Since cruises are suspended until November, Disney has plenty of time to make the reopening process as smooth as possible. When they resume, there will be many changes regarding safety and health resulting from the pandemic, and the youth clubs will definitely be impacted. I'm hoping that the youth clubs will remain as fun as usual and that the modifications made won't take away from the experience. The easiest way to make the people in the youth clubs less likely to spread illnesses would be to completely close them. While this may be effective, I doubt it'll happen. Going to the youth clubs is one of my favorite activities on a Disney cruise, and the trip wouldn't be nearly as fun if they were shut down. Here are the changes I think may occur when DCL reopens.
First, let's discuss what health and safety measures that I noticed were in effect before the pandemic, in January. Whenever I entered Vibe, the youth club for teenagers, I used the provided hand sanitizer. However, there wasn't a counselor watching everyone enter to ensure everyone used hand sanitizer. So, someone could sneak through without using it. If we were there for a while, the counselors would remind us to sanitize again. Items that were frequently touched, like railings, tables, handles, and video game controllers were cleaned periodically. We were allowed to eat and drink in Vibe, as long as we sat at the barstools. Of course, there were the signs next to the mirrors in the bathrooms telling us to wash our hands as well.
As I mentioned in the two other posts about reopening (here and here), I think both DCL crew members and guests will be required to wear masks at all times, except when in a pool or eating. If you've read those posts, then you know that I think wearing a mask on a cruise would be incredibly annoying. The youth clubs are no different, however, I doubt the babies in the nursery would be required to wear masks. Do they even make masks that small?
Speaking of the nursery, there shouldn't be too many changes there, unless Disney decides to suspend nursery operations for a while after cruises resume. If it remains open, there might be a limit on the amount of kids in the nursery at a time. Also, there probably won't be any open house times in an effort to reduce the amount of people that enter the nursery. Instead, guests could be able to use the DCL Navigator app to reserve a time to tour the facility. The crew working in the nursery will wear masks and they'll likely clean frequently-touched surfaces and items more often. The little kids might not be able to play with others at all or may be restricted to play in small groups. In the check-in area, a transparent plastic wall may be installed on the desk for extra safety. When a family is checking their child in, the child might have to have their temperature taken. At Disney World, if a guest's temperature is over 100.4°F, then they'll be taken to an "additional location" for further health screening. If this happens on the DCL ships, then that additional location will be the Health Center on Deck 1. Finally, when families come for drop off and pick up, they might have to stand six feet away from the cast member assisting them. For the most part, these changes are minor, and, for the youngest DCL passengers, the experience should still remain pretty close to normal.
Next, let's talk about the Oceaneer Club and Lab. Like the nursery, there may be a limit to the amount of kids in these two areas at a time. This wouldn't be too hard to implement, since kids scan their Oceaneer wristbands when entering and leaving the area. Because of this, the crew knows exactly how many kids are in the club at all times. But, what would happen if the child limit was reached? Would they just say, "Sorry, we're full. Come back later."? That seems unlikely and kind of mean. What if a kid's parents were going on an excursion without the kid, and wanted to put the kid in the Oceaneer Club while they were gone, but the club was full? Also, would there be a limit on how long a kid gets to stay in order to let others have a turn? There's just too many questions and possible negative scenarios involving a limit on kids. But if there's not a limit, then how will they ensure it doesn't get too crowded? I'm glad I'm not the one at Disney responsible for creating the reopening plan.
Aside from the possible limit, what else could be done to decrease the spread of illness? Well, upon entry, kids are normally required to wash their hands using those really cool handwashing machines. This should remain the same, since the machines are motion-activated and don't require a touch. In addition to this, guests may have to have their temperature taken before entering. Frequently-touched surfaces and items will surely be cleaned much more often than before the suspension. Also, counselors may try to get kids to spread apart from others, but there just aren't enough counselors to cover every kid. Lunch and dinner are normally served in the Lab and Club, but these meals might not be served when the suspension ends, because it would require kids to remove their masks.
Since Edge and Vibe are pretty similar, in the sense that people can come and go as they please, I'll cover them in the same section. As I mentioned earlier, hand sanitizer is normally provided upon entry. Instead of just being provided, it'll be mandatory for everyone. Even the crew that often passes through Vibe will probably have to use it. A counselor will probably be standing at the entrance telling everyone to sanitize. There won't be any sneaking past that. Also, like the other youth clubs, these two might have a limit on the amount of people allowed in at a time. For Vibe and Edge, a limit would be more difficult to implement, because people are constantly coming and going. Also, these two clubs are much smaller than the Club and Lab, so these clubs won't allow nearly as many people as the Club and Lab. In addition to this possible limit, all of the cleanliness procedures I noticed in January will probably be increased to the nth degree. Counselors might walk around the clubs holding a bottle of hand sanitizer. Video game controllers, one of the most-touched objects in the youth clubs, will likely be cleaned after every use. Like at the Club and Lab, eating at Edge and Vibe might be prohibited when DCL reopens. Finally, the signs telling restroom users to wash their hands might be enlarged to be more obvious.
The changes that I think DCL may make to the youth clubs aren't terrible, but if there's going to be a limit, I'm going to be sad. Of course, Disney could completely disregard any health concerns and just require everyone to wear the Child Detection Agency suits from Monsters, Inc. WE HAVE A 2319! I mean, it'd be better than a child limit.