We decided this weekend it was time to get out.
We've been trying to score some Disney passes, but we haven't had any luck. So instead, we settled on dinner at one of our favorite hotels, The Grand Floridian. We knew it would feel good to get out of the house for something other than work and we figured the magic of Disney could make us forget about the pandemic, even for just a few hours.
That was the idea, but as we drove onto Disney property, we noticed something right away. The parking lots were practically empty. This was so strange to us as we're usually battling to find even one open spot. That night we had our pick.
Off in the distance, I could see the monorail. I was wearing a mask, so my friend couldn't see me smiling. Which was probably okay since my smile faded the minute we walked through the hotel's front doors.
The lobby was nearly empty. In fact, there were only six people total that we could see and only one person at the front desk. There wasn't a concierge, the lobby band was nowhere in sight. It was as unsettling as The Tower of Terror at Hollywood studios, only this wasn't a ride, it's life in a Covid world.
We arrived 30 minutes early for dinner, so we decided to go upstairs and have a drink at the Enchanted Rose bar. As we walked in, there were maybe ten people there and that included two bartenders. Expecting to see a bustling hotel in the middle of summer at Disney, I had to keep reminding myself the circumstances were unparalleled. Either way it was great being back in our "happy place" drinking Dark & Stormys, a combination of rum and ginger beer.
As we made our way back to the restaurant, I noticed something for the first time. A giant blue tarp wall, which appeared to be dividing the resort in half.
Then it hit us, it's the "NBA Bubble".
The hotel is currently home to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76'ers, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, and our very own Orlando Magic. It was crazy to think some of the biggest players in the world were just a few feet away yet we couldn't see or hear them.
Back in the Grand Floridian Cafe, we noticed the tables were placed a safe distance apart. The servers even wore face shields over their masks. Dinner was great, we each had the lobster burger and Key Lime Pie for dessert!
When we left the restaurant, we wandered into the gift shop and sadly the scene was much the same. In fact, we were the only people in the store other than the cast member who worked there. She asked where we were visiting from and we told her were were local. We spent a few minutes talking about the parks and then I asked, “Has it been like this since you reopened?” Sadly she replied, “Yes, although it won’t be like this forever. It’s just a really sad time right now.”
It seemed like a good way to look at it, as I'm sure this is as tough on the cast members as it is on the guests.
As locals, it did feel good to be back. The meal was delicious and the surroundings were as magical as ever.
A beauty, I now know, I can never take for granted.