It may be hard to believe, but it has been a FULL year since the Disney World theme parks reopened following its four-month-long closure in 2020 [when this post was originally published]. It’s a unique anniversary many of us wouldn’t have predicted being faced with just a few years ago, but here we are!
Since then, a lot has changed — health and safety policies have been updated drastically to make face masks optional for most guests and Cast Members in many locations, and most social distancing measurements have also been lifted. For all of the things that HAVE returned to Disney World since the parks reopened, there are also a number of things that have STILL not come back.
Just one short year ago, it was a WHOLE different ballgame in Disney World. The parks and resorts looked and felt different than anyone had ever experienced. We faced record low crowds as guests began to slowly return. Temperature checks and face masks were the norm. A year later, the parks are slowly returning to what we’ve known for nearly 49 years now as “normal.” Let’s take a look at what still HASN’T.
Disney World Services and Other Offerings
There are several key planning tools guests have relied on in years past when booking a trip to Disney World. For instance, Disney suspended the Dining Plan during the 2020 closures… However, the Disney Dining Plan HAS RETURNED to Disney World as of January 9th, 2024!
Another fan-favorite planning tool that did not return one year after the parks reopened is FastPass+. And in August 2021, Disney announced that FastPass will NOT return to Disney World. A new service called Disney Genie launched on October 19, 2021, and the free service launched alongside two additional, optional paid-for services that have ultimately replaced FastPass+. You can find all the information about these new offerings HERE.
The sale of new Annual Passes was still on pause one year after the parks reopened. However, if you’re in the market to join the AP family, you can do so now, because Annual Passes are now available for purchase again!
The Annual Pass Program returned with FOUR all-new passes, so you’ll DEFINITELY want to be aware of all of the major changes.
When the parks initially reopened, character meet and greets were happening entirely from a distance. In November 2021, a few Character Meet-and-Greets returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Magic Kingdom, but in a modified fashion still requiring that guests maintain a certain distance from the characters. But now?
Guests are now able to go up to the characters and give them hugs, and characters are able to sign autographs! (It is largely a return to “normal” in terms of what many guests were used to prior to the pandemic.)
See pics and videos of the return of traditional Character Meet-and-Greets HERE! And find our FULL LIST of Character Meet and Greets that have returned to normal HERE!
Tables in Wonderland is still suspended until further notice. New memberships are not being sold at this time, and we will keep an eye on any new updates.
Most transportation options have returned to Disney World, but the Minnie Van service remained on pause for quite some time. BUT Minnie Vans officially returned to Walt Disney World Resort on June 29, 2022!
Finally, we’re still waiting to hear when Disney World is planning on the return of offering package deliveries to their resort hotels. This service was very popular with many hotel guests not wanting to lug their purchases around the theme parks all day.
AND Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reopened in Magic Kingdom on August 25th, 2022! Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices are ready and waiting to transform guests ages 3 to 12 into their favorite Disney characters with different hair styling, costumes, makeup, and accessories.
Disney World Dining
Just like Disney World Resort hotels, guests visiting Disney World one year after the parks reopened will be able to dine at most restaurants and dining spots. There may be a select few restaurants, however, that you are still unable to eat at right now.
Here’s a select list of dining locations that are still currently closed:
- Restaurant Marrakesh – EPCOT
- ESPN Club – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn — UPDATE: ESPN Club is now closed on Disney’s BoardWalk. The location will become home to The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, which is slated to open in early 2024.
- 1900 Park Fare – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Click here for a FULL list of the dining locations around Disney World that are currently open and closed.
Disney World Entertainment
The lovely street performers in the parks, like the Citizens of Hollywood in Hollywood Studios and the Citizens of Main Street in Magic Kingdom, have not yet returned.
Also in Hollywood Studios, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid remains closed. However, Disney announced in December 2023 that a NEW show — “The Little Mermaid — A Musical Adventure” — is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Fall 2024!
Be aware, though, that with this announcement, it’s also been confirmed that Voyage of the Little Mermaid is permanently closed in Disney World.
The parks and resorts have come a long way in being able to bring more Cast Members back, reopen most of our favorite locations, and bring back some of our favorite things! As Disney World continues its phased reopening, we’ll be sure to bring you the most up-to-date coverage on what’s available throughout the parks and hotels!
What do you remember most from Disney World’s historic reopening year? Let us know below.