At some point, in the near future, you’ll be stepping back inside a Disney park again. When you do, however, things are going to be a lot different than what you remember. There are a ton of new changes now in Walt Disney World, including new guidelines that guests are going to have to follow.
What will those changes in Disney World be? How long will these new guidelines be in place? When will Disney World go back to normal?
Things will not just go back to the way they were, at least not for a while. It’s going to take some time and a lot of patience from guests and Cast Members alike.
In this post, we are going to go over all the changes you will see when the parks are open again. Some of these will include wearing face masks, temperature checks, guest distancing and new ways of getting in line for attractions.
Right now, Disney World executives have already learned a lot after the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland, and they will be taking a large amount of those new safety measures and guidelines and implementing them in the U.S. domestic Disney parks.
Given the current situation, the health and wellbeing of your family is no doubt on your mind. After Disney World reopens, you may even ask yourself: “Is Disney World still safe?”
To help you imagine what a future trip could look like, we’ve come up with this list of changes that are potentially coming to Disney World. Most of them have been confirmed already by Disney execs and some of them just suggested for now. By knowing what changes to expect, it will help you plan for your upcoming trip, or even help you decide if you want to take one given the circumstances.
Before we get started, we suggest consulting our guide on When is Walt Disney World Reopening? That will give you updates on what is happening from now through July 11 and beyond.
Also, if you want to be notified when the Disney Parks reservation system goes online and get other updates, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
In order to get the theme parks reopened, Disney helped create new guidelines on 2 economic recovery task groups in Florida and 1 in California.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger, Walt Disney World President Josh D’Amaro and Senior VP Thomas Mazloum are each heading up those groups along with the brightest business minds, health experts and government officials from each area.
From the meetings with these task forces, Disney World has laid out their official reopening safety guidelines and explained how the parks will run once they are back. Obviously, if things evolve, Disney is going to cooperate with whatever guidelines the authorities are recommending, and will try as many ways as possible to protect Cast Members and park guests.
Remember, everything is based around distancing guests from one another. Disney can’t have big groups of people close together like what normally happens in the parks. These changes then will be to keep distance and limit the spreading of germs as much as possible.
From the Disney Springs opening on May 20 and the Disney theme parks opening on July 11, we now have an official list of guidelines.
Here are all the changes you will see in Disney World based on official announcements and comments already made by Walt Disney World. They include:
- Phased Park Openings
- Temperature Checks
- Requiring Face Masks
- Limited Park Capacity
- Distancing between guests
- Distanced Ride Queues
- Limiting attraction availability and capacity
- Limiting entertainment options
- No Character Meets
These changes and safety precautions will have an effect on the Disney World theme parks, hotels, restaurants and shopping areas, some of which we are already seeing in Disney Springs.
Here is the official Disney Springs safety guidelines poster:
Disney has released new charts will all the safety protocols on them. As Disney makes more announcements we will update it with the up-to-date rules.
The Health and Safety Protocols are broken down into five categories:
- Enhanced Protective Measures
- Physical Distancing
- Enhanced Cleaning/Santization
- Temperature/Health Screening
- Limited-Contact Enhancements
Here you can see those in greater detail and just what’s involved:
Before You Go
The changes in Walt Disney World and Disneyland will start before you even get to the parks. That means a big change in how we plan for going to the parks and when we can go.
The first change is a phased reopening of Walt Disney World. The company has stated that they will slowly open the various areas of the resort (theme parks, hotels, etc) in phases and not all at the same time.
The first phase started with Disney Springs opening on May 20.
The theme parks reopened in phases, opening 2 at a time starting with:
- Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, 2020.
- EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are opening on July 15, 2020.
This makes sense as demand has been extremely low since many guests who would normally visit the resort are still under travel restrictions or now don’t have the money to afford a trip to Disney World after perhaps losing a job.
Disney World is also reopening the resort hotels in phases which started with the Disney Vacation Club Resorts reopening on June 22. The non-DVC Disney World Hotels have since been reopening one at a time, with many still closed and some without set reopening dates.
It doesn’t make sense to open them all at once with such low crowds. The smartest thing to do would be to offer a couple of different hotels in each price level and slowly open more as the demand grows.
The only problem with this is guests have had to switch existing reservations when their originally booking hotel has been closed. Disney has been good with this and is not charging any fees to change hotels.
Disney is also limiting the number of guests they allow into the parks each day. Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said they are limiting park capacity in Shanghai Disneyland to 30% at first and then moving up incrementally by 5,000 per week after that.
The Disney World theme parks are also limiting the parks’ total capacity to be able to follow distancing rules. We don’t have an exact number but parks will likely be limited to 25-30% of normal capacity and then slowly increased until they reach the limit of what they can realistically support.
Even Chapek said they probably won’t reach 100% while this crisis is still going on, but they can get close to that if everyone cooperates and follows the rules.
Making Reservations for the Theme Parks
Another big change is making reservations mandatory to have access to the theme parks. In Shanghai, guests cannot just show up to the parks when they want to but must make reservations first.
This is exactly what’s happening in Walt Disney World too. This is a way to control how many people are in the park each day and will make it easier for Disney staff to prepare the infrastructure and keeping to the guidelines.
Reservations will be given online starting June 22, with a calendar-based system showing which days have availability still and which ones don’t.
All Disney guests must make park pass reservations, including Disney World Annual Passholders, though no extra tickets must be purchased. Passholders are limited to holding only 3 reservations at once, and guests can only go to one park per day. No Park-Hopping for a while.
Guests staying in the Walt Disney World Resort hotels have priority access to the parks at first. This will keep attendance low and stimulate hotel room bookings from locals who are anxious to have a 2 or 3-day getaway.
Read our Guide to Making Disney Parks Reservations to see how exactly everything will work.
Arriving at the Parks
Once all your plans are made and you arrive at Walt Disney World, there are some more safety measures you will find. The way guests enter the theme parks, for example, is going to be very different, and might even take a bit longer to go through.
Temperature screening while entering the parks and table service restaurants in Disney World Resort hotels is mandatory for both Cast Members and guests. This is standard and we’ve seen similar proceedures happening in all Disney parks worldwide.
- Anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is not be allowed entrance. This goes for guests and Cast Members alike.
- If ANYONE in your party has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, the ENTIRE PARTY will not be given entrance to the park or restaurant either.
- On Transportation – Temperature screening is required before getting on some forms of transportation, like the monorail and ferries heading to the Magic Kingdom.
Disney executives were talking about temperature screening for the parks months before the parks opened, including former Disney CEO Bob Iger and Disney Chief medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel.
This has been relatively easy to implement as trained AdventHealth representatives take your temperature with a no-touch reader on your forehead. The whole process sounds hard, but it only takes seconds to do.
Shanghai Disneyland is a bit different as they have thermal readers in a tent and as you walk by they scan you without you even having to stop.
While it’s not a perfect system, combined with all the other new safety measures it can be effective.
Face masks are also on Disney World’s list of required safety measures and are required in the parks, hotels and almost any other public space guests can go.
Face masks are required for Cast Members and all guests ages 2 and above.
Bob Chapek said face masks are a key to getting the theme parks up and running again while acknowledging it will be a difficult change for guests. “It will culturally different. It will be trying for guests, especially in the hot, humid summers that we tend to have.”
There are a few places in Disney World however, where you don’t have to wear a face mask. They are:
- While Dining
- In the designated “Relaxation Areas”
These non-mask areas make sense. Obviously you have to take it off if you are eating, and that even includes when you are walking around with food. Looks like snacking your way around World Showcase will still be possible.
Having designated “Relaxation Areas” is also a good idea when people get tired of the masks. We are still waiting for more details on how they will work, but they are sure to be some of the most popular areas in the parks.
Guests without them will be provided disposable face masks, available in limited quantities.
Read more about Face Masks in Disney World in our recent post explaining it more.
Fingerprint Scanning/Facial Recognition
This change isn’t confirmed and hasn’t been mentioned by Disney, but it’s something we would like to see happen.
Touching a surface that hundreds of other guests have just touched is not exactly the best idea when trying to limit the spread of germs. We think Disney will use a touchless scanning system instead to check guest tickets.
How amazing would it be if you didn’t even have to touch the fingerprint scanner anymore at the turnstiles and instead there was some kind of touchless guests confirmation system?
Short-term they could scan guests’ MagicBands or park tickets and then comparing that with a photo the cast members have on file digitally.
Long-term I see Dinsey adopting the same facial recognition system you now see in many airport terminals. It’s quick and allows guests to pass through without touching anything.
General Health & Safety
Cleanliness is on the forefront of everyone’s mind these days, and Disney is going to do their best to make sure the parks are kept as clean and sanitized as possible to increase guest safety.
Cast Member Training
Training the Disney Cast Members is probably the most important step in keeping guests safe. If Disney implements all these new changes and guidelines but the Cast Members don’t know how to put them in practice or make sure guests are adhering to them, it’s not going to work very well.
It takes a long time to get Cast Members trained and up-to-speed with all the new procedures and this is one reason why the parks are taking so long to get back open.
Disney is spending between now and the opening to make sure the Cast Members know how to handle all the new protocols which will make things go a lot smoother when guests start showing up.
Sanitization of Areas
Even before Disney World closed, we saw an increased emphasis on cleaning and sanitization around all public areas. Things that are “high touch” areas will be sanitized with even more regularity.
Door knobs, handles, buttons, counters, handrails, etc will all get significant attention to keep the germs down. To help with sanitization, Disney is increasing the number of cleaning staff throughout the resort.
Increased Signage throughout the Parks
Increased signage will be installed throughout the parks from the walkways, to the restaurants and attractions. Here is an idea of what some of the safety protocol signage will look like:
The signs look easy to read and understand and guests shouldn’t have a hard time identifying the rules they need to follow.
It’s not only the Cast Members’ job to sanitize, but also the guests’ responsibility. Hand washing after all is one of the most important ways to limit infection according to the CDC. Disney has made this easy by installing many hand washing and sanitizing stations around the parks. They are very visible and have easy access being located in many areas.
Some of these stations just have Purell hand sanitizer, while others are full washing stations. Expect to see many more of both kinds pop up in Walt Disney World, along with bottles of hand sanitizers on counters.
Read more about Hand Sanitizer and Washing Stations in Disney World in our guide and see how you can locate them with My Disney Experience.
We’ve already seen some of the new guidelines regarding general safety around the park, but what about the attractions? Big changes are coming here too.
Limited Attractions & Capacity
The first step Disney is taking is to limit the attractions available and their ride capacity. Some attractions keep you in close quarters with other guests so these might be closed for a while. Others will have so see the hourly number of riders reduced to keep distancing measures in place.
Only the attractions/shows that can be adapted to fit the spacing needs of the guests will be allowed to run. Read the Full List of Disney World Attractions & Entertainment available after reopening.
This could work but it depends on the number of people that actually show up to the parks while they are running like this. Even if you have half capacity as normal, greatly reducing the number of people that can ride each hour might increase wait times.
(Update) – Disney has changed their minds about this multiple times, but as of now, Disney World is using the Virtual Queue system in Walt Disney World after the reopening, though not as much as originally thought.
The Virutal Queue is important because ride queues are one of the worst places to be for spreading germs since you are in a tight, closed area with people all around. One way to help is to use the virtual queues and boarding groups. Yeah, that’s right, “Virtual Queues,” as in multiple ones.
The way it works is guests reserve a spot in the queue using the My Disney Experience app, which then notifies them when it’s their turn in line. At that point, they start walking toward the attraction and get in the physical queue.
I’ve been a big supporter of the Virtual Queue ever since Disney started using it and I think it’s a big time-saver for guests. They can go off and explore the park, grab something to eat, and not have to wait hours in line.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up in Disneyland using it, and Rise of the Resistance has been using boarding groups and the virtual queue for months now, so the infrastructure is already in place. Once Disney started using it, I predicted that it would slowly get worked into other attractions outside of Galaxy’s Edge too.
Right now the Virtual Queue is being used only on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, much like it was before the closure but with a few changes, namely offering multiple boarding group distribution times.
Will we start seeing more, if not all Disney World attractions using the Virtual Queue very soon? We’ll have to see what Disney decides to do as the weeks and months go on.
What about when it’s your time to get in line though? Disney needs to make sure guests follow safety guidelines from the health experts and keep them far enough apart in the queues for attractions and the security checkpoints and park turnstiles.
Whenever guests get to a queue, there is tape or markers on the ground indicating where you should and shouldn’t stand. These markers will be distanced apart enough to keep a healthy distance between guests while standing in the queues, 6 feet as recommended by the recovery task force.
From what we’ve seen in Disney Springs so far, it’s very easy to tell where you should be standing and one of the easiest changes to adapt to in Disney World.
Remember, queue distancing is not just for attractions, but also for shops and restaurants too. Anywhere you normally stand in line, expect to find these markers on the ground telling you where to stand.
The attraction pre-shows are could be a problem because you have lots of people standing together in a small room. Think of a pre-show like you find in the Tower of Terror or Flight of Passage and how small they are. The pre-shows then either need to have a much smaller number of people in them or skip them altogether.
Disney hasn’t given any indication on these one way or another yet. Personally we would hate to see them eliminated as they are a pretty important part of the attraction’s story and hope there is a way Disney can keep them running.
In the Ride Vehicles
Distancing will also be enforced on the ride vehicles themselves. On larger vehicles like the one for Dinosaur or Pirates of the Caribbean, expect whole rows to be skipped and remain empty, allowing for space between guests.
On smaller vehicles like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, you will only be allowed to ride with members of your travel group.
Of course, loading fewer people in the ride vehicles means longer wait times, but we’re hoping with the limited park attendance these two things balance themselves out.
Sanitizing Ride Vehicles
Since guests are touching and getting in and out of the same ride vehicles as each other, Disney will make a concentrated effort to sanitize ride vehicles as often as possible.
It probably isn’t feasible between each and every guest, especially on omnimover rides like the PeopleMover, as you can’t stop each car to clean it when someone gets off. In any case, Disney will increase the frequency cleaning of ride vehicles in some way.
Hand Sanitizer After the Rides
A more likely scenario is like what they are doing in Shanghai and putting hand sanitizer at the exit of every ride. That way everyone has a chance to disinfect their hands after touching the ride vehicle.
Changes to the entertainment offerings in Disney World are inevitable when trying to keep park guests out of crowded spaces. Things like nighttime spectaculars, fireworks, stage shows, parades and character meets are all areas where germs can spread easily.
Since Disney is putting guest safety first, some of these entertainment offerings will have to be temporarily closed or highly modified to allow access for guests.
Because most shows are held indoors where guests need to crowd together to see them, they are not optimal to have in this new version of Disney World. We saw some shows closed down in the international parks before the full Disney World closure, and some shows in Shanghai canceled too.
Some shows like “Finding Nemo – The Musical” and “Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage” are not going to be running when the parks open.
If they did decide to keep some of the theaters and stage shows running, expect them to separate guests by blocking of seats, at least one or two seats in between each guest. Also, it might be easier to keep some of the open-air shows open rather than the indoor ones.
The last problem though is the actors. Many of the shows require the performers to get close or touch each other which would put them at risk too. Since all Broadway shows are canceled until at least September, we expect to see the same in Walt Disney World.
What’s a better way to finish out your day in the Magic Kingdom than standing in front of Cinderella Castle and taking in the fireworks show? Unfortunately, that probably won’t be happening for a while.
If you are encouraging distancing, you can’t have everyone gathering in front of the castle to see the fireworks in big groups. This definitely is a guideline that will help with distancing, but thinking about the Magic Kingdom though without Happily Ever After is a really sad thought.
I don’t think the parks would be the same without a nighttime show. It’s a tradition to gather around World Showcase lagoon or in front of Cinderella Castle and watch the fireworks at the end of the night with your family. Many guests have complained about this and it greatly reduces the value of your ticket imo.
Since people need to maintain distance while in the parks, touching and hugging characters is off-limits. Because of this, there won’t be any character meets in the Disney World parks initially.
Characters will still be visible in the theme parks and will walk around greeting people from a distance, they even have new processionals where they will walk through the parks. However, there will not be any character meets where you can get your picture taken with them or get autographs signed.
This may change in the future, and as restrictions ease, it may be possible to get your picture taken while still not touching the characters. Of course, this will upset a lot of little kids hoping to meet their favorite character, but it’s what must be done at this time.
Disney “face characters” (Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Ariel, Disney Princesses, etc) in the parks will NOT be wearing masks so don’t expect to get a shot of Cinderella with her face covering on.
Read our post on how to find characters in Disney World now for more detailed information.
As much as we love the parades, people crowded up together all along Main Stree U.S.A doesn’t exactly allow for much distance between guests. There is no way to keep thousands of guests safe in that scenario and cutting the parades seems like the only option.
Because of this, there will be no parades in the parks during the reopening period.
They also should be saving a good amount of money by not having to pay the performers which would make sense from a financial aspect.
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The new guidelines aren’t only for walking around the parks and riding the attractions, Dining in Disney World is also going to be very different with many changes to the way guests enjoy a meal.
Disney Springs has protective plastic barriers up at the cashier’s counter to keep a safe distance between the staff and guests in shops and restaurants. We expect the same thing to happen in the theme parks too.
A fantastic addition Disney started using in the parks a couple of years ago is the Mobile Ordering system. This allows guests to order their food from the My Disney Experience app and skip the lines in Quick Service dining locations.
Anything that helps people avoid lines will be useful and it will be highly encouraged for anyone who has a smartphone.
Check out our full guide to Mobile Ordering at Disney World to see exactly how to do it and some great tips to follow.
Just like the overall park attendance and ride capacities will be lower than normal, so will the restaurant capacities. Tables will be spaced out further from each other according to the CDC guidelines, making it impossible for Disney to fit as many people in each restaurant as they usually do.
In Shanghai, they put a card on each table that guests can’t sit at, and ones they can sit at are left open. This is a good system I can see being used in Disney World.
Eating at open-air tables will be encouraged, though difficult in the Florida heat in the Summer.
Reservations & Wait Times
We’re not sure how limiting the capacity for each restaurant will impact wait times yet, but things will take a little longer.
Right now, advanced dining reservations in Disney World are required ahead of time for guests dining at sit-down restaurants. Reservations will be harder to get due to a lower dining capacity at each restaurant.
Mobile Dine Check-In
Disney has just released a new app through My Disney Experience which will let guests skip the traditional check-in when arriving at a table service restaurant, and go straight to the table.
Just open Disney’s Mobile Dine Check-In when you arrive at the restaurant and scan the QR code in the lobby. You will be notified through the app when you table is ready and which part of the restaurant it’s located in.
For more info, read our post on the Mobile Dine Check-In and see how it works.
Don’t get me wrong, we love getting unlimited plates of food at a Disney buffet as much as the next person, but that won’t be happening in Disney World for a while.
Disney is temporarily eliminating the buffet-option from restaurants. Buffets are far from the most hygienic places and known germ factories. Instead, they are transforming buffets into family-style meals like at Ohana’ for dinner.
The only way I could see Disney reopening buffets anytime soon is if there was a Cast Member at each station serving the guests. They would have to keep it out of the reach from guests to make it work though. This way they could keep guests from coming too close to the food and potentially spreading germs.
Using cash as a form of payment is being discouraged in Disney World with an emphasis on touchless payment forms like credit cards, debit cards, gift cards or mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.
In this way the guest can simply swipe or scan their payment form without anything being touched by the cashier.
Character meals go hand-in-hand with buffets since many are one-in-the-same. Since there are not going to be any character meets, there also will not be any characters coming up to your table for a photo op.
The problem with character meals is that they don’t allow guests to keep a safe distance from the Cast Members and hugging them means passing germs on to other guests doing the same.
The only character meal that will be running when the restaurants open is Breakfast at Topolino’s. The restaurant is big enough and there is enough space for characters to put on a show but keep a safe distance at the same time.
For a full look at how the dining experience is changing in Disney World, read our post on Disney World Restaurants During Reopening Phase.
Besides the traditional attractions and shows, there are some other experiences in Disney World that will have to change or be closed for a while as part of these new safety measures. Anything that keeps guests too close to Cast Members or to each other is on the chopping block.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques is a dream come true for your little princess, but a nightmare for distancing. Walt Disney World closed all these locations down very quickly and they will remain that way during the initial Disney World reopening.
The new health guidelines require guests to make as little contact as possible with Cast Members, but the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique certainly doesn’t allow for that to happen. It will remain closed for the time-being.
Main Street Barber Shop
The Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street U.S.A is one of the coolest non-attraction experiences in the parks, but will probably be closed at first. Yes, many stylists and barbers are open across the country, but there is too much physical contact to make distancing possible here and Disney won’t take the risk.
Savi’s Workshop in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a definite “Wow” moment for any Star Wars fan visiting Disney World, but it will probably have to change to stay open. Guests are gathered together in a small room around a table where they build their own lightsabers.
The number of guests that can experience Savi’s might have to be lowered to keep capacity down and allow guest distancing if it stays running.
As of now, Savi’s Workshop is not on the list of attractions or shopping reopening in Hollywood Studios at this time.
The Droid Depot is a similar situation and has guests shoulder-to-shoulder at building stations where they make their custom droids. Even so, the Droid Depot WILL be open on July 15 when Hollywood Studios opens it doors.
My guess is that they will space them out more and once again, limit the capacity to fewer guests building at a time.
At this time all Tours in Walt Disney World have been canceled. Down the line, they might still be possible, but group sizes will likely be smaller.
Listening devices would need to be thoroughly sanitized before guests can use them and they will have have to keep a good distance between them.
Resort Hotel Changes
Once guests leave the parks, they will also find a myriad of changes and new safety guidelines to follow in the resort hotels. Resorts will obviously have an even higher emphasis on cleaning and sanitization and “high traffic” areas will be cleaned on a regular basis.
- Not all the Walt Disney World Resort hotels are opening right away since there won’t be a need for all those rooms with lower overall attendance.
- Disney Vacation Club Resorts are reopening June 22, but no word yet on the Non-DVC Disney World Hotels.
Besides that, there are a few other resort-specific changes coming.
Avoiding guests assembling in the lobby of a hotel is a priority and because of that, Disney’s Online Check-In service will be highly encouraged. This is a service that lets you check into your room and even go there, without ever having to stop by the front desk.
Your room number and virtual key are sent to your mobile device and you can open it directly. Hotel lobbies will still remain open but will have fewer guests in them because of this change.
Guests visiting the resorts will still be able to use the pools like normal. In fact, it’s one of the only places you aren’t required to wear a face covering.
You can’t expect people to keep their faces covered and it would ruin disposable face masks. However, guests will be required to wear face masks while outside the pool and in the vicinity.
We’ll have to see what other changes are coming to the pools. For example, will they need to have a limited number of people in them at one time? Time will tell.
New housekeeping guidelines have also already been suggested by the recovery task force to reduce exposure between the staff and guests. We are still waiting on more clarification from Disney on this.
One option would be to limit the number of times housekeeping comes to your room and eliminated the regular “in-stay” cleaning. Some guests already turn this service down to save money and it is a good idea.
It could be on a “request only” basis, or even just when the guest departs to get the room ready for the next guests.
The only problem is when guests are staying for 7 days or more. No housekeeping for that long would start to get rough. Maybe for stays over a certain number of days, you will get one housekeeping visit?
Read more about how staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel during the reopening phase is going to be different.
I know you’ve been crammed on a bus coming back from the theme parks with 80 other tired guests, and have had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder until reaching your hotel. That cannot happen if Disney wants to put guest safety first.
There have been some big changes in order to keep them running with new guidelines for Disney World transportations like the Monorail, Buses, and the Disney Skyliner.
Just like in restaurants and on rides, expect to find some seats blocked off, forcing guests to keep distant. On the Disney Skyliner, only one traveling party is allowed per gondola car. On the monorail, each car has partitions installed separating the groups in each car.
There is temperature screening before guests get on some transportation systems, such as the monorail both at the Resort and the Ticket and Transportation Center going to the Magic Kingdom. This is done by AdvantHealth representatives, just like at the parks.
Check out our post on Disney World Transportation after reopening to see how these changes have affected the already slow Disney transportation systems.
Event Cancelation or Date Changes
There are many large events held in Walt Disney World every year and many will either get canceled or highly modified in order to run. Some Disney World events that might be affected are:
- runDisney Races
- Epcot Festivals
- Sporting Events
- After Hours Events
One problem with events are the big crowds they draw. The runDisney races come to mind and likely will not be allowed due to the nature of people working out and then assembling near each other.
Disney has announced that the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival is still on, and it’s starting earlier than ever this year, on July 15, right when EPCOT reopens.
Thankfully guests can just keep their masks most of the time since 99% of the festtival you have a food or drink in your hand. The Flower and Garden Festival, is gone for 2020, but some elements are being mixed in with Food and Wine.
Hard-ticketed events will NOT be running during the reopening period. That includes Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, H2O Glow Nights, Disney After Hours and Disney Villains After Hours events, among others have all been canceled for 2020.
We still are waiting to see what happens with Festival of the Holidays and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Besides just the safety reasons, with fewer guests, it just doesn’t make sense from a profitability standpoint to keep the parks open for that late at night.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports will be off-limits to guests and instead is holding the NBA Playoffs and the rest of the MLS season. That means no cheerleading and dance competitions.
When Will Disney World Go Back to Normal?
In all, these are a lot of changes coming to Disney World all at once and it will take a while for guests to get used to them. I say “get used to them” because we don’t know how long these extra safety measures are going to be in place and when things will return to normal.
I think most of these guidelines are going to stay in place for the rest of 2020, and potentially into 2021. Right now, for example, Disney is planning on using the park reservation system well into 2021.
The majority of them will be necessary until a vaccine is found and life in general goes back to “normal.” Until that happens, the Walt Disney World experience is going to be different from the one we are used to and love so much.
Bob Iger commented on all these changes in a recent interview with Barron’s:
“I don’t think we’re ever going to see a return to business as usual in the sense that, I can’t speak for all companies, but Disney will take this opportunity to look for ways to run our businesses more efficiently when we come back.”
“One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe. Some of that could come in the form of a vaccine, ultimately. But in the absence of that it could come from basically more scrutiny, more restrictions.”
That’s not to say that it can’t still be fun. Families can still have a good time in Disney World, they will just need to manage expectations.
My personal recommendation is that if you aren’t a regular traveler to Walt Disney World, and will only be taking one trip in the foreseeable future, it is better to wait until all these restrictions pass and things are back to normal.
You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a trip that will be completely different and severely restricting compared to how it normally would be.
If on the other hand you are like us and are Disney World regulars, going to the parks might just be the stress-relief you need during this difficult time.
We’ll be paying close attention to all the new guidelines and changes coming to Walt Disney World and updating you as things change. Stay tuned.
If you are stuck deciding when you are going to book your next trip to Disney World, we have a series of posts that might make your decision a bit easier:
- When is the Best Time to Go to Disney World?
- 2020 & 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendars
- Is it Better to Go to Disney World in 2020 or 2021?
I want to know what you think about the new guidelines and policy changes for Walt Disney World…
- Which one do you think is the best idea?
- What other changes would you like to see implemented?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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