Note from Mommy Frog: Beginning Feb. 17, 2022, masks will be optional for fully vaccinated guests in most indoor and outdoor locations. Those not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in all indoor locations. All guests will still be required to wear masks on enclosed Disney transportation, including buses, monorails and the Skyliner. For the most up-to-date information, check out our guide on mask policies at the theme parks).
Walt Disney World Resort officially reopened its parks in July 2020, and it has been steadily hopping back to life ever since! 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 live entertainment and parades! We also have the ongoing Disney World's 50th Anniversary, an 18-month celebration that began Oct. 1!
We are so hoppy to say that indoor character meet-and-greets (though still distanced) are back at Disney World! Lots of entertainment continues to return this year, such as Festival of Fantasy parade, Finding Nemo: the Musical, Fantasmic! and more. Entertainment is what really sets Disney World apart and we're so excited for more entertainers to return!
In October, Disney introduced the brand-new Disney Genie service to the My Disney Experience app. This free digital service guides you through the theme parks (as your own personal genie), with tips that help maximize your time and a personalized itinerary based on your interests. You can upgrade to the Disney Genie+ service, which allows you to select priority access through new Lightning Lane entrances to save time in lines for attractions. We hop into more details later in this guide! And yes, this means the FastPass+ service is officially retired.
Read more about current Disney World procedures, plus tips to help you make the very most of your visit. Let's hop to it!
Disney World Theme Park Reservation System, Park Hopping, Disney Genie Service & 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 Typhoon Lagoon Water Park or 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.
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 only interfered with guests' ability to hop once). 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.
Many restaurants and special experiences remain closed, but more steadily continue to reopen. There has also been a shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for reservations moving forward.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney's Hollywood Studios has paused the use of a virtual queue, as of Sept. 23, 2021. The attraction now utilizes a traditional standby queue as well as paid Lightning Lane access through Disney Genie.
Move over, FastPass+ — Disney Genie is at your service! Disney Genie is a free planning tool inside the My Disney Experience app. You have a personalized itinerary based on your interests that updates throughout the day, and it displays current AND forecasted wait times to help you predict quicker entry to rides.
You can upgrade to the Disney Genie+ service for $15 per ticket per day to choose available times to skip the line for a variety of rides and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. You can make one selection at a time throughout the day.
Select in-demand rides, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, offer individual Lightning Lane access that is not included with the Genie+ service. Pricing varies by date, attraction and park, and you can only make two purchases each day. Standby still remains available at other attractions not utilizing a virtual queue.
Extra Magic Hours will not be returning, but in its place, Disney has introduced the Early Theme Park Entry benefit. 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. While most of the extra health and safety measures have been reduced, some still remain in place:
- Cleanliness and sanitization: Hand sanitizers remain and are available at nearly every attraction. Note that finger scanning at the touchpoints has returned.
- Face coverings: The mask policy is ever-changing, based on current health guidelines. See our separate post for more details!
- 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.
A New Experience at the Disney World Theme Parks
All attractions are available to enjoy 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, Soarin' Around the World, and the new Remy's Ratatouille Adventure.
The newest nighttime spectaculars have arrived with Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT. Wonderful World of Animation is available at Disney's Hollywood Studios, along with Disney Movie Magic. Animal Kingdom has new daytime entertainment with the debut of Disney KiteTails.
From special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom parade route and friends cruising down Discovery River, to motorcades along Hollywood Boulevard and characters popping up throughout World Showcase, 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, as you get a chance to see a variety of characters!
Recently, indoor character sightings have returned (though still distanced)! At Magic Kingdom, princesses are back at Princess Fairytale Hall and Mickey is at Town Square Theater, now in his new EARidescent outfit! At Hollywood Studios, meet Minnie at Red Carpet Dreams, Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight and Disney Junior characters in Animation Courtyard. At EPCOT, meet Anna and Elsa inside the Royal Sommerhus in Norway, Mickey at the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival and Joy and Vanellope at ImageWorks.
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:
Get excited, because LOTS of entertainment is returning in 2022! Finding Nemo: The Musical will get an updated show at Animal Kingdom. The frog-favorite Fantasmic! returns to Hollywood Studios with an all-new sequence. At Magic Kingdom, enjoy a new cavalcade, a 50th-themed ending to the stage show, "Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire," and the Festival of Fantasy parade! Plus, blast off on an intergalactic adventure as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens in summer 2022. We frogs can't wait!
- 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!
- Take your time and drink lots of water! 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.
Disney World Water Park Updates
Disney's Blizzard Beach reopened March 7, 2021, and is now closed for regular refurbishment. But one of the two water parks is always open! Disney's Typhoon Lagoon reopened Jan. 2, 2022. 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.
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 in June 2020.
All Walt Disney World Resort hotels but one are currently open:
- 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 All-Star Music Resort
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas — Jambo House and 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 Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter
- 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's All-Star Sports Resort: Reopening March 31, 2022 (bookings available now)
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!
As of Jan. 1, 2022, Disney's Magical Express service for airport transportation has been retired. Mears Connect now offers a similar service at a cost for transportation between Disney World hotels and the airport.
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:
- 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.
- 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 or Disney MagicMobile passes 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 (physical menus may not be available).
- Character dining has gradually returned with modified experiences, including Topolino's Terrace - Flavors of the Riviera, Garden Grill, Tusker House, Story Book Dining, Chef Mickey's and Minnie's Seasonal Dine and Disney Junior Play 'n Dine at Hollywood & Vine.
- Dinner shows are currently unavailable.
- 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.
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.