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Keep Moving Forward

Disney's phased re-opening has arrived and we were there to see it

By Dr. Alan C R Mueller

Walt Disney was a visionary, and over his lifetime gave the world lots of great quotes about leadership, teamwork and making magic. One of my favorite Walt quotes is a simple one: “We keep moving forward.”

During the summer of 2020 many hopeful Disney World visitors had to postpone their trips due to Covid-19. But now, as we’re in full swing with the Walt Disney World phased reopening, we’re starting to understand how Disney plans to keep moving forward.

My family and I had a trip planned for June, but given current circumstances it was canceled, (in our mind of course it was only postponed) and as soon as Disney announced their phased re-opening, we were first in line to return to this magical place.

We’re seasoned Disney visitors, so we’re accustomed to all the things families do in order to plan a magical vacation: when we’re several months out, we select what days we’ll be in what theme parks, make some advanced dining reservations and when it is our turn, we choose our fast passes for each park. (Confession: I may or may not make a color-coded spreadsheet to facilitate this whole planning process.)

Of course, this trip is different.

We navigated planning a memorable and rejuvenating Disney family vacation with a whole new set of rules designed around our current global crisis. Rather than selecting fast passes, we selected park days and worked around the temporary freeze on Park Hopping (see our recent blog about changes to Walt Disney World).

Losing the Park Hopper option is tough for those of us who enjoy the fun of deciding on a whim, which park we’d like to visit each morning; however, we know Disney is putting our safety first. You may have read our recent blog post about Walt Disney World’s Keys to the Kingdom. Safety is always first, so asking guests to stay in one park each day makes a lot of sense.

Upon arrival, we checked in to Disney’s Riviera Resort and have spent several days here at Walt Disney World. We’re thoroughly impressed at how they’re handling the challenges of our current circumstances. It feels as though every 6 feet I find a hand sanitizer station - and speaking of 6 feet, all of the ride queues throughout the entire property have markers to promote physical distancing.

There’s a team of Disney cast members wearing unmistakable and stylish gold shirts throughout all of the parks, helping promote physical distancing and ensuring all guests are wearing their masks the right way. This team is called the IncrediCrew. Beyond the IncrediCrew’s dashing gold shirts and coordinated masks, they’re all carrying placards they can hold up to their faces… so, we know they’re smiling.

A good friend of mine who teaches college courses about Disney asked me to research how Disney is managing smiling during a season of mask-wearing. In the case of the IncrediCrew, they’re being very conscious to show guests their smiles. They’re upbeat, enthusiastic, very present and passionate about safety! The system that Disney World has established to keep guests and their cast members safe will define the industry for decades to come.

So, the big question is, how does it feel to be at Disney world right now?

The answer is: magical!

Sure, some things are different, but Disney is still all about making magic. While there aren’t large parades, Disney has filled that gap with small cavalcades that seemingly show up unannounced. These mini parades feature some of Disney’s most beloved characters along with music and dancing cast members.

The parks aren’t currently hosting their evening fireworks spectaculars, but the trade-off of being able to practically walk on rides that often have an hour or longer wait-times. Also, some of the restaurants we know, and love aren’t open so EPCOT has started the Food and Wine festival early, so Disney foodies can get their fix! Ultimately the small crowds make Disney feel very relaxed which, for my family, is what we want out of our time at Walt Disney World.

The bottom line is, Disney Word is still a magical experience and they have clearly heeded Walt’s words to keep moving forward.

Questions? Need help planning your next Disney vacation? Check out our previous blog posts on or contact me at or any member of the Let’s Talk Travel team. We’re here and ready to help you plan!

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