I don’t travel a lot–hardly at all, honestly. Some friends and I planned this trip to Orlando last summer when we thought all the COVID-19 stuff would be under control by now.

Nope. It’s not.

Alas, we discussed it and decided to go anyway. We had heard things about how the airlines and theme parks were taking strong precautions against the virus while still allowing people a solid experience. I was nervous about it at first, but after spending a week in Orlando, I can say that the people at Delta Airlines, Disney, and Universal have been doing a great job.

Delta Airlines

Honestly, I was the most impressed of Delta out of any organization during this trip. Delta is usually renowned for their customer service and loyalty, and I can see why.

As someone who works in marketing, I really loved their COVID-themed flight safety video. I wish I could find it, but they haven’t posted it online anywhere! Regardless, they absolutely nailed it. It didn’t feel preachy, uppity, or patronizing. It was all about me and my safety during these crazy times, and the video was intercut with the numerous shots of Delta employees sanitizing everything.

We had to do our part, too. We were required to wear masks all throughout the airport and we couldn’t take them off during our flights. Delta disinfected every inch of the plane before we came on, and they gave us periodic hand sanitizing wipes during our flights. I felt safe, and I was very impressed with their efforts.

Disney World & Universal Studios

First off, here are a few hot takes about my overall experience:

Disneyland is better than Disney World. DW is great, but it feels like every park has about 3 or 4 things you definitely want to do, then the rest is filler. With Disneyland, you can see everything between DL and California Adventure in a couple of days and you’ll actually want to see everything. Plus, that’s a less expensive trip.

Universal Orlando is better than Universal Hollywood. It’s not even close. UH is fun enough, but it feels disappointing compared to Disneyland. The best thing UH has going for it is the studio lot tour, which is a must-see for film buffs like me. Universal Orlando, however, is totally popping. With killer roller coasters and a robust Wizarding World that’s spread across two parks, UO is a blast. I would totally go back again, while I’m not sure I’d be amped to visit DW again.

Florida kinda blows. I hope Florida residents don’t take this personally, but Florida feels like the athlete’s foot of the United States. It’s weirdly warm and moist. Some parts smell funny. And they have hurricanes and alligators!! Like, why, Florida?! Why are you like this?? Why do people choose to live there? Especially after they retire??

Anyway, I digress. Here’s the safety lowdown on each park. You’ll find that they’re mostly the same, except for some minor differences.

Disney World

  • Every guest was required to wear a mask the whole time. The exception was when you were eating somewhere stationary–you couldn’t eat and walk at the same time.
  • Park employees walked around the park to ensure people were wearing their masks properly, including covering their nose.
  • Every park employee wore a mask.
  • Lines for every ride were spread apart to make sure each group was 6 feet away from each other. This made lines look long, but they moved quickly.
  • We had to order our meals via the Disney World app, which meant picking a time slot that was at least an hour out. My Google Pixel had a harder time running the app than my friends’ iPhones did, so Disney needs to get on that issue.
  • Buying snacks, though, wasn’t hard. Every snack booth was fortified by plastic shields so you couldn’t breathe your germs on the employees. Usually you could pay with a credit card.
  • Hand sanitizing stations were everywhere, including at the beginning and end of every ride.

Universal Studios Orlando

  • Very similar to Disney–every park employee was wearing a mask, and you had to wear one as well.
  • You could eat food while standing or sitting somewhere, but not walking.
  • Having a meal meant downloading the Universal Studios Orlando app and placing your order once you were seated at the restaurant you liked. We ate at the Leaky Cauldron and food delivery was fast once the app finally got working.
  • Lines were spread apart to allow 6 feet between each group.
  • Again, hand sanitizing stations everywhere.
  • Speaking of hand sanitizer, you actually had to use hand sanitizer before every ride at Universal. They had employees on every ride armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer, waiting to give you a dab before you hopped on the ride.
  • Snack vendors were also guarded by clear plastic barriers.

Based on my experience, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from visiting Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando during the pandemic. I felt safe with the mask requirements, eating guidelines, and hand sanitizing stations everywhere.

Oh, and the new Hagrid ride at Wizarding World totally slaps. Can’t forget that.

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