It’s a bit of an understatement to say that 2020 has brought on some changes to all of our lives. And while the events of 2020 have put a hold on most vacation plans, many families are looking to 2021 to visit Walt Disney World. The resort has gone above and beyond to implement new safety measures that are meant to keep guests happy and healthy during their visit. I just returned from a visit with my family and felt safer in the resort than I do at my local grocery store. At this point, most of these changes do not have a set end date and are expected to continue in some form into the next year. 2021 also brings with it some major celebrations and openings as Walt Disney World will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. So we’ve put together a list of 5 things you should prepare for before your trip next year!
After Walt Disney World’s reopening earlier this year, the resort rolled out a number of new safety measures that change the way we experience the parks and hotels. Among these is the requirement for all guests ages 2 and up to wear appropriate face coverings in all public areas of the resort. This measure combined with physical distancing in lines and theater attractions and a reduced capacity at the parks has worked well in keeping guests safe. Guests are also required to make Park Pass reservations before visiting a Walt Disney World theme park, and currently, attendance is limited to one park per day. While there is no word on when some of these restrictions will be lifted, it was just announced that Park Hopping will return beginning January 1st, 2021 with newly modified rules. Disney has said that many of the other changes will most likely continue into at least part of 2021.
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary
2021 is a big year for Walt Disney World. On October 1st, the resort will hit 50 years of magic with a year-long celebration planned throughout the parks. Details on how the resort will celebrate are still being kept under wraps, but it’s safe to say that it will be a great time to visit. Disney loves a reason to throw a party, and this one is a big milestone for Disney fans. Park Passes are quickly being grabbed by fans eager to be in the Magic Kingdom on this historic day. If you’re wanting to join in on the fun in October, you’ll want to make your reservation as soon as possible. Hotel space is already limited, and there’s nothing like staying on property during a big event like the upcoming anniversary.
New Attractions and Restaurants
In preparation for the 50th anniversary, Disney has been hard at work on a handful of new attractions and restaurants still slated to open next year. EPCOT is currently undergoing a major park refurbishment that will bring with it a new Guardians of the Galaxy rollercoaster and nighttime show as well as a stateside version of Disneyland Paris’ hit attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in a soon to be expanded France pavilion of World Showcase. Not to mention the highly anticipated opening of the innovative Space 220 restaurant that will offer guests the chance to dine high above the earth. Over at Magic Kingdom, a new TRON Lightcycle Run rollercoaster is set to debut in Tomorrowland. We don’t have any set opening dates for most of these new additions, but Disney has been moving forward with most of their planned additions with high hopes for openings in the next year.
No More Free MagicBands
One minor perk of booking a Walt Disney World vacation package for the past decade has been the inclusion of free MagicBands for all members of your vacation party. These handy wristbands are used for park entry, hotel room access, resort account charging, and more. They have proven so popular with guests that there are now a wide variety of styles and designs that you can purchase to show off your personal style. Disney has made the announcement that complimentary MagicBands will no longer be offered for guests checking in on January 1st, 2021, and later. Instead, hotel and package guests will soon receive a free Key to the World card that will contain their park tickets instead of a MagicBand. This isn’t to say that MagicBands are disappearing though. It seems Disney has no plans to stop producing the retail MagicBands and guests will still have the option to purchase a band and use it in the same way as they have in the past.
Disney’s Magical Express and Resort Airline Check-in
Another perk of staying at a Walt Disney World resort that is widely used by visiting guests is the Magical Express bus service. This complimentary motor coach takes you to and from Orlando International Airport and your onsite hotel. Many guests find this to be an important amenity as it takes out a lot of the stress of your arrival and departure. In the past, Disney offered luggage handling as part of the service. Guests could attach a special tag to their checked bags before departure, and they would be collected by Disney upon arrival and delivered to the hotel room. Currently, Disney has suspended the luggage handling part of the process, and for the foreseeable future, guests will have to collect their checked luggage themselves before boarding the bus. You can still enjoy the convenience of kicking back and relaxing while letting Disney take care of the driving though, so we still highly recommend using this service! In addition to the Magical Express change, Disney has suspended the Resort Airline Check-in offering that allows you to check-in to your departing flight at your hotel and have them take care of delivering your checked luggage to the airport for you. We don’t have any word on when these offerings will return, so it would be safe to go ahead and plan for their absence until Disney announces a lift on current restrictions.
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