Let me start by saying just having the opportunity to visit an Orlando theme park again is a dream come true! I’ve been missing family theme park adventures and now that we have a chance to be back in the action, it’s such a wonderful taste of normalcy.
With that being said, for health and safety reasons, mandatory face coverings are required for all guests ages two and up at the parks, and although we’re more than happy to do our part to keep everyone healthy and stay healthy ourselves, the masks take a lot of getting used to, especially in the steamy hot Florida summer. We’ve learned that enjoying a full park day while rocking a mask is definitely doable. There are key takeaways we’ve learned that can make it more manageable and still give you the world-class theme park experience that Orlando has to offer. In this post I’m sharing the top five tips we learned from our first day back at Universal Studios Orlando as well as our adventures at Disney Springs and Universal City Walk to hopefully help you in preparation for your next Orlando adventure 😊
1. Take your time getting from place to place – Speed walking anywhere while wearing a mask is pretty rough. When you can’t get full breaths and are trying to speed walk a mile to your next virtual line arrival time, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll feel depleted of oxygen. I encourage you to take it slow and enjoy the experience and not rush going from place to place.
It’s tempting to want to do everything, especially when the lines are short, but if you take it slow from place to place outside, the inside mask-wearing portions, like in the shops and queues, are a welcomed cooling time of refreshment.
2. Don’t forget to hydrate…a lot – As always, I’m going to be totally honest with you, even as a local whose body is used to the heat and humidity that comes with Florida summers, be prepared to get exponentially sweatier and significantly more exhausted than ever before. It can be tempting to not want to fuss with taking your mask on and off to hydrate while you’re out at the park, but with your body working harder in the heat with a mask on, making it that much more important to stay well hydrated. TIP - we’ve found, it’s easiest to use a gaiter style face covering to easily slide it up and down to take a drink with minimal adjustments.
3. Strategically schedule indoor seated dining – We are realizing how important this time is in our park day. When we visited Disney Springs, and Universal City Walk, we had dining reservations already scheduled. The CDC encourages individuals not to wear a mask while dining, since taking one on and off can increase your chances of spreading germs from touching your face and your mask between bites. Having a time in place where you can sit in the air-conditioning without a mask and replenish your body in both the nutrient and oxygen departments, will be a decision you won’t regret. Trust me, your body will thank you 😊
Not all restaurants are taking reservations at this point, which has actually been really nice from an availability standpoint. We’ve been able to walk up to table service restaurants and get our food faster than even mobile ordering at quick service locations. So, even if you can’t make an official dining reservation, I encourage you to schedule a set time (preferably 30ish minutes prior to the start of hangry mode for you or your kiddos) to ensure you can get a seat before a meltdown and enjoy some much needed relaxation and deep breaths.
4. Take advantage of the mask removal areas – At Universal Orlando, we found one U-Rest area at City Walk and at least two at each of the parks. At each location, there’s a barricaded area with a long walkway, tables and chairs and Team Members ensuring social distancing rules are being followed. We stopped at one of these locations while walking from park to park, and I wish we would have stopped at more of them throughout the day.
In my opinion, one of the blessings that came out of quarantine was giving us all a chance to learn how to slow down a bit. I encourage you to incorporate a few minutes to slow down at these rest points to refresh throughout your park day. It’s not easy to tell yourself to take a break when you have been chomping at the bit to enjoy the parks again (trust me), but your body will thank you and you’ll more than likely get to do more than if you didn’t take the breaks.
5. Bring at least three masks per person, per park day – We didn’t realize how important this would be but having a dry mask to change into is an incredible relief. We happened upon this idea accidentally because we were testing out three different types of masks to see what was best, and having a different mask to change into every few hours was more refreshing than we realized it would be.
So from now on, we plan to bring multiple masks per person per day so we can change them out when needed. TIP - If you need any additional masks at the park during the day, you can purchase them for $6 per mask at a few key merchandise locations. At Disney Springs, there are even some uniquely branded designs (at differing price points) sold at locations like Vera Bradley and House of Blues.
BONUS – We tried out three different types of masks at the park to see which type we preferred, and although there is no perfect mask, we’ve listed out our top pros and cons of the three we tested so you can choose the style that best suits you.
If you’re a frontline worker or have had experience wearing masks for long periods of time, what tips have you learned that you wish you knew sooner?