Orlando theme parks review post-COVID restrictions!
Deets: 1 day at Universal (Park to Park ticket),1 day at each of the 4 Disney theme parks. Off-site Disney good-neighbor hotel (Courtyard by Marriott).
Health/Safety measures: temperature checks are required before entering any park, the Disney transportation center and Disney Springs. They moved very quickly but plan for a little added time to enter the parks. Masks are required at all parks at all times. Disney parks specifically restrict neck gaiters and masks with valves, I did not see any restrictions for Universal. There are employees stationed throughout all the parks enforcing masks and also reminding you they must be above your nose. Removing your mask to eat and drink is only allowed while you're stationary. Hand sanitizing stations are at the start and end of each ride. Universal requires hand sanitizer before getting on a ride (an employee dispenses it for you so you cannot bypass this), Disney left it up to the rider. Employees are cleaning around the park constantly, wiping down handrails and other common touchpoints and rides are stopped intermittently for cleaning. Distancing markers are throught the lines to make sure you keep your distance and there are plexiglass dividers in lines and on some rides. All rides cars are spaced accordingly. Ubers/Lyfts also require masks while riding.
Crowds: lower than usual but like always depends on the park and the day. All parks are operating on limited hours and limited capacity. Parks are extending hours on weekends by 1-2 hours depending on the park.
Lines: you will wait for rides. Average wait was 15-30 minutes with my longest waits at 85-90 minutes for the newest rides (Hagrid's Magical Motorbike, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railroad). For Star Wars Rise of the Resistence it is a virtual queue. You have to be inside the park to even try to get in the queue and there are only two opportunities, at 10:00 am and another at 2:00 pm. The seats "sell-out" about 9 seconds after the queue opens so if you aren't poised and ready on the dot you won't get a seat. Each person in your party can log into the app and try as long as your tickets are linked. I did not get in at 10:00 but I did get in at 2:00. You are assigned a boarding group number and you return to the line when your boarding group is called (the app notifies you). Single rider lines are no more at both Disney and Universal.
Character Sightings: There are no character meet & greets and you can't get autographs. They do have characters stationed throught the parks where you can get close-ish to be able to snap a pic or selfie. My understanding for character dining is that they are there and they will pass by and greet you but again, socially distanced.
Dining: not all dining options are open right now so wait time for sit-down restaurants are significant at Disney, I was able to sit-down and eat with no wait at Universal. Both Disney and Universal have mobile ordering throughout the park and it's very fast and convenient.
Accomodations: highly encourage you to call your resort and see what is open before you get to your hotel! Disney resorts have limited dining options available but are still running shuttles to the parks. My good-neighbor hotel was supposed to have a shuttle but it was not running and that seems to be true for many of the off-site resorts. Pool was open at my hotel but gym was not. No dining options were available at my hotel and housekeeping services were limited. If you needed fresh towels or toiletries you could get them from the front desk but otherwise housekeeping did not enter my room. I was given trash bags to put my trash out in the hallway each morning.
Disney-Specific Stuff: All Disney parks require both a ticket AND a park reservation which you make through the app/website. Not all parks are available (Hollywood Studios is sold out for the next 2 weeks) so make sure you check the park reservation availability BEFORE you buy any tickets! Park-to-Park tickets are not an option right now. There are no Extra Magic Hours. There is no rope drop ceremony. When you arrive at the park you are let right in and you can go wherever you want. You can go get in line for a ride as soon as you enter the park but they don't start operating the rides until closer to actual park opening time. There are no Fast Passes, you WILL wait in line for rides. There are no parades, instead there are regularly scheduled character cavalcades (mini-parades) so you do get to see some of your favorites. There are no fireworks or nighttime spectacular shows right now.
Is the experience different? Absolutely. Is it still magical? Absolutely!
If you have specific questions, feel free to reach out!