Visiting Florida’s Theme Parks in Phase 3

An overview of Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)


The death of a family member found me planning a last-minute trip to Central Florida a few weeks back. Florida at the time — like California where I live — was still under various mandates governing things like social distancing, restaurant capacity and masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The sky over California from my departing Southwest Airlines flight. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)
Mom and Me (masks not pictured…but they are there) at The Breakers. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
New Smyrna Beach, Florida (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)


After the weekend funeral and related activities Mom and I made plans to visit Universal Orlando on Monday. My first time crossing theme park turnstiles in 2020 and my first visit to Universal Orlando in a couple of years. Mom’s first in decades. As I exited Interstate 4, I was hopeful that Orlando’s theme parks weren’t giving up on pandemic precautions just yet.

The Hollywood Rip Ride Rock-It at Universal Studios Florida. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)

“I quickly discovered that face masks and 3D glasses are not a great mix.” — Christopher J. Beale

Next up was Transformers: The Ride-3D, where I quickly discovered that face masks and 3D glasses are not a great mix. I enjoyed the time in the air conditioning, but I had trouble seeing the screens.

The queue for E.T. Adventure Ride with the lights on during technical difficulties. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)
Floor marking in the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey help parties keep 6 feet of social distance at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)


I made my Walt Disney World reservation through Park Pass to visit the property the next day, solo. Park-hopping is prohibited at Walt Disney World during COVID-19, so I had to choose a single park and I chose the OG (original gate?) — Magic Kingdom.

A map-capture of the Magic Kingdom resort area at Walt Disney World Resort outside Orlando, FL. (Apple Native Maps)
Signage throughout Walt Disney World property alerts guests to social distancing and sterilization procedures. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)
A temporary divider separates groups aboard the Walt Disney World express monorail. (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)
It wasn’t planned, but I am so glad I got to see the newly spruced-up Cinderella Castle! (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)

“We received the Governor’s executive order and are evaluating it to determine what it may mean for our business. We are not making any immediate changes. As a reminder, face coverings are still required at Walt Disney World Resort.” — The Walt Disney Company (Inside The Magic)

I spent 6 days in Central Florida on the heels of Governor DeSantis’ announcement, and in my experience — the further you get from the safe and strict ‘bubble’ that is the attractions area — the more maskless faces you’ll see.


L to R: Mom, Jimmy and I in our seats for the Bourne Stuntacular (Photo: Christopher J. Beale)


Christopher J. Beale is an independent journalist and radio host/producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach him on Twitter at @RealChrisJBeale, listen to his podcast Unpacked, and reach him via email at

Journalist and multimedia producer based in San Francisco. Bylines: KQED, Outword Magazine, KALW, The Bold Italic

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