A physician’s thoughts after spending 16 nights at Universal and Disney

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
A little bit about me, I’m a board certified family physician who has been practice for the pat 15 years. We closed our practices to in person visits in mid March and I began seeing patients in person two days a week since mid May. My family and I are fortunate that we are able to go to Disney typically 3-5 times per year from Michigan. We fly 99% of the time. Last year we had made a Bounceback reservation at the GF for a theme park view room 7/12/20 for 8 nights and 4 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel starting 7/8/20 and planned to fly from Detroit to Orlando. Due to Covid we cancelled our flights in March and watched with baited breath as to what was happening in Florida. In early July we had a very frank discussion with our two children 12, and 14 about going to Florida and staying at Disney. By this time Disney had changed our reservations to 5 nights at the Contemporary and 8 nights in a 2 bedroom theme park view Villa at Bay Lake Tower. We had never stayed at either resort in the past. The Contemporary was the last Deluxe that we had not stayed at. Our family was in agreement that we needed a vacation especially for our well being. My wife and I are both in our mid 40s and I have hypertension. Neither of us are overweight and my BP runs 100s-110s/70s. We both exercise every day. We determined that we would accept the risk for going to Florida but would try to mitigate the risk as best we would. This meant no flights and we would not rely on Disney transportation and that we would drive. These were the hard rules that we would all follow:



  1. If any of us felt that we were unsafe at the Disney Parks we would cancel our reservations and return home or try to find some other destination to go to.
  2. We would wear masks as often as we possibly could even when not required
  3. We would avoid situations where people were not wearing masks or following distancing requirements
  4. We would use hand sanitizers or wash our hands as frequently as possible
  5. We would not touch our faces without having used the sanitizer or washing our hands
  6. We would not do any shows where we remained stationary for extended periods of time
  7. If a ride broke down or the line stopped for more than a couple of minutes due to cleaning and people did not follow the distancing and mask rules we would leave and come back later
I’m happy to report that we all had a great time and had a highly enjoyable trip. Universal was great and I feel that they actually did a better job than Disney in terms of enforcing the rules. Universal only scans your temp once per day and gives you a wrist band which allows you to enter all of their facilities without being screened again. This is more convenient than Disney but not as affective. The biggest differences that I believe Universal has done a better job is that their CMs are more engaged and willing to tell guests to put on or pull up a mask, I’d say 95% of guests at Universal we’re compliant with the rules but about 98% at Disney however there were only two times I witnessed a Disney CM speak to a guest about a lack of a mask and one of those times was after I brought it up to the CM. Additionally Universal also has the CMs put hand sanitizer onto the guests hands very much like a cruise line experience whereas Disney has automatic dispensers but the guests themselves must take the initiative to use them. Over the two weeks that we were there the attendance steadily increased to where we are glad we’re driving home today and I’m not certain I’d be comfortable with more people in the parks. The shorter hours of the parks and lack of park hopping was a definite negative and I would not recommend that anyone with kids younger than 10 go during this period of time. I think with the rules it’s too difficult. We actually preferred the character cavalcades to the parades. Overall we had a great trip and felt about a safe as possible other than being in our home. I am not stating that it’s safe to go to Disney right now but I think if you follow the rules that we did you can greatly reduce your risk but of course you need to decide if you are willing to accept that risk. I think governments should look at the theme parks as examples of how society can still function relatively normally when following some very simple rules. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Thanks!

EDIT: Some people are misconstruing this post as an endorsement that Disney is safe and that it’s fine to go. This is not the case. I am simply sharing my thoughts and rationale for going along with our concerns and experiences. It is up to every individual to determine if they are willing to accept risk for what they hope to gain.
 
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RememberWhen

Well-Known Member
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I appreciate your review of the current conditions. We also had a July trip planned, but we canceled it. I’m glad you and your family felt safe and had a good time.
 

drizgirl

Well-Known Member
Do I have you confused with someone else or didn’t you report having Covid a while back? Did any of your family members have it then too?
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Do I have you confused with someone else or didn’t you report having Covid a while back? Did any of your family members have it then too?
No, you’re correct. My wife and I both had it back in March. I’m hoping we have immunity but our kids never got it and studies have to yet shown that a patient has immunity even if they were sick in the past.
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
For what you paid, how did you value the experience? Did you visit all four parks?
We’re kind of a unique use case. We all had APs that we bought last August so the tickets were already paid for. The Contemporary portion of the trip was actually less expensive than what we would have paid at the GF while BLT was more expensive, but it was the nicest place we ever stayed at while at Disney. A 2 bedroom theme park view villa was absolutely perfect for my family of 4. I think Universal gives better value but it was still worth the money we paid for this trip to be at Disney.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Glad to hear you and your family went and were safe. You were smart in following the guidelines and if everyone follows your example we will get us through this. A great report of how we can still continue to function, enjoy life and have fun in the parks. The doom and gloomers will still call for complete shut downs across the board, have us all huddling in our dark corners in fear without caring how it would affect our lives.
With the crowds being lowered did you get many opportunities to re-ride attractions multiple times? Did the limited menu choices make it less enjoyable? What did you feel you missed out on from past trips that made this one less enjoyable? What changes in the resort stay was the most apparent that affected the stay?
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Glad to hear you and your family went and were safe. You were smart in following the guidelines and if everyone follows your example we will get us through this. A great report of how we can still continue to function, enjoy life and have fun in the parks. The doom and gloomers will still call for complete shut downs across the board, have us all huddling in our dark corners in fear without caring how it would affect our lives.
With the crowds being lowered did you get many opportunities to re-ride attractions multiple times? Did the limited menu choices make it less enjoyable? What did you feel you missed out on from past trips that made this one less enjoyable? What changes in the resort stay was the most apparent that affected the stay?
We were able to do every ride we wanted in every park multiple times. We did Millenium falcon back to back with no wait either time. Flight of Passage was a walk on. It was pretty amazing. When we go to Disney we like to experience the whole resort, that means eating at nicer restaurants, enjoying the pool and bars, and taking it slow. Limited menu items and lack of many open restaurants definitely affected that ability. Also many of the servers are working at restaurants they normally do not, so the service is a little lower than what I’d usually expect. Listen to @lentesta podcast about that. The things we missed the most was the ability to park hop. Normally we’d go to one park for a couple of hours in the morning and a different one in the evening. This especially comes into play with the limited park hours. With AK being closed at 6 it would be nice to go over to EPCOT or DHS in the evening. Other than that it was a great trip. Having our car was defiantly a bonus and I think from now on we’ll drive when staying a week or more.
 

icc2515

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the review. We probably passed each other in the parks multiple times. You should be happy that you moved from the GF to Contemporary. We stayed at the GF the 10th to the 14th then moved to the BWV for 4 days then to Uni Aventura. The GF was horrible. It was like staying at a morgue. If you tried to walk around at night after the parks closed you were basically told to return to your villa. This was due to the NBA staying there. We walked over to the Poly and it was like a party going on there, one that we were not invited to. Worst hotel stay ever, but a great vacation. We felt safer at Disney than Uni. We found that many more of the people at Uni were not being compliant with distancing or masks. The employees would tell them when they saw them, but often were not around. We did like that Uni applied the sanitizer right before the ride (what was the horrid smell of their sanitizer). Aventura hotel was deserted, but the staff was wonderful and the bus service was spectacular. We also needed the vacation and felt safer at the parks than at the local gas station or grocery store due to non mask compliance in our area. Where did you eat at Uni and Disney. We always find the dining at Uni to be sub par. At Disney our best meals were at STK, The Boathouse, Art Smiths and Via Napoli.
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Thanks for the review. We probably passed each other in the parks multiple times. You should be happy that you moved from the GF to Contemporary. We stayed at the GF the 10th to the 14th then moved to the BWV for 4 days then to Uni Aventura. The GF was horrible. It was like staying at a morgue. If you tried to walk around at night after the parks closed you were basically told to return to your villa. This was due to the NBA staying there. We walked over to the Poly and it was like a party going on there, one that we were not invited to. Worst hotel stay ever, but a great vacation. We felt safer at Disney than Uni. We found that many more of the people at Uni were not being compliant with distancing or masks. The employees would tell them when they saw them, but often were not around. We did like that Uni applied the sanitizer right before the ride (what was the horrid smell of their sanitizer). Aventura hotel was deserted, but the staff was wonderful and the bus service was spectacular. We also needed the vacation and felt safer at the parks than at the local gas station or grocery store due to non mask compliance in our area. Where did you eat at Uni and Disney. We always find the dining at Uni to be sub par. At Disney our best meals were at STK, The Boathouse, Art Smiths and Via Napoli.
We ate at Art Smith which was good but we didn’t feel comfortable at Disney Springs so we only ate there the one time during lunch on a weekday. At at the Wave which was OK, my pork was undercooked even though I like it medium to medium rare, California Grill which has a limited menu and just didn’t feel as premium as it has when we’ve dined there before. Ate at Kona but service was meh as the waitress said that it was her first day there and she normally was a bar tender at the Boardwalk, Le Cellier was actually very very good and San Angel Inn was fine. Whispering Canyon was good too. We ate at Sci Fi which was fun but empty, and twice at the Brown Derby, first time was great, second was mediocre. We ate at Finnegans at Universal which was fine and Amatista Cookhouse At Sapphire Falls which was pretty good.
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
@durangojim I have a question about the infrared temperature scanners used at the parks.

I was there last week and it was just a fraction of a second after being scanned that I was told, “You’re good, have fun!”

From what I could tell by looking at the gun, there didn’t seem to be a place for actual temperature to be displayed, nor did the screener ever look at the gun after scanning someone.

So my question is, do those type of scanners beep when temperature is over 100.4? (Certainly this is not security theater? 😉)
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
@durangojim I have a question about the infrared temperature scanners used at the parks.

I was there last week and it was just a fraction of a second after being scanned that I was told, “You’re good, have fun!”

From what I could tell by looking at the gun, there didn’t seem to be a place for actual temperature to be displayed, nor did the screener ever look at the gun after scanning someone.

So my question is, do those type of scanners beep when temperature is over 100.4? (Certainly this is not security theater? 😉)
I actually looked at the scanners and it did show a temperature reading. When I had my polarized sunglasses on I couldn’t see anything on the screen but as soon as I removed them all was revealed. I also brought my own scanner with us on the trip so I could make sure none of us had fevers.
 

HollyAD

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the post. I am a Nurse and just graduated as a FNP. I have been working a COVID assignment since April. I don't fear the virus but I respect it. I am planning a WDW trip next month. I honestly will never have a flexible schedule again so I am taking advantage of having some extra time with my son. I will be flying southwest, who has taken good safety measures in my opinion, but I understand this is probably my biggest risk. I have read some good posts from people who have been to Disney during COVID who felt safe with the current safety measures. I will have a car as I am meeting my mother in law at the airport. I prefer to eat outside if I am dinning out but I know this is hard because we will want air conditioning at some points.
 

MinnieM123

Well-Known Member
A little bit about me, I’m a board certified family physician who has been practice for the pat 15 years. We closed our practices to in person visits in mid March and I began seeing patients in person two days a week since mid May. My family and I are fortunate that we are able to go to Disney typically 3-5 times per year from Michigan. We fly 99% of the time. Last year we had made a Bounceback reservation at the GF for a theme park view room 7/12/20 for 8 nights and 4 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel starting 7/8/20 and planned to fly from Detroit to Orlando. Due to Covid we cancelled our flights in March and watched with baited breath as to what was happening in Florida. In early July we had a very frank discussion with our two children 12, and 14 about going to Florida and staying at Disney. By this time Disney had changed our reservations to 5 nights at the Contemporary and 8 nights in a 2 bedroom theme park view Villa at Bay Lake Tower. We had never stayed at either resort in the past. The Contemporary was the last Deluxe that we had not stayed at. Our family was in agreement that we needed a vacation especially for our well being. My wife and I are both in our mid 40s and I have hypertension. Neither of us are overweight and my BP runs 100s-110s/70s. We both exercise every day. We determined that we would accept the risk for going to Florida but would try to mitigate the risk as best we would. This meant no flights and we would not rely on Disney transportation and that we would drive. These were the hard rules that we would all follow:



  1. If any of us felt that we were unsafe at the Disney Parks we would cancel our reservations and return home or try to find some other destination to go to.
  2. We would wear masks as often as we possibly could even when not required
  3. We would avoid situations where people were not wearing masks or following distancing requirements
  4. We would use hand sanitizers or wash our hands as frequently as possible
  5. We would not touch our faces without having used the sanitizer or washing our hands
  6. We would not do any shows where we remained stationary for extended periods of time
  7. If a ride broke down or the line stopped for more than a couple of minutes due to cleaning and people did not follow the distancing and mask rules we would leave and come back later
I’m happy to report that we all had a great time and had a highly enjoyable trip. Universal was great and I feel that they actually did a better job than Disney in terms of enforcing the rules. Universal only scans your temp once per day and gives you a wrist band which allows you to enter all of their facilities without being screened again. This is more convenient than Disney but not as affective. The biggest differences that I believe Universal has done a better job is that their CMs are more engaged and willing to tell guests to put on or pull up a mask, I’d say 95% of guests at Universal we’re compliant with the rules but about 98% at Disney however there were only two times I witnessed a Disney CM speak to a guest about a lack of a mask and one of those times was after I brought it up to the CM. Additionally Universal also has the CMs put hand sanitizer onto the guests hands very much like a cruise line experience whereas Disney has automatic dispensers but the guests themselves must take the initiative to use them. Over the two weeks that we were there the attendance steadily increased to where we are glad we’re driving home today and I’m not certain I’d be comfortable with more people in the parks. The shorter hours of the parks and lack of park hopping was a definite negative and I would not recommend that anyone with kids younger than 10 go during this period of time. I think with the rules it’s too difficult. We actually preferred the character cavalcades to the parades. Overall we had a great trip and felt about a safe as possible other than being in our home. I am not stating that it’s safe to go to Disney right now but I think if you follow the rules that we did you can greatly reduce your risk but of course you need to decide if you are willing to accept that risk. I think governments should look at the theme parks as examples of how society can still function relatively normally when following some very simple rules. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing your experiences. Glad that you and your family had a nice vacation.

Speaking for myself only, I'd still be uncomfortable going to WDW, or any theme park, at this point in time. But I'm hoping things improve eventually in 2021. (If nothing else, absence makes the heart grow fonder.) :)
 

durangojim

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I stated that I am a physician because I do have more experience than the average person and many people on this board know that I am a physician. This thread was not an endorsement that people should go to Disney but that it is still possible to enjoy oneself and to lower risk while there. It is up to every individual and family to determine what is an acceptable level of risk. According to your logic family docs and internists should never treat any diseases because we aren’t experts in that field and you should consult with an expert before you venture out in public in any form. Right now the US is not safe but we all need to learn how to function in that environment and how best to reduce risk when possible. That is the point of this thread.
 
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