Limited capacity has had a HUGE impact on pretty much every aspect of Disney World. Some of the results have been nice, and some…have been mildly inconvenient.
Recently, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek stated that Disney World is, and has been, increasing capacity. On top of that, Disney will be reducing social distancing guidelines. Not to mention, outdoor masks have just been made optional. This could have a pretty big impact on how the parks look and feel, and most importantly, how you experience them! We have some ideas about what might change going forward, and what you might want to get ready to expect.
Higher capacity in the parks means more people, and more people means that just about every Disney World experience will be affected. Everything from restaurant availability to ride lines, from hotels reopening to maybe even…FastPasses returning? We want to be prepared for anything. We’ve got a lot to talk about!
One area that has been greatly affected by COVID-19 restrictions is restaurants. Restaurants have been reopening one by one and requiring facemasks to be worn unless actively eating or drinking. This includes when you’re sitting at your dining table, a measure that was just implemented earlier in 2021.
An important thing to note is that the new social distancing measures are not taking effect in restaurants, meaning that the 6-feet guideline is still in place. So, while park capacity may increase, restaurant capacity will not (as of writing)! This could potentially make it even harder than it is right now to get an Advance Dining Reservation. Because there will be even more people looking to sit down for a meal, but no additional spots, reservations could become a scarcity. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a much higher demand for an already limited supply of seats. Since table service dining may not be available for everyone, we could end up seeing quick-service lines affected, too.
Many people might turn to quick-service meals if restaurants are too booked up. Disney has already made an attempt to reduce lines by promoting mobile ordering. HOWEVER. Even mobile order can have some pretty long wait times! We’ve got some tips on how to figure out the timing to make sure you’re not hungry for long.
Still though, finding food might become a much bigger hassle, which is not something anyone wants to face in Disney World, where food is necessary to keep you going and a big part of the fun (especially for us)! As of now, Disney hasn’t said anything about changing restaurant policies. If Disney comes up with any sort of answer or solution to this potential problem, we will let you know.
Rides and attractions have also seen plenty of changes due to social distancing guidelines. This includes measures like stopping rides occasionally for cleaning and spacing out riders in cars. The lines also look different, with markers on the ground to keep guests distanced and plexiglass barriers.
Disney has not announced exactly how much they will be reducing social distancing, but it could definitely impact how lines look.
It’s possible that lines will be more compact, making them appear shorter than they have been. This could help get rid of those super long, winding lines that spill into other lands and make it hard to find where it starts. Despite looking like a shorter queue, there may actually be more people waiting than we’re used to seeing, so prepare for “short” lines to take longer than expected.
Aside from that, the actual experience of waiting in line may also feel different, because you could be that much closer to those random people waiting in line with you. There are still physical barriers in place, so that might help a bit with separating you from others. But these may start to be changed or removed. Keep in mind that while masks are not required outdoors anymore, they are still required in outdoor ride queues.
With more people visiting the parks, wait times might (unsurprisingly) be higher. After the closure, Disney World suspended the FastPass programs. One result of this? There’s no skipping that standby line.
If lines and wait times get too long, there might be more reason to reintroduce FastPass. We already saw wait times up during spring break season, and summer could be just as bad, or worse! Especially with increased capacity.
Ideally, the return of FastPass would help reduce lines and would give guests an opportunity to “skip” a few lines, which tends to boost guest satisfaction. On the other hand…FastPass could be reintroduced in a new and modified way for the time being. But the increase in capacity, a change in social distancing guidelines, and the anticipation of summer crowds could potentially bring FastPass back, but we will have to wait and see.
There are a number of Disney World Hotels that still haven’t reopened since the parks first closed in 2020. While options may have been more limited, the lower capacity meant opening up all hotels just wasn’t really necessary. Now that capacity is rising, that might change!
In order to accommodate more guests, more hotel rooms (and hotels!) might be finally reopening. As of now, there are still a few hotels that don’t have reopening dates. These could get reopening announcements, depending on how well the hotels that are newly reopening are able to manage the influx of guests. Note that some closed hotels do have Disney Vacation Club rooms available!
The Skyliner already tends to get some long lines, especially at the beginning and end of the day!
Be prepared to find other means of transportation, just in case the Skyliner becomes flooded with people, and you aren’t in the mood for a long wait.
And there are still other options, including buses, the monorail, and ride shares depending on which hotel you stay at. Some of the lines for these can also get lengthy, so having flexibility will help you out a lot! Consider how soon you need to leave or arrive, and how convenient each mode of transportation is for you. An increase in capacity could cause even longer lines and waits, especially with the current social distancing requirements. Be prepared and have a transportation plan so this doesn’t cause a damper in your plans.
It’s hard to say exactly how Disney World will look with an increase in capacity. It could be that this is the first big step towards things returning to “normal.” We will continue to monitor the changes and will let you know what you need to do to conquer Disney World through all of the changes.
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What do you think Disney World will look like with increased capacity? Let us know in the comments!