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What to Know Before You Stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel

by Mommy Frog on June 25, 2021 14 Orlando

Disney World Hotels - Pinterest 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 2020, 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, and by the end of the year, all Disney hotels will be open.

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 World Hotels - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Entry Sign

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:

Disney World Hotels - Disney's Riviera Resort

Disney has also announced that the following hotels will open on these specified dates and are currently accepting reservations:

These dates are subject to change, and guests' reservations could still be modified to other Disney Resort hotels. 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 canceled 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, but the only exception is on most transportation (buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner). 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

Disney World Hotels - Contemporary Resort Room Cleaning Signage

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 World Hotels - Bus Transportation

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. 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

Disney World Hotels - Movies Under the Stars at the Grand Floridian

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, but will be reintroduced to select Disney Resort hotels over the coming months.
  • 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 no longer available.

Disney World Hotels - Contemporary Resort Feature Pool

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.
  • Feature may operate with reduced hours; leisure pools are open 24 hours a day.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The following Disney World hotel amenities and experiences are currently unavailable:

  • Arcades, campfires and marina rentals
  • Character experiences (Characters have been spotted while traveling to the resorts in a Character Caravan, but this experience has been sporadic)
  • 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
  • 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!

Beginning Oct. 1, all Disney Resort hotel guests will be able to access any park 30 minutes early, every day with the new Early Theme Park Entry benefit. Deluxe and Villa hotel guests will also have access to extended evening hours at the theme parks on select nights.

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).

Disney Resort Hotels Reopening - Coronado Springs Room with Health & Safety Reminders

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.

Disney Resort Hotels Reopening - Rix Sports Bar & Grill at Coronado Springs

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!

Related: Which Experiences and Attractions Will Be Available When Disney World Reopens? Here's the List!

Related: A General Guide to Disney World's Reopening Guidelines and Procedures

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
May 15, 2021 at 11:34 a.m. Mary Says...

With mask restrictions being lifted, is it projected that there will be an increase in capacity at restaurants and hotels for late June?

Reply
Apr 17, 2021 at 5:09 p.m. Rebecca Antonow Says...

I know the parks are at 35% capacity. Are the resorts only booking 35% of their rooms now too? I'm trying to anticipate how crowded the hotel and pool area will be in June (staying at the Beach Club).

Reply
Apr 19, 2021 at 2:56 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rebecca,

We don't know exact numbers, but we know the hotels haven't been booking every room. The pool areas can reach capacity, and if so, you sign up for a spot in a virtual line and will be notified to return via text messages. Most quick-service restaurants at the hotels are using mobile ordering, and some table-service restaurants even have to-go options via mobile ordering. We'd highly suggest advance dining reservations, or else you'd need to get on the waitlist, which can fill up.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 23, 2021 at 4:56 p.m. Renee Says...

Hi! I'm looking at planning a trip in the fall and the accommodations are pretty limited. I presume they aren't opened to capacity, so that makes sense. Do you know if they plan release more room blocks as they go through their reopening? I'm not sure if I should reserve now or wait to see if things open up a bit. Any advice would be helpful! Thank you!

Reply
Mar 23, 2021 at 6:04 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Renee!

Our advice is to book as soon as you're able, since things are filling up so quickly! If additional accommodations open up, you can always call and transfer your reservation at a later date :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 7, 2021 at 6:10 p.m. nick a Says...

Does Art of Animation have Bell Service to help take luggage to room during corvid?.

Reply
Mar 8, 2021 at 3:07 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Nick A!

Art of Animation does currently have Bell Services and luggage assistance available for guests :) Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jul 10, 2020 at 12:40 a.m. Karen Martoral Says...

If we need to cancel our theme tickets do we get a refund.

Reply
Jul 10, 2020 at 1:35 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Karen!

There are several options available for your tickets; if they are unused and unactivated, the value of the ticket can be used towards the purchase of a future ticket. Alternatively, our mailed tickets offer the most flexibility and are 95% refundable. You can see specific redemption information and refund policies on each individual ticket, or feel free to call us at 1 (800) 846-1302 to learn more about a particular ticket!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jun 28, 2020 at 2:40 a.m. BC Says...

Have reservation for first week in Dec. Any word on When will tickets be available for purchase?

Reply
Jun 29, 2020 at 8:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi BC!

No word just yet - we'll update as soon as we know more!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jun 26, 2020 at 10:21 a.m. Valarie Says...

Any information on guest with reservations at closed resorts getting reassigned? We have a September Aall star sports and received an email asking us to confirm reservation with a few different options to modify and aren’t sure how to respond to make sure we get reassignment at no additional cost.

Reply
Jun 24, 2020 at 11:30 p.m. JG Says...

What time will ticket sales on the 28th start? Will they begin at midnight or at 7am?

The ticket sales on the 28th are for independent ticket purchases and do not have to be bought as part of a package, is that right?

Reply
Jun 25, 2020 at 3:25 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi JG!

That is correct - tickets for 2021 visits will go on sale on June 28, and they do not have to be purchased as part of a vacation package. We aren't exactly sure what time they'll be on sale just yet.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
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