A vacation to Walt Disney World can be one of the most exciting and memorable experiences. It can also be one of the most daunting to plan for. The resort spans over 40 square miles and features 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a dining and shopping area, and 25 hotels. That doesn’t even cover the extent of offerings and experiences available to Walt Disney World guests so it goes without saying that you’ll need to be prepared before you arrive. Let’s look at some ways you can prepare for your visit and enhance your vacation before it even gets started.
Finding out What’s Open
Walt Disney World is operating a bit differently than normal right now. After an unprecedented closure of the resort for 116 days, Disney has reopened many of its hotels, parks, and other recreational offerings. But at this time not everything is operating normally. The resort is currently in a phased reopening that is meant to slowly and safely work its way back to normal operations. This means that there are hotels, attractions, and experiences that are still unavailable for guests to enjoy. To find out what is currently available at the resort, check out our guide to What’s Open at Walt Disney World.
New Safety Guidelines
With this reopening comes a set of new safety guidelines for all guests visiting the resort. Among them is the requirement of guests ages 2 and up must wear an approved face mask at all times except when dining and swimming. You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
In addition to face masks, guests will also be required to undergo temperature screenings with no-touch thermometers before entry to some locations at Walt Disney World Resort, including the theme parks, the Disney Springs area, and table-service restaurants at Disney Resort hotels. Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either. Before you leave home, be sure to check the temperatures of everyone in your party—including yourself—as an extra layer of precaution.
You can find all of the current safety guidelines on the Walt Disney World “Know Before You Go” page.
Choosing Your Dates
When picking your vacation dates, you’ll want to research and prepare for a number of factors that might affect your visit. Things like weather, special events, and school breaks should be taken into consideration before choosing your timeframe. There was a time when Walt Disney World had slow periods where attendance was low for months at a time. That has changed and the overall attendance of the park has increased across the calendar. Now you’re more likely to encounter slower weeks or even a few days in a row, surrounded by higher crowds.
You’ll want to also decide early on how long you plan to stay. It’s impossible to see and do everything that Walt Disney World has to offer unless you plan to move in for a few months. Therefore you’ll need to decide what is most important to your family and combine that with how long you have for your trip. We think that guests new to Walt Disney World should look to plan for 5 to 6 days minimum to experience a good deal of the resort. A visit to Walt Disney World can easily be an exhausting one as well, so it’s recommended to build in some rest time each day as well as a “day off” in the middle of your stay where you take it easy or enjoy your hotel pool.
Choosing Your Hotel
Choosing your hotel is one of the most important steps in your pre-planning process. Walt Disney World has four levels of on-site hotels. Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas. Pricing can range anywhere from $150 a night for a Value room to over $1,000 a night for a Deluxe Villa Suite. All hotels come with amenities like pools, dining locations, and free transportation to the parks. The higher the level of the resort, the more and better the amenities. There are also several offsite hotels that have a partnership with Walt Disney World. These are known as Good Neighbor hotels and offer close proximity to the resort with some offering perks like FastPass+ booking at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours access.
My Disney Experience
Download the My Disney Experience app and set up your account as soon as you begin your planning process. The app is a wealth of knowledge with menus, attraction information, and maps. It’s also where you can make and track your dining reservations. While on your vacation the app can also open your Disney hotel room door, give directions, and monitor your room charges. Be sure that everyone in your traveling party has a My Disney Experience profile and that they are all linked together.
Tickets and Park Pass Reservations
Currently, Walt Disney World is only offering a base ticket for park entry. Due to new safety guidelines, park-hopping has been suspended and you are only allowed to visit one park per day. In addition to purchasing park tickets, guests wishing to visit a theme park must make a Park Pass Reservation. This new online system allows you to see the availability of a park and reserve entry for all guests in your party. You can find out all of the details and how to reserve your Park Pass in our full guide here.
Dining reservations for Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World currently have a booking window that opens beginning at 60 days prior to arrival. Guests of a Walt Disney World hotel may make the dining reservations beginning at 60 days prior to their arrival day, plus 10 days. Before the resort’s closure due to the outbreak of COVID-19, reservations were accepted 180 days prior. Although this new window is a lot closer to your actual dining date, it may still seem a bit weird to start thinking about where you want to eat 2 months before you get there, but to ensure you get your first choices, it’s a must to be ready right when your booking window opens. At this time, the use of Disney Dining Plans has been temporarily suspended until further notice.
If you need help planning your perfect vacation, contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.