Reopening Walt Disney World - What You Need To Know

Reopening Walt Disney World – What You Need To Know

We are all excited for the start of the phased reopening of Walt Disney World on July 11th, but as we get ready to return to the theme parks and resorts, there are some operational changes happening that you need to be aware of.

Note that this information is fluid, and changes and updates may happen at any time.  I will continually update this page, but always check with me for the latest information

At this time, Walt Disney World is not accepting any new reservations – all of this information is for guests that already have reservations in place for 2020.

Walt Disney World MAY – but it is not guaranteed – open some 2020 reservations in a couple of months.  Always, check with me for the latest information.

I can begin booking 2021 Walt Disney World reservations on Wednesday June 24th – if you just think you might want to go to Walt Disney World next year reach out to me ASAP.

 The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen Saturday July 11th.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will reopen Wednesday July 15th.

The Walt Disney World resort hotels will also reopen on July 11th, but at this time we don’t know if all resorts will reopen that day.

In order to promote social and physical distancing when the theme parks open, Walt Disney World will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all Guests to make a reservation in advance for theme park entry.

With the implementation of this new reservation system, all existing dining reservations and FastPass reservations will be removed.

More on dining and FastPass:

Dining and Experiences: In order to foster physical distancing during this time, upon reopening, our offerings, restaurants and other experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours will be limited in capacity, and other experiences may remain closed. As a result of limited capacity, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages. We will reopen dining and experience bookings with more limited numbers closer to when the parks reopen. We will also shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings going forward to allow Guests to make their plans closer to their visits.

* If you had purchased a Disney Dining Plan or a Free Dining package, you will receive a refund or credit for that amount.

FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours: As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being as we plan to use additional queue space to manage capacity at our attractions and maintain physical distancing. We will automatically cancel existing FastPass+ selections and share any future updates on the service at a later date. Also, please note that upon reopening, Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.

To further ensure physical and social distancing, all parades, fireworks shows and ‘up close’ experiences like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and character greetings- including character meals – will be suspended.

What all this means is, if you have a dining plan or theme park tickets with the hopper option, you will get a refund.  You will only be allowed to visit 1 park per day and you will have to wear a mask while on property and this includes children ages 2 and up.  There will be cooling areas where you can remove your mask and of course you may remove it when you are eating or drinking.

I’ll make your reservations for your theme parks through your My Disney Experience account just like when we make FastPass selections.

Attractions and Entertainment Details for Phased Reopening of Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Most attractions will be available at each park – for example, live your adventure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with attractions like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. At Magic Kingdom Park, classics such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are waiting to welcome guests with thrilling adventures for the whole family. Time travelers, take note that the iconic Spaceship Earth attraction at EPCOT will also continue to be available in its current state while we pause on its planned refurbishment, along with other favorite attractions like Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After and Test Track presented by Chevrolet. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the magic of nature awaits with Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain and Avatar Flight of Passage.

If you’re hoping to see some familiar friends or take in the tunes of treasured performers, you’re in luck! Just as you may have seen recently at Disney Springs, our characters will appear in new and different ways that bring a smile to your face while also being mindful of physical distancing. From special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom Park parade route and friends sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, to processions along the World Showcase promenade at EPCOT and motorcades on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard, each area will come to life throughout the day. You never know when a party of your pals may come by, so be prepared for plenty of surprises!

For example, after rocketing through space in Tomorrowland you might see that famous Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear; or discover a captive Captain Jack Sparrow as you traverse the Castillo del Morro on your way to Pirates of the Caribbean. You could cross paths with Queen Anna and Elsa as they venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase at EPCOT or spy members of the Resistance hiding out from the First Order throughout Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu.

Looking beyond our beloved characters, several musical groups will also return. You can look forward to seeing Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom Park, plus the Mariachi Cobre and everyone’s favorite funky drumming crew the JAMMitors at EPCOT, just to name a few.

Update on Seasonal Events at Walt Disney World Resort

One staple of the fall season at Walt Disney World is the annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. Today, we’re pleased to share that not only have we cooked up a creative, modified festival experience, it will also be our longest festival yet – giving you plenty of time to enjoy “A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival!”

This new take on the foodie festival will debut July 15 and continue through the fall, offering over 20 signature global marketplaces like Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean, spaced out around the park. And, if you’ve ever imagined a world where the floral fun of Flower & Garden is sprinkled in with the global goodies of Food & Wine, here’s your chance – guests will be able to see our newest topiary, Remy, in the France pavilion and find Flower & Garden merchandise. For scavenger hunt fans, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt returns. And stay tuned as Food & Wine merchandise joins the fun later on after the festival begins.

We know the popular musical acts during the “Eat to the Beat Concert Series” often pack the house and, in an effort to accommodate proper physical distancing, we will not be able to host these concerts this year. There will be plenty of music to enjoy at America Gardens Theatre with local EPCOT entertainment such as Mariachi Cobre, the JAMMitors and more. These fan favorites will spread out their performances throughout the day, giving audiences more options to enjoy them.

While assessing another fall special event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, we determined that many of its hallmarks – stage shows, parades and fireworks – are unable to take place in this new, unprecedented environment. With that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  Additionally, Disney H2O Glow Nights, the nighttime special ticket event at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, will not take place for the remainder of 2020. Guests who have already bought tickets to these events will be assisted with refunds over the coming weeks.

Looking ahead to the holiday season, this may spark questions about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, which includes the Candlelight Processional. We are monitoring our new environment closely, and will make a decision on these events as we continue to learn more from government and health officials. As always, our goal is to explore every option and look at ways in which we can still host events and festivals full of Disney magic, while still operating responsibly with the health and safety of our guests and cast members in mind.

Walt Disney World Resorts

As we continue the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, we are excited to welcome Guests back to Disney Vacation Club resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, beginning June 22. This includes:

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 – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

As we open these hotels, we are taking a measured and deliberate approach to implement a number of health and safety measures based on guidance from various governmental authorities and health agencies.

In addition, we currently plan to open the following resort hotels to booked Guests on the following dates. Please note, that given the fluidity of the current environment, these dates are subject to change and Guests’ reservations could still be modified to other resort hotels if needed.

July 10 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – •Jambo House, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Aug. 12 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Aug. 24 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Sept. 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Oct. 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
Oct. 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Only Guests with a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass will be able to access the Disney Park Pass reservation system.

Given the current situation, there are some resort hotels and other areas that are not, as of this time, being scheduled for reopening yet. We will continue to evaluate the situation and reopen more locations when the environment is right to do so.”

The upside of all this will be smaller crowds and no Fastpass which will mean much shorter wait times on the attractions.

I’m thinking, if you want an attraction experience (riding rides), this is a great time to visit.  If you want parades, fireworks and character interaction we need to think about moving your visit to 2021.

I have a trip planned 7/14-7/20 to check out the situation.  I’ll report on the airport as well as the resorts and theme parks.

Please do not hesitate to call, text or email me with any questions, we are learning as we go.

If you’re to ready start planning your family’s Disney vacation, if you need more information or if you just want to ask a question call me at 901-828-6354, email margaretc@mei-travel.com or use the Send Margaret A Message‘ button.

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