“When will Disney World reopen?” We are finally able to say the good news that Walt Disney World is NOW OPEN, as it reopened July 11, 2020! Now that it’s opened back up though, Disney World has a lot of changes and it will be much different from the last time you visited.
We can’t even believe that after months of talking about it, the Disney World theme parks have now actually opened back up! Since the announcing its plans months ago, however, Disney has released a flood of new information and guidelines for guests leaving them more confused than ever!
Since there are so many changes to learn, we thought it would be a good idea to go more in-depth into the reopening of Disney World to find the answers to all your Disney World reopening questions.
Disney World is now officially OPEN! Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios are now open to visitors.
(Updated 9/17/20) – Disney has announced that one of the two Disney World Water Parks will be reopening to guests on March 7, 2021, pending government approval.
Read on for more info on all these stories in the News section below…
In this post, we are going to talk about the Disney World reopening and answer any questions you might have about it. We’ll let you know about the new safety guidelines, park capacity limits and how to get tickets with the new reservation system.
While Disney World is now open and you are now able to go, it’s important to know that the new safety measures will greatly change the guest experience, and it won’t be what you are used to when visiting.
Not everything is opening at the exact same time, so we have the latest on just which attractions and experiences are opening up and a preview of the 4 Theme Parks, Water Parks, and the Disney World Resort hotels.
Any changes Disney makes to the guest experience, including the way guests interact with the attractions, shows, and restaurants will be updated here.
Also, we do have to warn you, just because Disney World has opened back up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will definitely stay that way. We’ll talk about how likely it is that Disney World will stay open without any further closures happening, plus estimated crowd levels and the best time to reschedule your trip.
Before we get started, here are some links to the most important articles around Disney World vacation planning during the reopening phase:
- Guide to New Guidelines in Walt Disney World
- How to Make Guest Park Reservations
- Disney World Restaurants and Dining – During Reopening Phase
- Staying at Disney World Hotels during the Reopening Phase
Also, read our guide to the Disney World closure if you are looking for information about how to get a refund, reschedule your vacation or find out the latest updates about that.
Also, to be updated about the latest Disney World Reopening Info, including all the changes and a first-hand guide to the parks, sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
(NEWS 9/17/20) – One of Disney World Water Parks Reopening March 7, 2021
All 4 Walt Disney World theme parks have been open now since July, but the 2 water parks have remained closed since March. That is changing as Disney has announced that one of Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon will be reopening to guests on March 7, 2021, pending government approval.
Disney hasn’t decided yet which of the two water parks will be opening in March, but at least guests know that there will be the option to go to one of them at that time.
Obviously Disney wants to provide a safe experience for its guests and they are working on a plan for the water parks which will emphasize health and well-being. More details will be provided by Disney about their exact water park plan at a later time.
Some guests will be affected by the water parks not reopening until March 2021 including guests with the following ticket types:
- Premier Passport
- Platinum Plus Pass
- Water Parks Annual Pass
- Water Parks After 2 Annual Pass
- Tickets that include the Park Hopper Plus Option or Water Park & Sports Option
Annual Passholders – Guests will be given a partial refund for the price of the water parks.
Water Park Annual Passes – Guests with this ticket type will be automatically extended for the period the water parks are closed. Guests can request a full refund for their pass by calling (407) 939-2732
Water Park Tickets – Unused, unexpired 1-Day Disney Water Park tickets will be extended through December 31, 2021. If you can’t visit by December 31, 2021, you can use the whole value of the purchased ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a future date. You can also choose to cancel your ticket and get a full refund by calling (407) 939-2732
Water Park Ticket Add-Ons – Tickets including the Water Parks add-on can be modified, canceled or use the ticket with the existing add-on options at other experiences during your visit. Call (407) 934-7639 or (407) 566-4985 to make these changes.
We’ll let you know as soon as more is announced abut Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. See The Walt Disney World Website for more information.
(NEWS 9/11/20) – Magic Kingdom Hours Extended in November, EPCOT Hour Changes
Since The Walt Disney World theme parks opened on July 11th and 15th, they have been operating under reduced park hours, and they had recently announced further reduced hours for September and October.
Now Disney has just announced that some of the theme parks are changing hours once again in November out ahead of the holiday season.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom will be extending park operating hours by 1 hour starting November 6. This coincides with the start of the holiday festivities that will be happening in the park, including the new projection show to be displayed on Cinderella Castle.
The new Magic Kingdom park hours will be from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
EPCOT on the other hand, is not extending its hours, but pushing back the opening and closing times by one hour. Starting November 27, EPCOT will be running from 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm daily.
There has been no change in park hours for Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios at this time, but we are still waiting to see the park schedules for December.
Here is what the new Disney World theme park hours looks like:
- Magic Kingdom – 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, starting Nov 6 (increased from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm)
- EPCOT – 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, starting Nov 27 (changed from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10am – 7pm
These latest changes come after a recent reduction in park hours from 10 hours per day for each park to 9 hours for the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and only 8 hours per day for EPCOT and the Animal Kingdom.
This reduced park hours is due to the lack of guests visiting the parks. On most days, the parks are almost completely empty during the last couple of hours of operation. Since there are so few people, it doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint for Disney to keep the parks open that much each day.
Disney just had it’s quarterly earnings report conference call and said that even though Walt Disney World is currently turning a profit despite few guests visiting, they would still look for ways to save money and reduce operating costs. Cutting employee hours is one way to do that.
The question is will the hours be extended further during the holiday season? Our guess is for the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, probably not. We think this latest change is what we will also get in December.
Both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Candlelight Processional have been canceled for 2020, and I don’t think there is going to be enough demand to extend those parks out any further.
We wouldn’t be surprised though to see Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom get their hours extended by one hour closure to Thanksgiving or in December.
As soon as we have more we’ll let you know.
(NEWS 8/6/20) – Florida Governor Ends 14-Day Quarantine for Tri-State Visitors Effective Immediately
Since March, Florida has had a mandatory 14-Day quarantine order for anyone coming from the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Even though it was set to expire in September, we just found out the ban has been lifted effective immediately.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made the announcement today, ending the current quarantine for visitors from the tri-state area.
Originally, the mandatory 14-Day quarantine law was connected to the state of emergency in Florida, and the order for visitors coming to Florida to quarantine was based on that. Since numbers in the tri-state area were high for months, the restrictions have carried over up to this point.
Since the infection rate has dropped dramatically in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and the rate has increased just as dramatically in Florida, they have no reason to keep visitors from the northeast out anymore.
Disney and other Florida attractions have been struggling to attract visitors from out of state up to this point since not many people coming from out-of-town have a place they can stay isolated for 14 days before being cleared to visit Disney World. This law change was no doubt put in place to help bring more visitors to Florida and improve tourism.
The restriction for guests returning to the tri-state area from Florida however, remains in place which means that those guests will still have to do 14 days in quarantine once they get back from their trip to Disney World.
This is a developing story and we’ll have more for you soon.
(NEWS 7/7/20) – Disney World Suspends Fingerprint Scanning at Theme Park Entrances
For years now, guests arriving at the Walt Disney World theme parks would have to use a fingerprint scanner to enter the parks. Now they have announced that they will be suspending fingerprint scanner use inevitably.
This new came from President of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro, in his interview with the New York Times this week.
Getting rid of fingerprint scanners, at least for the time being is not a big surprise. Before Walt Disney World closed down, Cast Members were wiping the scanners between guest use. It’s obviously not an ideal situation given the circumstances, and so Disney has just decides to put it on hold for now.
We thought this was a possibility a few months ago when we wrote how to skip the fingerprint scanning process when arriving at the park entrances.
As a replacement, it is likely that Cast Members will continue to use the iPads to check guests for park pass reservations as the parks open up.
Stay tuned as we’ll update you when we know more about how the guest entrance is changing.
When Is Disney World Reopening?
Can you believe The Walt Disney World parks were closed for 4 months?? There is good news, however, as Walt Disney World started a phased reopening on July 11, 2020.
“When is Disney World reopening?” was probably the most searched for question in Google for Disney fans during those months, and it’s nice to finally have an answer to that.
Disney’s reopened the Disney World theme parks in phases. First Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Hollywood Studios on July 15.
A few days before the official July 11 opening, there were Cast Member previews, followed by other soft openings for Annual Passholders, DVC members, and Club 33 members.
What About the Hotels?
The Walt Disney World Resort Hotels began reopening on June 22 starting with Disney Vacation Club Resorts only and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Disney World Non-DVC resorts started a phased reopening on July 10 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Disney World Resort hotels will slowly reopen in the coming months depending on the demand.
What You Need to Know
While more details are always coming out, we do have a lot of info about the reopening and how things are going so far in Disney World. Disney Parks worldwide are using the same reopening and operating methods, some of which were taken from the way Shanghai Disneyland reopened earlier in May. These procedures have been replicated in Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.
Here is what you need to know…
Guests visiting Walt Disney World will have to comply with the various new safety measures in place. This includes face masks, temperature screening, physical distancing, increased cleaning and sanitization, and other safety measures. (More on these below.)
Limited Park Capacity
The Disney World parks are running at a lower capacity than what they can normally handle. This is to reduce guests, making it easier to adhere to distancing and other safety measures. Disney has not announced what the park capacity percentage is, but it is likely between 20%-30% of normal capacity.
Disney said the park capacity will always be a function of the 6-foot distance rule. Disney wants to slowly increase capacity as they go along, until finding the “new maximum” as long as restrictions are in place.
The Walt Disney World Resort has introduced a new park reservation system that guests need to use to have entrance to the theme parks.
- The reservation system is how Disney controls the crowds and keeps capacity down to an acceptable level. If reservations sell out for a specific day, no more guests will be given reservations.
- Disney is holding 3 separate reservation inventories and splitting up available passes between Disney World Resort Hotel guests, Annual Passholders, and Park Ticket Holders.
- Reservations are NOW AVAILABLE.
For a complete guide to how it works, read our post on the Disney Park Pass Reservation System.
Hotel Reservations & Ticket Sales
- Sales of 2020 Disney World vacation packages and hotel rooms have now resumed and guests can book reservations.
- 2021 Disney World vacation packages and hotel rooms are now available for booking with dates from January 1, 2021 through September 27, 2021.
How many 2020 theme park tickets Disney sells will depend on what park capacity ends up being and based on the availability of park reservations.
Not Everything Open
One thing that’s important is not every area of Walt Disney World is open at this time. Right now all 4 Disney World theme parks are open, but the water parks are not. Also, many of the restaurants, hotels and shops are still closed. Things will remain this way until more people start coming to Walt Disney World.
Attractions – Most of the Disney World attractions and rides are open, with a few still closed.
Water Parks Closed – Right now all 4 theme parks are open, but Disney World’s 2 water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon remain closed. No word yet as to when they are reopening.
Entertainment and Shows – In order to comply with proper distancing guidelines, some shows, and other entertainment will not be opening during the reopening phase. For the moment, this includes fireworks shows, nighttime spectaculars, and closed theater entertainment.
Restaurants – Many restaurants in Disney World are not reopening right away. With lower attendance, it doesn’t make sense financially to keep all the restaurants open. Certain restaurant types like dinner shows, character meals, and buffets are also temporarily suspended.
All restaurants and dining locations need to abide by the new regulations including distancing tables and lower overall capacity.
Reduced Park Hours – Since there will not be any nighttime spectaculars when Disney World reopens, the theme parks have reduced park hours compared to what they normally have. This includes later openings and earlier closings.
Character Meets – There will not be any character meets in Disney World during the reopening phase since they don’t provide adequate distancing between the guests and characters.
Suspended Services & Perks
Many of the common services and perks you are used to on a Walt Disney World vacation are not going to be running during the reopening phase. Here are some of the biggest changes:
FastPass+ – All FastPasses have been canceled during this time. The entire FastPass+ system has been suspended. This is to allow more space in the attraction queues to be used for distancing between guests.
Right now, guests will only use stand-by queues to enter the attractions.
Extra Magic Hours – Extra Magic Hours are temporarily suspended, with no word when they are coming back.
Disney Dining Reservations – Since restaurants needed to rearrange the dining rooms to keep in mind distancing and the limited capacity, all existing Disney Dining Reservations made before May 28, 2020, were canceled through the rest of 2020. Disney guests are now able to make dining reservations with some changes:
- Reservation windows have been decreased from 180 days to 60-Day windows allowing guests to make reservations closer to their arrival date.
- New Disney Dining Reservations are now available for All Guests starting 60 days from your hotel arrival date or dining date.
Special Experience Bookings – All special events and experience bookings have been canceled at this time through the end of 2020. Disney will give more information about booking these special events at a future date.
Disney Dining Plan – All Disney Dining Plans have been canceled for now. Guests who purchased a Disney dining plan and tickets for dates between May 28, 2020, and September 26, 2021, will receive an automatic cancellation and refund of their Disney dining plan.
No date yet for when the Dining Plan is coming back, but it won’t be until 2021 at the earliest.
Free Dining – The Disney Free Dining Plan has been canceled from now through September 26, 2021. Guests who had already booked the Free Dining Package will receive an automatic cancelation and can book at a later date with a 35% room discount.
New Guidelines Overview
Many people thinking about taking a trip to Disney World when it finally reopens are wondering: “Is Disney World still safe?” Just what is Disney doing to protect its guests and Cast Members?
In order for Disney World to reopen, there are new guidelines in place for theme parks, hotels, restaurants and stores. Disney has shared more about these guidelines with an official list. These rules are enforced for guests and Cast Members alike.
Here is a list of all the guidelines you need to be aware of before going to Disney World:
- Requiring Face Masks
- Guest Temperature Screening
- Increased Sanitization
- Cast Member Safety Training
- Safety Signs
- Additional Hand-washing & Hand Sanitizer Stations
- Distancing Ground Markers in Queues
- Limiting Attraction Availability and Capacity
- Limiting Entertainment Options
- Plastic Dividers at Checkout
- Touchless Transactions at checkout
Disney Springs staff has been trained to employ physical distancing and the rest of the safety measures. They will continue to receive training to improve protocols and things change.
Disney’s health protocols are based on three principles: Education, Communication and Engagement.
The most widely contested new safety guideline in Disney World has been the face masks.
- All Cast Members and Guests 2 years and older are required to wear face masks at all times. The only exceptions are while dining, swimming or in the “Relax areas.”
We understand that covering you face in the 90+ Florida heat is not ideal, but ultimately if you are interested in visiting Walt Disney World during the reopening phase, face coverings are required.
What if you have a Medical Condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering?
We understand that some guests can’t wear a face mask due to a medical condition. In that case, Disney is encouraging you not to come to Disney World at this time.
The face-covering rule is not optional and is strictly enforced by Disney so it’s probably just best to wait until this safety measure is no longer in place to come.
When will the Face Mask requirement End?
That’s a good question that know one currently knows the answer to. Disney is going to follow the guidelines given by the local health authorities, so as long as they are recommending face coverings, Disney will err on the side of caution. It will likely last through the rest of 2020 and into 2021.
Read our Guide to Face Masks at Disney World for a more detailed look and the latest updates.
One of the only places in Disney World that guests don’t have to wear face coverings are in the designated “Relaxation Stations” located throughout the parks. These are roped-off areas were guests can go mask-free.
Here are the main points to know about these mask-free zones in the parks.
- There are 2-3 relaxation stations in each theme park.
- Distancing is still required in these relaxation stations.
- The max guests in each relaxation station changes from location to location.
- Some are indoor, some outdoor.
- Indoor relaxation stations provide a break in the air conditioning.
All guests and Cast Members must undergo temperature screening upon arrival at the entrance of the theme parks and Disney Springs.
Guests and Cast Members with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed entrance based on guidance from the health authorities.
Temperature Screenings are required on some transportation systems such as taking the monorail from the resorts and before getting on it at the Ticket and Transportation. Also, if you are taking a ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Center you will need to go through temperature screening.
Temperature screenings are not currently being enforced when arriving at the hotels. We’ll let you know if that changes as some other Orlando hotels are enforcing temperature screenings.
Increased Cleaning and Sanitization
One of the most important ways they are preventing germs from spreading around Walt Disney World is increased cleaning and sanitization throughout the parks, hotels, restaurants, rooms, and just about anywhere you can think of.
Disney is training cleaning staff and housekeeping in improved sanitization methods, as well as paying extra attention to all high-traffic areas including tables, doors, benches, handrails, escalators, restrooms, and more.
Guests are required to keep a distance of at least 6 feet (2m) between them and people not in their traveling party.
To help guests practice physical distancing, Disney has installed ground markers in all locations where people would usually form a line. This includes attractions, shops, etc. These markers tell guests where to stand to keep a safe distance from others.
There are also “Social Distance Squads” located all around Walt Disney World to help promote social distancing. For example, in the parks, Cast Members in yellow shirts tell guests to avoid grouping together. In Disney Springs, Stormtroopers tell guests when they need to keep more distance from each other.
Handwashing & Hand Sanitizer Stations
There are also new handwashing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers that have been installed throughout Disney World that guests are encouraged to use. Washing your hands is one of the key ways to limit the spread of germs and guests can play their part by washing up as much as possible.
When visiting the theme parks and Disney Springs, hand sanitizer and handwashing stations are everywhere. There are also many signs instructing guests to keep sanitized throughout the stay.
As we talked about before, Disney did a great job by installing hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the Disney World parks and resorts before the closure. In one post, we even shared how to find hand sanitizer stations in Disney World using My Disney Experience.
Distances in the queues for attractions, restaurants and shops must be respected, but in order for the rules to be followed easily, guests need to understand them and see them visibly in the parks.
Numerous signs have been installed throughout the parks and resorts advising guests of the various safety reminders and guidelines to follow.
In order to limit physical contact between guests and Cast Members, physical barriers made of plexiglass have been added in certain locations. These include cash registers, Guest Relations, etc. They also have been added to attraction queues to separate guests while waiting in line to ride.
Cash transactions are discouraged in Disney World during the reopening phase. Guests should use contactless payment options when possible such as credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, Apply Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.
This is a brief look at the changes in policies and guidelines in Disney World. Read our guide to Disney World Changes and Safety Measures for even more info on what to expect.
Who Can Even Go to Disney World Right Now?
One idea that was being thrown around was that Walt Disney World wouldn’t open to the general public at first and that it would limit guests to Florida Residents and locals. That did not end up happening after all and Disney World is open to everyone, sort of…
Is Disney World Open to Everyone?
Technically, yes. The public reopening of Walt Disney World happened on July 11, 2020. Since that time, the parks are open to anyone who wants to visit but a reservation is required.
New 2020 hotel reservations and ticket sales have just resumed so that should make it easier for more guests to get in right now. Both 2020 and 2021 packages are available for booking at this time.
So while Disney World is opening to “everyone,” Disney is limiting theme park guests to ones with Park Pass reservations, so make sure you have one if you are planning on going.
Restrictions on Travel
Another problem that people were running into for a while was not actually being able to travel to Florida and go to Disney World. This was a problem if you are coming from the Northeast U.S. since the state was requiring a 14-Day quarantine for anyone coming from the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
That meant if you came down, you would have had to first be isolated for 14 full days BEFORE being able to visit Walt Disney World.
This is no longer an issue as Governor Ron DeSantis has lifted the restrictions and visitors from the Tri-State area can come to Florida as they please. The same is not necessarily true for the return trip home.
Return Quarantine to the Tri-State Area
Since new cases started increasing across the country, the Tri-State area states of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey are requiring anyone coming from the “high-risk” areas to quarantine for 14 days. Florida is currently included on that list of restricted states.
This makes it extremely difficult for anyone coming from those states to now visit Disney World because not only would they have to quarantine 14 days when they return home.
If you have the possibility to stay at home for 14 days after your vacation, then this isn’t an issue, but it is a bit more complicated for people who have to go to work or children that are going back to school. My advice is to wait until the mandate expires before making any solid plans if you are affected.
When Are New Ticket Sales Starting?
2020 Disney World theme park tickets are now available to the public to purchase. Before this, priority was being given to guests with existing hotel reservations.
2021 vacation packages with tickets are also on sale for dates January 1, 2021 – September 27, 2021.
Can I Get a Refund for Tickets?
Disney is not giving full refunds for unused theme park tickets during the closure period. Instead, Disney is extending the expiration on those tickets from their original use dates. Most tickets are being extended to use from the opening through September 26, 2021.
Check the official Walt Disney World website for more info on ticket refunds.
What About Park Hopper Tickets?
Right now, the Park Hopper option will not be available when the Disney World parks reopen. This is true for specific Park Hopper tickets and Annual Passes. Because of lower park capacity, Disney will require guests to visit one park per day for a while.
Guests who have previously purchased tickets with the Park Hopper option can get a ticket extension, modification, or cancellation in order to be refunded the difference in price from a single park ticket. Read our on Disney Park Hopper Tickets for the latest info.
Will There Be Lower Ticket Prices Because of Fewer Attractions, Entertainment & Reduced Hours?
While this would be nice, don’t expect the changes in the Disney Parks to lower park ticket prices. Disney is not in the habit of lowering ticket prices, and we don’t expect them to start now. The more likely scenario is they will continue to offer some discounts on hotel rooms instead.
How Many Days Have Annual Passes Been Extended?
Disney World annual passes have been extended by the number of days Walt Disney World is closed. The parks closed on March 15 and will reopen on July 11. By our count, that’s roughly 117 days, which means Disney should have added roughly that amount of days to your annual pass.
That’s not all, Disney recently announced they are adding an additional month to all annual passes, so in total, you will have roughly a 147-day extension or around 5 months.
When Will My New Annual Pass Expiration Date be Updated?
Right now, the new annual pass expiration date shoould be reflected in the passholder’s account already.
Making Park Reservations
As a direct result of keeping theme park capacity down, Disney has come up with a brand new online park reservation system for guests during the reopening phase.
- Guests must make individual reservations for the park they want to visit on a given date.
- Park reservations are FREE.
- All guests are required to make BOTH a park reservation and have valid theme park admission to have entrance to the parks.
- There are limits on how many park reservations you can have at one time.
When Does the Reservation System Go Online?
The Disney Park Pass system is Now Online and accepting reservations on the Walt Disney World website.
Annual Passholders Need Park Reservations – Even Annual Passholders will be required to make park reservations for the days they want to visit. There is NO park-hopping even for annual passholders and they are limited to ONE PARK PER DAY.
Who Has Top Priority for Park Reservations?
Guests with a Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservation generally have priority in making park reservations over guests staying off-site or visiting for the day. Up to this point, Disney has made sure there is enough park pass availabilty for guests staying at the resorts to make sure they get into the parks.
This makes sense since they are in Florida spending thousands of dollars to go to the parks, whereas many Annual Passholders are Florida locals and have more opportunities to go.
Who is Guaranteed a Reservation?
No one. Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and Annual Passholders are NOT guaranteed a park reservation. Guests are encouraged to make park pass reservations as soon as they know their travel dates as availability is limited.
As time goes on, Disney will better understand what the demand for the parks will be, therefore allocating the ideal number of passes per group.
Read our post to learn How to Make Disney World Theme Park Reservations. Disney will be releasing more info on this system in the days to come.
What is Open in Disney World?
Though the majority of things are currently open in Walt Disney World, including the theme parks and many of the resorts.
Below you’ll find all the latest reopening information we have for Walt Disney World including:
- Disney Springs (NOW OPEN)
- Resorts (DVC Resorts NOW OPEN, Non-DVC Disney World Hotels Phased Reopening with some NOW OPEN)
- Magic Kingdom (NOW OPEN)
- Animal Kingdom (NOW OPEN)
- EPCOT (NOW OPEN)
- Hollywood Studios (NOW OPEN)
- Water Parks (TBD)
What Attractions and Entertainment are Open?
It’s important to note that the theme parks will open in phases and without the full lineup of attractions, shows and restaurants. That means some rides might not be running when you go, plus things like character meets, fireworks shows and other entertainment will not be open.
When Will Those Higher-risk Experiences Reopen?
At this time we don’t know when these things are opening back up. As more info comes out we’ll update you about what is open and what’s not.
New Character Cavalcades
All 4 Disney World theme parks have new Character Cavalcades to make up for the missing character meets in the parks. Characters go by and greet guests from a safe distance.
These special cavalcades take place down the Magic Kingdom Park parade route, sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, processions along the World Showcase promenade at EPCOT and motorcades on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard.
Some of the characters in the parks include:
- Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)
- Captain Jack Sparrow (Magic Kingdom)
- Anna and Elsa (EPCOT)
- Resistance Members (Hollywood Studios)
Not only that but several musical groups are entertaining guests such as:
- Main Street Philharmonic (Magic Kingdom)
- Mariachi Cobre (EPCOT)
- JAMMitors (EPCOT)
These are just some of the attractions and entertainment you can expect to find in the parks when you visit. To find out more, read our post on the Full List of Reopening Disney World Attractions.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is NOW OPEN. It reopened on July 11, 2020. It was one of the first two Disney World parks to reopen (along with Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
Guests now have to make a Disney Park Pass reservation to get access to the park. More details on how that works below in the “Making Park Reservations” section.
- Magic Kingdom Park Hours – For most days park hours will be from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Starting November 6, park hours are extended from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm for the holiday season.
- Both Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours are not running in the Magic Kingdom during the phased reopening.
- Some attractions and entertainment are limited.
- The fireworks show Happily Ever After and Festival of Fantasy Parade will not be running at this time.
Even though character meets have been suspended for the time being, new character cavalcades will make their way down the normal parade route including Main Street U.S.A. The characters will greet guests from afar even though you can’t get up close to take a photo with them or get an autograph.
Read our Magic Kingdom Fall 2020 Guide with a full list of all attractions, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as touring tips after reopening.
EPCOT reopened on July 15, 2020. It is part of the second group of WDW theme parks to open along with Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Guests will have to make a reservation to get access to the park. More details on how that works below in the “Making Park Reservations” section.
- EPCOT Park Hours – For most days park hours will be from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Starting September 8, park hours will be changed from 12:00 am to 8:00 pm for the holiday season.
- Both Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours are not running in EPCOT during the phased reopening.
- Some attractions and entertainment are limited. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides, entertainment, and dining.
- The EPCOT fireworks show “EPCOT Forever” has been temporarily suspended and is not running at this time.
EPCOT of course is famous for its festivals and those have continued even after the reopening. The 2020 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival is back and started early this year on July 15.
This year’s festival is a sort of hybrid mix between the Flower and Garden Festival and the Food and Wine Festival as some of the character topiaries are being left out for guests to enjoy seeing as the previous festival was cut short.
The EPCOT Festival of the Holidays is also back in 2020 and is starting on November 27.
Read our EPCOT Fall 2020 Guide with a full list of all attractions, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as touring tips after reopening.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is reopening on July 15, 2020. It is part of the second group of WDW theme parks to open along with EPCOT.
Guests have to make a reservation to get access to the park. More details on how that works below in the “Making Park Reservations” section.
- Hollywood Studios Park Hours – Park hours are from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Hours have recently been reduced by one hour.
- Extra Magic Hours are not running in Hollywood Studios during the phased reopening.
- Some attractions and entertainment have been limited. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides, entertainment, and dining.
- Nighttime spectaculars like “Fantasmic!” and “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” are not performing during the reopening period.
Another big change is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be using the virtual queue, but the experience has been changed with multiple boarding pass distribution times. In the end, however, getting a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance was the hardest thing to do in Disney World before the closure, and still is.
Read our Hollywood Studios Fall 2020 Guide with a full list of all attractions, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as touring tips after reopening.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is NOW OPEN. It reopened on July 11, 2020. Along with the Magic Kingdom, it was in the first group of Disney World parks to reopen.
Guests now have to make a reservation to get access to the park. More details on how that works below in the “Making Park Reservations” section.
- Animal Kingdom Park Hours – Park hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Starting September 8, park hours are reduced from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Extra Magic Hours are not running in the Animal Kingdom during the phased reopening.
- Some attractions and entertainment are limited. Please check back soon for more updated info on the opening including rides, entertainment, and dining.
- The nighttime spectacular “Rivers of Light: We Are One” has been permanently closed.
Read our Animal Kingdom Fall 2020 Guide with a full list of all attractions, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as touring tips after reopening.
Disney Springs has been back since May 20, and it was the first area of Walt Disney World to reopen after the long closure.
Not every area in Disney Springs is currently open, but the majority of shops and restaurants have already reopened with only a few still closed. Disney Springs is reopening in phases and is currently in its first phase.
The third-party restaurants and shops started opening on May 20, while the Disney-owned ones opened on May 27.
There is currently an attendance limit in Disney Springs with many fewer guests being allowed in at one time. Right now the only parking available in Disney Springs is the Lime Garage and Orange Garage. There is no outdoor parking. When those two garages fill up, that’s it. No more people will be let in until some leave.
Even if you have a dining reservation in Disney Springs, it doesn’t automatically give you access. Once it’s reached the maximum capacity, you’ll have to wait. For that reason, make sure to show up well ahead of your reservation time, especially on weekends.
There are only 4 entrances open in Disney Springs
- Lime Garage
- Orange Garage
- Ride Share Drop-off
- Marketplace Entrance (near the pedestrian bridge)
The rest of the entrances are closed off. This is to limit attendance and check guests using the latest safety measures.
Disney Springs is enforcing the same new safety measures and guidelines in place at the theme parks. These apply to all guests and Cast Members:
- Temperature screenings prior to entry.
- Face coverings required for everyone 3 years and older.
- Physical distancing practices including physically-distanced queues and physical barriers.
- Temporary operation modifications, including reduced hours at select locations and no scheduled entertainment offerings or high-touch interactive areas.
- An increased focus on disinfecting and sanitation, including the addition of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers in key areas.
The first new guidelines you’ll notice is the temperature screening located at each of the four Disney Springs entrances. Guests will be required to undergo a touchless temperature scan which only lasts a few seconds.
Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, will not be allowed to enter Disney Springs.
New signs and safety warnings are posted all around starting in the parking garages, on the walkways, and near restaurants and shops. These signs explain the health risks of being in public and explanation of the safety guidelines like distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.
As Disney Springs is reopening in phases, so are the restaurants and shops. Some opened right away and some are still waiting a bit.
- Amorette’s Patisserie
- The Basket at Wine Bar George
- B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co.
- Blaze Fast-Fired Pizza
- The BOATHOUSE
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
- Chicken Guy!
- City Works Eatery & Pour House
- Coca-Cola Store Rooftop Beverage Bar
- Cookies of Dublin
- D-Luxe Burger (Mobile Order Only)
- The Daily Poutine
- Disney Food Trucks
- Dockside Margaritas
- Earl of Sandwich
- The Edison
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
- Enzo’s Hideaway
- The Front Porch
- Frontera Cocina
- The Ganachery
- Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Soda Shop
- House of Blues
- Jaleo by José Andrés
- Jock Linsey’s Hanger Bar
- Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company
- Joffrey’s Handcrafted Smoothies Kiosk
- Lava Lounge at Rainforest Cafe
- Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante
- Marketplace Snacks
- Morimoto Asia
- Morimoto Asia Street Food
- Paradiso 37, Taste of the Americas
- Pizza Ponte
- Planet Hollywood
- The Polite Pig
- Raglan Road
- Rainforest Cafe
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes
- Sprinkles Cupcakes
- STK Orlando
- Starbucks (Marketplace)
- Starbucks (West Side – Outdoor seating only)
- Sunshine Churros (Both Marketplace and West Side locations)
- Terralina Crafted Italian
- Vivoli il Gelato
- Wetzel’s Pretzels (Both Marketplace and West Side locations)
- Wine Bar George
- Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
- Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs Marketplace
- Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight
- American Threads
- The Art Corner by Artistic Talent Group
- Chapel Hats
- Coach (store front pick up only)
- Columbia Sportswear
- Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers
- Duncan Yo-Yo
- Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear
- Everything But Water
- eyCatchers Cart
- Free People
- Happy Hound
- JOHNNY WAS
- Just for Fun Socks
- kate spade NEW YORK
- The LEGO Store
- Lily Pulitzer
- Lucky Brand
- Luxury of Time by Diamonds International
- Marketplace Co-op (with Virtual Queue)
- Na Hoku – Hawaii’s Finest Jewelers Since 1924
- Once Upon A Toy
- Pandora® Jewelry
- Pelé Soccer
- Pop Gallery
- Ron Jon Surf Shop®
- Royally Yours by Arribas Brothers
- Rustic Cuff
- Rubio Arts Balloons
- Savannah Bee Company
- Sosa Family Cigars
- The Spice and Tea Exchange
- Sugarboo & Co.
- Sunglass Icon®
- Tommy Bahama
- UNDER ARMOUR BRAND HOUSE
- Vera Bradley
- World of Disney (with Virtual Queue)
Read our post with a photo tour of Disney Springs on opening day and find out more info about what’s open there and to see all the changes.
The Walt Disney World Water Parks are currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
When are Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Reopening?
We don’t know right now. Disney has only given reopening dates for the theme parks and not the water parks. It will be a hot Summer in Walt Disney World without the water parks if this holds up. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more.
The Walt Disney World Resort Hotels are currently reopening in phases:
- Disney Vacation Club Hotels (DVC) and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground – Now Open! (Opened June 22, 2020).
- Non-DVC Walt Disney World Resort Hotels started a phased reopening on July 10 with reopening dates through Summer 2021.
Guests arriving at a Disney World hotel will need a confirmed hotel reservation or dining reservation to enter. Important information will be sent to you from Disney before your arrival date so look for emails.
Face Masks – Guests 2 years old and up will be required to use face masks throughout the hotel (while dining and in the pool are the only exceptions.
Online Check-In – Another way to eliminate people getting too close to each other is by using Disney’s Online Check-In service. This is a quick and convenient way for guests to check-in to their hotel room, without ever having to go to the lobby and do it. Guests will be highly encouraged to use Online Check-In whenever possible.
Which Walt Disney World Hotels Are Open?
Here is a list of The Walt Disney World Hotels currently open:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House (DVC Guests Only)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels
When Will the Rest of the Disney World Hotels Reopen?
The remaining Walt Disney World Resort Hotels started a phased reopening on July 10 which is scheduled to continue through Summer 2021.
Here is the current list of hotels and dates when they are reopening:
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – August 24
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – September 21
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – October 14
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – November 1
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – Summer 2021
Not all Walt Disney World hotels have announced reopening dates yet, and we are still waiting to here when the following are reopening:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Obviously with very low occupancy and attendance limits in the parks, there is no rush to open all the remaining Disney World hotels. As soon as attendance picks up, we will start to see the remaining hotels reopening.
Disney World has now reopened new hotel reservations. For a while they had paused new reservations to service guests with existing reservations first before taking on new ones.
When Can I Make a Disney World Hotel Reservation?
Now. 2020 Walt Disney World Resort Hotel reservations are now available. 2021 Walt Disney World hotel reservations with stays finishing before September 27, 2021, are also currently available for booking.
How Many New Hotel Reservations Will Disney Allow?
We don’t know. Because of park capacity limits, Disney will put a limit on the amount of new hotel reservations they take too. They don’t want a bunch of guests to show up to the hotel and not have Park Passes.
Disney has currently waved all cancellation fees on hotel reservations. You can book a hotel or vacation package and Disney will provide a full refund if you change your mind or can’t make the trip.
Will My Hotel Reservation Get Cancelled?
Disney is canceling some hotel reservations if those resorts aren’t yet open. How far into the future depends on how long those Disney World hotels are closed for. If your reservation is canceled, you will get a notice from Disney. If that happens you will be given the chance to reschedule to a later date.
A Disney World Resort Hotel Reservation does NOT guarantee theme park access, but it definitely gives you a better chance (more on this in a moment).
No More Free MagicBands
It seems like Disney is phasing out the MagicBand system and starting January 1, 2021, they will no longer be offering free MagicBands to guests arriving in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Read more about what this means in our post about Disney MagicBands.
Please check back soon for more info.
Disney is making a concentrated effort to increase cleaning a sanitization throughout the resort hotels in all areas.
- Guest rooms will be fully sanitized before their arrival.
- All common areas of the hotels will be cleaned with higher frequency, especially high-traffic areas including: doors, handles, tables, elevators, escalators, buttons, restrooms, handrails, benches, etc.
- More hand sanitizer stations are being added.
- Improved In-Room cleaning protocols and staff training.
- Modified housekeeping schedules.
Here is a preview of some of the new in-room cleaning guidelines:
Amenities & Experiences
Are Hotel Pools Be Open?
Yes, most Disney World Resort hotel pools are open during this phase, with a few exceptions. Pools also have reduced hours and limited capacity.
Other Important Info:
- Bell Services – They will still deliver but luggage to your room, but separately from the guests to comply with distancing rules.
- Club Level – is not be operating for now.
- Electrical Water Pageant – will not be available for the time being.
- Fitness Centers – have reduced operating hours.
- Resort airline check-in – this will be unavailable from your hotel.
- Valet Parking – This will not be available.
- Automatic Checkout – Guests will be automatically checked out of their rooms at the end of their stay. There will be no need to visit the front desk unless you have an unresolved issue on your account.
Temporarily Unavailable: A bunch of resort activities and experiences will not be available during the reopening period including:
- Character experiences
- Dog parks
- Electrical Water Pageant
- Fireworks voyages and tasting cruises, including the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
- Fun runs
- Hula lessons
- In-room childcare services
- Marina rentals
- Mermaid school
- Pin trading
- Spas, salons and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- Special classes and programs – including culinary, cultural and animal programs
- Wonderland Tea Party at Park Fare
This is just a preview of the hotels. If you want a more detailed look, check out our Disney World Hotels Guide during the reopening phase where we explain more in detail everything you need to know.
Disney World transportation started operating on June 22, 2020. Right now it is running for Walt Disney World Resort hotels only.
During the reopening periods, transportation is provided from all the resorts to Disney Springs and the Disney theme parks. This includes buses, boats and monorails.
- Buses (Now Open)
- Monorail (Now Open)
- Magic Kingdom Ferry Boats (Now Open)
- Disney Skyliner (Opening July 15)
- Minnie Vans (Opening TBD)
- Friendship Boats (Opening TBD)
Disney World buses are now running to take guests to Disney Springs and the parks. Other transportation methods currently running are the Monorail, Disney Skyliner, and the Magic Kingdom Ferry Boats.
What Safety Measures Does Disney Transportation Have?
In order to promote guest safety, Walt Disney World transportation enforces some of the same guidelines coming to the theme parks.
- Transportation vehicles run on reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing.
- Increased cleaning and sanitization to vehicles.
- Some seats are blocked off and in some transportation, like the Disney Skyliner, only guests of the same party are allowed in the same transportation car.
Disney’s Magical Express
Getting to Walt Disney World from the airport is still be possible on Disney’s Magical Express for resort guests. This free airport shuttle service is currently running.
Read our post about Walt Disney World Transportation during the reopening period for a more detailed explanation of changes and a first look at the safety measures.
There are also some big changes happening with The Walt Disney World restaurants both in the theme parks and at the resort hotels during the reopening period. Here is what to expect:
- Safety Guidelines – Disney World restaurants are following the same safety measures as the parks and resorts. Masks are necessary, except when seated at your table to eat.
- Limited Capacity – Restaurants are operating with a lower than normal capacity. This could make it harder to get a reservation.
- Limited Restaurants and Experiences – Some restaurants will remain closed at this time, as well as some experiences like character dining and dinner shows.
- Technology – Disney is utilizing new technology to help guests stay safe while dining. These include: contactless payments, digital menus, Disney Mobile Ordering, Disney Mobile Dine Waitlist, and Disney’s Mobile Dine Check-In, which will allow guests to skip the host stand at restaurant entrances and go directly to their tables.
One of the biggest changes to dining in Walt Disney World has been the cancellation of dining reservations. All guests are starting over and will have to re-book their restaurants before their trip.
The good news is that the Disney World dining reservation system is now open and All Disney World guests can once again book restaurants. Here are some of the guidelines:
- New Disney World restaurant reservations are now available to book starting 60 days from your hotel arrival date or dining date.
- Table Service Restaurants require an Advanced Dining Reservation.
- Reservations can be made Online or by Phone.
Read our Disney Advanced Dining Reservations guide for everything you need to know about booking restaurants in Disney World.
Disney Dining Plan
What Happened to the Disney Dining Plan?
Disney has temporarily suspended the popular Disney Dining Plan at this time. With restaurants operating under limited capacity it didn’t make sense to keep using it since some guests might not get a chance to use all the points. Guests who have already paid for the Dining Plan will automatically get a refund.
When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return?
Right now, we don’t know when the Disney Dining Plan is coming back. Some dining plans have been canceled already through September 2021. While that doesn’t mean Disney won’t use the dining plan before then, it does mean we will have to wait a while to find out.
If you are looking for more info on dining in Disney World, including a full list of which restaurants are open, read our Guide to Disney World Restaurants after the reopening phase.
Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Still Happening?
All Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates have been canceled for 2020. With fireworks shows and parades canceled for the time being, and no character meets, it was clear that the majority of experiences for this even could not go forward, and it made the most sense to cancel it.
Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Canceled?
Yes it is. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has been canceled in 2020, as well as the Candlelight Processional in EPCOT.
What About Other Special Events?
Right now, the majority of other Walt Disney World events have already been canceled, including Disney After Hours events, Disney Villains After Hours, Disney H2O Glow Nights at Typhoon Lagoon and Disney Early Morning Magic.
The following experiences have also been canceled in Disney World:
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew
- Character Couture
- Perfectly Princess Tea Party
- Pirate Adventure Cruises
- Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage
- Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare
Most of the tours are not possible to run with the new distancing rules and therefore are unavailable. Here is a full list of the tours that have been canceled:
- A Path Less Traveled Tour
- Backstage Magic
- Behind the Seeds
- Caring for Giants
- Dine with an Animal Specialist
- Disney Private VIP Tours (Opening up in Late August)
- Disney’s Family Magic Tour
- Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour
- Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
- Epcot Seas Adventures – Aqua Tour
- Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest
- Epcot Seas Adventures – Dolphins in Depth
- Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience
- Sense of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Starlight Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
- The UnDISCOVERed Future World
- Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
- Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
- Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
- Up Close with Rhinos
- Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
- Wanyama Safari
- World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
- Wild Africa Trek
- Wild Africa Trek (Morning)
The only tours we have a reopening date for are VIP Tours, which are coming back in Late August. No reopening dates have been given for the rest of the canceled events and tours. Disney will continue to monitor the situation and reopen them when possible.
Stay tuned as Disney releases more info on these events and more coming soon.
Financial Factors Around Reopening
Of course, Disney wouldn’t have opened the parks back up until it’s safe to do so, but with the financial strain being put on the company, you can be sure they have taken whatever measures possible to expedite that opening and making it safe for guests again.
Quite frankly, Disney is in trouble financially, at least in the short-term. Disney has already commented that they were expecting to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the Asian park closures in Q2, but that was before Disney World and Disneyland closed too. Last year in Q2 Disney had $6.1 Billion in revenue in the Parks, Experiences and Products division of the company.
Think about what losing essentially all your sources of income in that division for possibly months will do to their bottom line. When all is said-and-done we are talking about losing billions of dollars. Billions, with a capital B.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said during the Q2 Earnings Call that the closure of the parks cost them $1 billion in Q2 alone, but the full brunt of the losses are expected to hit in Q3 when all of the parks were closed at once.
This is like what happens when a hurricane hits Disney World, only to every park, hotel and entertainment venue Disney owns all at the same time and for an extended period of time. That’s not to mention the revenue from the Box Office which has dried up and greatly reduced income coming from the Media division too.
Disney has realized they will need some help in the short term and have recently announced another debt offering of $11 billion, bringing the total amount of new debt in the last 3 months to $23 billion.
Disney will use this to bring up their cash reserves and for “general corporate purposes.” This means they know they need more cash flow to weather the storm, which could go on for a while.
According to Moody analyst Neil Begley: “This transaction will add to Disney’s significant liquidity as it will free up revolving debt capacity otherwise assumed set aside to back outstanding commercial paper and near-term maturities, and essentially removes any question that the company has robust liquidity to help carry it through this ‘black swan’ cycle.”
Even though Walt Disney World is now open, that doesn’t mean the company’s financial problems are over. It could take years to fully recover and get attendance and revenue back to pre-closure levels.
Because of this, Chapek announced that he will be going over all expenditures with a “fine-toothed comb” and already $700 million in expenditures toward new construction has been cut for 2020.
If the losses pile up too high, there are a lot of upcoming Disney projects and attractions that could be cut or delayed to save money at the current time.
Yet despite all the financial worries, Disney didn’t rush things and reopen the parks before they are absolutely ready to do so. They could have followed the path of Universal Studios or the other Orlando-area theme parks and reopened in June.
That is part of the reason for taking those debt offerings. This has allowed Disney to take its time to reopen and do things right. Disney has taken steps to allow guests to return to Disney World, while still keeping high levels of guest safety.
What are the Crowds Like Now That Disney World Has Reopened?
Figuring out the crowds since Walt Disney World opened back up has been one of the hardest things to do. While it’s true that many Disney fans have been chomping at the bit to get back into the parks crowds so far have been at record-low levels.
Crowds at Disney World are split into two groups: tourists and locals.
By far Orlando locals and Florida residents have made up the vast majority of guests who have visited Walt Disney World since reopening. Many people are bored and are itching for something to do. Walt Disney World is a convenient distraction for them since it’s close and many are already Annual Passholders.
Many tourists on the other hand have had to cancel their prior reservations and haven’t been able to come yet during the reopening phase. The problem is, with everything going on, many families don’t know when their next chance will be to visit.
After the short initial rush of the reopening, Disney World crowd levels have been low and will probably continue to be for at least some months after.
First of all, Disney is limiting the number of guests that can go to the theme parks each day. Once the pre-booked reservations are gone for a specific day, that’s it. This allows Disney to control crowds and keep the crowd levels decently low.
Besides that system, much of the U.S. is still in the reopening process. Included in that number are states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois and other states that Disney relies heavily on for visitors.
Some states even have a mandatory 14-Day quarantine for people coming home after visiting Florida. If you have to stay at home for 14 days after your vacation, that makes it much more difficult for families to decide to visit Disney World. As these restrictions are lifted, that might give a little boost to attendance.
Then there is the economy…
After the stock market has drastically fallen from all-time highs, the economy right now is incredibly unstable and there is a tremendous amount of consumer uncertainty. Recently, the U.S. had its worst Unemployment Report EVER with almost 40 million Americans losing their jobs in a span of some weeks.
Many financial experts feel we are already in a recession, now it’s about making the right moves to avoid a full-on depression.
So even though there is nothing that many Americans (and international visitors) would like to do more than relive the nostalgia and the warm, comfortable feeling Disney World gives you after going through such a rough period of time, if guests don’t have the money, a trip just isn’t happening.
Plus, many countries have grounded airlines meaning international visitors might not be able to go to Disney World because they are stuck in a country where they can’t even take a flight to the U.S. if they had the money.
Visitors from England, Brazil, Canada, etc, make up a huge portion of Disney World visitors annually, and they can’t currently come to Florida.
Over the Summer we saw the lowest crowds we’ve ever seen in Walt Disney World. Hotel occupancy is dismal, and the demand just hasn’t been there. Of course, this makes visiting the parks fun for whoever can go since we saw record lows in attraction wait times.
Looking ahead to the Fall and Winter, we think crowds will continue to be low until we get to the Holiday Season. How high levels get during November and December will tell us a lot about how quickly Disney World attendance is going to recover.
During this time, our best guess is that you will see some visitors who are anxious to get back to the parks, and then as the economic reality kicks in for many people you will see some periods of extremely low crowds. Expect it to be similar to what we saw after 9/11 and after the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
I’m not sure the theme parks will reach capacity on a regular basis in the months following the reopening, probably not until 2022 or beyond.
This isn’t necessarily bad for whoever is able to afford a trip to Walt Disney World after it opens back up. Having fewer people in the parks is a dream come true for many fans as it means less competition for rides, lower waits for attractions, and easier to get dining & hotel reservations.
Without a doubt, all the changes happening with the Disney World reopening will have a big effect on touring the theme parks. We’ve been able to spend some time in the parks since reopening, and here are a few things to know about touring the Disney parks now.
One of Disney World’s biggest challenges after reopening is keeping people from grouping up inside the attraction queues. They’ve already suspended FastPass+ and will instead use that space to distance guests while waiting in stand-by queues.
What about the Virtual Queue system? At this time the only attraction that will use a Virtual Queue and boarding passes is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, just like before the closure, but with multiple boarding group distribution times.
This came as a big surprise to us since one way to help keep fewer people in the ride queues is to use virtual queues and boarding groups. It was heavily rumored that more attractions would be using it, but for now, it’s not happening.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up in Disneyland with a virtual queue, and Rise of the Resistance has been using boarding groups and the virtual queue for months now, so the infrastructure is already in place for more expansion.
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. This change allows Disney to have more control over the lines and how quickly and how many people they let enter at once.
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. Once Disney started using it, we predicted that it would slowly get worked into other attractions outside of Galaxy’s Edge too.
A while back, the Disneyland app was displaying the words: “Virtual Queues” and “My Queues” in the various sections within the apps, which would indicate more are coming down the line. Maybe the system is not yet ready to roll out across all 4 parks, or maybe Disney realized with no one waiting in lines the walkways would be too crowded.
Our guess is that so far, Disney has been able to control crowds enough just using the standard stand-by queues. Once capacity is increased and the crowds get bigger, that might be when we start to see more rides using the Virtual Queue system.
Disability Access Services
Many Disney World guests rely on the Disability Access Services (DAS) in order to experience the attractions in the parks. It’s good to know that DAS is operating the same way it did before Disney World closed in March.
That means you can still use DAS and ride the attractions the same way as before. Just go to Guest Relations to obtain the Disability Access Service pass on your MagicBand. You can then go to any attraction you like and receive a return time to ride.
For more info contact Disney World’s Disability Services at (407) 560-2547 or email them at email@example.com.
No Single Rider
Since Disney is currently using the FastPass+ queues as stand-by, that essentially eliminates the Single Rider option. Disney has officially announced it and we can assume it won’t come back until FastPass+ does too.
What Kind of Deals are there Since Disney World Opened Back Up?
With lower crowds also comes another benefit for guests going to Disney World: Lower Prices. There have been some offers so far and we expect to see more deals on vacation packages, hotel rooms, and even park tickets as the months continue.
Whenever the demand is low for vacations, Disney World has to offer deals to entice more guests to come and visit. It’s why usually in a normal year you can get a lower price during September and January, when there are fewer people wanting to go to Disney World, instead of December when demand is through the roof.
Again, looking back at 9/11 and The Great Recession, can give us a good idea of what to expect once this current set of circumstances is also behind us. Both times the crowd level for the parks was extremely low and Disney was offering some amazing deals to get people to come back.
It’s possible could even see BETTER deals now than after those previous two events. After 9/11, people weren’t traveling because they were afraid of their safety. After the last financial crisis, people weren’t traveling because they didn’t have any money.
The current set of events is a perfect storm of both scenarios and people will find themselves wary of traveling for their own health and not being able to afford it.
Disney is also very much associated with being expensive, and even if people do want to take a vacation to get away and de-stress, they might instead opt for someplace closer and cheaper instead of Disney World.
In theory, all this means that you should get ready for some incredible deals on Disney World vacations. Will Disney recognize all these factors and how desperate will they be to get attendance back up to normal levels?
What I’m worried about is that Disney might be slow to change their way of thinking from what it’s been over the past few years. I think Disney has been so used to people pouring into the parks no matter what they charge, it might take them longer to catch on that right now people are not coming.
This could be detrimental to Walt Disney World, and the company needs to handle this the right way or they risk alienating a good portion of their most loyal fans. Doing that one year ago might have been ok, but it won’t fly in the current situation we are living.
One thing to keep an eye on is the Disney Free Dining promotions. Usually, when Disney World wants to make some appealing offers to guests, they offer Free Dining which is always a huge hit and brings people to the Resort.
However, Disney has canceled all booked Free Dining packages and refunded the money paid for them. We don’t know when this will come back, but it looks like Disney is going to have to come up with some other offers when they start reopening up hotel reservations and get a feel for the demand over the next few months.
So far the discounts have been just “ok.” Disney has created the “Magic Is Here!” package, which can save up to $500 on a 4-night package complete with tickets. It may sound good, but when you factor in the price you pay for the hotel rooms in this package, there isn’t that much money to save.
They also offered a South-specific package for residents of Southern states giving up to 30% Disney World Resort rooms. That one offers a better value in our opinion.
The last, and best offer is for Annual Passholders, which gives them up to 40% off Disney World Resort Hotel rooms. This deal is good from now through Christmas. It is a great deal and we’ve seen stays at Pop Century for $112 and the Yacht Club for $300.
Depending on how attendance responds in the Fall, we could be getting more offers later in the year and into 2021. We’ll have a much better idea of Disney is going to dig even deeper into the well by then.
Keep checking back as we’ll continue to update you with any new deals that come out.
Will Disney World Stay Open or Close Again?
Though we are super-excited that Walt Disney World is now open, many are wondering if Disney World will stay open, or if it will be forced to close once again?
It seems like a strange question to ask when Disney World just reopened in July, but evaluating the unpredictable health crisis and looking at recent comments by Disney shows why the question is valid.
An update on the Disney World website said: “Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort Hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences and other offerings may be modified and will be limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or closure, based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing.”
You will notice that hotels and theme parks were mentioned in that statement, and not just attractions or restaurants which could be forced to closed after reopening.
Guests will have to be aware that things can change in the future and they’ll have to be flexible with their reservations.
Disney has to cover its bases and obviously, without knowing what direction the current health crisis might go in, they understand that things might continue to get worse. We have no idea what to expect during flu and cold season for example.
Right now things are going smoothly in Walt Disney World since the reopening, so for now Disney is thinking about opening up more, not re-closing. It would take major pressure from the state of Florida for it to happen, but they’ve shown a high tolerance to risk and a willingness to keep things open no matter what.
Personally I don’t think Disney World will close again, but you never know. At this point, none of us can predict the future and know for certain when the health crisis will be completely resolved, but until that happens, anything is on the table, including Disney World closing again. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Read our post on “Could Disney Close Again?” for a more in-depth look at the subject.
One interesting question is what Disney will do with the Cast Members who were part of the college program and international program? They were required to leave their housing complexes back in April and they also had their internships terminated.
A recent union conference call revealed that Disney is not starting up the International program anytime soon. In fact, the Fall College Program has already been canceled. No time frame to return was given, but travel restrictions complicate things a great deal. Disney is now going to be temporarily filling World Showcase with Cast Members who are not culturally accurate until the situation is resolved.
It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to train these students, not to mention the liability in doing so. Even when they do decide to bring them back it will not be an overnight thing and will take a lot of time to get things organized. Honestly it looks like the earlist the program will start up again is 2021.
Right now, Disney is choosing to bring back its furloughed Cast Members who live locally first, and then slowly bring back the college and international students at a later date.
When Should You Book Your Next Disney Vacation?
Now that Walt Disney World is open again, you may be wondering when is a good time to visit? This is a good question for you, especially if you already have a Walt Disney World vacation coming up in the coming weeks or even months or had one canceled recently.
Before we talk specifically about this situation you should read our guide to the Best Times to Visit Disney World. That helps you to make the best decision based on all the factors like weather, crowds, events, etc, as well as ranking every month.
Also, our 2020 & 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendars are great at identifying the least crowded times of year to visit, while also saving you money!
Since the closure, we’ve had many readers tell us they have an upcoming vacation to Walt Disney World and they don’t know whether they should postpone their upcoming trip or go on with their current plans. We also have a lot of readers who had their trips canceled during the closure period.
First, let me say I hear you and I feel really bad for anyone who was looking forward to a trip to Disney in the coming weeks and had it canceled. As adults, we are obviously disappointed not to go, and how your kids must have felt after something they’ve looked forward to so much was canceled. It stinks big time.
Just try to understand that closing Disney World has been for the health and safety of you and your family and the millions of other guests going, plus the thousands of cast members working there.
Thankfully at least, we now know that Walt Disney World is open, and this lets you continue planning your Disney vacation once again.
When is a “safe” date to reschedule your Disney World vacation to? Now that Disney has reopened up 2020 hotel reservations and ticket sales, you can technically choose whenever you want to go.
2021 Walt Disney World vacation packages and hotel rooms are also available to book, so you can get a jump start on planning your trip for next year already.
We do want to say that just because you CAN make reservations again for the rest of 2020, it might be a better idea to push off your trip off until 2021. This is especially true if you are nervous about traveling right now.
By looking out to Winter 2020/2021 or beyond, at least you’ll get a jump on the empty rooms and beat the majority of the other guests trying to do the same thing.
Don’t worry about a future trip getting canceled by Disney. If Disney eventually has to close again when you have a future arrival date, Disney will fully compensate you and you will get your money back or get to reschedule your trip without paying any fees or penalties. There is very little downside to booking something if you desire to go.
If I were planning a trip for my family, the very earliest I would personally start thinking about booking would probably be Late Fall, maybe November. Yes, the parks are open now, it just depends on what type of visitor you are and how averse you are to traveling right now.
My biggest problem with going right now is the lack of entertainment options, shows, characters, fewer open restaurants and reduced menus in the ones that are open. If you are a long-time Disney-goer then you might not mind, but if you are a first-time visitor or you go once every 5 years, it would be better to wait.
We also don’t know when the new attractions will reopen. We still don’t know when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is going to open for example. First it was “Summer 2020,” but now that’s turned into Fall 2020, if not Winter 2021.
I think planning for Winter 2020/2021 would be a great time to go. By then, whatever new safety measures they put in should have all the bugs out of them, and it will also give Disney some time to open some of the new construction projects. More restaurants will be open and maybe even some of the shows.
If you really want to be safe, you could always wait and go for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. We don’t know the exact dates yet, but anywhere in Fall 2021 should be fine. There will be new entertainment, attractions and lots of festivities.
If you are trying to figure out when the best time to plan your next vacation is, we have a post that answers the question “Should I Go to Disney World in 2020 or 2021?” and it breaks down the pros and cons of planning each of them.
We are happy that Disney World is finally open, and we’ve had fun so far, it just may not be for everyone right now.
“When is Disney World reopening?” was probably the most searched for question in Google for Disney fans during 2020, and it’s nice to not have to worry about that anymore.
It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders now that we finally have the parks open again.. When the closure first happened back in March, we never thought it would have lasted that long!
We really missed going to the Disney Parks this year and it feels good to be back. It is a surreal moment when you step foot onto Main Street U.S.A for the first time again, something we definitely won’t take for granted anymore.
Disney has done a great job with almost everything surrounding the reopening of its parks and resorts, and have handled it the best they can given the circumstances. All the Cast Members have been super friendly, more so than in years, and have made our stays feel almost normal again.
There was a ton of work that went on and continues to go on behind the scenes just to have the parks back up and running for us. We certainly appreciate all those who work hard to make this possible, in anything but favorable circumstances.
While we do love short lines for the attractions and taking pictures of empty Disney sidewalks, we look forward to when things are totally back to normal again.
We are pleased with the way Disney has handled things, they have Disney moved very cautiously in our opinion, and will procede to do so as we move into other phases of the reopening in the next months. They have the biggest reputation to keep up while at the same time still giving guests the authentic “Disney experience” as Bob Chapek said.
The fact that Disney World is reopening in phases and keeping crowds down does not surprise us at all. Logistically speaking, it makes more sense to reopen the resort slowly, keeping things small until they get more experience with the new setup.
We were slightly surprised that right now all 4 theme parks will be open every day. We thought due to the extremely low crowds adn to save money, Disney would only open each park a few days a week. This tells me that there are enough hotel reservations still booked that they feel confident to have enough people to make it worth opening all 4 every day.
Unlike in Shanghai, Walt Disney World is not announcing a park capacity limit. We are guessing it is in the 20-30% range, though real park attendance rarly reaches that level most days. Even if more people start coming, Disney has confirmed that whatever the limit is, it will be enough for guests to keep the recommended 6-foot distances.
The new reservation system has been much criticized by fans, but from a company standpoint, it’s the perfect way to limit crowds to the level you want. That helps Disney be prepared in knowing exactly how many Cast Members they will need to have on hand on a given day.
Though the Disney Park Pass system in Disney World got off to a rough start, it’s been working fine recently and is easy enough to use. Disney has also been replentishing park availability, which may point to them already starting to increase capacity from when they opened in July.
The hardest group to be in for reservations right now are annual passholders with availability constantly filling up fast. We’ll see if they continue distributing more inventory to Annual Passholders, as they will continue to make up the majority of Disney World visitors for the time-being.
It seems like Disney has a pretty firm grip on the new safety guidelines and feels confident on how to handle the crowds coming to the parks. Many of these measures are exactly what had been rumored for months before Disney put them into their official reopening plans.
I thought that it would have been really hard to keep guests under control and make sure they follow all of the rules. Making sure people keep a certain distance from each other, getting them to keep face masks on isn’t easy, but it’s been going well do far.
Disney seems determined to keep to the safety guidelines. We’re curious to see how long they’ll be able to enforce distancing and mask-wearing between park guests, especially if crowds pick up.
Going to the parks with a face mask, and not all entertainment options or attractions available obviously is not optimal. It’s not as big of a deal for the locals, but it is especially bad if you are coming to Florida specifically for a Walt Disney World vacation.
This is all part of how the “Disney World experience” has been affected. It’s not what any of us have in mind when visiting the most magical place in the world, but right now this is the way it is.
I know not having some of the entertainment, attractions, fireworks, etc is not ideal, but ultimately, things have to happen one step at a time if we are going to get back to normal, and this is the first step towards that.
I’m at least happy to have the Disney parks reopen, not matter what the restrictions are.
Disney has the right to make whatever kind of rules they want in their theme parks, and if they feel it will improve public safety, we should cooperate with them. Disney World will still be there when this situation is finished, so if you don’t want to go during this time, that is your choice to make.
They have been working hard to open the parks and keep them open, and from our point of view, most of these procedures are really good ideas and will help do that.
While I’m excited and think going the parks is attractive for Florida residents and people that go multiple times a year, I wouldn’t recommend going right now to first-timers or people who rarely visit.
With all the changes and restrictions though, I’m not sure I could recommend a family to pay the amount of money it takes to go on a Walt Disney World vacation knowing that they wouldn’t really get the full experience. Not even close to that.
Disney management will continue to evaluate things over the coming weeks and months and if everyone cooperates, we should get the ropes loosened a bit moving forward. I just hope that in the meantime guests going to Disney World will continue to cooperate with management, which will make for a more pleasant experience for everyone.
We’ll have to see how things shake out over the next weeks and months.
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Yes. The Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels have reopened.
Right now all Walt Disney World theme parks are open including Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Disney has created a modified guest experience which will help increase the safety of guests. Some examples include wearing face masks, hand washing stations, and distancing in attraction queues. So far guests have reacted well to the new changes and have followed the guidelines for the most part.
Disney Springs is currently open, including the majority of restaurants and shops. Also, many Disney World Resort Hotels and Disney World DVC Resorts are open. More will be opening periodically.
I want to know what you think about Disney World opening back up…
- Have you been to Disney World since reopening?
- What changes would you like to see implemented in the parks?
Let us know in the comments section below!
If you enjoyed this article, as always I appreciate it if you’d share it with others via social media. I work hard at making this website into a useful resource for you and your family to plan your visit to the Disney Parks and I hope it can help you! Thanks 🙂