A note from Mommy Frog: Starting July 30, 2021, face coverings will be required for all guests ages 2 and up while indoors and onboard Disney transportation (buses, monorail and Skyliner), regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional for all guests in outdoor areas.
Walt Disney World Resort officially reopened its parks in July 2020, and it has been steadily hopping back to life ever since! There are, of course, some changes Disney has made in order to maintain the health and safety of guests. While certain experiences may still be limited during this time, the theme parks are returning to normal operations. In addition to character pop-ups and cavalcades, some modified experiences are slowly beginning to return, including character dining, live entertainment and FIREWORKS! In August, "Wonderful World of Animation" and "Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage" will return to Disney's Hollywood Studios, along with Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom and Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT. This year, we also have Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration to look forward to!
Based off of recent guidelines from the CDC and local officials, Disney is relaxing some of its health and safety measures. For instance, Disney World phased out on-site temperature screenings for guests on May 16, 2021, and distancing measures across the resort are being gradually reduced. As of June 15, 2021, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests in all areas, except on most Disney transportation (optional on ferry boats). Unvaccinated guests are still required to wear face coverings in all indoor areas.
Below, we'll hop into current Disney World procedures and safety measures, plus tips to help you make the very most of your visit. Let's hop to it!
New Disney World Reservation System | Disney Safety Measures | Disney World Theme Parks | Disney World Water Parks | Disney World Hotels | Disney World Dining | Disney Springs | Status of Major U.S. Theme Parks
Disney World Theme Park Reservation System, Park Hopping, FastPass+ & Dining Reservations
In order to better manage capacity, Disney World has implemented a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance (the only exception right now is Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, which does not require a reservation to attend). Theme park tickets are required to make reservations, so make sure you buy your tickets right away! Find out more information about the Disney Park Pass reservation system in our separate blog post.
For Disney World's initial reopening phase, guests were only able to visit one park per day — no park hopping was allowed. But as of Jan. 1, 2021, the Park Hopper option has returned with some slight modifications. Guests with passes or tickets that include the Park Hopper option must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit and enter that first park prior to visiting another. Additionally, there are specific Park Hopper hours — Park Hopper hours begin at 2 p.m. each day and end at the park’s scheduled close time, and entry is still subject to capacity limits (though to date, capacity limits have not interfered with guests' ability to hop). Be sure to check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours, as they could start earlier at a later date, depending on the day and park. Since park hopping has returned, park availability has been open and accessible. For more details about park hopping policies, check out our separate guide.
As a result of accommodating physical distancing, restaurants and other experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours are limited in capacity. There has also been a shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for making dining and special experience reservations moving forward.
The FastPass+ reservation service is temporarily suspended to allow for extra space in queues to manage capacity and maintain physical distancing. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios is the only ride to utilize a virtual queue. The ability to join a Boarding Group takes place at 7 a.m. (which can be made from anywhere nearby) or 1 p.m. (which must be made in-park) on the day of your visit. You may only make one pass per person each day.
Extra Magic Hours will not be returning, but in its place, Disney will be introducing the Early Theme Park Entry benefit later beginning Oct. 1, 2021. Instead of having early access for a full hour at one theme park, Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will have 30-minute early entry to any theme park, every day. Guests will need valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation.
Walt Disney World Resort Safety Measures
Disney World theme parks, hotels, restaurants, attractions, services and other experiences may be modified, limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or even closure. Disney has implemented the following safety measures based on the guidance of government officials and health advisers:
- Cleanliness and sanitization: While face covering policies and physical distancing measures are loosening, Disney World's cleaning measures are not. Disney has increased cleaning and disinfection measures, and will continue to hold this standard. Each visit, we see cast members sanitizing the ride vehicles, tables and other high-touch surfaces frequently.
- Cast training: Disney provided new training and reinforcement to emphasize a strong culture of health and safety among its cast members.
- Face coverings: As of June 15, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests in all areas, except on Disney transportation. Face coverings must be worn by all unvaccinated guests ages 2 and older in all indoor locations. Face coverings must be made with at least two layers of breathable materials, fully cover the nose and mouth and be secured by ear loops or head ties. Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings.
- Contactless payment: Payment through MagicBands, Apple Pay and Google Pay is available at restaurants and retail shops. Mobile ordering at restaurants has been expanded and is highly encouraged or required.
- Crowd-inducing experiences: Parades, character meet-and-greets and other events that create crowds or high-touch experiences are temporarily suspended.
A New Experience at the Disney World Theme Parks
Most attractions are available at each theme park. At Magic Kingdom Park, popular rides including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain and Peter's Pan Flight are ready to take your frog family on fun adventures. Experience the magic of nature on Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain and Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Travel to a galaxy far, far away on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, or become part of the cartoon world on Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Over at EPCOT, Spaceship Earth is available as its refurbishment plans are temporarily on hold, along with other favorites such as Test Track and Soarin' Around the World.
Nighttime spectaculars were initially suspended upon reopening in 2020, but good news! Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever at EPCOT have returned for nightly performances. Beginning Aug. 1, Wonderful World of Animation will return to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Even though parades and individual character greetings aren't immediately available, there are still chances to see familiar faces!
From special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom parade route and friends cruising down Discovery River, to processions along the World Showcase promenade and motorcades along Hollywood Boulevard, each theme park has special opportunities to see your favorite Disney pals throughout the day. Even though we can't hug them just yet, we love the new character experiences, such as Merida riding Angus at Magic Kingdom and Chip 'n' Dale picnicking at Hollywood Studios.
If you want to check if your favorite ride will be open, here's a full list of available attractions and experiences that are open. We also have detailed guides for each park, so you know exactly where to find the best spots for character viewing and adjustments to our park plans:
- As long as you have a Park Pass reservation and valid admission, you may leave and re-enter the park that you're visiting for the day. So if you want to head back to the hotel midday for a break, that's toadally fine!
- It should go without saying, but wash or sanitize your hands frequently!
- Have your own disinfectant wipes ready if you plan to go on any rides that have high-touch features, such as the pull-string cannons on Toy Story Mania!
- Bring multiple masks for each member of your frog squad. Trust us, a fresh mask during the middle of the day is a must-have. An extra face covering would also come in handy if you hoppen to lose a mask on a ride. Pack a small plastic baggie for each used mask, if it's reusable.
- If you froget or don't bring an approved face covering, there are vending machines available with disposable masks for $2 each outside of each park.
- Take your time and drink lots of water! Without FastPass+, you'll find that you won't have to rush from one ride to the next, so it's OK to slow your roll. From our experience, we tend to get extra thirsty while wearing our masks, so we make sure to stop for water frequently.
- Be flexible! Disney is adapting every day and the rules may change due to the fluidity of the current health situation. Be nice to the cast members who are trying their best to maintain a safe environment for everyone at the parks.
- All guests are now allowed to remove masks while outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. However, face coverings must be worn upon entering the theme parks, as well as in all indoor locations, on Disney transportation and on attractions, for unvaccinated guests. As of June 15, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests, except while on Disney transportation.
Disney World Water Park Updates
Nearly an entire year after being closed, Disney's Blizzard Beach reopened March 7, 2021! Disney's Typhoon Lagoon remains closed until further notice. For the most part, you'll find similar health and safety measures as you go across the resort. Mobile ordering is required at a few dining locations to keep contact to a minimum. Guests are encouraged not to move beach chairs, which have been appropriately spaced out. To help with physical distancing in the lazy river, guests must be in a tube. When entering, only take a tube that is upside down with the handles submerged.
Reopening of Disney World Resort Hotels and Lodging
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 Inn
- 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 Village 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 and are currently accepting reservations:
- Aug. 26, 2021: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas — Jambo House
- Sept. 16, 2021: Disney's All-Star Music Resort
- Oct. 14, 2021: Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
- Oct. 28, 2021: Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter
- Dec. 9, 2021: Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
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!
Starting Jan. 1, 2022, Disney's Magical Express service for airport transportation will no longer be offered. For the remainder of 2021, the service will operate for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels.
If you're staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you can find additional details about the health and safety measures in place, as well as changes to housekeeping, transportation, parking and hotel services, amenities and recreational activities, in our separate guide about Disney Resort hotels.
Disney Dining Updates
In addition to the booking window shifting to 60 days for Advance Dining Reservations, there are a few other updates guests can expect when it comes to Disney dining. Around the resort, dining experiences are undergoing some changes to ensure the health and safety of guests and cast members during this initial reopening phase. These updates include:
- Seating areas, dining areas and pagers will be cleaned between guests.
- Menus will be shared in ways to minimize contact. At quick-service restaurants, menus will be displayed on signage. And at table-service restaurants, you can scan a code with your mobile device to access the digital menu.
- Beverages and other items that were previously self-serve (such as condiments) will instead be served by cast members or come pre-packaged.
- At this time, it is recommended all guests use cashless payment options, including debit cards, credit cards and Disney Gift Cards. Guests can also opt for contactless payment options — such as mobile wallets — or use cash to purchase a Disney Gift Card at Guest Relations and select merchandise locations. Disney Resort hotel Guests can also use MagicBands to charge their purchase to their Disney Resort hotel folio.
- Menu items may vary. For specific menu information, check the restaurant’s online menu, often found through My Disney Experience (no physical menus are available).
- Character dining has gradually returned with modified experiences, including Topolino's Terrace - Flavors of the Riviera, Garden Grill, Tusker House, Chef Mickey's and Minnie's Seasonal Dine and Disney Junior Play 'n Dine at Hollywood & Vine.
- Dinner shows will not be offered during the initial reopening.
- You can view Walk-Up availability for select table-service restaurants in My Disney Experience. Some table-service restaurants even use mobile ordering for pick-up orders.
- Dining locations will be limited in capacity. Some locations will remain temporarily closed.
- Private dining and in-room delivery will not be offered during the initial reopening window.
- Mobile order service will be offered at select quick-service dining locations throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks (when open), Disney Springs and select Disney Resort hotels.
- Mobile Check-In is available for table-service dining via My Disney Experience.
Find more information and a list of all dining locations that are currently available at Disney Springs, the Disney Resort hotels and theme parks, check out our complete guide to dining at Disney World.
Disney Springs Updates
Upon arrival at Disney Springs, guests undergo security screenings. We have a separate post with details you need to know about visiting Disney Springs now, including a full list of all of the shops and restaurants that are currently open for you to enjoy.
As the Walt Disney World Resort continues to increase capacity, rules and policies may change due to the fluid situation, but rest assured, your favorite frogs will keep you updated! We hope this guide helps you prepare for your visit to Disney World and gives you an idea of what to expect. Be sure to check back later, as we will update this post as new information becomes available.