Open the gates! It’s the moment every Disneyphile around the world has been waiting for, the reopening of Disney World. On March 16, 2020, Walt Disney World officially closed due to the global crisis. While the world and, we included, attended to more pressing matters, the burning question in the back of every Disneyphiles mind became, when will we see the reopening of Disney World? On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, we got our answer. In this DVC Duo guide, we’re taking a look at everything we know about the reopening of Disney World. A quick read before walking through the gates!
Yes, there’s more than one date. While the parks up the road reopened everything on June 5, 2020, Walt Disney World is taking a different approach. Some may say a more deliberate approach to reopening all the facets of the parks, resorts, and Disney extras. Below is a breakdown of the opening dates for parks and resorts.
- June 22, 2020 – Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Walt Disney World Reopen, as well as the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- July 11, 2020 – The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- July 15, 2020 – Epcot and Hollywood Studios
- July 10, 2020 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House (DVC only), Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- July 29, 2020 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- August 24, 2020 – Disney’s Yacht Resort
- September 21, 2020 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- October 14, 2020 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
At the time of writing Disney has not confirmed reopening dates for the following areas of Disney World:
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Swan and Dolphin Resorts – reservations have been canceled through July 29, 2020.
UPDATE: On July 30, 2020, Disney’s Swan Resort reopened to guests. There is no scheduled date for the reopening of the Dolphin Resort.
Disney Springs officially reopened on May 20, 2020, with a select number of shops and restaurants. Additional Disney owned shops and restaurants opened on May 27, 2020, with more shops and restaurants reopening each week. For a full list of what’s open, we recommend checking out the following up to date list from Blog Mickey.
UPDATE: On July 27, 2020, Disney announced changes to the reopening dates for the following resorts:
- November 1, 2020 – Disney’s Art of Animation (delayed from August 12, 2020)
It should be noted that Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Beach Club Resort have been taken off the list of Disney resorts that are reopening. At this time we do not have an expected opening date for either resort.
Hotel And Ticket Reservations
When Disney announced the reopening of Disney World one of the key pieces discussed was hotel reservations and park tickets. At this time Disney has paused the making of new hotel reservations (outside of Disney Vacation Club) and selling of new park tickets. Additionally, guests are not able to modify a reservation, unless the reservation is between now and June 21st. Guests can call Guest Services (407) 934-7639 to modify their reservation. If a guest chooses to modify their reservation they can only book at Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Villas or the Fort Wilderness Cabins, and a difference in cost may need to be paid.
If a guest takes no action prior to June 21, 2020, their reservation will be automatically canceled and refunded. All reservations after June 21, 2020, can be canceled at a guest’s request and refunded.
Disney has not announced when the booking of hotel rooms or purchasing of new park tickets will reopen for 2020. They have stated they are attending to current reservations. Disney has announced the following special event tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, has been canceled, guests who purchased tickets will receive a refund.
UPDATE: On June 28, 2020, Walt Disney World resumed the selling of new park tickets for 2021. At the moment, all ticket types except for Annual Passes are now available through Disney’s website and Disney certified travel agents.
UPDATE: Disney World has opened up the sales of park tickets and room reservations for the remainder of 2020. At the moment the only tickets not available are Annual Passes. Additionally, Disney has created two new Florida Resident ticket options. The first called the Flex Pass. It is a 4-day park ticket that can be used on nonconsecutive days. The second is a 40% off on a 4-day ticket or 30% on a 3-day ticket. This ticket must be used on consecutive days. For more details on the Florida Resident ticket options please reference this link.
Once open the Disney Resorts will have a variety of new guidelines for guests. First and foremost, is Walt Disney World will be following all advisories and restrictions set by the state of Florida. Details around the advisories and restrictions continually change or as we like to say, they’re fluid. Please reference the following link before heading to Florida, as different areas around the globe have different restrictions for arrival. Link.
Prior to arrival at a Disney World Resort, a guest must have either have a confirmed room reservation or a confirmed dining reservation at the resort. When entering the resort all guests 2 years of age or older will be required to wear a face-covering in all public areas unless they are dining or swimming.
For guests arriving at Orlando International Airport, Disney World will be offering the Magical Express for transportation to and from the Disney resorts. At this time guests are asked to pick up their bags at baggage claim prior to heading to Disney’s Magical Express. Currently, the Magic Express is not offering the bag transfer service to your Disney resort. Guests traveling by car will be able to self-park. Valet services will not available, with the exception being for guests who may require assistance.
When it comes to rooms Disney World is modifying their Mousekeeping (housekeeping) procedures. Prior to arrival, all guest rooms will go through an in-depth cleaning with high attention to the “high-touch” areas like TV remotes and door handles (the image above highlights all the high touch areas). All floors will be steamed cleaned and vacuumed. Between servicing different guest rooms, all housekeeping tools will be cleaned.
After checking-in your room will be serviced every other day for trash removal and used towels. Any amenities or towels that need refreshing will be replenished and wiping of counter surfaces and vanities will occur. To manage the lighter cleaning service, Disney will be adding extra linens, towels, glassware, and pillows to the rooms. All these items will be wrapped for single use. It should be noted guests staying at Disney Vacation Club will receive service on the 4th and 8th days of your stay.
Resort amenities may be modified or unavailable when the resorts first open. The following changes have already been made:
- Bell Services – Will be able to bring luggage to your room, but the cast member will not escort the guest
- Club-Level – All club level service will be temporarily suspended
- Deliveries – Will only be made to occupied rooms, as cast members will not enter your room
- Dry-Cleaning/Laundry Services – Will be temporarily stopped, self-service will be available
- In-room Celebrations – Will not be available, as cast members will not enter your room
- Resort Airline Check-In – Could be temporarily unavailable but subject to change
- Shipping Services – Will not be available
Additionally, the following services around the resort will be temporarily unavailable; arcades, campfires, dog parks, fun runs, firework cruises, hula lessons, in-room childcare, marina rentals, mermaid school, playgrounds, spas and salons including Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and special classes.
At the resorts, both the pools and fitness centers will be available for the guests staying at the respective resort. Feature pools (main pool areas) will operate under reduced hours and reduced capacity. Quiet pools will be open 24-hours a day. The only resort pool that will not open on the first day will be Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club. Similar to the feature pools, the resort fitness centers may operate under reduced hours and capacity. All instructor-led classes will be temporarily suspended.
All guests will be encouraged to use the online check-in feature within My Disney Experience. Guests using the online check-in will receive a text message when their room is ready and will be able to open the door either through the app or their Magicband. When your checkout day arrives you will be automatically checked out of your room.
On June 22, 2020, Disney will be launching a new service for guests staying at a Disney resort. The new service will enable guests to chat with a Disney cast member through the My Disney Experience app regarding anything about their resort stay. Disney is recommending the use of the new service to help with minimizing the number of guests at the front desk.
Heading To The Parks
Do you have a reservation? The biggest change guests will see with the reopening of Disney World will be the introduction of a new reservation system. It is unknown what the initial capacity will be for each of the Walt Disney World parks, but early estimates believe the parks will start around 15% capacity. This is a similar approach Disney used with the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland. To help with managing crowds Disney will require guests to have a park reservation in order to enter any of the theme parks.
What is known at the moment is guests who have purchased park tickets, that are linked to their My Disney Experience accounts, will be able to book which park they would like to go to through September 2021. For a full breakdown on how to reserve park entry please see the following guide. Priority will be given to Club 33 members, Golden Oaks residence, Disney Vacation Club Members, Annual Passholders, and guests staying at a Disney World Resort. Disney has stated that a Disney hotel reservation will not guarantee access to the parks. Additionally, Disney has stated the Annual Passholders may be limited to how many days they can make park reservations in a given time period.
What is unknown is where or not guests will be able to park hop or go from one park to another. Right now it is rumored that park hopping may not be available. Disney has not confirmed or announced anything saying it won’t allow park hopping, at this time. We should learn more when Disney officially releases the new park reservation system. CONFIRMED: Parking hopping will not be an option when the parks first reopen. Disney has said they hope to bring back park hopping in the near term.
Off To The Park
Transportation to and from a Disney resort to the parks and Disney Springs will be available. Disney announced the bus services will reopen, with social distancing measures in place to transport guests around. On the buses, Disney has outlined certain areas where guests can sit in order to keep social distancing. It’s one area per group with a max of 6 people per group. The one thing to take into account is Disney expressed there could be delays, as the buses will be operating at a reduced capacity. This is something to keep in mind when traveling to the parks, as you may want to factor in some extra travel time.
What we do not know yet is if other transportation options beyond the buses will available. Disney has not stated if the boats, monorail, or the Skyliner will be part of the initial reopening of Disney World. We do know Minnie Vans will not available at reopening.
UPDATE: On July 1, 2020, we received the following information regarding the reopening of the other Disney transportation options:
- Magic Kingdom Monorail to reopen on July 11, 2020.
- Disney Skyliner to reopen on July 15, 2020.
- Resort boats from the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge to reopen on July 11, 2020.
There has no announcement regarding the reopening of the Friendship Boats in the Epcot resort area or the Epcot Monorail.
Upon first opening, Disney will be staggering the park hours for each park for a variety of reasons. The main reason is to lessen the crowds at the resort bus stops and shift operating efficiency, as the buses will have lower capacities.
Entering A Park Procedures
When the Walt Disney World parks reopen there will be a variety of requirements to enter the parks. As we like to say this is a fluid process that we’re sure Disney will continue to update and adjust both leading up to the reopening of Disney World, as well as after it reopens.
Face Coverings – All guests 2 years of age and older will be required to wear a face-covering. The face-covering should be secured to your face covering your nose and mouth. It can be either disposable or reusable. All guests and cast members will be required to wear a face-covering at all times, except for dining or swimming. The mask should not be a costume mask.
UPDATE: Disney World has updated its mask policy to include the following changes. Gaiters and bandanas or anything similar is no longer acceptable as a face-coverings. Guests should have a mask the fits tight around their nose and mouth. Additionally, face-coverings should remain on at all -times outside of eating or drink. If a guest is eating or drinking they must be stationary.
UPDATE: On July 26, 2020, Walt Disney World announced an update to their face mask policy. The new update bans the use of a face mask that has valves on it. Below is the official announcement:
“At this time, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings. Face coverings are intended to reduce the transfer of respiratory droplets, and exhalation valves and materials with holes do not adequately filter air that is exhaled.”
Temperature Screenings – All guests will go through a touchless temperature screening before entering a park or Disney Springs. Any guests exhibiting a temperature of 100.4F or above will be directed to a location for rescreening. If the guest once again has a temperature above 100.4F at the rescreening they will be asked to leave, along with everyone within their party.
Social Distancing – Signage will be added to all areas of Walt Disney World to mark direction and spacing as it relates to social distancing measures and the recommended spacing of 6 feet (3 meters) between parties. Physical barriers will be in place where social distancing is not possible, for example, cashiers or Guest Relations.
Outside of the procedures, Disney will be installing portable hand washing stations throughout the parks. Additionally, there will be a Social Distancing Squad within the parks to promote the social distancing between guests. Disney has stated they will be launching a “Know Before You Go” campaign that will be set guests prior to arrival at the parks around what to expect.
A few days after Disney announced the reopening of Disney World, they made another major announcement. No FastPass selections or Single Rider lines for the rest of 2020. Disney has canceled all guest FastPass selections as they will be using the FastPass entrances to aid in social distancing within the attraction queues. Disney has not announced it yet but in the DVC Duo house, we’re expecting them to announce virtual queues. With a reduction in the guest capacity, we should not see the wait times heavily impacted by the removal of FastPass. Early indicators from the parks up the road are wait times equal, if not less, even with the new cleaning and social distancing measures in place.
The one attraction with a virtual queue will be Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. For a full breakdown of how to get a boarding pass please see the following article.
It should be noted that Disney has stated when the parks initially reopen park-hopping will not an option. Guests are able to come and go as they please for the park they have a reservation at for the day. Disney has said they hope to offer park-hopping soon. Guests with reservations and park tickets that include the park hopper option are able to get a refund.
In conjunction with FastPass selections, and Extra Magic Hours will be unavailable to guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort. Disney will be using the extra time for deeper cleanings of the parks.
Our favorite topic. You know us, we’re all about the food. Similar to FastPass selections, Disney announced all advanced dining reservations (ADR) through 2020 would be canceled and ADR’s would move to a 60-day reservation window. Additionally, they announced the Disney Dining Plan would be suspended until September 2021. The move to the 60-day reservation window is to accommodate for lower restaurant capacity and allow for social distancing within the dining locations. Disney did state if a guest has a dining reservation at a park, they will also need a park reservation. A dining reservation will not guarantee entry into the park. For dining at a Disney resort, non-resort guests will need a reservation prior to arrival.
When the Disney restaurants reopen we could see some variations in the menus out of the gate. With current limitations in the food supply chain in the United States, Disney restaurants may have to adjust their menus accordingly. To help with cleanliness Disney will be moving to scannable codes at a variety of locations for digital menus. For guests without smartphones, paper menus should be available.
At the initial opening, not all dining options will be reopening. The following type of dining experiences have been temporarily suspended; dinner shows, private dining, in-room delivery, and character dining. There will be one character dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace in a modified format.
Disney is encouraging cashless payments either through debit or credit cards, Magicbands, Disney Gift Cards, or mobile wallets. Additionally, at quick-service locations, they are recommending Mobile Ordering where ever possible. Any self-service area will no longer be self-serve but instead, to be served by a cast member, things like soda fountains.
UPDATE: On June 30, 2020, The Walt Disney World Advanced Dining Reservation system will open for guests at a Disney Resort who previously had dining reservations schedule prior to September 2, 2020, that were cancelled on May 28, 2020.
Reservations will be made over the phone by calling one of the following options:
- Disney Reservation Center at (407) 824-1391 – for all guests
- Disney Vacation Club Member Services at (800) 800-9800 – for Disney Vacation Club Members only
It should be noted that the Disney Reservation Center phone line will open at 7 am EST.
Additionally, advanced dining reservations can be made through the website version of My Disney Experience.
UPDATE: On July 27, 2020, Disney announced they will be requiring temperature screening prior to all sit-down restaurants. Here are the details of the temperature screenings. All guests will go through a touchless temperature screening before entering a park or Disney Springs. Any guests exhibiting a temperature of 100.4F or above will be directed to a location for rescreening. If the guest once again has a temperature above 100.4F at the rescreening they will be asked to leave, along with everyone within their party.
UPDATE: On August 19, 2020, Disney updated the My Disney Experience to include the option for walk-up dining. Within My Disney Experience, you’re now able to see which restaurants have tables available without needing an Advance Dining Reservation. How the system works is the app will show you all available sit-down restaurants with open tables or a waitlist within a 2/10 of a mile radius of your location. You will click on the waitlist to add your name and the app will send you a push notification when your table is ready. It should be noted that you will need to turn on the location services on your mobile device for the functionality to work.
Shop Til We Drop!
We’re here for the merch. Shopping around Walt Disney World will have a few adjustments with the reopening. The big one is Disney Park exclusives. Traditionally, Disney would launch in-park exclusive of certain merchandise items. With guest capacity lowered and few people having the opportunity to make it into the parks, Disney will move the exclusives to ShopDisney only. For guests in the parks, Disney will temporarily suspend the shipping of purchased items to either the front of the park or your resort. However, you will be able to ship packages to homes.
A couple other changes are dressing rooms not being available, however guests can return items in-person.
Calling all Pin Traders! Pin trading will still be available, however in a new way. Cast members will not longer directly trade pins with guests, but instead, use a pinboard to make the exchanges.
What Will Not Be Open?
Not everything is included with the reopening of Disney World. When the parks reopen, we will see certain attractions and experiences reopen at a future time. Upon the initial phase of reopening the following will not be included:
- Nighttime Fireworks or Shows
- Indoor shows
- Character Meet ‘n Greets – the characters will be in the parks but not directly meeting guests
- World Showcase Ambassadors – regular cast members will be operating the World Showcase Countries through 2020
- Stage Shows
- Tours – for example, the Behind the Magic Tour
- Electrical Water Pageant
Many of these items could change over time as we approach the reopening of Disney World. As we’ve seen with Shanghai Disneyland indoor shows returned within the first month. The safe thing to say is everything is fluid at the moment.
A lot of changes. In the DVC Duo house, we’re okay with any changes if it means the parks and resorts can reopen in a safe way for all guests. As time progresses we’re sure Disney will continue to adjust all the new aspects of the guest experience. Our best piece of advice is if you’re heading to Walt Disney World keep checking back this will be a fluid process and we could see changes from day-to-day. We will continue to add links to this article as updates come out. With that said we’re excited to see Disney taking the first steps in the reopening of Disney World.
Disney Dining Update: We’re taking a look at the updates to dine when the resorts first open. From reservations to arriving at the restaurant. Full article here.
Disney World Park Reservation System: We’re sharing our step by step guide on how to navigate the new Disney World Park Reservation System to reserve your park day. Full guide here.
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