If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World, chances are good that you've considered staying in the Disney "bubble." Close to the theme parks, with fun theming and complimentary transportation, many guests hopping to Walt Disney World opt to stay on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel ... then you never have to leave the magic! In March, Disney World hotels were closed temporarily alongside the theme parks due to COVID-19. And much like the theme parks, they've slowly been reopening, starting with DVC properties June 22, 2020. In 2021, we can look forward to a new-and-improved Disney's Polynesian Village Resort reopening July 2021 after a refurbishment, as well as the reopening of Disney's BoardWalk Inn.
Walt Disney World implemented increased health and safety measures all across the resort, including its hotels, theme parks and dining locations, to keep cast members and guests safe. Those measures also mean that your stay may look a little different, and there are some things to be prepared for in advance of your vacation. Here's everything you need to know, from Disney World hotel reopening dates, to changes to housekeeping, transportation, amenities and more!
Reopening Dates for Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground reopened June 22, 2020. Disney Vacation Club resorts at Vero Beach, Fla., and Hilton Head, S.C., reopened to members and guests June 15, 2020.
Walt Disney World Resort hotels that are currently open include:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney's Art of Animation Resort
- Disney's Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney's Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
Disney has also announced that the following hotels will open on these specified dates
- July 2, 2021: Disney's BoardWalk Inn
- July 19, 2021: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort (now accepting reservations, starting July 19, 2021)
- August 26, 2021: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas — Jambo House
As the current health environment evolves, these dates are subject to change, and guests' reservations could still be modified to other Disney Resort hotels. Opening dates for the remaining Disney Resort hotels have not been scheduled yet at this time. If you booked your hotel stay with Undercover Tourist and your arrival dates are impacted by the resort's phased reopening, please contact us by phone at 1 (800) 846-1302 or by email at Info (at) UndercoverTourist.com — we're hoppy to help! If you're looking to reserve your hotel, know that you can do so with complete confidence through Undercover Tourist — all Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations are fully refundable when cancelled at least five-days prior to check-in.
Walt Disney World Hotel Health and Safety Policies
Before traveling to Florida, be sure to review any travel restrictions in place. Guests who are under self-quarantine orders may not enter Walt Disney World Resort. Those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine may not enter Walt Disney World Resort (including its resort hotels). By entering Walt Disney World Resort, you are confirming that your party understands and will abide by these health and safety requirements. (You will likely see a similar message either by email or in My Disney Experience prior to your trip.)
Overnight guests will need a confirmed room reservation. You'll need a confirmed dining reservation to hop to a particular resort for a daytime visit. Face coverings are required for each unvaccinated guest age 2 and up in all indoor locations, except when actively eating or drinking, but it is optional to wear them outdoors. Fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear a face covering at the resort, including its hotels. To enter a theme park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date is required. It's important to note that a Disney Resort hotel reservation does not guarantee you entry to the theme parks.
Cleaning Measures in Place at Walt Disney World Hotels
Prior to guests' arrival, rooms undergo thorough cleaning, with special attention to high-touch areas such as remotes and door handles. Housekeeping tools are cleaned between rooms, and floors are steam cleaned and vacuumed between guests.
Guests can find extra linens and towels wrapped in single-use packaging, as well as individually wrapped glassware and double-cased pillows in their room. Housekeeping performs a light cleaning service every other day, including removing trash and used towels, replenishing towels and amenities, wiping and cleaning surfaces and vacuuming. Guests, of course, can decline this ever-other-day service. (DVC Members will receive service on the fourth and eighth days of their stay, unless declined). If you have more than one room on your reservation and you choose to decline housekeeping, that selection applies to all rooms on the reservation.
At the Disney World hotels themselves, common areas are also receiving enhanced cleaning measures at this time, including high-traffic areas such as elevators and escalators, handrails, benches, handles, restrooms and more.
Transportation and Parking at Disney Resort Hotels
Disney's Magical Express Service remains available to Disney World hotel guests, as well as complimentary resort transportation. However, Disney’s Magical Express service does not currently provide luggage delivery service for those arriving to and departing from the airport. Guests who choose to use Disney’s Magical Express service are responsible for picking up any of their checked luggage from the airport’s baggage claim area, so that it can be loaded onto the motorcoach to their Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Additionally, Disney's Magical Express service will no longer operate as of Jan. 1, 2022.
Bus transportation continues to run between Disney World hotels, Disney Springs and the theme parks. Handrails are cleaned every 20 minutes, and the entire bus undergoes a deeper cleaning every two hours. Keep in mind that the EPCOT monorail line is not currently running, so if you're staying at a Magic Kingdom area resort, you need to take a bus to EPCOT.
Minnie Van Service is not currently available. Self-parking is available at resort hotels, though valet service is unavailable (with the exception of guests with disabilities who require parking assistance). Parking fees still apply. For the full scoop on what Walt Disney World transportation is like right now, hop over to our full guide. Remember that Disney World Resort hotel guests get free theme park parking!
Changes to Walt Disney World Hotel Services, Amenities and Recreation
Based on health guidelines, some Disney World hotel services may be modified or unavailable, including:
- Bell Services will hold or deliver luggage to rooms, but will not escort guests.
- Club-level service is temporarily unavailable.
- Deliveries will only be made to occupied rooms.
- Dry-cleaning and valet laundry services are temporarily unavailable; self-service laundry remains available.
- Shipping services are temporarily unavailable.
- Resort airline check-in service is temporarily unavailable.
You can expect the following changes to amenities and recreation at Walt Disney World Resort hotels:
- Select dining locations are available at Disney World hotels, following the same general dining guidelines established resort-wide. You can find a resort-specific list of the restaurants available here.
- Both feature and leisure pools may operate with reduced hours.
- Select poolside activities may be available at select resort hotels.
- Fitness centers are open in alignment with state and county regulations, and may have reduced hours and capacity.
- Instructor-led fitness classes are unavailable.
- Fitness and sports courts are open, and guests must maintain physical distancing.
- Activities and schedules will vary. The schedule of activities for your Disney World hotel will be shared during your stay.
- In merchandise locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, guests will continue to discover favorite Disney items, with some modifications to the shopping experience that will help in managing capacity and fostering physical distancing.
- New collection product launches and limited-edition merchandise will not be available for in-person purchases at Walt Disney World Resort until further notice. As always, guests can find these items on shopDisney, subject to availability.
- Pin trading will be available with cast members through the use of pin boards in select locations. Cast pin trading with lanyards will not be available at this time to maintain physical distancing.
- Package delivery to the front of the theme parks or to Disney World hotels is currently unavailable. However, shipping merchandise to guests’ homes continues to be available.
- For the time being, dressing rooms are unavailable.
- In-person returns are available upon the reopening of merchandise locations.
The following Disney World hotel amenities and experiences are currently unavailable:
- Character experiences (Characters have been spotted while traveling to the resorts in a Character Caravan, but this experience has been sporadic)
- Marina rentals
- Spas, salons and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Additionally, the following special offerings and childcare services will not be available during the initial reopening:
- Fireworks voyages and tasting cruises, including the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
- Fun runs
- Wonderland Tea Party at Park Fare
- Hula lessons
- In-room childcare services
- Mermaid school
- Special classes and programs — including culinary, cultural and animal programs
My Disney Experience Enhancements for Disney Resort Hotel Guests
Before you go, don't froget to download the My Disney Experience app — the same handy-dandy app that helps you make dining reservations can also provide you with the most up-to-date policies around the resort and provides you with a mobile check-in option. We recommended checking in the day before, as you submit your contact information and expected arrival time. You can select a time before the normal 3 p.m. check-in time, but there is no guarantee that your room will be ready before then. On the day of your arrival, once your room is ready, you'll get a notification, including your room number. Then, you can proceed straight to your room and enter either using a MagicBand or the digital key feature straight from the app. On your scheduled checkout day, you'll automatically be checked out of your room.
You can skip a visit to the Front Desk unless you have a question about your folio. If this is your first visit to a Disney Resort hotel, you can create a PIN number during the mobile check-in, so you're able to make purchases using your MagicBand. However, if you don't remember your PIN number from a previous visit, you'll need to visit the Front Desk to reset it. Guests are also able to chat directly with a resort cast member in the My Disney Experience app for virtual assistance during their stay.
Disney World plans brought the features of a MagicBand to guests' smart devices via the My Disney Experience app, building on the app’s existing digital key feature. A new service — Disney MagicMobile — has also debuted, that allowing smartphones and even Apple Watches to function similar to MagicBands when it comes to theme park entry. That said, Disney has retired complimentary MagicBand distribution to Disney Resort hotel guests as of Jan. 1, 2021. Disney Resort hotel guests will be able to purchase new MagicBands at a discount, but guests who choose not to purchase a discounted MagicBand will be able to use the My Disney Experience app or a Key to the World card during their visit instead. MagicBands will remain available in retail locations and on shopDisney.com, and guests will be able to continue using the wearables throughout Walt Disney World Resort. In fact, it's recommended as a contactless payment option!
The Frog Family's Experience at Disney's Coronado Springs
Disney hosted our recent stay at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. We utilized the Direct-to-Room service by starting the mobile check-in process through the My Disney Experience app. We checked in the night before our arrival, and it only took a few minutes! Our room ended up being ready by our arrival at noon, so we were able to drop off our stuff in the room and hop over to EPCOT earlier than we expected! We used our MagicBands to open the door, but as we mentioned, the My Disney Experience app has an "Unlock My Door" feature (which requires Bluetooth to be turned on).
We noticed that everything in our room was individually wrapped or packaged, including the TV remote and coffee cups. For our reference, the television displayed information about the enhanced cleaning measures that take place. The shower had the large, refillable shampoo, conditioner and body wash dispensers, but the handles were wrapped in plastic, noting they were cleaned. (Some hotels may have the smaller, individual toiletries.)
When swimming at the pool, we did not have to wear our face coverings. The lounge chairs are appropriately spaced, and there were signs asking guests not to move them. Poolside activities still hoppened, and the feature pool's waterslide was available. Splish, splash! We also noticed that La Marina was open on select days during certain hours for extra-cost art activities, including tie-dye and making your own slime.
We recommend grabbing a reservation for Three Bridges Bar & Grill early, because by the time it was dinnertime, the waitlist had a 105-minute wait. El Mercado de Coronado did not offer mobile ordering (one of the few quick-service spots at hotels that doesn't offer it), but the food is already prepared in to-go containers. Don't froget that you can Mobile Order at select locations in advance to save yourself some time!
Have any questions about the new changes and procedures at the Disney Resort hotels? Ask away in the comments below!