We’ve seen some BIG changes in Disney World since reopening that have greatly altered the parks as we once knew them.
Since Disney World has been continuing forward with its health and safety initiatives, high-touch surfaces have been reduced in the parks and capacity has been limited. Mask requirements, temperature checks, and more are completely new, but there have been some big virtual changes as well.
Even though Disney is trying to limit the number of people going to the parks at a given time, they’re still trying to accommodate as many guests as possible (in the safest way possible, of course).
While we weren’t too surprised to see more of an emphasis on contactless payment methods — or shorter wait times on My Disney Experience — we didn’t expect to see so many of these virtual updates that have COMPLETELY switched up our experiences in the re-opened parks!
Walk-Up Dining App Feature
Although quick-service spots have re-opened with Mobile Order, and Advance Dining Reservations are available at table-service locations, walk-up options weren’t all that available initially for restaurants when the parks first opened. However, a month after Disney World started to bring guests back, the resort slowly started to put walk-up dining in place.
Previously, guests would generally be able to go to the hostess stand at a restaurant to reserve a spot that day. Now, walk-up dining has moved to the My Disney Experience app instead. While some restaurants have come and gone from the list, there are new restaurants being frequently added to the mobile list.
Right now, we’re up to 12 (!!!) walk-up locations (all in Disney World hotels), which is a great option for people who want to visit restaurants on a whim! Honestly, we’re kind of shocked this feature wasn’t introduced sooner! This is VERY helpful for families who don’t have a pre-planned table service meal and just want to decide on the fly!
New Mobile Order Process
Since Disney World is trying to make sure that distancing measures are used frequently throughout the parks, the process to visit quick-service locations is quite different from what we’ve seen in the past. In order to disperse lines so there aren’t large crowds, guests are heavily encouraged to use the Mobile Order option to purchase food and drinks around the parks.
Although guests who have allergies, special requests, or are looking to pay with cash are still able to place their order at the counter, the Mobile Order tool is the primary means of picking up meals and snacks around the parks now. After using the My Disney Experience app, guests can go to designated pick-up locations to receive their purchased food and drinks while maintaining distancing.
But, we’re happy to say that Cast Members are still providing cups of free ice water to guests so you can cool off from that Florida heat for free! Just be sure to tell the Cast Member at the entrance you’d like to get some free water.
While we’ve been back to many quick-service locations in the parks, like Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe to experience lunch, many of our other favorite treats have started to pop up on Mobile Order as well. Even though the Cheshire Cat Tail has moved locations, it’s back; and fan-favorite Dole Whips like the Kakamora Float, Raspberry Dole Whip, and I Lava You Float are also (finally) back in the parks (so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test out Mobile Order 😉).
Mobile Dining Check-in
We’ve been there before — you check-in for your dining reservation at a restaurant, and it still takes ages for your party to be called.
Since Disney World is leaning towards reducing the number of people gathering in one place at a time, Mobile Dining Check-in was put in place for a quicker and more distanced process in the re-opened parks.
Guests are able to put all their information in the app during their virtual check-in (including party size, dietary restrictions, and more). After they’ve completed their process, Disney sends a text to the guests to confirm their check-in and call them back to the hostess stand when the table is ready.
Instead of waiting around near the restaurant to be called, the Mobile Dining Check-in lets everyone walk around the park or chill out while waiting to be texted. QR code menus are available to scan so guests can look at the menus ahead of time, which reduces contact further.
Disney Chat Feature
Ahead of the original Disney Resorts’ grand re-opening, Disney announced that it would be introducing a new chat feature in the My Disney Experience app that would allow guests to contact the front desk without having to physically stand at the desk. Initially, we had HUGE problems with it taking hours for us to get a response within the app.
However, when it’s working, you’re able to ask questions about housekeeping, room check-in, and even ask for more toiletries or towels.
It’s not perfect, though — sometimes it’s just easier to access the chat feature on the Disney World website directly. It’s literally the same chat, and it could be easier to access.
Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group Changes
Since the ride debuted this past December, it has been crucial to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios early to snag a Boarding Pass to ride Rise of the Resistance. But this system has seen one of the biggest shake-ups in the parks following the reopening!
Originally, the Boarding Groups were modified so guests weren’t crowding at the entrance of the park first thing in the morning (often HOURS before the park was scheduled to open!). Guests had three chances to join a boarding group at 10AM, 1PM, and 4PM. This was later adjusted to only offer two windows to score a boarding group — 10AM and 2PM instead.
Breaking the distribution up over multiple times throughout the day was meant to reduce the number of people coming to Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning, but the groups are still going CRAZY fast — usually within a minute or so. If you score a group, My Disney Experience shows the estimated wait time before your group is called so you can hit up a few rides or grab a bite to eat with less worry your group will be called while you’re busy.
But there have been two more big changes to the My Disney Experience app when it comes to getting a Boarding Group for the most popular ride in Disney World. Guests can now see an estimated wait time in the app for their Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group. AND, the app will now select your entire party — as long as they’re scanned into the park — to join your Boarding Group, which is saving lots of time for large groups.
Finally, that isn’t the only giant difference in Rise of the Resistance! We were TOTALLY caught off guard the other day when we spotted live Stormtroopers watching over transport vehicles inside (that we luckily escaped!).
We’ve been in the hangar room enough to be comfortable with the very much NOT alive Stormtrooper animatronics, so this was a fun surprise! Be sure to stay alert next time you’re on Rise of the Resistance — you never know who may be in there with you!
These are the three Rise of the Resistance changes you need to know before you go back to Disney World!
While we didn’t expect to see these changes in Disney World, most of these changes have actually improved our experience in the parks! While change might seem scary, it’s exciting to think that there is a whole lot in store for the future in Disney World (and we’ll be here to take you along for the ride with us)!
What has been your favorite new feature available through the My Disney Experience app recently? Let us know in the comments below!