Changes at Walt Disney World in 2021

Changes at Walt Disney World in 2021

Your next Disney Vacation is going to look a whole lot different than you’re used to. At least in the short term. As the world tries to recoup losses we’re all still moving forward with lots and lots of caution. And the same goes for Walt Disney World and Disneyland too. If you’re planning to travel to Walt Disney World soon, say within the next year or two, here’s how your Disney Vacation may be affected. These official rules on the Walt Disney World website give us a glimpse of what is to come, but here are all the details to help you get a handle on the changes at Walt Disney World. 

UPDATED May 2021

Walt Disney World COVID Know Before you Go Page

For the most complete up-to-date information on everything regarding the reopening of the parks, check out Walt Disney Worlds Know Before you Go Page. This has every last detail that can and will affect your vacation. 

Walt Disney World Service Changes

  • Limited Capacity at the Parks: Check out the capacity levels for Walt Disney World in each park. Disney CEO, Bob Chapek announced that the current operating capacity of Walt Disney World is 35% and that it will stay at that level through 2021.
  • Disney Park Pass Reservation Required and in place through September 26, 2021. This reservation system requires guests to reserve park access ahead of time. In addition to purchasing a ticket. Resort guests do not get guaranteed park access. Check out How to Make a Disney Park Pass Reservation to get tips and details. 
  • Park Hopper Tickets are available for a 2 pm or later arrival in your second park of choice. Read all the details about the Park Hopper Tickets at Walt Disney World.
  • The Removal of Free MagicBands for Resort Guests has sent some waves through the Disney fanbase, but never fear. You can still buy MagicBands in the My Disney Experience App and on

Disney Face Mask Rules

Disney World Face Mask Requirements

You can find updated information regularly on the Walt Disney World Know Before You go Website, but here is the rundown for Face Mask Requirements at Walt Disney World. So far. 

Face Masks No Longer Required Outside

Effective immediately, Walt Disney World is no longer requiring the use of face masks in outdoor common areas or pool areas. Face Masks are still required for indoor areas, like restaurants, attractions, theaters, etc. As always keep an eye on Disney’s experience updates page for continuing changes.

“…today’s guidance that we got from the CDC in terms of those that were vaccinated do not necessarily need to wear masks anymore, both outdoors and indoors. Is very big news for us, particularly if anybody’s been in Florida in the middle of the summer with a mask on. That could be quite daunting. So we think that’s going to make for an even more pleasant experience and we believe that as we’re now bringing back a lot of people back to work, that it’s going to be an even bigger catalyst for growth in attendance, and we’ve been quite pleased to date.” – Bob Chapek

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Disney Resort Changes

Disney Resorts will be opening in a phased plan. You can read all updates on Disney’s Resort page. Here are the main things to remember regarding open resorts. 

In order to enter a Disney Resort, You MUST have the following. 

  • A confirmed Resort Reservation 
  • If not staying at the resort, a confirmed Dining Reservation
  • Face Masks for everyone in your party age 2 and up
  • A Disney resort reservation does not guarantee park entry. To gain access to the parks you will need a valid ticket and a park pass reservation. 

disney all star resorts walt disney world

Walt Disney World Changes in Dining Services

  • Shared Food Services: UPDATE: Guests are now allowed to Refill their Refillable Mugs! T
    • Buffet Dining Experiences: Reported in the Orlando Sentinel there is some speculation that one of the Walt Disney World changes we may see is the removal of buffet-type dining experiences. At least temporarily. Chances are this would morph to more family-style meals to still allow for the “all you care to enjoy” portions while keeping your family away from other families. 
    • Character Dining is returning, slowly
  • No Dining Plan
  • 60 Day Dining Reservations changed from 180 days advanced dining reservations. And now required for most restaurants.
  • Increased Mobile Order Restaurant options.
  • Cashless Payment via your phone or MagicBand
  • Contactless menus provided via signage or a code you can scan with your phone to retrieve the menu.
  • Limited Capacity at Restaurants
  • No Room Service 

free things at disney

Disney World Entertainment Changes

  • Temporary Removal of Parades, Fireworks, Shows Anything that causes a crowd will most likely be canceled for the immediate future. That is until things get close to normal ( or dare we suggest, there is a vaccine at the ready). Part of the reason that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was canceled for 2020, because why would people go if they couldn’t see the Boo to You Parade? These Walt Disney World changes may significantly affect crowd levels. We shall see!  As a family-friendly company heavily seated in safety, they will open only when they feel prepared. And most likely do so in phases. 
  • Cancellation of EPCOT festival concert series
  • Cancellation of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Cancellation of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Cancellation of EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional
  • Introduction of Physically Distant Character Interactions
  • Character Cavalcades take place of Meet and Greets. 
  • Cancellation of legacy Live Shows

walt disney world in 2020

Ride and Attraction Changes

  • No Virtual Queues Now/ Increased number of Virtual Queues Later: As Disney grapples with trying to keep fewer people in the parks to maintain social distancing, virtual queue opportunities may increase. Parks and zoos across the country have begun to implement timed-entry systems, and we can expect the same from Disney in terms of when they allow people into the parks, and when they allow people on rides. As part of the Walt Disney World changes, we can expect this to first get tested in Shanghai, opening first.
  • Boarding Pass System for Rise of the Resistance releases 2 boarding pass opportunities a day.
  • The FastPass+ system is currently on hold.
  • Spaced distance between ride seats.
  • Physically Distant Ride Line Queue marked with graphics on the ground of where to stand. 

Disney Entrance Changes

  • A Change in Fingerprint Scanning at Entrance at Disney Parks:  At present, the procedure will not require a fingerprint scan to enter the park.
  • Artificial Intelligence Security Scanners Arrive: Ensuring fast and accurate checking of every guest, this learning computer gets smarter with each walk-through and can detect metal/ guns 10x faster than regular units.

Walt Disney World Resort Still Offering Magical Experiences…

“As part of these efforts, Guests may see other changes to our retail and dining offerings, as well as other experiences. Though it may be different from the last time you visited, these new measures are designed to offer a magical Disney experience in a responsible way. We understand that these times are challenging, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate as responsibly as we can. Together, we can find new ways to have fun while being diligent to maintain proper physical distancing. For all related information please see the Walt Disney World Resort Property Rules for more details.” 

Changes at Walt Disney World After Closing

We’ll try to keep you posted as things change. Keep an eye on the  Walt Disney Worlds Know Before you Go Page for the most up-to-date information.

6 ways your Walt Disney World Vacation is Going to Change. These temporary changes at Walt Disney World will be part of the new normal as Disney Parks tackle safety issues across park properties. From temperature checks to cashless purchases. #disneychanges #disney2020 #disneyvcacation #disneytips #polkadotpixies

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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