Vacation season is always around the corner, and that means many families are gearing up to go to the most magical place on earth. If you’re one of the many who are finding themselves knee-deep in Disney vacation planning right now, you should absolutely get ready to have an absolutely fantastic time! That said, you should also be prepared for the many changes Disney has made to its parks. Some of the biggest changes are listed below. Knowing these things going in will help you properly plan and prepare so you can have the most magical Disney World vacation yet.
1. Mask Requirement
You’re probably already well aware of the fact that Disney is requiring guests to wear masks throughout their visit. However, it’s worth mentioning again and noting that Disney is pretty particular about the type of mask you wear, and things like neck gaiters and bandanas do not meet the requirements. Additionally, the mask policy at Disney World is very strict, and staff are constantly monitoring to ensure everyone remains masked at all times while in public places, unless they are eating or drinking while stationary or taking your mask off briefly for outdoor photos.
2. Park Reservations
In the past, Disney-goers could decide over breakfast which park they wanted to visit that day. Unfortunately, because Disney has had to set strict capacity limits and needs to know how many guests to expect on any given day, this is no longer the case. Instead, guests must make park reservations in advance of their visit, and because these do sometimes fill up, you will want to snag yours as soon as you are able.
3. Modified Park Hopping
Recently, Disney brought back the ability to hop from one park to the next. This is great news for those who like to squeeze all the parks into a super short trip. However, there are some changes to the park hopping system. At this time, guests with a Park Hopper Ticket can only hop to a second park after 2pm. While a reservation for the second park (and beyond) is not needed for park hopping, you will need to have a reservation for the first park and will need to visit that one before you can go to any others. Additionally, if a park reaches capacity, those with Park Hopper Tickets will not be able to enter there.
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4. No FastPass+
If you’ve gotten very deep at all into your vacation planning, you’ve probably noticed that something is missing. FastPass+ has been taken out of the picture for the time being, meaning you won’t need to make any ride reservations. Unfortunately, this also means you won’t get to skip any lines, but most lines are pretty manageable without FastPass right now anyway.
5. No Single Rider Lines
If you’re thinking you’ll just head to the single rider lines to skip the long waits, think again: Single rider lines have been shut down in order to maintain social distancing. Fortunately, as we mentioned above, most lines aren’t too terribly long at the moment, meaning the single rider line isn’t really necessary.
6. Different Character Experiences
Right now, traditional character meet-and-greets aren’t available. While this is sad, and we most certainly do miss the one-on-one character interactions, we are happy to say that character experiences are still available. Short, unscheduled parades called “Character Cavalcades” run throughout the day at all four parks, giving visitors a chance to wave to favorite friends. Additionally, socially distanced character appearances happen at random in various places throughout the parks.
7. Required Mobile Ordering
If you plan on eating at quick-service restaurants, it’s worth noting that most of these fast food eateries are requiring guests to place mobile orders for the time being. This reduces crowds by giving guests specific return times, and we find it makes the quick-service dining experience smoother and more pleasant. Just know you will need the Disney World app to place a mobile order!
8. 60-Day Dining Reservation Window
Want to mix things up with some table-service dining as well? Gone are the days of making dining reservations 6 months before you vacation. Instead, Disney World is offering guests the chance to make reservations 60 days out. Additionally, some table-service restaurants have walk-in lists on a limited basis.
9. Some Entertainment Suspended
Finally, it’s important to know going in that some popular entertainment options have been suspended. For instance, there is no big afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom right now. Instead, we recommend checking out the aforementioned Character Cavalcades which are short, sweet, and a lot of fun. Besides the parade, guests will also notice a distinct lack of fireworks. This is a real bummer, but we totally understand the need to remove these types of shows that draw enormous crowds. The Electric Water Pageant is running on Bay Lake however, so be sure to check that out for a magic ending to your night. Other shows that aren’t currently running include Festival of the Lion King (returning “mid-May”), Finding Nemo the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and a few other live performances. Fortunately, there is still plenty to see and do, so you should have no problems filling your time with fun experiences.