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’s all the details to help you get a handle on the changes at Walt Disney World.
UPDATED January 2021
- 1 Walt Disney World COVID Know Before you Go Page
- 2 Walt Disney World Service Changes
- 3 Disney World Face Mask Requirements
- 4 Disney Resort Changes
- 5 Walt Disney World Changes in Dining Services
- 6 Disney World Entertainment Changes
- 7 Ride and Attraction Changes
- 8 Disney Entrance Changes
- 9 The 6 Disney Health and Saftey Protocols
- 10 Changes at Walt Disney World in the Near Future
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 Park Hours Be sure to check current park hours on Walt Disney World’s 5 day Calendar.
- Limited Capacity at the Parks: Check out the capacity levels for Walt Disney World in each park. Disney CEO, Bob Chapek announced in that the current operating capacity of Walt Disney World is 40%, but we expect capacity increases to be in intervals in alignment with current safety and health standards at Walt Disney World.
- Disney Park Pass Reservation Required and in place through September 26, 2021. This reservation system requires guest 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 2pm 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 shopDisney.com.
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. As a reminder the use of a face mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Disney FACE MASK RULES
- Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members.
- Guests should be wearing their face masks upon arrival
- Face Masks MUST Cover your Nose AND Mouth
- To be worn at ALL times except while dining or swimming
- You cannot remove your face mask to eat or drink while walking. You must be stationary.
- A Mask can be disposable or reusable
- Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
- Must FULLY cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Must Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops that stay in place and fastened
What FACE MASKS Are NOT ALLOWED AT DISNEY?
- Neck gaiters
- Open-chin triangle bandannas
- Face coverings containing valve
- Any masks made of mesh material
- Face masks with holes of any kind
- Costume masks ( which are also against Disney Costume guidelines policy)
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.
Walt Disney World Changes in Dining Services
- Shared Food Services : While part of the Disney experience is about getting your refillable mug and heading to the commissary for a refill, this may soon change. Self-Service Dining Options are No Longer Available. And things like drinks, once gotten on your own will be served by a Cast Member. The removal of self service food stations has been called out in several states, including Florida, as a necessary measure. This will mean interesting things not only for resorts that have shared stations for drinks and condiments but for almost all of the Disney Quick Service Restaurants across the parks and Disney Springs.
- 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.
- Cancellation of Character Dining temporarily. With the exception of Topolino Terrace Mickey A La Art Character Breakfast, which will still be available.
- No Dining Plan
- 60 Day Dining Reservations changed from 180 day advanced dining reservations. And now required for most restaurants.
- Temperature Scanning at Table Service 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
Disney World Entertainment Changes
- Temporary Removal of Parades, Fireworks, Shows: Anything that causes a crowd will most likely be cancelled for the immediate future. That is until things get close to normal ( or dare we suggest, there is a vaccine at the ready). You can dig deep into the conversation happening in Florida here for context. Part of the reason that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was cancelled 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, see All the Shows that have been Cancelled at Walt Disney World List for details.
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 but should be available January 31, 2021.
- 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 : With the shift away from MagicBands and a new kind of technology largely dependent on your phone, fingerprint scanning is being phased out. After 9/11, Walt Disney World implemented security checks at every park practically overnight. And now, the humble beginnings of security and bag check are ingrained in Disney culture at the parks. Even Animal Kingdom recently got a brand new streamlined security check pavilion. Just as Walt Disney World began to install hand sanitation stations across the parks, and allow guests to NOT scan in with a fingerprint, the writing was on the wall. So they haven’t really had time to test this. We figure a move towards the Disneyland entrance practices is not far behind. This simple process involves showing your printed or digital ticket, having your picture taken, and receiving an official bar coded ticket. At present, the procedure will not require a fingerprint scan to enter the park.
- Temperature Scanning at Entrance
- 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.
The 6 Disney Health and Saftey Protocols
- Temperature Screenings Prior to Entry
- For guests and cast members
- Limited Parking and Reduced Entrances
- Limited Park Capacity. Check out Capacity limits for Walt Disney World.
- Additional signage across the property to guide guests safely
- Face Coverings Required for Guests ages 3 and up
- Bring your own but masks will also be available for purchase.
- Physical distancing practices, including but not limited to:
- Physically distanced queues
- Physical barriers
- Cashless Transactions
- Contactless Menus
- Temporary Operation Modification, including but not limited to:
- Reduced Operating Hours at Select Locations
- No Scheduled Entertainment Offerings
- No High-Touch Interactive Areas
- Increased focus on Disinfecting and Sanitation
- Added Hand Washing Stations
- Added Hand Sanitizers in key areas
- Increased cleaning in high-traffic areas
To see some of this in action you can review the Disneyland Shanghai opening practices. “Since many of these measures will be new, and may evolve, we want to be sure Guests, Cast Members and Operating Participant employees are aware of all these changes”- Walt Disney World Official Website
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 in the Near Future
As a level set, be sure to check out everything that was happening and was supposed to happen at Walt Disney World in 2020. We also have a running a list of all the Walt Disney World changes; including new projects slated to complete for the 50th Anniversary next year.
- Walt Disney World COVID 19 Plans UPDATED August 2020
- What’s New at Walt Disney World in 2020? Everything to Know before you Go!
- Walt Disney World Changes for 2021: The 50th Anniversary
- Walt Disney World Changes to Park Projects After Closing 2020
Official Walt Disney World Re-Opening Announcements
Official news has been shared on Walt Disney World’s Website about the precautions and shared responsibility to stay safe at Walt Disney World. Check out the Disney Springs Rules for Phase 1.Walt Disney World Resort Remains Closed, including theme parks and Disney Resort hotels; Official Announcement. This announcement includes all details on resort stays, already booked packages, transportation etc.
Changes at Walt Disney World After Closing
Sure, the future of Walt Disney World may be uncertain, but like anything it will take some time to see effects of the current situation. We won’t discount anything as impossible, and instead be grateful for our times in the parks in the past and in the future. 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.