We’re taking a DEEP collective breath and getting ready to plunge into Disney World once some of the theme parks begin to reopen on July 11th.
And if you’re still planning on making a trip to Disney World this summer, you may be wondering what changes you can expect.
While some of the ways Disney World has adapted to these times will be more obvious than others, here are the five most important differences you should know before you go.
Disney World Will Have a Limited Capacity
As you’ve possibly heard by now, Disney World will only be allowing a certain number of guests to visit each day. They hope to achieve this by implementing a new reservation system. To put the new system in place, they had to temporarily suspend all ticket sales and aren’t accepting any new reservations at this time.
Disney also canceled all previously booked FastPasses, dining reservations, and Disney Dining Plans. The planning functions for each of these offerings have also been frozen until Disney World works out the exact number of guests they’ll be accepting each day. (Note that you CAN now make dining reservations in Disney Springs through the Disney World app.) Once the new reservation system is up and running, guests with valid park admission and a hotel reservation will be given priority access to book theme park reservations.
While all of this seems like a lot to take in, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has stated one of the changes will be significantly fewer people inside the parks, meaning possibly much shorter wait times for popular rides.
Click HERE to check out our answers to these most important questions our readers are asking us about Disney World.
Face Coverings Will Be Mandatory
As we’ve already seen implemented at Disney Springs since its May 20th phased reopening, guests over the age of two will be required to wear face masks at all times when visiting the theme parks. Disney World is working on a plan to offer guests “relaxation zones” where they can temporarily remove their masks for a spell.
Disney World’s Cast Members are also required to wear face coverings at all times and a new health and safety group has been formed to help navigate guests through all of the guidelines while ensuring everyone is following the rules. They’re called Social Distancing Squads and you can learn more about them here!
Temperature Screenings Are Also Required for Entry
While you’re probably used to walking through a security checkpoint and having your bag screened, you must have your temperature taken using an infrared touchless thermometer before you’ll be allowed inside the parks.
We’ve also seen this implemented at Universal Orlando as well as when entering Disney Springs. AdventHealth employees are conducting the screenings at Disney World and you must have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or lower to enter. If your temperature comes in too high, you’ll be given the opportunity to sit in a cool-down tent for a bit, then recheck your temperature. If your temperature still comes in too high, you AND your party will be asked to leave.
Eating Will Be Uniquely Different
When Disney announced they were canceling all pre-existing dining reservations, they also stated they would be shifting from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window going forward to allow guests to make their plans closer to their visits.
But it’s not just how you’ll make dining reservations that will be different — the whole process of sitting down to enjoy a meal at Disney World has drastically changed. Hostess booths have plexiglass shields while many restaurants are offering contactless check-in, menus, and payment options.
Tables are spaced apart or labeled “not for use” while condiments and silverware aren’t being left on the tables anymore at most restaurants. All servers are wearing masks (and usually gloves) while only guests who are seated at a table are able to remove their masks. You can also lower your mask if you’re walking around Disney Springs with a snack or beverage.
Shopping Poses a Few New Challenges
We’ve been checking out some of the retail locations at Disney Springs that have begun to reopen. While many shops have made modifications to their check-out counters such as laying down social distancing markers, installing plexiglass barriers, promoting self-bagging, and providing hand sanitizer for guests, some of the rules tend to vary from store to store.
Some businesses have fitting rooms available to guests, but we’ve found many do not. Some stores are only allowing a handful of customers inside at one time with guests queued up outside waiting for their turn to enter.
We’ve seen some shops are still allowing guests to test their products (such as Basin), but others like Sephora aren’t. It can be a little tricky to interpret the new set of rules each store has implemented so if you’re unclear about anything, just as ask a cast member in the store!
Now that we’ve discussed five of the biggest changes you’ll see at Disney World, here are five MORE things you’ll need to wrap your head around!
Guest Experiences May Be Modified
Disney World has made this very clear that not all experiences will be offered upon reopening — they’ve posted this information on their website everywhere you turn. Now we finally know what a few of those “modifications” will be. Character dining is temporarily on hold, and Disney World’s water parks aren’t expected to reopen, (at least, not right away).
In addition fireworks, parades, and character meet and greets being postponed, and Disney World is also revising their park hours. Extra Magic Hours have been halted and some Disney World transportation services (such as the monorail and ferryboats) may be reduced.
Disney World is Making Changes to Its Annual Passholder Policies
Even bigger changes are being announced for Disney World’s Annual Passholders. There are so many, in fact, that they’ve launched a new webpage to address AP-specific concerns.
While APs will have a special preview of the theme parks as well as early access to make theme park reservations before the general public does, Annual Passholders will only be allowed to hold a certain number of reserved days at one time. More updates regarding Disney World APs are forthcoming.
How Will You Travel to AND Around Disney World
As we mentioned earlier, Disney World has already announced some of its transportation services will be limited, but that only covers internal transportation. How will you be planning on getting TO Disney World?
For many travelers who have never considered an alternative to flying, it might make more sense (both financially as well as practically-speaking) to drive instead of fly. Read more about this Disney World shake-up here.
Click HERE for the five things you need to know if you’re planning to go to Disney World when the parks reopen!
Where Will You Stay at Disney World
Planning your trip is even trickier right now since Disney World hotels aren’t currently accepting new reservations and we only know of the Disney Vacation Club resorts that will be reopening June 22nd (Note that Disney Vacation Club members CAN still book new resort reservations at this time). The other Disney World hotels don’t have a confirmed reopening date yet.
Disney World originally announced the theme park resort hotels would also be reopening July 11th, but later retracted the statement. What we do know is guests with a current hotel reservation and valid park admission will be given first crack at making reservations once the new system is released.
What Time of Year Should You Visit
With so much uncertainty still looming, you might be wondering if it’s even worth it to go to Disney World this year.
It’s a difficult question but you have some alternative options if your previous spring or summer trips were canceled. Booking a trip to Disney World in September has its benefits while November is also a season you should consider.
It’s practically certain that Disney World will be QUITE different when it reopens. But if you’ve done the work of preparing for the unique challenges you’ll be experiencing and have taken every necessary health and safety precaution into consideration, we know Disney World is still committed to providing their guests with a magical experience regardless of the changes they’ve made and will be making in the future!
Are you planning on going to Disney World when the parks reopen? Let us know in the comments below.