Disney Re-Opening! What You Need to Know! Including Updates

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With all the changes due to covid-19, you’ll need to make a decision on whether to go to Disney World or not. The following are Disney’s changes. After those, I’ll add my thoughts on who should consider going and who should consider canceling. Now here are Disney’s changes:

Update added 6/29/20 – Disney Dining Reservations Update:

Info from Disney to travel agents regarding their client’s dining reservations: 

This is for those who had dining reservations that were canceled due to the Covid situation.

Since you had a dining reservation that was previously cancelled, as we promised in earlier communications, we are offering you the opportunity to make a new reservation beginning on June 30, before reservations open to other Guests on DisneyWorld.com. You can make reservations for select Walt Disney World dining locations or experiences up to 60 days in advance of your arrival.

For more information on the availability of select Walt Disney World Resort hotel, Theme Park and Disney Springs® dining locations, please visit our dining page. Details on experiences may be found here.

When you’re ready to make a reservation, call us at 407-939-6690.

Disney Vacation Club® Members may call 800-800-9800.

Update added 6/25/20 – Disney Dining information:

Disney’s dining options and rules have changed drastically during the reopening. Visit Disney’s page here for Dining changes.

UPDATE 6/20/2020 – Attractions & Entertainment Update:

Sent by Disney to travel agents:

“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 your clients are hoping to see some familiar friends or take in the tunes of treasured performers, they’re in luck! Our characters will appear in new and different ways that bring a smile to your client’s 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, 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 guests might see that famous Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear; or discover a captive Captain Jack Sparrow as they traverse the Castillo del Morro on their way to Pirates of the Caribbean. Guests 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. Your clients 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 6-18-20: Disney will hold the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starting July 15 and through the fall.

They will have over 20 food booths, and even some topiaries that are normally shown during the Flower & Garden Festival. They will not be holding the Eat to the Beat Concert Series due to social distancing issues.

Disney is canceling Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Typhoon Lagoon’s H2O Glow Nights.

No decisions have been made for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.

UPDATE 5/29/20: Disney announced the cancellation and suspension of all:

  • FastPasses
  • Dining Plans
  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Dining reservations
  • Extra Magic Hours

If you had any of these scheduled, they’re no longer there. If you’ve paid for anything in advance such as for a character meal, you will automatically be refunded. HOWEVER, Disney is saying that select third-party restaurants and experiences may not be canceled. This could include restaurants that are not Disney-owned, such as T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe. If you’re canceling your trip, be sure to check for this type of reservation and cancel it yourself or through your travel agent.

Here’s what Disney said about canceling dining and how things will be handled going forward:

“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.”

Here’s Disney’s comment on 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.”

Disney World Reopening Plans

Disney met with the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on May 27th, 2020 and shared their plan for reopening. The plan is pending Orange County and state approval. Here are the details of Disney’s proposed plan that was announced at the meeting, as well as some facts we’ve taken from Disney’s sites.
First, Disney announced that they plan to re-open Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11th, 2020. Also, they plan to reopen Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15th.
They plan to take Enhanced Protective measures which include the following: 
Reduced capacity at the parks. There will be a pre-arrival theme park reservation system.
Disney is currently temporarily pausing all ticket sales and resort reservations so they can focus on guests with existing reservations and tickets. Those with tickets and annual passholders will be able to make reservations requests in phases before new tickets are sold. They will be reaching out to inform guests how to proceed. Here’s Disney’s quote on new ticket sales and hotel reservations procedures: 
“At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations. Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make a theme park reservation before new tickets are sold; we will be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details. We will resume new sales of tickets and Disney Resort hotel reservations after that period of time. Theme park reservations will be limited due to attendance limitations and will be subject to availability.”
Reducing capacity on transportation, rides, etc.
Face covers for guests and cast members
Handwashing and sanitizing measures will be enacted. This includes handwashing and sanitizing stations. 
Physical distancing – distance barriers to keep people apart and signs to help with this task.
Increased cleaning and sanitation. More frequent cleaning, especially in high touch areas. 
Temperature screenings as is now done at Disney Springs. It will be done at the entrance for guests and cast members as well.
Limited contact enhancements – touching is being minimized. This includes: 
  • Increasing mobile food ordering options.
  • Encouraging cashless transactions.
  • Pausing meets & greets temporarily. Characters will still be in the parks. 
  • Pausing play areas temporarily.
  • Increasing plexiglass barriers where distancing can’t be maintained.
  • No makeovers for guests.
Temporarily suspend anything that creates crowds, like fireworks and parades, water effects, etc.
Physical distancing for Cast Members
They will add to communication – including Know Before You Go educational materials that will help guests know what to expect. Also signs on site. Here are some of the signs:
Disney is reopening after covid-19
Cast members will be trained to encourage appropriate behaviors.
Social distancing squads will demonstrate and encourage guests to maintain social distancing in each theme park.
Elimination of park maps. They can be accessed on your phone or mobile device with a QR code.
Disney vacation club resorts at Disney World will reopen to members and guests, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on June 22nd.

Should you cancel your Disney World trip? Or should you go?

I’m seeing a lot of posts in my Facebook group with people who are scheduled for Disney with rooms and tickets, but unsure about whether to postpone or not.

Here’s my opinion, but of course it’s just an opinion.

With all the changes, some people should consider postponing so that when they do go, they get more of the full Disney experience. I’ll mention who below.

During this time with all the changes being made, the reality is that guests will not get the full Disney experience. Also, wearing a mask in the heat is likely to feel very uncomfortable, and even worse for some who are sensitive to heat.

Who do I think should consider postponing?

If this is a one time trip or you go very infrequently, consider postponing until things like fireworks, parades and character Meet & Greet’s are back.

If you’ve been to Disney many times, if you have active annual passes, if you plan to go a lot, or if there’s a reason why you can’t postpone, some Disney is better than no Disney.

I’d also like to add that if you have someone in your party who is at high risk for covid-19, it might be best to postpone.

We’ll update this page as new information on the Disney World reopening comes in! Mark this page.

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About Author

I'm Stephen Ashley. My wife and I are huge fans of Disney World. I'm the author of Walt Disney World With Disabilities. I also wrote a book called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone, but rather than have it published, at this point we've decided to place all the material from the manuscript on this website so everyone can have access to it! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes your day just a little bit brighter and easier.

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