Hi friends! I am so excited to share our experience at Walt Disney World during the Covid-19 crisis with you. I plan on writing a series of 3 blogs about our experience. This first one is going to be a general overview of our trip and why we went on it to begin with. The second will focus on safety, what was done great, and things we missed. And the third will be more of a generalized blog about travel right now. Thanks for reading, watching our vlogs and following along in our journey! Let’s dive in!
First of all, I know not everyone understands our love of travel, especially to Disney World, especially during a pandemic. We were asked a number of times – why do you need to go to Disney World right now? Why is it important to you? Haven’t you seen the spike in numbers in Florida? You know you’ll have to quarantine for 2 weeks when you get back.
Through all the skepticism, though, my husband and I both felt this was the right decision for 3 main reasons:
Reason 1: Because We Needed Something Positive In Our Life
Our family is going through a very tough time right now, facing illness after illness with different family members. Our hotel business is suffering and continues to suffer, my travel agent business is almost at zero because of the lack of people traveling. Every day is filled with bad news, a lot of tears, and a lot of stress. I know a LOT of people are going through the same things. A lot of people are trying to find the positives in life. A lot of people are losing jobs, losing businesses, and wondering how to make it to the next day. It is not easy for anyone right now. However, despite all of that, we are adults. As adults, we should be able to handle the storms as they come and persevere to keep moving forward.
Children, on the other hand, should be allowed to be children. They shouldn’t have to hear about how many people have Covid-19 everyday, or if they’ll ever get to actually play with their friends again. They shouldn’t have to worry about “adult” things. They should just be allowed to be kids.
Even though, as parents, we try to shelter our kids from all the bad in the world, it is surrounding them right now. Why? Because it’s surrounding us, and also because they can’t do anything. They can’t go to school, they can’t go to camps, they can’t go to church. They have nothing to look forward to because they don’t know what’s going to happen next. Yes, we have done everything possible for our kids to have a “normal” summer. We’ve gone to the beach, visited our ranch and been with family as much as possible.
But here’s the thing – we were supposed to go to Disney World and a Disney Cruise in May. We had been planning this for a year and a half. Cancelled. We were supposed to go to Disney World in October with our family. Cancelled due to our annual hotel convention getting cancelled. With trips cancelled, camps cancelled, church cancelled, group get togethers cancelled, it gets to be a lot. And for an adult, we understand the full picture and can convince ourselves there’s always next year. For a child, who’s world is in the here and the now, this is devastating. So, we booked our trip to Disney World to celebrate Lulu’s 7th Birthday. We kept the trip. We went on the trip. And it was everything we needed.
Reason 2: Because We Knew Disney Would Do Everything Right In Keeping Guests Safe
I plan to write another blog about all the safety procedures Disney has put into place, so you’ll have to wait until that blog to see the details. But, I will scratch the surface by saying that I felt safer at Disney than I do at the grocery store or even a family gathering in a way. I felt safe because every single person there, guests and cast members, had a mask on and respected the people around them. I felt safe because I was never close to another human being outside my party. I felt safe because I personally witnessed rides getting shut down and deep cleaned. I felt safe because everything was being done right. More to come in Blog Number 2.
Reason 3: Because It’s Our Happy Place
When you’re feeling down, or sad, or just having a hard time, don’t you want to escape to your happy place? We have a few places we call our happy place – the beach, our ranch, and Disney World. We’ve been to the first two this summer, but we needed that third place to round us out. If you’re a Disney skeptic reading this, I am positive you are rolling your eyes right now, and may even stop reading. And that’s okay! I promise you I don’t understand everything about what makes you happy and you don’t have to understand me either.
But, on our last night in Magic Kingdom, we booked a late dining reservation at Tony’s, which is close to the entrance of Magic Kingdom, adjacent to Main Street USA. The park closed at 7 and we finished eating around 8. We walked outside to an empty Main Street. We took some amazing pictures in front of the newly painted castle, and just soaked in the emptiness of the park. Then, the lights came on, lighting up Main Street and Cinderella Castle, and I cried.
I cried because I was able to bring my seven and five year old daughters to the most magical place on earth during a pandemic. I cried because we were able to experience pure joy this last week of being together. I cried because just for a moment, all the bad things in the world – all the sickness and violence and hate and judgment – it disappeared. All that mattered was my family. My husband and my 2 girls.
We will never forget our time together at Walt Disney World during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will never forget that we were able to experience joy while the world was hurting. And now that we are back, I can honestly say I feel stronger to move forward and fight. To be strong for my family members who are battling sickness. To be strong for those who are battling loneliness. To be strong for my children who miss their friends. To be strong for my employees who worry every day about our business.
I’m not saying Disney solves the world’s problems. I’m saying that for me personally, it was a breath of fresh air. It allowed me to let go, so I can hold on tighter, and it allowed us to live when the rest of the world is standing still.