Our experience travelling during the pandemic to Walt Disney World while online schooling.
In September, after 6 months of total quarantining, our family decided to take advantage of a great last minute deal on a DVC reservation from David's DVC Rental. ( We have no affiliation but they were great to work with.) We stayed in a one-bedroom at The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian, and added a couple of nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, using our few remaining DVC points. We were looking for a change of scenery and thought Disney's DVC hotels would be the safest. Both of our children still had to attended online school, so we needed a resort with reliable Wi-Fi. We also wanted to prepare all of our own meals so a full kitchen was required. Our plan was to spend the week at the resort and, if we thought the crowds were light and safety measure were being enforced, we planned on heading into a park on the Saturday.
We had an 8 hour drive to Florida on Labor Day. We packed a picnic lunch and snacks for our drive. Our only stops were bathroom breaks at rest stops for us and the dog. We also had to fill up with gas once. Traffic on I95 was light and most rest stops had very few other people, and the people all were wearing masks and social distancing. The only rest stop we encountered any problems was the I4 rest stop just outside of Orlando. Most people were not social distancing or wear masks.
When we arrived on Disney property all our trepidation from the Florida Rest stop disappeared. The check in process for our dog at Best Friends Pet Care was located outside, with social distance markers on the ground. Everyone was wearing masks correctly and hand sanitizer was available. We made daily visits to see our dog and every visit the safety procedures were implemented and enforced consistently. The backyard play area was closed but they did provide a small fenced in area where we could take the dog to play. This was overall a great experience.
We stayed for our first two nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village in a Savana view studio room. We did online check in so did not need to go to the front desk. I requested the Pembe savanna. Pembe savanna has okapi and red river hogs, but does not have any zebra or giraffes. This makes Pembe savanna not as sought after as the Sunset Savanna, and we were thrilled to have been given our request. Our family stays almost exclusively in studio rooms for our WDW visits. This time it was too small for us. There was simply not enough space to have two children attending "Zoom" class at the same time. We had anticipated that and knew it was only for one full day. The internet connection was fast and reliable. We even used the Wi-Fi internet in the Library area of the lobby and a seating area of the hallway. We were often the only people in these guest areas.
The safety and cleaning procedure in place at the resort were good. We only encountered a couple of instances where people gathered. The first location was around the stairs down to Sanna and the waiting area for the restaurant. The pool had issues as well, but the cast members were constantly cleaning and reminding people to wear their masks when not in the pool or at a lounge chair. There was abundant hand sanitizer available in public areas, and wipes were placed near the elevators. The evenings at the Kidani Village pool were very crowded, due to the parks closing early, and we did not feel comfortable being there. Our preferred pool time was in the morning as soon as the pool area opened for the day.
We spent most of our time watching the animals on the savanna from our balcony. It was relaxing and the exact change of scenery we were looking for. The little kitchenette was adequate for a couple of days, but if you are planning to spend a week there you will need the full kitchen as there was very limited food service available at the resort. We did grab the Gluten Free Zebra Domes from the refrigerator case in Johari Treasures Gift Shop to enjoy on the balcony.
Views from Room 7843 4th Floor Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Villiage
We checked out on Wednesday morning and headed over to The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian. Our room was ready when we arrived, so we immediately unloaded and with the help of bell services were settled in our one-bedroom villa by 11:30 am. The COVID safety procedures were implemented here as well, with wipes and hand sanitizer by the elevators and all entrances to the building.
Some photos of the room, and the view.
This room was big enough for both children to attend online classes simultaneously. The internet was fast and reliable throughout our stay. I used a grocery store's online order app and picked up the groceries using a contactless drive up system. This allowed us to get everything we needed to make all our meals, as there was limited food service available at the resort. Monorail access was available from the main building, as were a few shops and restaurants. The hotel section of the resort was not open to the public, and we got to experience the "Blue Wall" around the NBA bubble. The trip from our room in the villas to Gasparilla Island Grill quick service in the main building had us pass at least five, and one day seven, security officers. We never had any issues with crowding at the pool. We were told to tilt the back of the chairs when we left and an attendant would clean it prior to another guest using it. The cast members were thorough in their cleaning and also reminded guests to wear masks when moving around the pool deck.
Overall I would say that we felt safe within all the resorts' buildings, grounds, and pool areas. We enjoyed the change of scenery and were able to have the children attend online school. We spend time at the resort and enjoyed the animals on the savanna of AKL and the monorail's at VGF from our balcony. Usually we are so busy at the parks we don't have a chance to sit back and soak in the atmosphere of the resorts. Online school allows your children to learn anywhere and Walt Disney World Resort provided the getaway our family needed, while allowing us to follow safety measures we were comfortable with.
We are looking forward to returning for our rescheduled annual family vacation for March 2021 at our home resort of Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.