After an unprecedented extended closure, Walt Disney World is set to reopen its gates soon. And while it may be impossible to remove the magic from the resort, it’s safe to say that things will definitely be a bit different. In an effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, many of the usual offerings and procedures at Walt Disney World have been altered. So as we prepare to return to the parks and hotels, we have put together a list of tips that will help you adhere to Disney’s new guidelines and have you ready to return to the magic!
Make Sure You’ve Made Your Park Pass Reservations
The biggest change to how we experience the parks is the implementation of the new Disney Park Pass system. With this system guests must reserve their space in a park ahead of time, and can currently reserve a visit to one park per day. Park attendance will be limited for the near future, and its extremely important to make your Park Passes as soon as possible. If you’ve purchased a vacation package, or stand alone tickets, you’ll be able to make reservations for the duration of those tickets. If you’re an Annual Passholder, you’ll only be allowed to reserve 3 days of passes at a time.
Bring More Than One Mask
Walt Disney World has announced that face coverings will be required for all guests ages 2 and up in all public areas of the resort when it reopens. There are exceptions for pools, restaurants, and mask rest areas, but you will be wearing a mask for the majority of your stay. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have more than one mask that fits you well and doesn’t bother you for long periods of time. There are standard surgical style masks, as well as neck gaiters that can help cool you down in the Florida heat. I’ve packed 3 different types of masks for the reopening, and plan to rotate through them to give my ears and face a rest as needed.
All face coverings should:
- Fully cover an individual’s nose and mouth and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Be made of breathable material, either disposable or reusable
Prepare for Cashless Payment
To help with social distancing and protect guests and Cast Members, Disney is encouraging guests to use cashless payment throughout the resort. These options include debit cards, credit cards, and Disney Gift Cards. Guests can also opt for contactless payment options (like mobile wallets) or use cash to purchase a Disney Gift Card at Guest Relations and select merchandise locations. Disney Resort hotel Guests can also use MagicBands to charge their purchase to their Disney Resort hotel folio. But be aware that complimentary MagicBands will not be issued to package guests after January 1st, 2021.
Reserve Your Table Service Dining at 60 Days
Walt Disney World’s old dining reservation system allowed guests to make their Table Service dining reservations beginning at 180 days prior to arrival. As part of the new reopening procedures, that window has now shrunk down to 60 days prior. I don’t think there were many visitors to Walt Disney World that enjoyed having to decide what would be for dinner 6 months ahead of time, so we think this is a nice reset. You should remember that park capacity may be limited right now, but so is the capacity for all of Disney’s dining locations. This means that it’s still important to grab any reservations you’ve had your heart set on, to ensure you get a table.
Use Disney’s Online Check-In
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ll need to make sure that you check-in for your stay ahead of time using the My Disney Experience app or site. To reduce contact between guests and Cast Members, Disney is now requiring all hotel guests to check-in online before their arrival. Guests can use this option to make room requests, add a credit card, and set an arrival time. I’ve always been a fan of this service as it usually allows me to head straight to my room and bypass any lines at the front desk.
Prepare Little Ones for Physical Distancing
I’m a father of a bright and friendly 8-year-old. One of the biggest hurdles during the outbreak of COVID-19 is getting him to stick to social distancing guidelines. A visit to Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming experience for a child, and it will probably be easy for them to get lost in the magic and forget some of Disney’s new rules like physical distancing. Disney will have signage and ground markings throughout the resort to help guests practice physical distancing, but as many parents know kids can easily miss these types of indicators. Take some time before your visit to talk over with your family the importance of following the distancing guidelines in ride queues and public places. I’ve found that making a game out of staying inside the floor marker is usually an easy way to get my kid to follow along (at least for a little while).
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Photos Courtesy Disney