Disney World Reopening: What To Know Before You Go

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Wondering what the upcoming Disney World reopening is going to look like? People are pretty excited to be able to go back to the happiest place on earth. However, the world is a little different these days and Disney has had to make changes to adjust. Find out what the new normal will look like…

Disney world reopening with picture of Cinderella's castle

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I knew things were serious when I heard Disney was closing their doors! In almost 50 years, Disney has only shut down seven times. Once was for 9/11 while all the other times were due to hurricanes. Even then, it was only for a day or two.

However, we all know that 2020 has been a little nuts and Disney was closed a little longer than expected. In fact, they’ve been one of the last theme parks to reopen and have been spending the extra time making plans to ensure that it’s not only a magical place to visit, but a safe one too. There have been quite a few changes, from making reservations to wearing masks, and you’ll want to be sure to update your Disney planning list . Here’s what you need to know before you go…

When is Disney World reopening?

Disney World will be opening in two phases, beginning with the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11th. Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen four days later, on July 15th. There is no word yet on when Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach will reopen. 

Walt and Mickey will be there for the Disney World reopening

Will I need reservations?

Just having a ticket won’t get you access to the park. Disney has limited park capacity for the time being so you won’t be able to just show your ticket to get in. You’ll need to make a reservation through their Disney Park Pass reservation system. Each  person 3+ years of age will need their own reservation for each day they plan to visit the parks. This applies to annual passholders as well.

If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can automatically get reservations for the length of your stay but you’ll still have to go through the reservation process online.

Do I need a mask at Disney World?

In addition to temperature checks as you enter the park, anyone two years and up will be required to wear a mask. You can find some cute Disney masks on Etsy or pre-order the “official” Disney masks from ShopDisney

Disney face masks

Don’t worry if you forget your mask because Disney will have them for sale for $6 each or 4 for $20. Masks will be required throughout the park, restaurants and resorts.  Of course you can take them off to eat and drink or if you’re swimming in one of the resort pools. 

What if I want to take a break from wearing my mask?

There will be mask free zones in each of the park. If you get too hot or just need a break, head to the nearest zone and take as long as you need.

How will Disney encourage social distancing?

Just like everywhere else these days, there will be signs and markings on the ground as reminders to social distance. Barriers have been installed in certain areas as well.

You’ll also bypass pre-shows for certain attractions, like the stretching room in the Haunted Mansion and the elevators in the Tower Of Terror. 

Tower Of Terror at Hollywood Studios

What other safety measures is Disney taking?

Disney has been cleaning like crazy and will continue to do so. If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, you know they’re super clean to begin with but now they’re taking it to a whole new level. Special attention will be paid to high traffic areas like elevators and escalators, handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms and more. There will also be hand sanitizer and hand washing stations throughout the parks.

Also, if you stay in a Disney resort, they will now do a light cleaning every other day, replacing towels and taking out the trash. 

Disney is also strongly encouraging the following:

  • Cashless transactions – use a credit card or Disney gift card if possible
  • Mobile ordering – This is the way to go anyway because you can skip the long lines to order in the middle of the lunch or dinner rush
  • Magic bands – We loved magic bands even before all this happened. You can use them for contact free check-in, as your park ticket, to pay for your purchases and more. The only changes is that you can no longer use it for fast passes (more on that below)Magic bands edited

Why can’t I book a fast pass?

For the indefinite future, there will be no fast passes or virtual lines (I know…I’ll miss them too). The limited capacity may balance that out though, creating shorter standby waits times.

How will the Disney experience be different?

With Disney World reopening, there will be quite a few changes. Here’s how the Disney experience will be changing:

  • Visits limited to one park per day – For now, there’s no more park hopping so if you want to see both Toy Story Land and Pandora, you’ll have to plan accordingly.
  • Fireworks, parades and shows are suspended – These experiences always draw huge crowds so in order to discourage large gatherings, they’ve been temporarily suspended. The good news is that we shouldn’t see the huge crowds all trying to leave the park just as the fireworks end.Fireworks at Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom
  • No character meet & greets – This one makes me pretty sad but of course, they didn’t really have a choice. That doesn’t mean we won’t still see our favorite characters though. They will still show up throughout the parks…it’ll just be a fun surprise. You may see them sailing the waterways of Animal Kingdom or at Epcot in a procession along the World Showcase promenade. Keep your eyes open at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom too…you never know where they’ll pop up.Daisy Duck with girls
  • No more free photos – One of my favorite things about Disney has always been that their photographers would take photos with your phone or camera. I’ve been to a LOT of theme parks and Disney is one of the only ones that do this. Since it’s no longer safe for the photographers to touch phone after phone, you’ll have to buy a photopass or just get really good at selfies. On the plus side, photos with masks on aren’t as much fun anyway…now you can just enjoy the moment!
  • You’ll carry your own packages – For now, you won’t be able to have packages delivered to the front of the park or your resort.
  • Some dining locations will remain closed – Some that are open may have limited menus. Check their online menus to see if you can still order your favorites.
  • Very limited character dining – Most of the character dining experiences are on hold right now. However, you can enjoy modified character dining experiences at Garden Grill Restaurant and Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort. Character dining with Minnie Mouse
  • Extended food and wine festival – It’s not all bad news! This will be the longest International Food And Wine Festival to date and begins when Epcot opens on July 15th. This is by far their most popular festival…who doesn’t love to eat and drink their way through Epcot, right? The Eat To The Beat Concert Series has been put on hold but you will see some fun florals from the Flower & Garden festival.

So Disney will look a little different when it reopens but it’s Disney so you know you’re still going to have an amazing time! Will you be going?

Learn more…

Want to find out more about the big Disney World reopening? Check out these links:

What attractions will be available at the Disney World theme parks?

Which Disney resorts will be open and when?

How will the dining experience change at the Disney parks and resorts?

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