Wow! WHAT. A. MONTH.
It seems that every month that passes has more and more BIG news. In this month alone, we saw major health and safety measures phase-out, a fan-favorite show came back, and we got information on what Halloween will look like at Disney World this year! So let’s dive into the BIGGEST updates from May in Disney World!
Masks Are Optional Outdoors
Face mask policies have been slightly changing in Disney World since it reopened in July of 2020, but this month there was a HUGE change! Following the change that guests could take off their face masks for outdoor photos, Disney World now allows guests to be maskless in outdoor areas (with a few exceptions).
The rule change happened VERY quickly, so we’ve been showing you what we’ve experienced in the park. Guests must put their face mask back on when entering shops or restaurants, and keep them on while indoors. In the extended queues for attractions, we’ve seen guests with masks off, but as soon as they enter the “real” line under the entrance sign, masks must go back on.
This new policy means that you no longer have to be stationary to eat and drink around the parks. Universal Orlando has also removed its mask policy for fully vaccinated people allowing them to be maskless throughout the parks, both indoors and outdoors. Disney World has not yet made this announcement, but it could be coming in the near future.
Boo Bash Is Replacing Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
In the beginning of the month we celebrated Halfway to Halloween with some new Gideon’s treats and spooky chocolate snacks, but we also got a MAJOR update on what Halloween will look like in Disney World this year!
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will NOT be returning in 2021. Before you get too upset, the fan-favorite event will be replaced with a new after hours event called Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash!
Just like the previous Halloween party, this will require a separate ticket for entry into Magic Kingdom. It will run select nights starting on August 10th, 2021 through October 31st, 2021.
The event will feature character interactions throughout the park, Halloween-themed character cavalcades, performances from the Cadaver Dans, and special treat stations. Plus, ALL guests can wear their Halloween costumes! Tickets are pricey and will go on sale in June. You can read more about Boo Bash ticket pricing here.
Physical Distancing Is Starting to Disappear
Along with mask policies, physical distancing has also changed in Disney World. We’ve seen physical distancing markers being removed all over property, and Disney announced that they were reducing distancing measures.
This comes after a study that suggested theme parks could reduce social distancing guidelines. Previously, Disney World’s website contained an image regarding physical distancing with two individuals and the words “6ft 2m” between them…
…but now the area between them is blank. We’ve seen that same part covered on signs in the parks. The language on the website also changed to say Disney “will reduce physical distancing measures for Guests across many areas with a gradual, phased approach.”
We’ve also seen distancing markers removed from the Transportation and Ticket Center…
Several shows have also changed their seating to allow more guests into the theater. Most shows are no longer skipping rows and are telling guests to leave one seat between them and other parties.
We’re in the Disney World theme parks every day, and it seems that each day, there are fewer and fewer markers. We’ve even seen them removed from some tables in outdoor eating areas. Disney still encourages guests to distance from one another, but the 6 feet of distancing seems to be in the past in Disney World.
Festival of the Lion King is BACK
Live entertainment has been scarce since Disney World reopened, but we have seen the return of shows like A Frozen Singalong Celebration. In January we learned that a show would be returning in the summer, and then learned it would reopen in mid-May. Now, the Festival of the Lion King is BACK at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and we couldn’t be more excited!
There are a few differences in the show compared to the pre-closure version, but the heart is still the same and all of your favorite The Lion King songs are in there. On your next visit to Animal Kingdom, be sure to check the show times and line-up early to guarantee yourself a seat!
Temperature Checks Are Gone
One of the first health and safety measures to disappear this month was temperature checks. Ever since Disney World reopened last year, guests have had to go through a temperature check to enter the parks, Disney Springs, restaurants, and more. Now, temperature checks have been phased out completely.
We’ve seen the tents still up in front of the parks, but guests no longer have to stop. Before this change Dr. Pino, the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, stated that the use of temperature checks is not recommended right now.
The CDC also conducted a report that showed temperature checks may be ineffective at identifying COVID-19 cases. When you visit Disney World next, this is one thing you will no longer have to do.
Update With Transportation Replacing Disney’s Magical Express
In case you missed it, Disney’s Magical Express that takes Disney World Resort guests to and from Orlando International Airport is being discontinued as of January 1st, 2022. BUT, there is a NEW transportation option that will essentially offer the same service to guests!
Mears Connect is set to debut in January of 2022 and reservations were set to open in May of 2021. Now, Mears updated their website to say that reservations were coming in “summer 2021” and that it will be “accepting reservations soon.”
We’ll be on the lookout for an exact date that you can make reservations so that those of you traveling to Disney World in 2022 can schedule your airport transportation!
The Disney College Program is Returning
With the park closures, the Disney College Program was temporarily suspended. Then the program was canceled through the fall of 2021. But now, Disney has announced that the Disney College Program is returning!
In March, Disney indicated that they wanted to bring back the program in 2021, and now applications are open! With resuming the program comes some changes as well. Disney announced that there will be gender-neutral housing option!
The Disney College Program is officially welcoming back people starting in June. Apply now if you’ve wanted to be a part of this program!
NEW Star Wars Hotel Opening Timeline (Plus Sneak Peeks of a REAL Lightsaber!)
The pandemic caused a LOT of Disney projects to be pushed off. One of these projects is the new Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser which is an immersive Star Wars hotel! This month, thanks to May the Fourth, we got some amazing news about the new experience coming to Disney World!
First of all, we got a new opening timeline for the Star Wars Hotel! It was previously set to open sometime in 2021, but now the website says that it will open in 2022. We’ve been watching the progress from the outside, but we don’t know how far along it has come on the inside yet!
We also got a closer look at the REAL lightsaber coming to the Star Wars Hotel! We first saw the saber in April, but Disney announced that it would specifically be coming to the Galactic Starcruiser.
We even found some permits and broke down HOW Disney did it! Let’s just say, we can’t wait for this hotel to open!
A New Gelato Stand Opened in EPCOT
In the past year, we’ve seen plenty of Disney World restaurants reopen, but there are not many NEW restaurants opening! We know that La Creperie de Paris in EPCOT’s France pavilion will open on October 1st, but World Showcase got a new snack spot this month!
We’ve been watching the progress on the gelato stand in the Italy pavilion for a while, but it officially opened as Gelateria Toscana!
The new restaurant serves up sweet treats like gelato, smoothies, cannolis, and more! It’s an adorable little stand, and now gives you another place to stop when you eat around the world.
A DFB Cocktail Made It Onto a Disney World Menu
We LOVE the Kakamora Float over at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom, and in February we made our own spiked version of the float thanks to the incredible bartenders at the Barefoot Pool Bar in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We landed with a Parrot Bay coconut rum, pineapple juice, piña colada mix, and blue curaçao creation. The only thing that was missing was real Dole Whip!
When we visited this month, we found The Voyager on the menu — also known as the Spiked Kakamora Float! The new drink was made with Parrot Bay coconut rum blended with cream of coconut and pineapple juice, layered with pineapple Dole Whip and blue curaçao. Yep, this one had classic pineapple Dole Whip!
It tasted like a tropical dream, and we were so excited to see one of our creations join the menu (with the help of some awesome Cast Members). Be sure to check it out if you visit Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort!
3 Restaurants Reopen/Get Reopening Dates
And last but not least, 2 restaurants reopened this month and 1 got a reopening timeline! Chef Mickey’s has been open for breakfast with characters, but as of May 16th, the popular restaurant offers dinner with Mickey and friends!
Disney’s Beach Club Resort has been partially open for a while now, but it fully reopened to all guests on May 30th! But just before that, Cape May Cafe reopened! We showed you a first look at the restaurant after its very long closure, and we had both breakfast AND dinner there.
Tusker House Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom has also been closed for a very long time, but we now have a reopening timeline! Disney announced that character dining will return to Tusker House sometime this summer.
We don’t have an exact date yet, but we’ll let you know when it is announced!
And that’s a wrap on the month of May! There were a TON of changes that are sure to affect your next Disney World trip, and we’re here to help. As always, we’ll continue to bring you the latest updates on everything happening in the Disney parks!
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What change from this past month are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!