In the midst of the global health pandemic, Walt Disney World has initiated several Disney changes to protect the health of its visiting guests.
In addition to new health and safety protocols, enhanced mobile technologies, and the temporary pausing of several Disney shows and events, Disney’s changes are bound to come as a surprise for some.
Here are 9 Disney changes to be aware of as you prepare to experience the magic in 2020 and beyond.
Reservations are required.
There have been many changes to family travel since the start of the 2020 pandemic.
In order to manage attendance and limit the number of its daily guests, reservations are now required to visit any of Walt Disney World’s 4 theme parks.
Gone are the days of massive crowds arriving at a walk-up ticket counter to purchase Disney theme park tickets.
Additional planning tip: Take note that individual tickets and individual reservations will need to be made for each separate park.
Face coverings are required.
Mask-up Disney guests!
Disney-approved face coverings are required for all guests (ages 2 and up), as well as for all Disney Cast Members.
According to Disney’s strictly enforced mask policy, guests are required, “to bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.”
In addition, “You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.”
A significant Disney change, face coverings continue to be one of the many ways to keep your family healthy while traveling.
Additional planning tip: There are 2 – 3 designated “Relaxation Zones” at each Disney theme park. Here, guests can remove their masks and enjoy some downtime while spaced 10 feet apart from other parties.
Physical distancing required.
As one of the other most drastic Disney changes, park capacities have been reduced to 20-30% of their total capacity in order to allow for physical distancing.
Through the use of signs and staff reminders, Disney heavily promotes the spacing of 6 feet between groups of household guests while both sitting and standing in its parks.
Ground markers are prevalent in ride queues, boarding areas, entertainment venues, and communal areas.
Other measures, such a Plexiglas between adjacent lines and “Row Closed” signage have been added to ensure further separation between guests.
No hopping between parks.
Another important Disney change to be aware of is that Disney is only allowing guests to visit one park per day.
Previously, guests could purchase Disney theme park tickets with a Park Hopper option. This allowed visitors to visit any combination of the theme parks in the course of 1-day.
In order to more closely monitor attendance and limit the mixing of groups, reservations can only be made for one park per day.
FastPass+ reservation system on hold.
Understanding Disney FastPass+ secrets used to be key in a successful Disney World ride strategy
The concept was that instead of waiting in the regular line (Standby) for a ride, guests were given 3 opportunities to be directed to a special line (FastPass+) with a shorter wait time.
One of the most significant Disney changes, however, is that Disney is no longer allowing FastPass+ reservations to be made.
Instead, the previously allotted FastPass+ queue space is being used to support social distancing measures while waiting in lines for rides.
Ride experiences have changed.
Yes, some of Disney’s popular ride experiences have changed as a result of the pandemic.
Along with much shorter wait times, rides such as Animal Kingdom’s Flight of Passage have eliminated their full pre-shows to prevent large groups of guests from congregating.
Plexiglass barriers have been added to switchbacks on roller coasters like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to create a barrier between guests.
With high touch areas roped off and interactive elements in waiting queues currently unavailable, expect an altered experience of some of the Disney traditions that you may be used to.
Additional planning tip: Single-rider lines are also currently not available.
*Click here for our exclusive FREE Family Vacation Packing List and BONUS Disney Day Bag Packing List to complement your Disney vacation!
No dining plans.
At this time, Disney dining plans cannot be added to park reservations.
All guests may now make in-park table service, Disney Resort Hotel dining, and Disney Springs dining reservations online up to 60 days in advance, however.
Though many dining experiences may be modified or are unavailable in order to promote cleanliness and physical distancing, the Disney restaurants that are open have implemented awesome new health and safety measures.
Digital menus, mobile ordering, and cashless payments are the norm, while mobile check-in, socially distanced tables, and the absence of self-serve stations further promote health and hygiene.
Character meet-n-greets are on hold.
Up close and personal Disney character experiences and photo-ops are currently unavailable.
Instead, frequent surprise character appearances are prevalent and allow for costumed characters to wave from a distance.
Socially-distant character interactions may include seeing Buzz Lightyear roaming around Tomorrowland, seeing the Country Bears in Adventureland, or Anna and Elsa strolling around the World Showcase at Epcot.
Parades and Fireworks shows are on hold.
Events that draw the formation of large crowds, such as parades and nighttime fireworks shows, are currently on hold.
As the largest fireworks consumer on the planet, the lack of Disney’s fireworks spectaculars is perhaps one of the most dramatic of the Disney changes.
Unfortunately, there are no details on when these events will return.
Which one of these Disney changes are you most surprised about? Are there any Disney changes that you will be happy to see stick around?Jen
As a member of our Travel With A Plan family, click through the following articles for exclusive tips, checklists, and touring plans for your Disney World vacation!
Disney World Touring Plans:
- 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary: A Perfect Day At Disney
- 1-Day At Animal Kingdom Itinerary: The Perfect Family Touring Plan
- One Day Itinerary for Epcot: Family Touring Plan
Disney World Ride & FastPass+ Tips:
- ‘How-to’ Secrets and Tips for Booking Disney FastPasses+
- Top 5 Rides to FastPass+ at Magic Kingdom
- Disney World Magic Kingdom Wait Times (Longest and Shortest Lines)
- Top 5 Rides for Toddlers at Magic Kingdom
Disney World Planning Tips:
- The 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Our First Disney Vacation
- Disney Packing List: 9 Things You Can’t Forget
- 7 Things to do on a Disney World Non-Park Day
- Best Off-Site Hotel Near Disney World, Orlando
- Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue: Our Complete Guide
Disney World Cost:
- Disney World Cost Calculator: How Much Will it Cost?
- How to Save Money At Disney World: 15 Ways We Saved Big
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*