Walt Disney World during COVID 19

Walt Disney World during COVID 19

Walt Disney World has opened all four parks, and while other Disney Parks remain closed, and have re-closed we wanted to share answers to the most common Disney COVID questions. Hopefully, this roundup of resources will help you decide your next best time to visit Walt Disney World.

The Changes at Walt Disney World During the COVID Pandemic

Walt Disney World has prepared for COVID-19 to the best of its ability at this point. With limited capacity in the parks, a timed reservation system, face mask requirements and increased cleaning protocols, Disney during the pandemic is functioning. And while getting there through the wilds of Florida is another story, you can take note of all the health and safety protocols, Disney COVID FAQ and more below to help you get the full picture of what is happening at Walt Disney World during the pandemic. 


walt disney world opening dates and rules

What are the Walt Disney World COVID Plans?

Walt Disney World Protocols in Place

Reduced Capacity OF…

  • Theme Parks
  • Restaurants. Increased Mobile Ordering will be available.
  • Resorts
  • Transportation- buses, monorails, etc.
  • Rides and Attractions

Temporary Suspension OF…

  • ALL Character Meet and Greets
  • Fireworks suspended
  • No Parades
  • Elimination of Events that create crowds
  • High Touch Points
    • No playground access
    • No water features access

What is Disney’s Park Capacity?

Read up on our when Walt Disney World Closes at Maximum Capacity post. The current capacity at Walt Disney World is 35% and increasing ( May 2021) Mind you, the capacity will be very controlled due to the Disney Parks Pass Reservation System that is planned to run through 2023.

When will Resorts Open at Walt Disney World?

Disney Resorts are opening in phases.  Check out Disney’s Resort page for details. 

Do I have to wear a Face Mask?

 Masks are Required on Park Property while indoors. With the exception of at the dining table during your dinner reservations and pool time, wearing a mask is required in all public spaces indoors.

Will Disney Take My Temperature?

No. Temperature check mandates are being REMOVED from the parks on May 16th, 2021. 

What do I need to Know if I am Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation Now?

From MagicBand changes to reservation timeline changes there are a TON of things that will affect how you plan a Disney Vacation in 2021. Read all the Changes at Walt Disney World and How Your Vacation Is Going To Change so you can be ready with new planning tools and get the lowdown on the new normal. 

Park Reservations Required with the Disney Park Pass System. 

The Disney Park Pass is required for Park Entry. Your availability of booking dates is dependent on your existing Walt Disney World plans. Guests access to the Disney Park Pass system will be based on Walt Disney World resort and ticket eligibility window. A Disney Resort reservation does not guarantee a park pass. You must reserve the park pass system regardless. 

How will my Disney Resort Experience Change?

Resort restaurants will be limited to resort guests, masks will be required in indoor public spaces and Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Walt Disney World will re-open ONLY to members and guests. Walt Disney World Reopening Resort Stipulations pose lots of additional issues during these times. Read about them all on Disney’s Resort page here

Will I need to make a reservation even if I have a ticket?

Yes, Disney’s New Park Reservation system will require ALL guests to obtain a Reservation for Park Entry in Advance. This is in addition to ticket purchase. More information on this system is on the way.

  • Mobile Order Service for Dining: You can order ahead using Mobile Order. This is recommended. Check out everything you need to know about Disney Mobile Order. 
  • Scannable Codes for Select Restaurant Menus: Restaurants will now have a scannable code you can scan to see the digital menu. No physical menus will be given. 
  • Online Check-In at Disney Resort Hotels: Guests should check-in via the My Disney Experience App. And simply use your magicband to enter your room once it’s ready. While desk attendants at the desk will be available, it’s imperative for social distancing measures that lines do not form. Check-in on your own if you can. 

Can I Park Hop with a Park Hopper Ticket or Annual Pass?

Check out the details about the park hopper for 2021.  Guests will be allowed to reserve a main park for the morning and then go to a second park after 2pm as long as they have a ticket. 

Can I still Make Dining Reservations?

Yes. Dining Reservations can be made 60 days ahead of time for all guests. If you had restaurant reservations canceled you will be given priority to make dining reservations when the system opens again, per Disney’s announcement. Keep an eye on the Dining section of Disney’s Know Before you go page for details. 

Character Dining is Temporarily suspended with Exceptions…

Character Dining experiences are slowly returning. Check out Disney’s dining experience page for updates. 

Cancelation of all Dining Plan Reservations, Behind the Scenes, Events and Tours

Walt Disney World is canceling previous reservations including dining reservations, dining plans, behind the scenes, events, and tours. This includes all Disney Dining Plans in current packages through the end of the year. Read about all the Disney Reservation Cancelations here. So if you were lucky enough to snag free dining for Fall, you are out of luck ( like us), because all dining plans have been canceled. 

Will they Still Offer Disney Transportation?

Yes. With 3-foot physical distancing measures in place. So anticipate buses full of maybe 20 people at best, probably closer to 15. Disney transportation will be provided from all the resorts to Disney Springs and the Disney theme parks. This includes buses, boats, and monorails. Minnie Vans may be temporarily halted as a service. and thankfully, Magical Express is still available through December 31, 2021, at which point it will retire. Read about What is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express. Be aware of how limited bus/ monorail/ boat capacity is going to affect your vacation.

Suspension of FastPass+ Service

All currently scheduled FastPasses will be canceled automatically in order for Cast Members to maintain more control overcapacity. This will also help with physical distancing and lines. Read about the Disney Fastpasses Cancelations. 

Extra Magic Hours Suspended

Extra Magic Hours are temporarily suspended. But Early Park entry for Resort Guests is available, allowing a 30-minute advance entry window for those guests staying at a Disney Resort. 

Introduction of Artificial Intelligence Security Scanners

In order to accommodate lower staffing levels and limit contact between security guards and guest belongings, the arrival of artificial intelligence scanners was imminent. Disney Parks is using the Evolve Express system. This is a learning computer that can work really fast. 

Powered by the Evolv Cortex AI™ Software Platform, Express is the only fast, touchless, free-flow firearm and bomb detection system that screens more than 3600 people per hour (60 people per minute) and gets smarter over time. It keeps high volume entrances flowing by reliably detecting guns and other weapons as visitors walk through at a natural pace.”

Walt Disney World Plans for 2021

Before Walt Disney World closed there was a lot on the planning docket in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary in 2021. Read the posts below to get a level set on what was and is still in the works at Walt Disney World. 

How will the COVID Pandemic at Disney Affect the 50th Anniversary in 2021?

There are many things that are rapidly changing at Walt Disney World. Check out our latest post on all the Changes at Walt Disney World for current info. Keep in mind that the actual anniversary doesn’t happen until October 1st, 2021. Read all about the anniversary changes and plans here: Walt Disney World Changes for 2021: The 50th Anniversary

Construction Changes at Walt Disney World After Being Closed for COVID

Several Disney Projects have already been canceled. Add in the ongoing dispute with the Actors Union and you’ll see some new shows have also popped up! Here’s all the Walt Disney World Changes to Park Projects After Closing 2020 for the pandemic.

Walt Disney World Reopening

With so many changes happening at Walt Disney World, be mindful of the protocols, and things in place for the safety of yourself and others. We are super excited to get back to Walt Disney World and Disney is counting on the shared responsibility of guests to make this re-opening of Walt Disney World a success! You will want to check out Walt Disney Worlds Know Before you Go Page for the fine print of everything we’re sharing here BEFORE you visit Walt Disney World.  This is a lot of information so we tried to break it down into a digestible form. Stay healthy and safe out there!

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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