What Still Hasn’t Returned to “Normal” in Disney World?

When Disney World reopened in 2020, there were a LOT of changes in the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs.

Distancing Sign from 2020

Face mask mandates, physical distancing, limited capacity, changes in dining, and so much more made the Disney World experience very different from before it closed. Now, a lot of things have returned to “normal” — for example, physical distancing isn’t really a thing anymore, capacities are increasing, and buffets have returned.

But what still HASN’T returned to “normal” in the parks? Let’s take a look.

In many ways, Disney World is still very different than it was before the parks closed. There are still some special rules in effect; certain shows, restaurants and other attractions remain closed; many perks still haven’t returned; and even some of the returning experiences are modified from how they used to be.

Animal Kingdom


Although the health and safety rules now are different from the ones we saw when Disney World first opened, there are still some measures in place.

Face Masks

Disney’s current health and safety guidelines state that face masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests in both outdoor and indoor locations. Face masks are still required for ALL guests (regardless of vaccination status) in Disney World in some enclosed transportation, such as the  monorail, and Disney buses. Masks are now optional for fully vaccinated guests on the  Skyliner.

Masks are still required on Disney World transportation

You may also find masks to be required for all guests in certain health-related places like First Aid locations.

Masks are required in First Aid locations at Disney World

Disney notes that they expect that guests who are not fully vaccinated will continue to wear masks in all indoor locations, including in indoor attractions and theaters.

Click here to see all of the details about Disney’s current mask policy!

Park Pass Reservations

Another policy change that’s stuck around is the Park Pass Reservation system. Guests still need to make reservations ahead of time in order to enter any of the four theme parks.

Entering Hollywood Studios

These reservations can (and do) run out, so you’ll want to book yours as soon as you buy your Disney World tickets. You can book reservations online for free (it’s included with your ticket purchase).

Heading into Animal Kingdom

Disney has announced that capacity for the parks has been increasing over time. During a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the Disney parks were “generally operating without significant mandatory COVID-19-related capacity restrictions” such as those that were in place in the prior-year quarter. But, Chapek also noted, “However, we continue to manage capacity to address ongoing COVID-19 considerations with respect to guest and cast health and safety.

For now, there are still some systems in place to manage capacity in Disney World, and we might see the park pass reservations stick around for a while longer.

Click Here to See What One Disney Executive Had to Say About Park Passes and Why They Might Be Here to STAY

Things That Are Still Closed or Unavailable

A lot has returned to Disney World since its reopening, but some attractions, shows, and restaurants still haven’t opened back up. Here are several things that we’re STILL waiting on:


Citizens of Hollywood
Finding Nemo: The Musical


Top of the World Lounge

Other Attractions

You might not even notice that several other attractions are still closed in Disney World, like the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom (which is set to reopen on July 31st, 2022), Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (in both Disney Springs and the Magic Kingdom — Disney has stated that the experience will return in 2022), and a few Disney World tours (though some have returned!).

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Perks That Haven’t Returned

Along with attractions and other things inside the Disney World parks, some guest perks have not returned either.

Disney Dining Plan

One BIG perk that we’re still missing is the Disney Dining Plan.

Quick Service Meal

Disney previously announced that the Dining Plan would return at some point, but they did not give a timeline. We haven’t heard anything about it since then, so we’re not sure when it could be back or how it might be different when it does return.

Tables in Wonderland

Tables in Wonderland (a program that offers discounts to guests at Disney World restaurants) also has not come back to Disney World yet, and there have been no announcements about its return.

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

On the website, it simply says that “Dining Plans are Temporarily Unavailable.” It also notes that “All existing Tables in Wonderland cards have expired as of September 1, 2021.” Tables in Wonderland used to be available only for Annual Passholders, DVC Members, and Florida Residents, and they were subject to some blockout dates. Still, lots of Tables members enjoyed the regular savings on meals.

Advanced Dining Reservations are Modified

Another difference in Disney World Dining is that advanced dining reservations can only be made 60 days before your reservation date, instead of the previous 180 days in advance.

‘Ohana is incredibly popular!

We don’t know yet when or if this policy will return to “normal.”

Transportation Changes

Some transportation changes have remained in the parks as well. Parking trams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are not running at this time. The trams are back in the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney announced that the service should return to the other parks “throughout 2022.”


Minnie Vans (Disney World’s rideshare service) are not running either, but you can still order an Uber or Lyft if you need a ride between parks or to your hotel. The Minnie Van service will return in Summer 2022! 

Click Here to See Which Disney World Parking Lot Is the WORST Without Trams

Things That Are Back but Different

Some things have returned to Disney World, but they’re not quite back to “normal” yet.

Character Meet-and-Greets

Character meet and greets started up again in all four parks, and you can get one-on-one time with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and other characters to take photos and talk to them.

Traditional character meet and greets are back!

And, even HUGS are back! Several meet-and-greet locations throughout Disney World (including character dining) have returned to normal meaning that guests can hug the characters, take pictures near the characters, and ask for autographs.

Holiday Parties

In addition, the holiday parties in the Magic Kingdom are also seemingly returning in full swing! In 2021, Disney canceled the Halloween and Holiday parties in the way that we once new and replaced them with After Hours events, which are shorter parties that have some of the same offerings and entertainment. For Halloween, there was the Boo Bash, and Christmastime had the Very Merriest After Hours Event.

Vert Merriest After Hours

But, as of 2022, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is officially coming back with all its normal entertainment and offerings! Disney has not yet announced any updates on the holiday party, but guests may also see the return of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom — we’ll keep you updated!

Some Restaurants

In terms of dining, most of the Disney World buffets reopened as family-style meals, at least at first. Some of these restaurants have returned to a buffet-style of dining (such as the Crystal Palace), but others continue to use a modified service.

Crystal Palace

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are both serving food in an all-you-care-to-eat family-style manner, instead of a buffet. These are both character meals as well, which have returned back to “normal.”

Mickey at Tusker House

Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort reopened as a family-style meal instead of a buffet, and it is still serving a family-style meal. Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort initially reopened as a family-style restaurant, but it has since returned to buffet service for breakfast and dinner. Note, however, that the character breakfast option is NOT available (i.e. breakfast is being served but no characters are appearing).

Park Hopping

Another big change that hasn’t switched back is that guests with the Park Hopper option added onto their ticket cannot hop to another park before 2PM. You also cannot enter the second park at all unless you’ve scanned into the first park at some point that day, and you must have had a Park Pass for that first park you wanted to visit.

Heading into the Magic Kingdom

This is an improvement from when Disney World first opened (when Park Hopping wasn’t offered at all), but we’re still not quite back to how things were before the closure.

Click Here to See 35 Ways Disney World Is Different in 2022

As Disney World continues to make changes, we’ll be sure to bring you all the latest updates. Keep following AllEars for all the Disney news!

Click Here to See How Everyone Wastes Money on Disney World Tickets

What have you seen in Disney World that still isn’t quite back to “normal”? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Replies to “What Still Hasn’t Returned to “Normal” in Disney World?”

  1. Hopefully 🙏 hoop dee do review and tusker house breakfast will be back when I come in September 2022 and we don’t have to wear the mask also I reserved the park days hopefully they take it out hopefully 🙏 I get to try the be our guest restaurant at magic kingdom

  2. Wondering if/when breakfast at Be Our Guest restaurant will return? Anyone hear anything? I know it’s not everyone’s favorite, but it is one of mine.

  3. I actually hope they DON’T bring back the six-month window for Advance Dining Reservations. I actually think the current system benefits more guests. Resort guests still get first crack at ADRs over everyone else on all but their first day of the stay. People who don’t plan their trips more than six months out now have the ability ADRs at places normally already taken up by the hardcore planners staying on site. Who needs a dining reservation for every day of your trip six months out?

    Literally this morning would have been my day to book ADRs for the trip next summer we HAVEN’T even told them their getting as part of the Christmas yet. If they want to give resort guests even more priority for every day of the trip, then go to the old FP+ windows of 60 days out for resort guests and 30 days out for everyone else. But at least now, those who make the financial decision that they can’t afford to stay on property have some chance to splurge and get a coveted ADR that they never would have had a chance for under the old system.

    I can’t even figure out what my family is doing for dinner tonight most days. I absolutely dread the idea of having to decide six months in advance on what is supposed to be my vacation, too.