From Germ Free to Germ-Free-For-All
Let’s be honest, Walt Disney World is kind of…gross. By that I mean, it’s simply no different than any other location that cycles thousands of folks through a finite space virtually every day of the year. The folks running WDW do as good a job as possible, but it just kind of is what it is. That said, you’re probably a little concerned about going from the relatively germ-free confines of your home to the germ-free-for-all that is WDW. Given the current situation, I’d say that’s pretty understandable
Because we can assume that life will get back to normal and folks will vacation again at WDW, let’s take a look at some reasonable strategies you can take to improve your chances of staying germ-free both during and after your WDW vacation.
In full disclosure, the My Disney Planning team is pretty germ-sensitive when it comes to vacationing. A few trips cut short from illness will do that to you. As a result, we’ve utilized these strategies over recent years to great effect.
What to Pack
For our normal 5-6 night trip to WDW with 2 adults, 1 grade-schooler, and a toddler, we pack the following:
- Lysol – 2 cans
- Clorox Wipes – 1 pack per day (travel size)
- Anti-bacterial hand soap – 1 bottle
- Dish soap – 1 bottle (travel size)
- Hand sanitizer – 4 travel size + 1 large re-filler
- Wet Ones hand wipes – 1 pack per day
- Disposable place mats
- High chair cover
What to Do
A large part of staying germ-free on vacation is managing the whole plane travel process. Surviving the TSA check and in-cabin journey are your biggest germ hurdles here. Though we typically drive, when we fly, we do the following:
- Clorox wipe carry-on luggage post TSA check
- Clorox wipe terminal seating
- Social distance in terminal
- Avoid eating at terminal dining locations
- Take earliest flights possible
- Clorox wipe every potential touch-point around plane seating prior to family boarding
- Close off cabin air vents
- Relocate in-flight publications to another seat
As far as getting around the WDW resort, we refrain from taking the bus and always Clorox wipe the handles of parking lot trams before boarding. We also request solo Skyliner flights (if situation allows).
In your Resort Room…
We treat our resort room like the previous occupants had…well COVID-19. For as good a job as housekeeping does, we never feel completely comfortable until we’ve had a go at it ourselves. As a result, we:
- Lysol entire room prior to bringing in luggage
- Replace provided bar soap with anti-bacterial soap in sink area
- Use dish soap for cleaning mugs, baby cups
- Lysol entire room daily post-housekeeping visit
- Lysol in-park back-pack and dirty clothes on return to room
While not widely advertised, you can request a WDW resort room deep cleaning prior to arrival. Remember though, it you decide to change rooms on arrival, you give up your deep cleaning.
I won’t lie, germ-free dining is a bit stressful – especially in a quick service situation where you’re trying to secure a table, order food, and manage kids. However, it may be the most important part of your strategy. Before dining we:
- Clorox wipe entire table & each child’s chair
- Place high chair cover on…high chair
- Place disposable table mats for each child
- Use hand sanitizer and Wet Wipes pre-food arrival
As a general rule, we avoid buffets and salads like the plague and try to stick with either fried or pre-packaged food while at WDW.
Navigating the Parks…
Ah, the parks…the main reason you come to WDW. In our experience, navigating the parks germ-free is not as hard as you might think. We recommend the following:
- In any line or crowd situation -situate children between adults and create as much space as possible in line – actively avoid these situations where reasonable
- Hand sanitize post-fingerprint scan on entry
- Don’t visit a restroom just to wash your hands
- Change baby’s diaper in stroller – avoid changing in bathroom or Baby Care Centers
- Clorox wipe ride restraint or interactive controls post-safely boarded (e.g. Buzz Lightyear, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Mission: Space, etc.)
- Avoid any interactive elements that require touch points (e.g. Winnie-the-Pooh queue)
- For character meet-n-greets, be cognizant of touch – hand sanitize and Wet Wipe post-meeting
- Sanitize or Wet Wipe post-gift shop item touching
The New Normal?
After compiling the list, I’m not sure our family is either sane or reasonable. Post-pandemic, however, maybe this is the new normal. Maybe the once-not-so-sane folks have become the reasonable ones. Maybe.
In truth, the cornerstones of staying germ-free at WDW comes down to:
- Don’t touch anything
- Avoid high-density crowd situations
If you’ve never functioned in the parks like this, it may seem near-impossible. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s highly doable. It also doesn’t really, in our opinion, detract from the fun. When (if) it ever does, we’ll have re-think our trips to WDW. Until then, the inevitable social change brought about by COVID-19 may just render our above recommendations the new normal for a lot of folks. We’re in such a weird holding pattern at the moment though, it’s hard to foresee future behavior with lenses obscured by the current panic.
More to come on this topic as we work toward the park re-openings. Stay Tuned.