10 Rules That Have CHANGED at Walt Disney World in 2021

A lot has changed at Walt Disney World over the past year. From updates to health and safety measures, changes to what’s free, and preparations for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary, there’s a lot to keep up with nowadays.

Cinderella Castle

When it comes to the rules at the Most Magical Place on Earth, things can change overnight (literally!), so today we’re covering all of the rules that might be different from the last time you visited the parks!

Here Are 10 Rules That Have CHANGED in Disney World in 2021

Face Masks

Since Disney World reopened in 2020 after closing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, there has been a face mask policy. At first, Disney required that all guests wear face masks at all times at the parks and resorts — including inside, outside, and on transportation. But things started to be relaxed in April.

Disney Face Mask

It began with Disney allowing guests to remove their face masks when taking outdoor photos (and being able to distance themselves from others), and shortly after the policy was updated (due to new CDC recommendations) to allow all guests, regardless of vaccination status, to remove their masks when outdoors. Though it was still required to be worn in all outdoor queues, rides, indoors, and on most transportation.

PhotoPass Cast Member

But CDC recommendations continued to change, resulting in masks becoming optional at all locations in Disney World, both indoors and outdoors in June. This lasted for about a month, and now Disney requires that guests wear face masks (again, regardless of vaccination status) in all indoor locations including select transportation.

Current face mask policy ©Disney

This rule may be the one that has changed the most over 2021, and there’s always the possibility that Disney will change it again before the new year as the global health crisis continues to evolve.

Click HERE for The Best Face Mask Tips for Your Walt Disney World Trip!

Other Health and Safety Measures

Aside from face masks, 2021 brought a few other changes to health and safety measures. Back in May, Disney removed temperature checkpoints from all theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs…

Temperature Check Tents Are No Longer in Disney World

…and physical distancing requirements have significantly been reduced. Now, distancing markers have been removed from the ground at almost all locations (including queues), guests are seated in every row (and seat) on attractions, and the language regarding distancing is no longer on Disney’s health and safety website.

Is There Still Social Distancing in Disney World? Click HERE to Learn More!

Mobile Ordering

One thing that has stuck around since Disney World reopened is Mobile Ordering — though there have been some changes.

Mobile Ordering is all over the place at Disney World these days!

When Disney World first reopened, almost all Quick Service restaurants did not have a walk-up window and required that guests place a mobile order to get their food. And while mobile ordering is still the preferred method for ordering, now most Quick Service restaurants do have a counter open to order in-person.

Mobile Order Window

Some Quick Service restaurants have completely eliminated the Mobile Ordering option so you have to go in-person.

Check Out Our Ultimate Guide to Mobile Order in Disney World Right Now HERE!

MagicBands No Longer Free

One thing that Disney World Resort hotel guests and Annual Passholders used to be able to count on was receiving free MagicBands prior to their trip, but that also changed this year.


As of January 1, 2021, Disney has discontinued providing free MagicBands for resort hotel guests, and the change was also implemented for Disney World Annual Passholders as of August 16, 2021.

MagicBands have featured Star Wars

Now guests can opt to utilize the new MagicMobile feature in the My Disney Experience app that essentially makes your phone a MagicBand, or receive a keycard to use as a ticket, or purchase a MagicBand at a special discounted rate for hotel guests and Annual Passholders. (You can still buy them onsite for full price, too!)

Learn More About Disney World’s NEW MagicMobile Service HERE!

Park Hopping

After being suspended for most of 2020, Park Hopping returned to Disney World on January 1, 2021 — but now there are new rules for guests to follow. Instead of being able to hop from park to park at any time of the day, Disney has implemented new “Park Hopping Hours” which do not begin until 2PM at each park, each day.

Park Hopping Information

After 2PM, park hopping is essentially the same as guests might remember, with the ability to park hop to any park (even multiple ones). The ability to park hop does depend on park capacity, though we have yet to experience a time where the park was at capacity when we were trying to park hop.

We Answered Your BIGGEST Questions About Park Hopping in Disney World HERE!

Park Capacity

Another rule that began when the parks reopened to guests last year was limited park capacity, which in turn brought a new Park Pass Reservation system for guests. Now, capacity limits are still in place in all four theme parks, but Disney officials have confirmed that they have been continuing to increase the limit throughout the year.

Don’t forget to make your park pass reservations!

So while rules related to Park Pass Reservations have not changed, there are more of them available making planning your park days a bit easier (except on those really busy days — book those Park Passes ASAP).

Check Out Why Disney Park Pass Reservations Are Probably Here to Stay

Annual Passholder Park Pass Reservations

Speaking of Park Pass Reservations, up until September, Disney World Annual Passholders had only been able to hold up to three park pass reservations at a time (unless they also had a hotel reservation).

Annual Pass

But when Disney announced they would be resuming Annual Pass sales after an 18-month-long suspension, they also introduced a brand new tiered ticket system and made modifications to the park pass reservation rules.

Annual Passholder Entrance

Now, all Annual Passholders (regardless of whether they purchased into the new program or still have a pass in the old program) receive a set amount of park pass reservations based on which “tiered” pass they have.

So those under the old program now have:

  • Disney Platinum Plus: Up to 5 reservations at a time
  • Disney Platinum: Up to 5 reservations at a time
  • Disney Gold: Up to 5 reservations at a time
  • Disney Silver: Up to 4 reservations at a time
  • Disney Theme Park Select: Up to 3 reservations at a time
  • Disney Weekday Select: Up to 3 reservations at a time
  • Disney EPCOT After 4: Up to 3 reservations at a time
Annual Passholder Magnet

And those under the new now have:

  • Disney Incredi-Pass: Up to 5 Park Pass reservations at a time
  • Disney Sorcerer Pass: Up to 5 Park Pass reservations at a time
  • Disney Pirate Pass: Up to 4 Park Pass reservations at a time
  • Disney Pixie Dust Pass: Up to 3 Park Pass reservations at a time

We Answered Your BIGGEST Questions About Disney World’s New Annual Passes

FastPass+ Replaced With Disney Genie+

After over a year-long suspension of FastPasses, Disney announced that they would be discontinuing the entire system and replacing it with a new PAID FastPass program called Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection.


While the concept will remain the same, with new “Lightning Lanes” (aka the old FastPass lanes) that enable guests to skip the line at many popular attractions, now guests will need to pay for the perk.

New Lightning Lane at Dinosaur

Disney Genie+ provides Disney World guests with Lightning Lane access at over 40 attractions across all four theme parks and cost $15 a day per person. Individual Attraction Selections are a completely separate service, where guests can purchase Lightning Lane access at attractions that are not part of the Disney Genie+ service. These include the more “fancy rides” in the park, like Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Just keep in mind that guests are only be able to purchase up to two Individual Attraction Selections per day and the price will vary based on date, attraction, park.


Check out our experiences with Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections here.

Flexible Cancellation Policy

When it comes to vacation planning, Disney initially modified many of its policies to assist guests in making their plans during the pandemic — and one of those was the new Flexible Cancellation Policy.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

This temporary policy waived Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in, so guests could modify their reservation and even cancel and receive a full refund for their travels.

Magic Kingdom

This policy was extended a few times over 2021, but it did come to an end on April 30th. Now the previous policy is back in place, and those with reservations booked needing to cancel may have fees apply depending on when they cancel or change their vacations.

Should I Cancel My Disney Trip? We Give Our Thoughts HERE!

Cast Member Costume Policy

Lastly, Disney even changed rules for Cast Members this year, introducing a new “Disney Look” (aka costume policy) that allows flexibility in how Cast Members identify and personally express themselves.

Now Cast Members Can Show Their Tattoos

Now Cast Members are permitted to have things like gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, costume choices, appropriate visible tattoos, and more.

Another Cast Member Showing Offer Her Tattoos

There are still some rules that remain, like tattoos are not permitted on the face, head, or neck without being larger than the Cast Member’s hand when fully extended with the fingers held together, and hairstyles must be well-maintained with length or completely shaved styling. But this change is aimed to allow for more personal and engaging experiences for both employees and guests.

Learn More About Why Disney’s NEW Costume Policy is Such a Big Deal HERE!

So a lot has changed in Disney World in 2021 already and there could be more changes coming soon. And if you want to get a better idea of what it’s like to visit the parks this year, you can watch out video below!

Be sure to stay tuned to AllEars so you’re up to date on all the latest Disney Park news!

Check out more things that have changed in Disney World this year here!

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