So, hey, we hear you might be planning a trip to Disney World this summer!
But before you start planning, we’ve got some tips, tricks, and information you’re going to want to know about! Whether this is your first trip or your 100th, things are still pretty different in Disney World. So hang on to your Minnie ears, because we’re going to tell you what you need to plan your trip and do our best to guarantee you have a GREAT time!
So going to Disney World this summer is a little different than it’s been before. If you haven’t been to the parks in a few years we’re going to try to prepare you for everything.
Trip Planning Changes
Let’s start with Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). Basically, if you plan on sitting down at a restaurant to eat at all on your trip, you need to know all about these! You used to be able to book these 180 days in advance, but you’ll need to know that you can now only book them 60 days in advance. That COULD change before summer, but we’ll let you know if it does!
We still HIGHLY recommend booking reservations for restaurants you plan on dining at on your trip. Disney has come out with a same-day option though. Called the Mobile Walk-up Waitlist, this allows guests to see any day-of tables available at nearby restaurants. This is convenient but not the most reliable. So if you’ve got your heart set on a specific location, plan ahead.
Early Theme Park Entry
Remember Extra Magic Hours? You used to be able to stay at a Disney resort and get some extra time in the parks in the mornings and evenings on specific days for each park. Well, those are gone (for now). Disney plans on introducing a similar-but-different program simply named Early Theme Park Entry. This would let a Disney hotel guest get into ANY park 30 minutes before everyone else.
It’s unclear when this will go into effect, but we’ll let you know as soon as it does.
FastPass+ is still not available at the parks right now. Instead, all rides are standby only, except for Rise of the Resistance, which requires a boarding pass.
Getting a spot for Rise is a whole ordeal in and of itself, so if you want some tips on how best to grab one, we’ve got some great tips right here.
Park hours are also a LOT different and you’ll need to check the official Disney World website for your trip dates (and check OFTEN because they change frequently). Right now, most parks aren’t open super late in the evenings, although hours do occasionally get extended when Disney expects bigger crowds.
In general, expect shorter days that you might be familiar with (sorry, no more 8AM-2AM days for now!). You’ll see slightly later morning openings (especially at EPCOT where we typically see them opening at 11AM!) and earlier evening closes. This means if you want a chance to see Pandora at night in Animal Kingdom or the new lighting at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood Studios, you’ll have to hope for extended hours!
Another thing to note is that restaurants and shops do not have the same hours pre-closure — it’s always a good idea to check the official Disney World website for opening times and days. Some restaurants are even only open on weekends or during busy times, so before you make plans to eat somewhere, make sure it’s open!We post regular updates on hours here, so check with us, too!
If you’ve been to Disney in the better part of the last decade, you’ve likely encountered MagicBands. These little wristbands serve as your tickets, open your Disney hotel room, can make charges to your credit card, and much more. Sadly, the days of free MagicBands are over. BUT, you can easily still use MagicBands from previous trips or buy your own.
A huge push to allow guests’ phones to perform many of the functions of a MagicBand has been happening at Disney World recently. Now your phone can open your hotel room door, and even function as your ticket to the park soon! You can also access most of the MagicBand features through the My Disney Experience app. You can also opt to get a free Key to the World card that lets you do almost everything you previously did with a MagicBand.
My Disney Experience and Mobile Order
Speaking of My Disney Experience, you’ll need to be comfortable using the app, if only to use Mobile Order. Almost every fast-food-style restaurant at Disney World now requires you to place your order via the app (with rare exceptions like guests requiring the assistance of a Cast Member or those paying in cash). Familiarizing yourself with how it works first will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Note that you can also use the app to order to-go meals from a number of table service restaurants at Disney World, so knowing how to do that in advance could come in handy, too! You can download the My Disney Experience app from home and start playing around with its features before you ever step foot in Disney World! Trust us, knowing the ins and outs of the app will help a LOT!
What’s Still Missing
If you are planning a trip this summer, it’s likely that some of the pre-closure events and activities will still not be happening in the parks. This includes scheduled parades, which have been replaced with random character cavalcades (basically mini parades with characters) and nighttime entertainment (there are no fireworks right now).
Character meet and greets are also still not happening, but there are a lot of fun character interactions in the parks — you can see Donald Duck watering plants, watch Pooh catch butterflies, see Chip ‘n’ Dale having a picnic, and more!
As far as nighttime entertainment goes, we’ve been following the construction over at EPCOT of the new nighttime spectacular Harmonious. It’s possible it might premiere this year, but Disney has not revealed any opening dates for that yet.
Finally, if you’ve enjoyed the Disney Dining Plan in the past, that is also not available at this time. Again, this is something that could change, so keep checking back with us to stay updated!
One thing you can (just about) always count on is visiting Disney World during one of EPCOT’s festivals — these days, it seems like there is ALWAYS a festival going on. The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival is running all the way into July this year. And the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival is kicking off soon after, on July 15th! It’ll run through November 20th.
Summer used to be the big “no fest” time of the year in EPCOT but the festivals have started to run longer and longer. A summer trip now means you can likely plan to enjoy all the festival fun EPCOT has to offer! So you might want to plan ahead for festival activities and foods in advance! Again, we cover EVERY festival, so be sure to check with us if you want to know what’s going on!
Things have really been picking up at Disney World. Though the parks were almost like ghost towns last summer after reopening, people have started to return to the parks. We’ve seen the parks at full capacity pretty frequently recently — and we’re expecting that trend to continue into the summer.
Disney World has been slowly increasing capacity, and will continue to do so over the coming months. That means we’re probably going to see even bigger crowds, harder-to-grab reservations, and more in the near future.
Just because Disney World has been reopened for over a year doesn’t mean everything is open like it once was! A number of hotels and attractions are still closed. Some have reopening dates on the horizon.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is scheduled to reopen on July 2nd.
The Disney Vacation Club rooms have been available since last summer, but soon, the resort as a whole will welcome guests again. You can book your reservation now!
Polynesian Village Resort
Also, note that the Polynesian will look a lot different – it’s getting some new Moana-inspired theming! The regular guest rooms will be getting Moana makeovers as well as the lobby area. You can make reservations for those reimagined rooms now! Disney Vacation Club rooms are currently still open and those will remain unchanged.
Typhoon Lagoon remains closed, but if you’re looking to beat the heat this summer, you DO have one water park to cool down in!
Although many shows are still on hiatus, the Festival of the Lion King has reopened in a modified format! We highly recommend catching a show.
Many restaurants, such as Chef Mickey’s and Cape May Cafe, have recently reopened. Others are resuming operations this summer: ‘Ohana, Tusker House, and Sebastian’s Bistro have all announced reopening dates in the next month or so.
What’s Still Closed
There are some resorts that will possibly still remain closed this summer. Disney has not yet announced opening dates for the following resorts:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge (Vacation Club rooms are currently open)
- All-Star Sports Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts
There’s also a lot of entertainment not happening at the parks right now. Live musical performances have returned to the parks, but they’re modified. For example, the Dapper Dans no longer sing down Main Street, U.S.A., but sing from the Main Street, U.S.A. station or while riding the trolley car.
Some entertainment may never return to Disney World. Some performers were laid off last year, including many of our favorites — the Grand Floridian Orchestra, the Citizens of Main Street, performers from the Hoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, and more. Disney has not revealed what entertainment might look like come summer, but we’ll keep you updated.
Disney has not released a statement about the remaining live shows at the parks that didn’t return when Disney World reopened.
So you’re going on a summer trip. Guess what that means? It’s going to be HOT and HUMID. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to stay hydrated — drink lots of water. And don’t forget, you can get free water at the parks rather than pay for an overpriced bottle of water (or bring your own). You might also want to consider bringing a cooling towel or portable fan for your own personal comfort.
What about those masks? While you no longer have to wear them outdoors, face coverings (as of now) are still required in ALL indoor locations, and on all attractions/in all queues (whether indoors or outdoors). Our recommendation is to bring more than one mask per day — have an extra one handy. You’re going to sweat, and changing into a dry mask at some point will feel like a luxury. Also, sometimes they do get lost or wet — so having a backup mask is always a good idea.
If you have a foldable raincoat or poncho, bring it with you to the parks. Disney sells ponchos but they’re…pricey!
Being summer it likely will rain. And it will be random. Florida is notorious for sudden rainstorms, and that’s even on days when the forecast doesn’t call for rain. Don’t be fooled by a deceptively bright and sunny day outside. It can change in a flash! Trust us — be prepared.
Finally, you’ll want to plan some downtime because it will be SO HOT (and possibly crowded) in the parks. Take a break in the middle of the day and hit the resort pool. Or plan a full day where you just hang out at your resort and just chill. You can pop over to Disney Springs for the day or just an afternoon if you want to get away from the hustle of the parks for a bit.
Looking to stay in the parks? Find those sit-down shows in each park (stuff like Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom or Muppet-Vision 3D in Hollywood Studios). This will give you a long much-needed break in the cool air conditioning! Your body will thank you.
We hope this helps you in planning your trip to Disney World this summer. In many ways, things will seem very different from past “normal” summers, but in many ways, it’s all really just the same! As always, we’ll keep you updated on any changes that could affect your future trips.
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Are you going to Disney World this summer? Let us know in the comments!