If you ever traveled to Walt Disney World before the coronavirus pandemic, you know how crowded it gets. As someone who adores Disney World, I have often dreamed of what the parks and resorts would look like without anyone there. One photographer recently had a rare experience to capture photos of a deserted Walt Disney World while it was closed to the public (parts of Disney World are slated to reopen on May 20).
Pilot and photographer Jonathan Michael Salazar received permission to fly over Walt Disney World, despite its restricted airspace status. Salazar’s goal was to show the world what one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world looks like when no one is there. And the photos are surreal.
His tour took him to all the parks and most of the resorts, starting with the highway known as World Drive where the iconic entrance gate to the theme parks and resorts awaits visitors.
As Salazar posted, it’s “unreal” to see the roadway completely empty.
As visitors head to the Magic Kingdom, they see the Contemporary Resort, where the monorail drives through to get to the theme park. Salazar’s shots show the resort mostly empty, just looking like it’s waiting for guests to return.
Over at the Magic Kingdom, Salazar was able to fly right up Main Street USA and snap this beautiful image of Cinderella Castle and the Central Plaza.
He took a turn towards Tomorrowland to showcase Space Mountain and the TRON Lightcycle Power Run coaster, which is still under construction.
Over at Epcot, the aerial shots show how much construction is going on at the park as it is being overhauled. But Epcot’s central icon, Spaceship Earth, still looms large and impressive over the empty park.
Salazar flew over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to show Echo Lake and Hollywood Boulevard.
Here’s the Tower of Terror on the Hollywood Studios grounds.
The last of the theme parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, gave Salazar quite a view of the Expedition Everest roller coaster.
During what he called a “once in a lifetime occurrence,” Salazar captured hundreds of images and shared a selection of them on his Instagram page at @thedisneypilot. If you’re looking to experience Walt Disney World in a whole new way, you need to head over to his Facebook and Instagram accounts and flip through the photos.