I Visited Disney World as the Coronavirus Was on the Rise and Didn't See Many Differences

Unsplash / Lo Sarno

As travel is being disrupted by the spread of the coronavirus, be sure to follow the advice of the CDC (including washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with people) and any travel advisories and restrictions currently in place.

Update: As of March 27, Walt Disney World Resort announced it will remain closed until further notice. This includes resorts, theme parks, and Disney Springs.

Update: As of March 12, Walt Disney World Resort announced it will be closing March 16 through the end of the month. In a statement, Disney said they were proceeding with the closure “in an abundance of caution.” Disney Resorts will remain open until further notice. Disney Springs will also remain open at this time.

Update: As of March 12, Disneyland Resort announced it will be closing March 14 through the end of the month, though there were no reported cases of COVID-19 at the parks. The hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16, so guests can make necessary travel arrangements. There has been no announcement made about Disney World closing at this time.

Original Story: My family and I just came back from a trip to Disney World. Despite the coronavirus threat, my husband, our two children (ages 5 and 7), and my parents (ages 71 and 84) decided to not cancel our trip.

We’re from Michigan, and at the time – we were at Disney from March 1 to 8 – there were no confirmed cases of the virus in our state and only a handful in Florida. While we were aware that we could come into contact with someone infected with the virus at the airport or even on the plane, we made the decision that there wasn’t enough information yet to warrant changing our plans. We did take a few precautions (we were traveling with two people at a higher risk of being severely affected by the virus), but overall, we felt confident enough in our health. On our travels to and from Disney World, and despite the developing news (while we were at our destination, the situation began to escalate in Italy and Washington State), I was surprised that this trip felt similar to others we’ve taken as a family.

What It Was Like at the Airports

When we arrived at the airport for our departing flight, I noticed everything seemed normal. Walking through the airport, we saw no travelers or TSA agents wearing masks. There were also no wipes or extra hand sanitizer pumps placed around the check-in counters or at the gates. Many airlines have since implemented procedures to help stop the spread of potential illness, like wearing gloves during in-flight service, increasing cleaning, or suspending hot-towel services, but on March 1 and March 8, everything felt and looked the same to me.

What It Was Like in the Airplane

Upon boarding our plane to Florida, again, things weren’t much different than what they’re usually like. Our plane did not seem extra clean. Honestly, it felt a little dirty, so my mother took her wipes out and was sure to wipe down all areas around us: the trays, seatbelts, and arm rests. Once we settled in, our flight attendants (who did not wear any masks or gloves) made no mention of coronavirus. The meal service was per usual, and we did not use the bathrooms, so I cannot report on the cleanliness of those. On the flight to Orlando, we saw only one person wearing a mask on our plane. On the plane back to Michigan, we also saw only one person wearing a mask.

What It Was Like at Disney World

Disney World also felt as I would have expected, had this not been going on. Crowds of people swarmed to stand in the long lines for every attraction. I didn’t see any extra cleaning being done on the rides or out and about in the parks but did see cleaning being done in the bathrooms and restaurants. The parks seemed clean enough (it is Disney World, after all!), but nothing out of the ordinary. When I was there, I didn’t spot any extra hand sanitizer dispensers, either. However, I know in the last few days, Disney has shared how they’re responding to coronavirus: frequent cleaning and disinfection, easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer, quick response to spills, end-of-day sanitization, and frequent cleaning and wash down of outdoor areas. So things might have changed since my visit.

How We Stayed Healthy

I’m not usually overly cautious about germs, so I didn’t even think to brings wipes or hand sanitizer. Luckily, my mom did. She stocked up before we left, and brought the supplies to the parks every day. She didn’t wipe the rides down when we all went on them, but she did take them out to wipe the kids’ hands periodically throughout the day. She also took them into the bathrooms with her to wipe everything down. Otherwise, I made sure my kids followed proper handwashing procedure and tried to keep them from touching their faces as much as possible.

My Final Thoughts on the Trip

As coronavirus continues to spread, I would imagine the mandated cleanliness procedures will change even more, but my experience traveling to Disney World, from the airport to the plane to the park, certainly felt like any other trip I’ve taken with my family. If the spike continues to rise in the United States, I doubt I would still take the trip – the health and safety of my family is always my top priority. But our family did decide to make the big Disney trip earlier this month, and I’m glad we did. My dad is 84, and this was his big gift to my children. Now my kids will have these memories with their grandfather – a gift that is priceless.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written by a POPSUGAR contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of POPSUGAR Inc. Interested in joining our POPSUGAR Voices network of contributors from around the globe? Click here.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.

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