There have been multiple reports in the past couple of weeks that Disney World is continuing to fill in those empty gaps on popular attractions in order to reduce wait times. When Disney World reopened this summer, the safety measures were very evident. Mask usage was strongly enforced and there was plenty of spacing both in queues and on many rides. While mask usage continues to be a priority, Disney has slowly increased capacity in the parks. At first, it was increasing the number of people they allowed through the gates each day. Lately, they’ve been working to shorten the wait times by filling in more of the empty seats we were used to seeing.
Roller Coasters Were First
Disney World had been blocking every other row on popular roller coasters like Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and Slinky Dog Dash. They also weren’t loading two single riders in the same row. While it seems the single rider rule is still in place, they recently started loading every row on both rides.
Disney World Relaxes Social Distancing Policies for Roller Coasters With “High Backs” https://t.co/LFpOjcoQjk
— BlogMickey.com (@Blog_Mickey) December 22, 2020
The reasoning seems to be that these roller coasters have higher backs than others. As you can see from Blog Mickey’s photos, there are plenty of heads poking above those backs. That’s not as much the case on Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster where the head rests are a bit taller.
Flight of Passage Now Getting The Same Treatment
From the reopening this summer, Avatar Flight of Passage has only been loading riders on every other banshee. That created more than 6 feet of spacing. Since there was no plexiglass in between riders that spacing was really the only safety measure in place during the actual ride (there was plenty of spacing in the pre-ride areas). Just a few days ago, we saw reports that is no longer the case. Every seat now appears to be filled.
The Final Two Pennies
When asked about the changes, Disney noted they were working with health authorities (HT: Richard Kerr) and that ventilation and the structure of some rides made them more comfortable filling in more seats.
These changes are a bit surprising given the timing. No question safety procedures continue to evolve during the pandemic. But, with positive COVID-19 cases higher than they’ve ever been, it would seem to be odd timing to reduce spacing on key attractions. These moves will definitely reduce wait times on the most popular rides, but may also make some people hesitant to ride right now.