The four theme parks at Walt Disney World began a phased reopening on July 11, and fans couldn’t be happier. Many of us wondered just how long we’d have to postpone our trips to the Most Magical Place on Earth because of its unprecedented closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And while we are thrilled to have the parks in operation again, it’s important to know that like all of us, Disney World is now operating in a “new normal,” but because it’s Disney, it’s still as magical as ever. Here are 10 things you’ll want to remember to do or not do on your next post-COVID trip to the parks.
10. Do have a reservation.
One of the first changes in place at the parks is one you’ll notice before you ever get there. Disney World has implemented a new daily reservation system. In order to access the parks, you’ll need not only valid admission on the date you plan to visit, but also a reservation for the park you plan to visit. You can make your reservation via the Park Pass Reservation system. Find the link on Disney World’s official website or in the My Disney Experience app. You can reserve for as many days as you have valid admission tickets, and if you’re an Annual Passholder, you can reserve up to three days in the parks at one time.
9. Don’t forget your mask.
Any member of your family ages two and older will need to wear a face covering while on Disney property, except when being stationary, socially distanced AND actively eating or drinking. Also, be sure that your face covering adheres to Disney’s guidelines. No neck gaiters are allowed, and bandanas cannot be used as face coverings. Yours must be secured to your face with ear loops or ties and stay securely under your chin, covering both the nose and mouth.
8. Do download the My Disney Experience app.
Without it, you won’t be able to access virtual queues or place mobile food orders, among other things. If ever there were a time to download the app, it’s now. You truly can’t access the parks without it in this “new normal.”
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7. Don’t expect every attraction to be in operation.
Because Disney World is operating at limited capacity and under limited hours, you will find that some experiences and attractions are either not available to Guests or have limited availability. For the most current information about attraction closures and availability, access the My Disney Experience app the day of your visit.
6. Do know that you’ll still see characters—just in a different way.
To ensure the safety of Guests and Cast Members, Guests are not able to have standard meet-and-greet interactions with characters at this time, but characters are still in the parks. You can see some of them in mini-parades down Main Street U.S.A. At Epcot, catch a glimpse of Anna and Elsa as they make their way along the World Showcase Promenade. At Animal Kingdom, characters like Pocahontas wave to Guests from boats along the river, and at Hollywood Studios, Guests can see characters like those from Disney Junior, as well as Woody, Buzz, the Incredibles and more as they make their way down Hollywood Boulevard.
5. Don’t get to the parks before opening in hopes of entering the queue for Rise of the Resistance.
The new normal also changes how the queue for the Rise of the Resistance attraction at Hollywood Studios is accessed. When the ride first opened in December, scores of Guests arrived hours before the park opened in the hopes of getting into the queue for the ride. Because of the pandemic, virtual queues are much safer. Once you arrive at the park, open the My Disney Experience app just before 10:00 a.m. or just before 2:00 p.m. and tap to access the virtual queue. Spots open right at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. but fill up in less than 10 seconds. Be sure to request to join and select the members of your party who are also hoping to join you. If you’re quick enough, you’ll be added to a boarding group. Good luck!
4. Do place mobile food orders.
If you’re planning to eat at any of Disney World’s quick-service restaurants, you’ll need to place a mobile order in the My Disney Experience app beforehand. Many of the restaurants require you to do this and to wait for your order to be ready before you can head into the restaurant. The app is the only method by which to place a mobile food order so again, the app is absolutely necessary to a post-COVID trip to the parks.
3. Don’t forget to give some space.
For the safety of everyone at the parks—Guests and Cast Members alike—it’s important to remember to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from those around you who are not part of your traveling party. If you haven’t been back to the parks yet, you might wonder if that’s possible in such a crowded place like Disney World, but the park’s limited capacities right now make it very easy to keep that distance. And it’s for the protection of everyone, including you and your family, so it’s just the right thing to do.
2. Do take advantage of the hand sanitizing dispensers.
There are now hand sanitizing dispensers located everywhere—literally everywhere—in the parks. You’ll see them before you enter an attraction and at the exits of attractions, at the entrances and exits of restaurants and all along the thoroughfares in the parks. Take advantage of them. No one’s counting, and your health depends on keeping your hands clean and sanitized. There are also hand-washing stations located in the parks if you feel more comfortable using soap and water instead.
1. Don’t skip going this year if you can help it.
It is completely understandable that people are concerned about visiting the parks during the pandemic. So you might be surprised to learn that many Guests—myself included—were so pleased with all that Disney is doing to keep Guests safe, that many honestly felt safer at the parks than at the grocery store. (Yes, I’m serious.) Disney has done an amazing job at preparing its Cast Members and its parks for the return of Guests to Disney World. And the most magical thing is that because it’s Disney, Guests are still able to step outside of our everyday world—to “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” And if ever we needed that Disney escape, it’s now. So if you can fit in a trip, don’t miss that opportunity. You won’t regret it.