Walt Disney World Resorts: 10 Things You Must-Know Before Visiting

Disney's Pop Century
Credit: Disney Fanatic

All Disney fans are pretty excited to get back to Disney World. Many are flocking to the parks, and lots of those have even gone so far as to make reservations at one of the Disney-owned resort hotels. This is great! After all, there’s nothing better than staying at a Disney resort and immersing yourself in the Disney bubble for the entirety of your vacation, and after the year we’ve had so far, we all deserve to do just that. That said, if you have a Disney hotel reservation coming up, there are some things you’ll want to know before you go.


1. Not All Resorts Are Open

First, it’s important to note that not all resorts are open at this time. Therefore, if you’re hoping to visit a certain resort but have yet to make reservations, you may want to look into whether your resort of choice is even open to the public yet.

Photo Credit: Disney

2. Changed Cancellation Policies

Because of the current situation, Disney World has made some modifications to their usual cancellation policy. Through the end of 2020, guests can change or cancel reservations without paying any Disney-imposed fees. This is huge, and gives us all a little peace of mind when making reservations during this unprecedented time.

3. No Baggage Delivery

If you’ve used Magical Express before, you know that usually, you can put special tags on your bags and have everything delivered straight from the airport to your hotel room door. Unfortunately, this is not the case at this time. Instead, guests must claim their own luggage and carry it to the Magical Express check-in themselves. NOTE: Disney’s Magical Express is ending January 1, 2022.

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4. Masks and Social Distancing Are Required

As is the case with all areas on Disney property, guests are required to wear masks and socially distance from one another. Cast Members do enforce these rules, and those who refuse to comply will be asked to leave.

5. Some Mask Exceptions

There are a few exceptions to the mask rule. For instance, those sitting by the pool, swimming in the pool, or sitting down and eating do not need to wear a mask. You can also remove your mask for outdoor photos. That said, these individuals must still adhere to social distancing protocols.

6. Online Check-In and Virtual Chat

In order to discourage unnecessary contact, Disney has also improved their online check-in process to make it possible to walk straight to your room without ever even speaking to a Cast Member. That said, in order for this to work properly, you must order your MagicBands to be delivered to your home in advance. In addition to this online check-in process, Disney has also implemented a virtual chat option that allows guests to chat with a Cast Member virtually from the comfort of their room. This removes the need to spend time in line where germs may be spread.

7. Modified Cleaning Protocols

Cleaning protocols have changed quite a bit as well. Common areas are cleaned much more regularly and thoroughly, and guest rooms receive an even more thorough cleaning before check-in. That said, after check-in, housekeeping will only visit your room for light cleaning once every other day in order to cut back on the amount of time they spend in your personal space. Guests may request that no cleaning be done during their stay.

8. Dining Reservations

Dining reservations can now be made 60 days in advance. Those staying onsite get a small leg up in the dining reservation game, as they can book for their entire trip of up to 10 days beginning 60 days before their arrival. This means they have a 70-day booking window for the final day of their trip, giving them an opportunity to book more popular eateries before others can get to them.

9. Temperature Checks

If you plan on dining at your resort, it’s important to note that you will need to have your temperature checked at the door. This is in addition to the temperature screenings done at the entrance to each of the four parks.

10. Limited Activities

Usually, the Disney hotels have a whole list of activities going on each day. These might include crafts, games, dance lessons, campfires, and outdoor movies. Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid crowding, many of these activities are currently suspended or limited right now.

Photo Credit Disney

11. Limited Transportation Capacity

One of the benefits of staying in a Disney resort is the free transportation to the parks and Disney Springs. This benefit is still available, but seating in all types of transportation is limited, as social distancing must be maintained. For the most part, this hasn’t been an issue since crowd levels have been extremely low, but as crowd levels increase, this will increase wait times for transportation.

12. No Extra Magic Hours or FastPass+

A couple of favorite benefits that are gone for now include Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+. That said, crowd levels remain relatively low for the time being, meaning you may not even need either of these things to avoid long lines and have an awesome time.


13. Limited Services

It is important to note that certain services are currently unavailable at the Disney Resort Hotels. These include: Club-level service, Deliveries, In-room celebrations, In-room dining, Dry-cleaning and valet laundry services, Shipping services, and Resort airline check-in service.

14. Limited Amenities

Additionally, some amenities are unavailable at this time. These include: Arcades, Campfires, Character experiences, Marina rentals, Playgrounds, Spas, salons, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

15. Automatic Checkout

Finally, we should point out that guests are not required to visit the front desk to check out of their hotel room. Instead, you will be automatically checked out on the last day of your hotel stay.

About Chelsea

Chelsea is a lifelong Disney fanatic who lives and travels full time in an RV with her son and husband. Their family takes full advantage of their unique living situation by visiting Disney parks on both sides of the country as often as possible. In doing so, the Gonzales family gathers loads of great tips and info about the parks, which Chelsea is thrilled to share with readers here. Visit Chelsea's blog: Wonder Wherever We Wander! Here you’ll find a wealth of valuable information as well as a variety of reviews and resources to help you navigate the often uncharted territory of roadschooling.

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