One of the big questions that we really could not even speculate about last night on the live stream was regarding Disney transportation. With many vacationers flying in from out of state, transportation is a huge part of the guest experience at Disney World. In fact, sometimes Disney transportation is unavoidable.
With many vacationers flying in from out of state, transportation is a huge part of the guest experience at Disney World. In fact, sometimes Disney transportation is unavoidable. With so many guests reliant on Disney transportation, that often leads to enclosed spaces packed tight with people. As a part of their proposed reopening plan, Disney noted that we may see modifications to the way that transportation is run. According to Disney Food Blog and WDWMagic.com, Disney World will be offering limited transportation services such as the monorail and Friendship ferryboats. So, let’s try to break this down and I am looking forward to your comments on what you think as well.
Disney buses are one of the primary modes of transportation around property, especially for hotel guests. And if you’ve ever been on one of these buses around park open or close, you’ve probably experienced just how many people they can pack in. So, with the importance of distance, how would the buses operate? The CDC has also recommended that bus drivers take precautions in order to ensure their safety. In addition to requiring both the passengers and driver to wear a mask, it’s also suggested that passengers enter and exit through a rear door, and that hand sanitizer be made readily available.
Well, let’s take a look at how other bus systems have adapted. According to the BBC, the buses in London have reduced capacity to 13-15% of their normal number of passengers. The largest, double-length Disney buses can typically carry over 100 passengers, so, in theory, this would need to be reduced to about 15 passengers per bus if Disney were to follow the same reduced capacity measures. Wow! So, based on the precedent set by other bus operations and recommendations from the CDC, if Disney bus service is made available, they would need to greatly reduce capacity, change the loading and unloading procedure, and sanitize regularly.
In 2016, Orlando Sentinel reported that the Disney World Monorail carries roughly 150,000 guests per day. If capacity were limited to 25%, that would be only 37,500 guests per day. Luckily, sanitation could be done at night when the monorail isn’t already running or they could even switch monorails throughout the day, so that should not cut into the amount of guests who can be transported. Also, given the importance of distance (and the size of each Monorail compartment), Disney could place each party in their own compartment and possibly even alternate monorail cars and segments for cleaning throughout the day.
In theory, it would be easier to implement health and safety measures on the Disney Skyliner than other forms of transportation. Since each gondola can only hold up to ten guests, Cast Members could seat one party per gondola. Also, the windows on the gondola allow for airflow and ventilation. The question still is how they will go about cleaning the cars in between guests, maybe again alternating them or having cast members ride from point to point, cleaning them. We will have to wait and see. But, if the Skyliner gondolas must be sanitized after each party, we could see the line running much slower to give Cast Members the time to wipe down the surfaces. Depending on how much slower they would need to run, this could become uncomfortable for guests suspended in the air for an extended period of time.
There are also several boats that transport guests around Disney property, including the ferryboats that travel between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom, and the Friendship boats which connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney Springs to surrounding resorts. Most of the boats have better ventilation than the buses and Monorail — some of them are even open-air. So, while guest distancing would still need to be practiced with staggered seating (or standing, in the case of the ferryboat), in theory, the boats should provide a safer travel environment than enclosed forms of transportation. As with the other forms of transportation, services would need to be reduced to allow for regular sanitization and cleaning, and capacity would likely be limited, resulting in possibly longer wait times.
While this isn’t a free form of Disney transportation, Minnie Vans allow guests to request a ride share service within Disney World property or between Disney World property and the Orlando International Airport or Port Canaveral. The service is run through the Lyft app, but all Minnie Vans are driven by Disney Cast Members.Minnie Vans don’t come cheap, but we could see more guests opt to utilize them if other transportation changes cause extended delays. This form of transportation has built-in social distancing since guests pay for a private ride and they can be cleaned and sanitized between pickups. Also, just like Uber implemented recently, riders are required to wear masks along with drivers.
While many of the Disney World hotels require some form of transportation to get to the parks, there are a few that guests are able to get to the parks the old fashioned way, through walking directly to the parks!
There’s a path from Disney’s Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom and resort guests can walk to the park in five or ten minutes. And guests at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort all have access to walking paths directly to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
What appears to be a walkway connecting Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to the Magic Kingdom was under construction pre-closure. If completed, it would allow guests at the Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to be able to walk to the Magic Kingdom as well.
As was written before, this is unchartered and new territory for Walt Disney World and all theme parks and business in general during and post pandemic. We will just have to wait and see what protocols and safety measures are put in place as the phased reopening takes place and take note of the changes that will be coming down.
Be sure and check back here at spokesmayne.co for more updates on all changes coming to the theme parks and attractions around Orlando and Central Florida. There is always more information on my social media on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube at Spokesmayne, where you can also join in the conversation and be part of the Mayne Mafia community.
Disney Food Blog: Spokesmayne