All four theme parks at Walt Disney World are officially open to the public!
We’ve been in the parks tracking enhanced health and safety protocols, attraction updates, new character experiences, and pretty much everything else. The AllEars team gathered up a list of our best tips if you’re heading to Disney World in the near future!
The new changes may feel a little overwhelming, as the theme parks aren’t quite the same as we left them and there are a lot of new things to be aware of. We wanted to compile a short list of helpful tips to know before you head back to the Most Magical Place on Earth.
You’ll Need to Plan — But Differently.
Visiting Disney World under the new conditions can still be fun! You just have to plan around the new policies and expect the experience to be different than previous visits. FastPass+ is unavailable so there is less planning around ride reservations and more planning around wait times. Virtual Queues are used, but only for long gift shop waits and Rise of the Resistance.
Dining is a Very Different Experience
For Table Service dining, Advanced Dining Reservations can still be difficult to reserve because restaurants are currently at 50% capacity. While crowds are lower, so is the amount of available space at each restaurant. Mobile Ordering is encouraged at all Quick Service locations and guests are usually asked to wait outside until their meals are prepared.
Half of the tables are marked as unavailable to enforce physical distancing and limit the capacity. Lastly, menus are limited at most Disney restaurants. This is due to distribution shortages and to allow the kitchen staff to more easily distance themselves from one and other. There is still a lot of good food to enjoy and the limited capacity hasn’t affected our experience overall.
Character Experiences are an Unexpected Delight
We were surprised by the creative ways Disney let us meet our favorite characters. Joy frolicking through the grass and Pooh traipsing around with a butterfly net was incredibly adorable at EPCOT. We also loved Pocahantas, Timon and Pumbaa, and Rafiki parading around on a riverboat in Animal Kingdom.
Plan for All the Transportation Changes!
There have been quite a few adjustments to the transportation systems at Disney World. The monorails, busses, boats are running with modified health and safety protocols. Resort monorails on a limited schedule for hotel guests and the monorail that transports guests between EPCOT and Magic Kingdom are currently unavailable. Also, the walkways between Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Ticket and Transportation Center are closed until 8:30AM. All of these changes can increase travel time to the parks.
Expect Longer Travel Times
Speaking of! Wait times may be lower for attractions, but travel time to the parks has increased quite a bit. Buses have limited capacity so you may have to wait for a few busses before it’s your turn to board. Monorails are seating one travel group per cabin, which increases waits for everyone. Trams are not currently operating so you will need to count for the time it takes to walk to the entrance too. That said, there are lower crowd levels so you hopefully won’t be parked too far away!
Expect More Vacation Downtime
Wait times and crowds are VERY low right now. We’re used to seeing HUGE wait times for Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The lines have been considerably lower since the parks re-opened. We’re talkin’ 5-minute wait for Flight of Passage. You should expect to accomplish more attractions than you normally would at Disney World. Also, shows and parades are not currently operating so you have less to do in the parks. Make a plan for dinner at Disney Springs!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Can Be an Exception to the Rule
The lines can still be considerably longer at Hollywood Studios despite absurdly low wait times everywhere else. This park has brand new rides like Rise of the Resistance, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Guests are still having a hard time getting boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance!
The park also has fewer rides and shows like Fantasmic!, Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! are currently down. This means there are fewer places for guests to go during the day.
The Magic is Still Alive
Your experience may differ from previous visits, but Cast Members are still brightening our day with magical moments. One of our favorite memories is when we re-entered Animal Kingdom for the first time in months. The Cast Member who greeted us was holding a cardboard Mickey smile in front of her mask. It was just a little way for her to greet us with a warm “smile” as we made our way inside.
The best thing you can do is expect things won’t be quite the same as before. While there are a lot of differences at the newly reopened parks, there are still a lot of things to enjoy about Disney World!
Do you have any tips for visiting Disney World? Let us know in the comments!
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