After nearly 4 months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walt Disney World resort will begin a phased reopening of their theme parks on July 11, 2020. As with the rest of the world, Disney will be offering a modified experience for the safety of their guests and Cast Members. My guide attempts to cover most of the major changes coming to Disney, but I’ve linked to Disney’s official information pages at the end of each section. It’s a lot of information and it’s constantly changing. Always check with Disney to make sure information is accurate.
Walt Disney World will not be reopening all of their resort hotels and those that are reopening will be staggered. This is likely due to the use of several resorts for the NBA to finish their 2019-2020 season and to handle the lower theme park capacity.
Face coverings/masks will be required in resort hotel public spaces. They will not be required while swimming nor while dining. Obviously you’re free to take your mask off in your room.
Disney will be increasing their cleaning of rooms between guests. Carpets will be steamed in addition to being vacuumed. Certain things like TV remotes will be cleaned then wrapped in plastic for additional protection.
Housekeeping during your stay will be reduced to every other day and will only involve trash collection, towel service, wiping down counters, and vacuuming if needed. You may decline this every other day housekeeping completely if you aren’t comfortable. If you need anything, you’ll be able to call into housekeeping and have it delivered to your door.
Unfortunately, details are still scarce with what Disney’s plans are with those who have existing reservations. While Disney will do everything to accommodate those with existing plans, it may be hard due to less capacity. Most likely each reservation will be a different situation and there will be no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s being reported that it’s taking several hours to reach Disney via phone, so if you do feel the need to contact Disney, it’s best to pack your patience and hook your phone up to a charger.
Disney has resumed sales of tickets, hotels, and packages for 2020 as of July 9.
Yes, you will. Disney has planned their operation modifications through September 2021 at the moment. It’s expected if the situation improves Disney will begin dropping these modifications, but (obviously) a concrete timeline is unknown. If you want a full, pre-before-the-world-ended, Disney experience, your best bet is to wait until 2022.
Disney will begin accepting 2021 reservations on June 28, 2020. We’re still waiting to see how far into 2021 Disney allows bookings.
If you have any additional questions or concerns with the reopening of the resort hotels, including what resort dining locations will be open and pool procedures, Disney has provided an extensive page with information
The largest change coming to the Walt Disney World theme parks is the introduction of the Disney Park Pass system to accommodate for lower capacity due to social distancing. This is a reservation system that is required for all guests, including Annual Passholders, to enter the theme parks. Additional modifications will be made throughout the park to promote social distancing and avoid large crowds.
Disney will stagger the reopening of their 4 theme parks between two dates:
There will be pre-registered Annual Passholder previews at both Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom July 9-10, but all reservations have been taken.
Face coverings/masks will be required at all times in Walt Disney World theme parks, except when dining. It remains to be seen how strict Disney is with enforcement, but remember: Walt Disney World is private property and they have the right to eject and/or ban you.
All guests must have a temperature below 100.4°F (38°C). If any guest in your party has a temperature, your entire party will be denied entry. Disney will offer an isolated “cool down” area to allow for re-testing should you fail the initial scan (Florida is the surface of the sun during the summer after all). Add a thermometer to your packing list and check everyone in your party before you head to a park.
Due to the one-park-per-day requirement at the launch of the Disney Park Pass system, Park Hopping will not be allowed with the initial reopening. Those with existing Park Hopper tickets will be refunded for the Park Hopper addition, but details are unknown when and how they’ll be processed.
To accommodate the need for social distancing on transportation to and from the parks, Disney will stagger openings and closing of each park during the initial reopening. Hours will also be shortened, likely due to less Cast Members being available.
Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily unavailable for the time being.
The scheduled daily park hours for the time being:
To keep proper social distancing between groups, rides and attractions will be at either a limited capacity or closed. Guests will likely be required to sanitize their hands before and after they ride. Masks will be required to continue to be worn, but it’s expected that water rides like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids will require you to take them off.
Here’s the list per-park of what’s reopening and remaining closed:
Disney will temporarily disable the FastPass+ system for the time being. All rides will be stand-by only, with the exception of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will continue to use its Virtual Queue boarding group system. Instead of releasing all boarding groups right away at park opening, group releases are staggered between two windows: 10AM and 2PM.
People already hated a stranger sitting next to them on rides, so understandably, single rider lines are temporarily suspended. Single riders will likely have vehicles to themselves where proper distancing can’t be maintained.
Markers to remind the 6’ social distancing guideline will be placed around the park in areas where lines typically form. Hand sanitizer will be available (potentially required) before boarding attractions and when exiting. Portable hand washing stations will be located throughout the parks to help guests keep clean.
Due to the large crowds that form, most entertainment will be temporarily suspended. This includes stage productions like Festival of the Lion King or Voyage of the Little Mermaid. However, there will be limited street entertainment available.
Due to the challenges involved with maintaining proper distancing between characters and guests, Disney will not be offering character meet & greets.
In place of the meet & greets are “character calvacades” in each park. These calvacades feature the characters on floats similar to parades, but Disney does not announce when these happen to keep people from crowding to await them. The calvacades also keep moving continuously to prevent crowds from forming.
Due to social distancing guidelines, capacity on transportation is heavily modified. Disney’s staggered park openings and closings seem to point towards them using as much as their army of buses as possible for routes that require so. There is a ton of encouragement to utilize the Skyliner gondola system and walking paths where available. Disney had been working on a walking path between Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian before the closure and is likely fast tracking work to have it open soon.
The Disney Park Pass system is very similar to the FastPass+ system. You create a “party” with everyone in your group, select the date and theme park you wish to visit, then reserve.
Availability is split between 3 different groups:
Each group has its own availability allotment. Annual Passholder reservations have been more limited than the other 2 groups, but Disney has begun re-shifting availability more into Passholders' favor as tourism remains stagnant. Disney has a live updating calendar with all 3 groups' availability.
Ticket holders will be able to book up to the amount of days they have purchased. Annual Passholders will be allowed to book a maximum of 3 days unless they have a Disney or partner hotel reservation, which will then allow them to book any day during their stay (currently not working due to a glitch in the system).
Disney has resumed sales of ticket sales for 2020 as of July 9. Currently the only tickets available are one park per day due to the ongoing closures of the water parks and the Disney Park Pass system only allowing one park reservation per day.
Theme park ticket purchases for 2021 are now available. Reservations with the Disney Park Pass system are required through September 26, 2021. Park hoppers are available to purchase for all of 2021, but there’s no guarantee when park hopping will actually return.
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the theme parks, Disney has several pages on their website:
Like elsewhere around the world, Walt Disney World will operate their dining locations with a reduced capacity. Certain dining locations will continue to be temporarily closed, while others will be heavily modified.
It seems like the majority of dining locations will be open at Walt Disney World, but select locations will be closed mainly due to limited space.
Due to a recent mandate by the Florida Government, all bars that receive more than 50% of their revenue from alcohol have been ordered to stop serving on-premise. To-go sales are still allowed, but it remains to be seen what locations Disney will be affected by the mandate.
Many Epcot locations will remain closed due to International Cast Members not being able to return with the current travel restrictions; no timetable has been given about their return either.
Disney took the bold step in early June to cancel all existing Advance Dining Reservations (frequently abbreviated as ADR) regardless of date. Reservations have slowly become available as Disney confirms their plans.
The window for reservations has been greatly reduced from 180 days to 60 days.
It’s important to note an Advance Dining Reservation does not guarantee you access to a theme park. Only a Disney Park Pass reservation guarantees access to a theme park. Due to the duct tape nature of Disney IT, they’re unlikely to check/require Disney Park Pass reservations to make theme park dining reservations.
An Advanced Dining Reservation will be required to dine in a resort restaurant where you are not staying. If you are staying at a resort, you will have access to all restaurants at the property, but it’s highly encouraged to make an Advanced Dining Reservation to guarantee seating.
All Character Dining, except for Garden Grill at Epcot and breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort will be temporarily suspended. Locations that offer non-Character Dining experiences (like Trattoria al Forno) will continue to offer those options.
Non-character dining buffet locations are rumored to become family style. They will still be all-you-care-to-enjoy, but a Cast Member will serve your food in addition to drinks.
Mobile ordering allows you to use the My Disney Experience app to order and pay for your meal ahead of time and pick it up at various Quick Service locations. Disney has touted more locations will offer mobile ordering, but it’s currently unknown where it’s exactly being expanded too.
Originally limited to just credit cards, Disney has worked over the last few months to expand payment options to include Disney Gift Cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Due to the limited capacity, and the continuing supply issues, many locations will be modifying their menus.
Disney will encourage scanning a QR code with your phone at table service restaurants to view menus. They may offer printed single use menus, but it hasn’t been confirmed.
If you have any additional questions or concerns about dining, including dining locations that will be open, Disney has a page on their website