Getting to Disney! What to expect as you head to Florida

“What is it like out there?” I am asked this exact question multiple times a day. People want to know what it is like to travel right now, how are the airports, hotels, and destinations. I decided to look for myself, and recently took a trip to Disney World for a first-hand look at what AAA members can expect as they return to travel.

While I did enjoy my time at the park, there were some obvious changes to protocols. I dive deeper into my time in Florida in a separate article and want to focus this post on the actual journey to Orlando and the experiences I had with transportation to and around the Disney parks.


I did not take a direct flight to Orlando. I’m glad. Sure, it would have been nice to have that direct flight, but I wanted to see as much as I could. I want to be able to share first-hand knowledge with my clients, something all AAA Travel advisors pride themselves in doing.

I left Providence, flying out of Green Airport. It took me 18 minutes to get from my car to the gate. I was flying out early in the day, which may have aided in the short lines and quick check-ins. Everyone in the airport respected the mask mandates.

Philadelphia also greeted me with social distance and mask requirements. For those of you traveling with children, know that the airport has temporarily closed the children’s play areas. Everyone was respectful of personal space, which was not my experience when arriving in Orlando.

I was surprised by the number of people inside Orlando’s airport who chose to not wear masks. Unlike the other airports on my journey, Orlando did not have social distance markers and reminders, and it seemed no one was enforcing guidelines. While I did feel uncomfortable, I knew that the rules varied from state to state, and what was expected behavior in the northeast was not required in Florida.


I flew American Airlines for the duration of my trip. Boarding the plane was just as it had always been. Masks were required for the duration of the flight, which was not as uncomfortable as I imagined. Honestly, once I was in the air and relaxing in my seat, I nearly forgot I even had a mask on. Each flight I flew was completely sold out, and at full capacity. There was no blocking of the middle seats or empty rows. Except for masked passengers, it seemed like business as usual.

Boarding the flight, I was surprised to see that American was ushering people on board the way they always had. Social distancing was not apparent in this process, and passengers continued to board by priority instead of loading the plan back to front, which is something other airlines have adopted. My seat was in the front of the plane, and many passengers walked beside my chair as they made their way to the back. While we were all masked, the process still made me nervous.

I also experienced some inconstancies in the de-boarding process. On some legs of the flight, social distancing was being enforced, yet on another leg is was the standard, “All rise and run for the exit”. The same can be said for sanitization wipes. Some legs saw the wipes handed out to everyone, and others didn’t.

One thing that was consistent across my whole flight, no snacks or beverages.


The Magical Express was a longer than usual wait, not because of crowds but because there is less capacity on the bus. The stations were clearly marked with six-feet socially distanced markers to help people adhere to guidelines. It’s just a part of all the ways Disney is making sure people are responsible and practicing social distancing in and around the parks, including all transportation. I preferred waiting longer, knowing that my clients and I would be safe while riding the express. Every other row on the bus was occupied and operators had staggered seating, so passengers were not directly across from each other.

In addition to the express, each resort has busses that connect them to the parks. During my time at the parks, operators were only fitting about 19 people per bus, where before the busses would be jammed packed with people even standing in the isles. The wait time is significantly longer due to social distancing onboard the busses with an average wait hovering around 30-45 minutes. Normally, I would not suggest renting a car but if you’re impatient, a personal vehicle may be your best solution. Uber is also an option but can be costly.

I’ve traveled to Orlando on several occasions, each memorable in some way, but none quite like this. In addition to my overview of transportation, I have also shared my experiences with restricted dining options and the COVID-19 subtleties I came across at various parks and resorts. I am hoping members will view my “Out There, Disney during COVID” broadcast to learn more about planning a trip to Disney during this unique time. Of course, as you plan your trip, I hope you discuss plans, pricing, and options with your AAA Travel advisor. Together, you and your advisor can ensure you are taking full benefit of all the AAA exclusive offers Disney offers through your AAA membership. To speak with your advisor, please call 1-800-222-7448. Tell them Felicia sent you!