On that note – transportation. You can take Disney busses to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs. I’m specific when I say Disney vs Mears busses because they are two completely different experiences. On the Disney busses, the cast members assign you to your seat which is social distanced from other guests riding the bus. I felt completely comfortable on those rides. The Mears bus was a different story. So those buses are like the travel buses you take for the Magical Express or race mornings. I expected they would have a safety protocol in place, but you know what happens when you assume… On a return trip from Hollywood Studios, mom and I took a row which was two back from the party in front of us, and we made sure nobody was sitting in the aisle across from us. A family of like 8 sat themselves in every which row in front, behind, and to the side of us and when they sat down they all removed their mask with one of their children sticking their face in between the seats in front of us. I almost had an anxiety attack – when we arrived at the hotel I waited until I was able to get off the bus without being completely surrounded and had to take a few deep breaths. That was probably one of the more stressful situations I felt we had during the whole trip – which is honestly amazing because in reality, it wasn’t that horrendous. Given that we know Mears does not enforce any kind of social distancing on their busses, we will probably choose to make the walk next time. Thankfully, everything else about our stay was great, and we felt super safe and comfortable with our decision to stay there.

On our last park day, we decided to do the character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort. Mom and I had been here previously, and we knew we loved the food, and I was searching for any excuse to be back in the room with Mickey again. The dining check in process has been adjusted to be completely digital. So once my My Disney Experience app location saw I was at the property, I was given the option to check in for our reservation. I checked in as we were walking to the lobby and got the notification our table was ready before we even made it in the doors! Granted we had the first reservation of the morning, so there were not other parties waiting. The tables were spread apart well enough to feel comfortable, and it was not flooded with people so there were tables empty between every party which made us feel a lot safer. The character experience was unique as they are not stopping at tables or really coming close at all. They do their song and dance around the restaurant, and they stop in the main four corners. Thankfully, we were right near a corner, so I was able to get some great selfies, but a family inwards was having difficulty because the characters aren’t really supposed to stop. The food was as good as normal, and the experience was as best as it could be during this time. Would we do it again? Not sure if it’s worth it until a more personalized experience comes back, but it is a great chance to see the characters a little closer, take in some great views, and eat delicious food!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences at the Swan Hotel and Topolino’s Terrace! In the next post, I’ll be discussing our experience at each of the different parks. As always, thank you for reading and your support!

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