One Year of Disney & COVID-19

One Year of Disney & COVID-19

This week marks the time when Disney announced the closure of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Other international parks had already closed, but this announcement cemented the national emergency that was within U.S. borders. While the Walt Disney World parks did re-open in July, there is still so much guests still miss, while at the same time so much we’ve learned. I cover the key milestones over the last year. I cover the top three of what I will not miss about this pandemic period; what I would keep moving forward; what I still miss while waiting for this to all end; and what I’m grateful for.

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College Program Cast Members on their last night. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Key Events I Remember from the Last Year

  • Being at the parks several days before closing
  • Last night at the Magic Kingdom and College Program kids getting a last photo together
  • Driving through the Epcot entrance two months after closure
  • Josh D’Amaro on opening day of Disney Springs
  • Lunch at Skipper Canteen first day Magic Kingdom re-opened
  • Halloween & Christmas Cavalcades

What I Will Not Miss

3. Making Reservations. I miss just dropping in, so having to make reservations is not one I would miss. There is a hassle factor in trying to go into a park that I didn’t have earlier as a Disney Annual PassHolder. I don’t know if this will go away, but I wouldn’t miss it if it did.

2. Limited Hours. Hours are shorter and I miss a long evening in the parks. It’s starting to pick up, but a lot of days you can’t visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom much after sunset.

1. Wearing a Mask. There is nothing I will not miss than wearing a mask.

What I Would Keep

3. Social Distancing in Queues. I don’t care for the strips on the ground, but if people could learn more social distancing on their own, that would be great.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

2. Technology

  • Mobile Ordering at Casual Restaurants
  • Available Now Dining Reservations
  • Mobile Shopping

1. No FastPass. This may be controversial for some, but I don’t miss FastPass. I want it to be fair for everyone getting in line, and the line though seemingly longer, does move faster.

What I Still Miss

3. Typhoon Lagoon. I realized as Blizzard Beach reopens that what I really miss is Typhoon Lagoon. It’s paradise on Disney property.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

2. Disney Cruise Line. The announcement that it might be Fall before these ships resume was heart breaking to me. I miss the cruise line, and the feeling you could truly get away from it all.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

1. Shows, Street Entertainment, Parades & Fireworks. Where does one begin on this list? I regret how much I took for granted Streetmosphere, Festival of the Lion King, Candlelight Processional, Festival of Fantasy and especially Happily Ever After.

And I wouldn’t be unhappy if they kept the character cavalcades. I thought they were pretty cool.

What I’m Grateful For

3. Health. That hasn’t been everyone’s fortune, and for that I lament. But it has been especially important for a daughter who has huge health challenges, for two children who deal with Autism; for a wife who is in front of school children every day, and for a daughter-in-law who is on the front lines as a nurse practitioner. Moreover, I’m grateful for scientists, and doctors and health care professionals who have really gone out of their way this year.

2. Visitors to Central Florida. They are the backbone of this community and without them, this would be a sleepy little town. Instead, it’s a world unlike any other you can live in, vibrant, dynamic, and exciting to be a part of. I’m grateful for the tens of millions of people who visit Orlando and Walt Disney World every year.

1. Disney Cast Members. A shout out to every Disney Cast Member–especially those who have not yet been called back. Disney College Program youth are especially part of what adds to the energy of any Disney experience. I hope that every young person who ever wanted that experience will not miss out.

The Wayfinder Society: A Patreon Site for Disney Fans

We are offering a new program where you have the opportunity to enjoy exclusive offerings from Disney at Play and Disney at Work. Join us as we introduce our new Patreon program, the Wayfinder Society, intended to give you new insights to all things Disney, whether its work or play. I am truly excited to share this new opportunity with you and look forward to creating new experiences that you will enjoy whether at home or at the Disney parks. 

And when you donate, a portion of your contribution goes to Embrace Celebration, dedicated to helping Disney Cast Members and others in this area who are unemployed during this pandemic. To learn more, visit our site to discover our offerings and various tiers. Join us!

J. Jeff Kober

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