Text and photos by Chef Joey
My tale of two Covids: I have been residing in two countries, France that is in perpetual quarantine, lockdown sunrise to sunset and weekend shut in at home and no bars hotels or restaurants open since last December and April is not looking good either – and America (Worcester). Massachusetts, like every other state, has its own take on the pandemic!
However, I also have a new opportunity to discuss what I experienced when I travelled to Disney World Florida last week. …
Florida is Covid 19 exempt, except for where they make you wear masks to get in. However, feel free to take them off when you get into the house that Mickey built. In Florida it is OK to pump gas without a mask; grocery stores give out free masks at their service desks – you can dispose of them/leave them there.
Disney was a surprise – they had safety guidelines emailed and texted to me and posted everywhere. Disney Paris and Disney Land California are both closed due to the pandemic, but there’s (the now disasterous) Spring Break in Florida and there is income to generate, after all.
So after the cost of a few signs, it was business as usual at Disney, Florida. A temperature check at the entrance to the Park allows you to get in – if you are less than 100 degrees. Once in the park, the lines are still cleverly disguised behind walls and little signs telling you 45 mins from this point. …
The safety signs tell you there is hand sanitizing gel before the line – its machines reluctantly mustering the energy from their spent batteries to dribble the gel in your hand. The pipes and chains that guide you through the labyrinth/maze to get to the entrance of the rides are full of children’s hand and mouth slop; broken masks adorn the walkway, and there is no wiping down of rides between “guests.” It remains the great load and unload magic that has been perfected over the years, except this time there is a sign that says you are safe to ride. A fatigued hand sanitizer is on the exit of the ride – it becomes a familiar friend, as you embark on the next ride.
They have made great stride in the dining experience. You take a QR code, scan it and log into your Disney account. You then order your food – they give you a window of time until it’s ready. Once you get the code you can go into the restaurant and procure your tray of fried magic. Tables are cleaned once they are freed up from the exhausted parents who must clammer back to the park. You can reserve a sit-down dinner or lunch weeks in advance, but the Disney magic meal is only there for those who have an excellent credit rating. The cost of a one-day ticket was $136, plus tax per person, $5 less if under 11. To go to both parks (Magic Kingdom and Epcot) on the same day was another $69 each – all tickets incurring the Florida tax rate as well.
Ironically, “Gatorland” in Orange County, Florida, is far less expensive at $31 a person. It requires masks before entering the park – they can be removed to walk around and smoke, so that is convenient. The good news is they fumigate the “Gator Train Ride” between guests, so while the threat of Covid is lower than the lung cancer, there certainly are many hundreds of crocodiles to see😪.
Flying home on full domestic flights with strict boarding was comforting, landing was as if there was a fire and best man for himself despite the row-by-row announcement. Flying back to France was spaced out with a maximum of 40 passengers aboard the Boing 777 that held 400 passengers but only allowing 10% capacity.
So I had to procure a Covid test in Worcester. My choice was limited to two testing centers and, because I am not part of the Reliant medical group, I could not make an appointment. So the very efficient Mercantile Center that operates 11 AM to 3 PM 3 days a week was my choice. I was swabbed and released. I received my results in a timely fashion and boarded my plane. Upon landing in France, I went to the Pompidou Center here in Cannes that is open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 4 pm, closing for lunch for 90 minutes, of course in true French style. It is one of 21 centers covering this town of 75,000 residents for convenience.
So Tuesday I placed my now 6 year old back in school full time with her 2nd negative Covid test result in 3 days. It’s back to normal, except there are no clothing stores open in addition to bars, hotels and restaurants.