My family and I just came back from a trip to Disney World. Despite the coronavirus threat, my husband, our two children (ages 5 and 7), and my parents (ages 71 and 84) decided to not cancel our trip.
We're from Michigan, and at the time — we were at Disney from March 1 to 8 — there were no confirmed cases of the virus in our state and only a handful in Florida. While we were aware that we could come into contact with someone infected with the virus at the airport or even on the plane, we made the decision that there wasn't enough information yet to warrant changing our plans. We did take a few precautions (we were travelling with two people at a higher risk of being severely affected by the virus), but overall, we felt confident enough in our health. On our travels to and from Disney World, and despite the developing news (while we were at our destination, the situation began to escalate in Italy and Washington State), I was surprised that this trip felt similar to others we've taken as a family.
What It Was Like at the Airports
When we arrived at the airport for our departing flight, I noticed everything seemed normal. Walking through the airport, we saw no travellers or TSA agents wearing masks. There were also no wipes or extra hand sanitizer pumps placed around the check-in counters or at the gates. Many airlines have since implemented procedures to help stop the spread of potential illness, like wearing gloves during in-flight service, increasing cleaning, or suspending hot-towel services, but on March 1 and March 8, everything felt and looked the same to me.
What It Was Like in the Aeroplane
Upon boarding our plane to Florida, again, things weren't much different than what they're usually like. Our plane did not seem extra clean. Honestly, it felt a little dirty, so my mother took her wipes out and was sure to wipe down all areas around us: the trays, seatbelts, and arm rests. Once we settled in, our flight attendants (who did not wear any masks or gloves) made no mention of coronavirus. The meal service was per usual, and we did not use the bathrooms, so I cannot report on the cleanliness of those. On the flight to Orlando, we saw only one person wearing a mask on our plane. On the plane back to Michigan, we also saw only one person wearing a mask.
What It Was Like at Disney World
Disney World also felt as I would have expected, had this not been going on. Crowds of people swarmed to stand in the long lines for every attraction. I didn't see any extra cleaning being done on the rides or out and about in the parks but did see cleaning being done in the bathrooms and restaurants. The parks seemed clean enough (it is Disney World, after all!), but nothing out of the ordinary. When I was there, I didn't spot any extra hand sanitizer dispensers, either. However, I know in the last few days, Disney has shared how they're responding to coronavirus: frequent cleaning and disinfection, easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer, quick response to spills, end-of-day sanitization, and frequent cleaning and wash down of outdoor areas. So things might have changed since my visit.
How We Stayed Healthy
I'm not usually overly cautious about germs, so I didn't even think to brings wipes or hand sanitizer. Luckily, my mom did. She stocked up before we left, and brought the supplies to the parks every day. She didn't wipe the rides down when we all went on them, but she did take them out to wipe the kids' hands periodically throughout the day. She also took them into the bathrooms with her to wipe everything down. Otherwise, I made sure my kids followed proper handwashing procedure and tried to keep them from touching their faces as much as possible.
My Final Thoughts on the Trip
As coronavirus continues to spread, I would imagine the mandated cleanliness procedures will change even more, but my experience travelling to Disney World, from the airport to the plane to the park, certainly felt like any other trip I've taken with my family. If the spike continues to rise in the United States, I doubt I would still take the trip — the health and safety of my family is always my top priority. But our family did decide to make the big Disney trip earlier this month, and I'm glad we did. My dad is 84, and this was his big gift to my children. Now my kids will have these memories with their grandfather — a gift that is priceless.