Walt Disney World has made a ton of changes in the wake of the COVID 19 Pandemic. From the addition of new safety and health protocols to the cancellation of events, there are many ways that your next Disney Vacation is going to look a whole lot different. We’ve rounded up all the Disney during COVID questions and rules so far in this Disney World During the Pandemic FAQ.
- 2 What are the Changes at Walt Disney World during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
- 3 How does the COVID Pandemic Affect the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary?
- 4 Disney Construction Delays and Changes Due to COVID
- 5 Is Disney World Still Magical during COVID?
- 6 Is It Safe to Travel to Walt Disney World During the Pandemic?
Updated May 2021
What are the Changes at Walt Disney World during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Disney World during the pandemic comes with a lot of changes, we’ll try to cover the bulk of them here so that you have an idea of what your next Walt Disney World Vacation will look like. And be sure to click through all our links for a complete view of how COVID at Disney will affect your next trip.
What are Walt Disney World’s Hours During the COVID Pandemic?
Hours at Walt Disney World Parks for 2021 are all over the place!!! While late evening events have been canceled alongside fireworks, parties, and concert series, the decision to close early some nights comes as no surprise. This move helps staffing levels stay consistent during open park hours, even on limited staff. And supports a restricted budget currently in place with guests. Hours at Walt Disney World Parks are changing for the holidays. Check out the Disney 5 day Calendar for up-to-date hour changes.
What are the Disney Face Mask Rules?
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
How Have Rides at Disney Changed During the Pandemic?
Seats on rides are filled to every other seat so that guests can maintain a minimum 6ft physical distance. Certain rides are now filling every seat as the capacity of Walt Disney World has been raised to 35%. And is increasing.
Something else to be aware of is that not all rides are open, and not all lines are Low! With lower staffing levels like Disney World, and cutbacks on hours and staff you can expect longer wait times. Because there will simply be fewer cast members available to manage rides, plus manage physical distancing in lines and ensure safety and health rules are being followed. Even with fewer people in the parks, the remaining cast members will be stretched very thin.
Line Queues have markers on the ground so guests can stand the appropriate distance apart.
What Shows Have Been Canceled at Disney World?
Along with general cancellations of any show that involves actors, dancers, and performers at Walt Disney World two shows, in particular, have been canceled. Both UP! A Great Bird Adventure at Animal Kingdom and the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage performance at Hollywood Studios has been canceled. The ongoing dispute between the actor’s union and Disney may be temporary, but as of right now, both of these shows have gotten caught in the crossfire. In addition to that first wave of closures, there was a second round of Show closure that took almost ALL of the most beloved shows off the Disney Entertainment docket. Luckily we believe this to be TEMPORARY, as Festival of the Lion King in Animal Kingdom, previously canceled, returns this summer.
Can I Still meet the Characters at Walt Disney World?
Guests cannot meet characters as they have in the past. Character Meet and Greets during the Pandemic are now physically distanced. Often where a character is available on a stage behind you while you stand a significant distance in front of them. You can also see Disney Characters in the Character Cavalcades that happen throughout the day in the parks. This is a “waving from a distance” experience.
Why Do I Need to Make a Park Pass Reservation?
In order for Walt Disney World to adjust crowd levels as needed to all Guests are REQUIRED to make Disney Park Pass Reservations for the day they plan to be in the parks. The Disney Park Pass Requirement is set to be in place through 2023.
In order to visit Walt Disney World, you must
- Have a Disney Park Pass Reservation
- Have a Valid Ticket for the Theme Park You have Reserved.
Note: A Disney Resort Reservation does not guarantee you access to the parks.
What is Different about Disney Transportation during Coronavirus?
Complimentary Transportation at Walt Disney World is still offered. Disney Monorails, Buses, and Watercraft Boats are still operational. Physical Distancing requirements are in place for ALL Transportation at Walt Disney World which means fewer passengers per trip. Queue Lines will also have physical distancing markers on the ground to separate family groups by at least 6 feet. Physical barriers are also present on buses and monorails where distancing is more difficult. Another Covid casualty, Disney’s Magical Express will retire at the end of 2021. A new service from Mears called Mears Connect will debut in January 2022 and offer Disney Guests a transportation option for a fee. Additionally, the Brightline Train Station in Orlando will extend to Disney Springs to accommodate vacationers. The Brightline Railway project is set to complete in 2025.
Parking at Walt Disney World During COVID
Parking at Walt Disney World is still available. If you are a guest staying at a Disney Resort you receive complimentary FREE Parking at all Theme Parks for the length of your resort stay. Select Disney Annual Passholders also receive complimentary FREE parking at the theme parks. If you must pay for your parking remember that your Parking Fee allows you to park at any of the parks throughout the day. Since guests are only allowed to visit one park per day during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
- Disney Resort Parking Fees are still in force. Thankfully that the fee you pay to stay at a Disney Resort offsets your complimentary parking at the parks.
- Complimentary basic self-parking is available for dining, shopping, entertainment, and recreation at Disney Resort hotels.
- Walt Disney World Theme Park Parking Fees
- Preferred parking: $45-$50 per day
- Standard parking: $25 per day
- Oversized Vehicle: $30 per day
Be sure to read up on the things you can do to avoid the Disney World Parking Fees. And note that some parking fees change seasonally. Check out the main Disney Parking Fees Page to see up-to-date rates.
What are the Disney COVID Changes at Disney Resorts?
In order to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, you must have a resort reservation, OR if not staying at the resort, a confirmed dining reservation. And you must comply with all face mask rules if entering the resort property. You can read all updates on Disney’s Resort page. Note: Disney Resorts are opening in phases.
What are the Disney Restaurant Rules during COVID?
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the near future know that your Disney Dining Plan options, reservations, and in-park experience have changed. Dining Reservations can be made up to 60 days in Advance
- No Dining Plan
- Dining Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance. ( Changed from 180 days)
- Mobile Order is Recommended
- Contactless: Menu Access will be available via a code you can scan to access it from your phone
- Cashless: Only cards will be accepted. It’s recommended you have this linked to your magic band or accessible in your phone
What are Walt Disney World’s Capacity Limits during the COVID Pandemic?
While Walt Disney World’s Capacity levels are regulated by Florida’s required for phased opening, Walt Disney World itself had previously reported a 35% capacity in the parks. Though this is increasing in phases now. While we do believe this to be “capacity,” Walt Disney World’s Park Pass Reservation system may be limiting attendance further. You can check the Walt Disney World Maximum Capacity Levels to get more details for each park.
General Disney World Changes Due to the Pandemic
- Temporary removal of fireworks, parades, and shows.
- Temporary removal of character meet and greets. Character Cavalcades held throughout the day
- Park Hopper Tickets available for park entrance after 2 pm daily. Read all the details about the Park Hopper Tickets at Walt Disney World.
- Dining Reservations can be made up to 60 days in Advance
- No Dining Plan
- Artificial Intelligence Bag Check Scanners have been added for more security
Read about all the Changes at Walt Disney World so you can be ready for How Your Disney Vacation will Change.
Are Disney MagicBands Being Replaced?
No! MagicBands are not being replaced! Disney World is adding a new Wallet technology, accessible on your phone called Disney’s MagicMobile Service. This new Contactless digital wallet will work alongside and in tandem with MagicBands. However, MagicBands are no longer being offered for Free to Disney Resort Guests. As one of our favorite Free Disney Souvenirs, we’ll miss this happy reminder of a pending Disney vacation.
How does the COVID Pandemic Affect the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary?
From deciding to visit or postpone your Walt Disney World Vacation to the Changes coming for the 50th Anniversary there is a lot happening at Walt Disney World that can affect that decision.
How does the Pandemic affect Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?
One of the biggest questions for the Disney fan is How does this pandemic affect the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans?
The short answer to this question is “not much.” Apart from ride construction delays and limited capacity the anniversary still arrives on October 1, 2021. Original plans included new fireworks, shows, merchandise, snacks, and special events. We still expect to see some of these things come to fruition especially since there are many many Walt Disney World Changes for the 50th Anniversary that has already happened. Cinderella’s Castle is officially pink, rides and restaurants that were planned are almost completed, and we’re sure to see extra special Disney 50th Anniversary Merchandise for the World’s Most Magical Celebration once we get closer to October 1 birthday. Check out the above post where we’ve been tracking the addition and the removal of rides, restaurants, shows, and services over the last couple of years. All in preparation for the 50th Anniversary!
Should You Visit Walt Disney World During the Pandemic?
Know that most changes are in place through 2021. This includes REQUIRED Park Pass Reservations.
We’ve covered 13 questions you can ask yourself to get clarity on this question in our Should You Visit Walt Disney World During the Pandemic? post. Everyone will have a different answer to this question based on a variety of factors. Personal safety and health concerns are at the top of most everyone’s list.
From a Walt Disney World safety standpoint, we’d like to share that Disney is doing a FANTASTIC job of prioritizing the health and safety of all guests. The risk for visiting Walt Disney World now comes from the issues with the pandemic in Florida, transportation to and from the parks from guests both in and out of state, and guests who don’t follow the rules.
Disney Construction Delays and Changes Due to COVID
Another thing we’ve been tracking is the changes in the parks in preparation for the 50th Anniversary. You can keep an eye on New Attractions Coming to Walt Disney World. And take a look at the continuously UPDATED Park-by-Park Projects which include new rides, restaurants, shows, and services all slated to arrive at Walt Disney World before 2023. This also includes all Disney’s 50th Anniversary Celebration plans starting October 1, 2021.
Will Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Still Open?
Yes! Disney’s Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens on October 1, 2021. The first day of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. This new area will include the La Creperie de France restaurants, the entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, storefronts, and benches along the Parisian “street.” We also get a full-size Remy fountain in this space. This will be one of our favorite areas to be sure.
Will Guardians of the Galaxy Still Open?
Yes! The Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Roller Coaster is a major project for Walt Disney World and one that further installs the Marvel Universe into the Disney experience. While construction is most likely delayed on this project, the opening date is now sometime in 2022.
Will TRON still open?
Also pushed back to a 2022 opening date as Walt Disney World grapples with rising costs of labor, supply chain issues and limited workers during the pandemic.
What Disney Construction Projects have Been Canceled?
We talk about this in our main Construction Projects at Walt Disney World post. Here’s a quick snapshot of things that were planned but have been canceled as a result of the 2020 closure.
- Mary Poppins Attraction. Previously announced at D23 2019
- Spaceship Earth Renovation. Previously announced at D23 2019
All other construction projects and most of the Changes at EPCOT by 2022 are still in play but have not been confirmed as canceled or delayed.
Is Disney World Still Magical during COVID?
One of the biggest questions about the current Pandemic and Walt Disney World is… Is Disney World Still Magical? So here’s the thing. At present Walt Disney World is not the same as it was. If you’re going expecting a certain Disney level of carefree joy, you may be disappointed. With changes in services, entertainment, a lack of shows, parades, and impromptu character interactions, the magic is slightly more regulated now. This is not a poor reflection on Disney World. They are doing a great job prioritizing what is important. Just know the level of magic you are used to may be simmered down.
Peter Pan will not chat you up on the midway, you will not be walking around snacking on your Mickey Bar and you can plan on empty spaces and seats between you and every other family group. These changes may overshadow your previously magical experiences. BUT, it’s important to remember that these non-magical rules are in place for your safety. And hopefully, they will be temporary. We’ve shared 13 Tips for having an Enjoyable Disney Vacation during the COVID Pandemic, so hopefully, you can make your stay magical even during this time.
Is It Safe to Travel to Walt Disney World During the Pandemic?
This is a question only you can answer based on your tolerances, physical health, awareness, etc. Personally, we have canceled our upcoming trip simply because the situation in Florida seems a little too much for us. Walt Disney World is doing an amazing job, as we’ve said before. And while we would feel Completely Safe in Walt Disney World Parks, we would not feel safe getting there. Other people are not often in your control and it’s that behavior that worries us. Not necessarily visiting Disney World. Again, this is TOTALLY your call. If you’re questioning this one, read our Should you Visit Walt Disney World this Year post so you can decide for yourself if this is a good move for you.
Visiting Walt Disney World During COVID
We’ve shared Tips for How to Stay Healthy While Traveling which includes all your basics. Things, like taking vitamin C and washing your hands, wearing a mask, and not touching surfaces, can go a long way in protecting you. And if you’re not quite ready to get back out there and travel we’ve pulled together the 10 Things to Do To Get Ready to Travel Again…when You’re Not Ready. These are just some basic action steps to get in the mood to travel, and so you can be ready when your mindset shift into a place of feeling safe.
Hopefully, this post has given you some clarity on what is available to you at Disney World and how your vacation will be affected. Please let us know if you have questions or need to chat through anything. Stay safe. Stay healthy. xoxo
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.