If you haven’t been to Disney World since the parks reopened, then you may be in for a shock when you show up.
With new health and safety measures and lots of changes to the parks in general, things look a little different. However, the thing that has perhaps changed the most is the way that you ENTER the parks! There are several new steps, processes, and systems in place for park entry at Walt Disney World, and it can be kind of confusing to navigate them all! But today, we’re breaking it down!
Whether you remember how things “used to be” or you’ve simply never visited before, it’s important to wrap your head around just HOW you go about getting into a Disney World park now. We gotcha covered!
Disney Park Pass Reservations
Nowadays, before you even arrive at the parks, you’ll need to make a Disney Park Pass (DPP) reservation to get in. The new Disney Park Pass system is Disney World’s way of controlling capacities, and all guests are required to “book” the park they want to visit in advance.
To be clear, you still gotta buy your tickets THEN you gotta book your Park Passes. These reservations are made through your My Disney Experience account and must be made for each day of your trip. If you plan on Park Hopping, you only have to book a Disney Park Pass for the first park of the day. You won’t be able to get into a Disney World park without a Park Pass (unless you’re Park Hopping and you’ve already been to the first park) so don’t skip this step!
A note on booking these guys: Park Passes are lumped into one of 3 categories: ticket holders, Passholders, and Resort guests. Each has different numbers of Passes available on any given day. Passholders can book up to 3 Passes at a time. Ticketed guests can book the number of days they have tickets. resort (hotel) guests can book as many days as they have tickets as well.
If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel, you’ll fall into the Resort Guest pile, even if you bought tickets separately or have an Annual Pass. It’s all linked in My Disney Experience. The system needs to see you at least have tickets (and a hotel room, if so) and it will let you book the correct Pass.
We highly recommend making your DPP reservations as soon as you know what your plans are. Trust us, this is an EASY one to overlook. It can land in the “I’ll do it later” pile of your brain and then a week before your trip everything is booked up! They can be canceled and rebooked, so you have SOME flexibility, but if you’re traveling during a popular season, then the parks will fill up FAST.
Right now, guests visiting a Walt Disney World theme park or Disney Springs are required to have their temperature checked before entering. If you have a fever of 100.4˚F or higher, you’ll be given a few minutes to sit and relax in the cool-down tents nearby.
If, after your cool-down period you still test high, you and all the members of your party will be denied entry. This process is usually pretty quick, as it only takes a few seconds for Cast Members to scan your forehead with the thermometers, however, long lines can develop during busy times — like when parks first open in the morning and around dinnertime at Disney Springs.
Even then, this process is actually very quick and we don’t find it slows down our day. Keep in mind you DON’T need to go one at a time if you’re with your family. You can all approach together, especially if you have kids with you who might be alarmed by what’s happening.
New Security System
When the parks reopened, Disney changed up their security procedures quite a bit! Pre-COVID, security guards would manually search each bag and stroller headed into the Disney parks, which took quite a while. Nowadays, there are fancy new scanners at each park entrance and Disney Springs!
With these new scanners, guests simply walk through with all of their belongings. If you have umbrellas, metal water bottles, aerosol cans, or large portable chargers, you’ll want to remove them from your bag (they tend to set them off), but other than that you’re good to go! If the scanner beeps when you walk through, you’ll be pulled aside for an individual bag search.
The process is much quicker and much more smooth than before and often runs even quicker than the temperature checks do. It’s hard to imagine that a year ago, we could’ve waited in line for bag checks for AGES! Now we just breeze right through the line! Keep an eye out — if you find yourself queuing up to go through security, there are usually open scanners nearby. Guests tend to form a line and stick to it, but open scanners may be steps away. Watch Cast Members for cues!
Changes to MagicBands
While you can still use MagicBands to scan into the parks, there have been some BIG changes with them in the past year. Disney Resort guests no longer get MagicBands free with their stay, but they can purchase select styles at a discounted rate.
Annual Passholders have a few free choices for bands, and anyone can purchase them at their regular prices in gift shops around the resort. If you don’t want to pay for a MagicBand, you can pick up a free Key to the World ticket card for each guest at the front desk of your resort and scan in using those. But what if you want to forgo MagicBands or cards entirely?
If MagicBands and Key to the World cards sound like too much hassle, then you need to check out Disney World’s newest way to scan your tickets — on your phone! The new MagicMobile service just launched and offers a way to add your park tickets to the Wallet on your phone or device.
The feature works similar to MagicBands, you’ll just have to hold your device near a touchpoint. You’ll set up this new feature in the My Disney Experience app ahead of your visit and you’ll be able to choose personalized icons for each person’s pass. If you can’t decide whether or not you’d like MagicMobile, the good news is that you can swap back and forth between using it, MagicBands, and Key to the World cards.
The latest change to Walt Disney World is a new option that’s currently being tested in Magic Kingdom…facial recognition. Right now, participation is completely optional and Disney hasn’t made any announcements about the future of the new technology.
If you’d like to try it out, it’s available at select entrances to Magic Kingdom for a limited time. You walk up, scan your park ticket like usual, and then face the new screens above the ticket scanners. Once your face is scanned, it’s assigned a number which is then associated with your ticket. In the future, this could be an alternative to the finger scan, but like we said, Disney hasn’t shared many details on its ultimate plans for this technology at this time.
So, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of changes to deal with when entering Disney World right now! If you haven’t been in a while, make sure to read up on the latest news before you go. The best way to do that is to stay tuned to DFB for all the updates and changes that you need to know!
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Have you been to Disney World since the parks reopened? Tell us in the comments!