When it comes to Disney World, the only constant is change! And due to the historic closures that started in mid-March, we anticipated some pretty BIG changes were on their way.
Some of these, however, completely blew our minds! Even WE didn’t see some of these changes coming! Let’s dive into the weirdness, shall we??
The NBA and MLS are calling Disney World home!
Perhaps the strangest change coming to Disney World is that for the next few months, they will be the home to two major sports leagues! Talk about worlds colliding!
The NBA is all but certain to resume their 2019-2020 season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In addition, the MLS is also making moves to play out the rest of their season at Disney World, too!
While the NBA moves in, the players and staff will occupy three Disney World Resort hotels. This would be for the duration of their season, which includes gameplay from July 31 through October 12.
The DVC Resorts are opening before the theme parks…and all the other resorts!
A common and understandable theory amongst fans was that Disney World would possibly reopen the theme parks first — before any resort hotels — to control crowd levels. With limited park capacity assured, keeping the resorts closed for the time being seemed like an obvious way to mitigate large amounts of visitors.
But it seems as though that guess was FAR off the mark!
Disney announced that their Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney World, in addition to Fort Wilderness Lodge, would reopen on June 22, nearly three weeks ahead of the theme parks reopening.
The announcements surrounding Disney World’s hotels got even more surprising from there! We recently learned that Guests can modify their existing reservations (a first since Disney announced their reopening dates), but with a huge catch: they are required to rebook into a DVC Deluxe Villa, or a cabin at Fort Wilderness. As of this writing, new bookings for hotel reservations are still unavailable.
Once Guests arrive at the resorts, their stay will look very different from previous visits to Disney World. Resort hopping will not be an option, unless you have a confirmed dining reservation at the resort you’d like to visit. Other experiences and amenities will not be available initially, including spas, playgrounds, arcades, and character experiences.
FastPass+ is temporarily suspended altogether.
One of the most shocking announcements that has been made in recent weeks is the total suspension of FastPass+, which resulted in all existing FastPass+ reservations being canceled.
While this announcement came as a surprise, once it was explained, we could see how this was a necessary decision! Disney mentioned in their announcement that the additional queue space will help in managing and maintaining the physical distancing necessary during this initial reopening period.
Additionally, the parks will be open to such a limited number of people, FastPass+ won’t really be necessary according to our calculations.
At this time we do not know how long FastPass+ will remain unavailable. This is definitely a major shift in how guests will be planning their days at the Disney World parks for the time being.
The Disney Dining Plan is temporarily suspended
In addition to the announcement that FastPass+ would be temporarily suspended, we also learned that the incredibly popular Disney Dining Plan would also be suspended for the time being.
This announcement came when we also learned that all existing Advance Dining Reservations were canceled. With limited capacity enforced at Disney’s restaurants, we weren’t too surprised to learn about those reservations needing to be reconfigured. Any guest who had an impacted reservation will have the ability to rebook at a later date.
To hear that the Disney Dining Plan is being completely halted was a shocker to us! We have no information at this time as to when the Dining Plan may resume.
Extra Magic Hours are temporarily suspended
Another major announcement that surprised us quite a bit is that Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended. This came as a shock to us because major theme parks like Universal Orlando are continuing some version of extended park hours for their hotel guests.
Extra Magic Hours are a great tool to disperse crowds, especially when it comes to those morning arrivals. It’s also at least one free perk Disney can still extend to their resort guests, who are seeing more and more amenities being suspended or limited ahead of the parks and resorts reopening. It’s unclear why Disney has made this decision to halt this resort perk for the time being.
The theme parks are reopening sooner than we thought
Ultimately, the string of changes coming to Disney World that have surprised us are all within the context of the theme parks reopening. In the bigger picture, we are a bit surprised at how SOON the theme parks are reopening.
Part of our surprise comes from the fact that Disney World’s sister park, Disneyland, has been pretty quiet in their reopening plans. Just last week Disneyland announced their reopening timeline weeks after Disney World announced their plans.
When states are slow to reopen much smaller businesses like movie theaters and gyms, it seems as though something as huge as Disney World wouldn’t be so quick to open their doors again. However, what we have observed in recent weeks is that Disney is taking EVERY precaution to keep its Guests and Cast Members safe.
It seems like every day there are new, surprising announcements ahead of the theme parks reopening! Disney certainly knows how to keep us all on our toes, and we are learning more and more about what the theme park experience will be like with every new headline! Keep an eye on DFB as we continue to provide you with the most up-to-date coverage on Disney World’s historic RE-opening!
What announcement has surprised YOU the most? Let us know in the comments!