We’ve been spending the last few days exploring the select Disney World resorts that have just reopened on June 22nd so we can answer ALL of your questions about what’s changed since your last stay!
And while we’ve had our fair share of surprises, now we’re going to spill the beans on a few things we found to be super weird and INTERESTING! We didn’t do full articles about these, but we still think they’re important for you to hear if you’re headed to the Disney resorts sometime soon.
Calling Your Front Desk Might Be Much Faster Than Virtual Chat
Initially, we couldn’t wait to try the new Virtual Chat feature Disney told us they would be launching on the My Disney Experience app. Instead of going to the front desk, you can use the app to connect with a Resort Cast Member…in theory.
Well, first, we were looking for the virtual chat feature in the “my resort” section of the My Disney Experience app. It wasn’t there. So we asked cast members. They didn’t know anything about it. Finally, we asked a Concierge Manager who told us that the “new” virtual chat feature was the same “chat with us” feature that was already on the My Disney Experience app and the Disney World website. Except once you actually get through to a Cast Member, they make you fill out a guest information form before you connect to someone from your actual resort hotel.
Unfortunately, the system seems to be running VERY SLOW and every time we tried to access Virtual Chat on our phones, we got a “hang on we’re experiencing high chat volume so it may be a moment” warning — like you would from the “Chat with Us” feature on Disney’s World’s website.
The average wait time for the Virtual Chat was 1.5 to 2 hours each time we tried it, so if you need a quicker response (or need to request extra towels, Housekeeping, etc.), you’re probably better off just phoning the front desk for now!
Your Mileage May Vary On Resort Entrance
On our way to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for a dining reservation, we had a little hiccup!
The Security Cast Member who checked our information at the entrance originally said we were too early for our dining reservation. He also didn’t seem too happy the rest of our group wasn’t riding with us. While he did permit us to enter and park, he told us we had to wait in our car until the rest of our party arrived.
When our buddy we were meeting for dinner drove in a little while later, she didn’t encounter any issues. Through this experience, we learned even if you have a dining reservation and are technically allowed to enter a Disney World resort OTHER than the resort you’re staying at, you might still have to undergo a little extra scrutiny.
But here’s a little note — we are now hearing that guests are allowed to resort hop without a dining reservation if they have an official Disney World Resort hotel reservation. While Disney hasn’t published that information, several cast members did tell us that the policy changed yesterday. So that’s something to test out!
Security and Sandwich Boards Are Keeping Guests At Bay
Another unusual encounter we had happened over near Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. Since Disney’s Yacht Club Resort hasn’t reopened yet, we saw signs blocking the walkway to the resort as we walked around Crescent Lake.
There were also Security Cast Members near the entrance to Epcot’s International Gateway making sure no one wandered too close since the theme park won’t be reopening until July 15th. We were allowed to get close enough to hear the World Showcase music, though!
And we even saw one of Epcot’s Flower and Garden banners was STILL up! Even though the festival was cut short this year, we’re looking forward to enjoying the new Flower and Garden/Food and Wine mash-up festival that will be debuting on the first day of Epcot’s grand reopening!
Click here to learn more details about the new Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival that’s coming soon!
Resorts May Have Different Policies
In addition to keeping our distance, we found out some places were being super strict about who they were allowing into certain locations! Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort wouldn’t even allow guests inside unless they were purchasing something — no window-shoppers allowed.
And when we said we’d like to purchase a cupcake, a cast member put all available cupcake types onto a tray and brought it outside to us to see before we were allowed in to purchase. This was definitely not something we experienced anywhere else.
Unlike Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort didn’t have a Welcome Back Cupcake for its guests, but they DID have this gorgeous creature!
Some Spots Will Be SILENT
One of the most surreal things we experienced happened on our first night at the resorts. Naturally, we HAD to stop by Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort to see how our favorite soda shop was doing!
Other than the rearranged seating, disposable paper menus, and squeeze bottle condiments no longer being left out on the table, we spotted another HUGE difference — the jukebox wasn’t working!
In fact, one of the Cast Members told us the records had been removed during the temporary closure, so instead of listening to some golden oldies on the ol’ Wurlitzer, someone was crankin’ out tunes on their phone — until they finished their shift and took their music with them.
We gotta say, sitting in a mostly-silent Beaches and Cream dining room feels pretty strange, so we hope the 45s make their way back to the jukebox soon rather than later!
And since we’re on the subject of the surreal, probably the weirdest part of our whole experience being back at the Disney World resorts is how EMPTY they look and FEEL!
It’s a very Omega man-y, last-person-on-Earth sort of feeling at times when you’re literally the only person standing in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort’s lobby! Usually, this great room is packed with guests!
We’ll be interested to see how the crowds pick up once the theme parks begin their phased reopening on July 11th! Until then, we’ll keep exploring the Disney World resorts and reporting back our findings (especially the weird ones) to you guys! And if you’re planning on being at Disney World for the grand reopening click here to read our Ultimate GUIDE!
Have you made your theme park reservations yet? Learn more about Disney World’s Park Pass reservation system here!
Have you visited any of the Disney World resorts that have reopened? Tell us about any weird encounters you had in the comments below!