Planning a Post-Pandemic Disney Vacation

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Are you thinking about a Disney vacation? In the past few years, there have been many changes to the planning process. If you are a first-time visitor or it’s been a few years since your last visit, things will look a bit different. Luckily, we have all the tips for planning a post-pandemic Disney vacation.


Park Pass Reservations

You’ve booked your Disney vacation with your tickets. You’re ready to head to the parks, right? Wrong! Park pass reservations are required in addition to your theme park tickets. If you are planning to park hop, these should be made for the first park that you plan to visit each day.

You will not be permitted to enter the parks without a park pass reservation.

Professor’s Tip: Even though you don’t start planning all the details of your vacation 6 months in advance anymore, it’s still important to book your vacation early. This is especially the case if you have a specific resort in mind or want to go when it’s busier because it will be more likely that you are able to get what you are looking for. In addition, make the park pass reservations as soon as you book. These can always be modified (subject to availability) if plans change but it’s better to have something in place!


Park Hopping Is Different

When the parks first reopened, guests could only visit one park per day due to capacity limits. Last year, park hopping returned but it is done differently now. Guests are permitted to park hop starting at 2:00 pm. After 2:00 pm, you can visit as many parks as you wish if you have a park hopper ticket. You do not need to have park reservations for subsequent parks.

Professor’s Tip: Park hopping begins at 2:00 pm and there are buses available to take you between the parks. Remember that if you plan to hop to a different park, you need to at least check in to the first park that you had the reservation for.


Genie+ is the New FastPass

In October 2021, the Disney Genie Service was launched. With it came Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane attractions. These options have replaced Disney FastPass and it is now an optional, paid service.

There are two important things to remember as you navigate this new service though. First, you don’t NEED to purchase these services. They are not a requirement to have an enjoyable day at the parks but there are some advantages to using them.

Second, if you opt to purchase Disney Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane attractions, you need to do it early! The booking window opens at 7:00 am. Be sure to check out everything you need to know about Disney Genie+ here. You can see the list of attractions that are included here.

Professor’s Tip: When you use Genie+, there are certain attractions that are a high priority because they sell out faster. Be sure to select these first as you plan your park day. Your travel advisor is a good resource to help you get familiar with this new service.


Extra Park Time

There are two ways to have extra park time at the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s highly recommended to take advantage of this extra time. First, ALL resort guests get Early Park Admission, starting 30 minutes prior to park opening. This is every day, for all the theme parks.

For guests staying in a deluxe resort or deluxe villa resort, there are Extended Evening Hours. This benefit is available a few times per week, for an additional two hours. Check the schedule on the Walt Disney World Resort website before your trip to see the park hours.

Professor’s Tip: If you want to take advantage of Early Park Admission, make sure that you arrive early. If you arrive right when guests are allowed in, the wait times for the attractions will already be long by the time you get there.

If you are taking advantage of Extended Evening Hours, cast members will verify that you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel before allowing you to enter the attractions. At EPCOT, guests are permitted to enter a third virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind during Extended Evening Hours.


Dining Reservations & Mobile Ordering

Before 2020, guests would have to make dining reservations up to 6 months in advance. That has changed since the parks reopened. Now, guests can make their dining reservations up to 60 days in advance, with resort guests having access for the length of their trip.

Once you are on vacation, the My Disney Experience mobile app is your best friend! That includes when you are ordering food. Many restaurants now have the option of mobile ordering. This will save you a lot of time, especially if you place your order in advance.

Professor’s Tip: Dining reservations for the most popular restaurants go fast! Make sure that you book them as soon as possible. If you don’t get them right away, work with your travel advisor to find backup options that will fit your wish list, and then keep checking! Things change all the time!

Airport Transportation

The Magical Express has retired and is no longer an option for resort guests. However, there are many different ways to get to and from your resort hotel. Whether you want a private transfer or a shuttle option, you can rest assured that you will be able to easily make your way from the airport to your resort hotel.

Mears Connect is one option that works very similarly to Disney’s Magical Express. It is available for a small fee per person and is located on the ground floor of the Orlando International Airport, where Magical Express used to be.

Professor’s Tip: The fastest way to get to your resort hotel is to consider a private transfer. Many drivers will meet you right at the baggage claim and assist with your luggage. Some also include a stop for groceries if you need them.


New Nighttime Shows

There are two new nighttime shows at the Walt Disney World Resort. These two shows debuted just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort and feature all-new music, projections, and more.

At the Magic Kingdom, Disney Enchantment takes place each night as fireworks fill the sky over Cinderella Castle. Look for projections all the way down Main Street, U.S.A. with familiar songs and beloved Disney characters.

Over at EPCOT, Harmonious is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. This show is the largest fireworks show at any Disney park and celebrates unity and the Disney stories that bring cultures around the world together.

Professor’s Tip: If you want to have an extra special experience while watching the fireworks, consider booking a dessert party at the Magic Kingdom. Alternatively, there are many good spots to view the fireworks so be sure to check out our guides for both EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom!


More Magic Is Back

Things are done a little differently now but the magic continues to return to the Disney parks! There are new shows and attractions, new fireworks shows, and guests are once again allowed to hug the characters!

In addition, many favorites such as more character dining and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique now have reopening dates. The holiday parties are also back, including Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. All resorts are open too and masks are no longer required on Disney property.

Professor’s Tip: Things have changed when it comes to planning your Disney vacation. For this reason, a travel advisor is a great resource to help you with all the details. Our friends at Key to the World Travel know the Disney Parks and stay current on all the latest changes to share their knowledge and help you have a wonderful vacation experience!

A post-pandemic vacation at Walt Disney World may be a little different but the magic is back and it’s calling!


Are you considering a trip? This is a great time to plan your perfect vacation! Having a travel advisor means someone there to have your back in any occurrence. There is no additional cost to you and you have peace of mind knowing that your vacation is in good hands. Contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.

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