Disney magic in the parks looks a bit different in 2021. To promote social distancing, safe fun and to keep guests and cast members healthy there are some changes to attractions and happenings in the parks. This article notes some of the changes that guests will see in the parks to keep guests.
1. No Character Greetings
Character Greetings have been suspended until further notice. Because of the hands-on nature of Character Greetings, it is safer for guests and characters to interact from afar. While you cannot hug your favorite film star and grab a photo together, character sightings around the parks have been a nice addition to the magic. Throughout the day, characters walk or ride through the parks waving to guests. Merida on her horse in the Magic Kingdom. Tigger and Pooh on top of Main Street, U.S.A train station platform and Anna and Elsa rounding World Showcase are some of our favorite character sightings that have taken the place of Character Greetings.
2. Attraction Lines Are Distanced
Attraction lines are socially distanced with floor stickers to keep guests an appropriate distance apart in attraction wait lines. Spacing is important to ensure guests don’t crowd each other and stay apart. It also means attraction queues look fuller than they actually are.
3. Frequent Ride Cleanings
Ride seats are periodically sanitized throughout the hour to ensure cleanliness. This is a great step from Disney and we appreciate all they are doing to keep guests safe. This does mean that attraction lines move a little slower and sometimes pause for spray cleaning of ride seats. Be patient with the cast members and know that though it slows down the line, cleaning attractions is an important part of staying safe and healthy.
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4. Reduced Ride Capacity
Sure, the parks are running at a reduced guest capacity but rides tend to be running with fairly normal wait times. This is due in part to periodic cleaning of rides as we mentioned earlier, and reduced ride capacity. Individual parties are being grouped together on most rides meaning you won’t be riding with other guests and will have the boat or ride vehicle to yourself. Couples on Winnie the Pooh will have no other guest pair seated behind them. Rides with multiple rows many have guests seated in the very front and very back row to provide adequate space between parties. This slows down line progress a bit, but it is pretty neat having a boat all to yourself on It’s a Small World!
5. Holding Rooms Are Closed
Attraction holding rooms (the attraction before the attraction) are closed to promote social distancing. In Disney’s Haunted Mansion guests walk distanced through the stretching room but don’t experience the attraction preshow that crowds guests together. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios diverts guests through the normal preshow room that gives background on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
6. Limited Dining Options and Mobile Order Only for Quick Service Spots
With reduced opening hours and limited guest numbers some dining options are closed. For Disney foodies like my family, it can be sad to see your favorite restaurant on the list of eateries that is closed for now. That said, check out the My Disney Experience app to get an idea of which dining opportunities are open in the parks during your visit. When you decide on your perfect quick service lunch spot you need to place your order through the My Disney Experience app using mobile ordering. This is a much more convenient way to dine. Just make your selections from the restaurant menu in the app and wait to be notified that your meal is ready. This eliminates the need for you to stand in lines when ordering and waiting for your meal.
7. Hands-On Areas in Epcot are Closed
One of the hallmarks of the Epcot park experience is the chance to touch, play and interact with technology in Future World. To keep touching to a minimum Innoventions, Test Track After the Test Race Room, the Living Seas interactive areas and Project Tomorrow at the exit of Spaceship Earth are all closed until further notice.
8. Interactive Ride Queues and Playgrounds Are Closed
Kids play areas on certain attractions like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh are closed until further notice. The same goes for interactive ride queues that kids of all ages enjoyed playing with. The interactive graveyard at the Haunted Mansion, gooey honey wall in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the rotating gem chests in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are among the closed interactive attractions. If your little ones are sad they can’t play under the big top or in rabbit’s garden during this vacation, download the Play Disney Parks mobile app so they can enjoy virtual games as they wait in ride queues.
9. Reduced Park Hours
To allow plenty of time to sanitize attractions, shops and generally do some deep cleaning in the evenings, park hours have been reduced across the property. Due also in part to the elimination of evening shows and fireworks until further notice, parks close earlier than pre-pandemic times. Of course, this varies by day and by park so be sure to check the My Disney Experience app or talk to guest services at your Disney resort to check park hours during your visit.
10. No Parades or Fireworks
Crowds congregate during parades, laser shows and fireworks to get the best view of the action. For this reason, even though the parks are allowing reduced guests numbers each day it is safest if Disney does not continue parades and fireworks right now. The bright side of not staying late for evening fireworks is that you can hit your resort hotel early for extra rest as you prep for your next park day. There are also things at the resort to enjoy like movies under the stars, time at the pool and enjoying the resort movie channels.