Walt Disney World, Here We Come! :: 6 Planning Tips for Visiting Disney During the Pandemic

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In Front of Cinderella Castle - tips for visiting Disney during the pandemic
In Front of Cinderella’s Castle

For those who feel a bit safer to travel domestically, Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL reopened to guests in July 2020, after being closed for a couple of months due to Covid. If you plan to visit Disney over the next year and into 2022, Disney now has vacation packages available through June 2022 that can be reserved. Oh, and Walt Disney World turns 50 on October 1, 2021 and there will be an 18-month celebration! 

If you plan to visit sooner, such as for spring break or over the summer, here are a few things you’ll need to know about their covid precautions! 

Masks and Face Coverings

Don’t forget to pack and bring all of your favorite Disney character masks, as they are required for all guests age two and older throughout the parks, resort, and Disney Springs. At no time are guests allowed to remove their masks for any reason, unless they are eating or in one of their Relaxation Stations. Multiple signs throughout the parks note that guests will be asked to leave if their masks are not worn properly. There are also markings on the ground at every attraction and store entrance to mark the six-foot distance between parties when waiting to ride your favorite attraction or stand in line to purchase merchandise. Last, temperature checks will be administered before you enter any of the theme parks and Disney Springs. 

Korliss at Epcot - she's got great tips for visiting Disney during the pandemic!
Korliss at Epcot

Limited Hotel Availability

Plan your trip as far in advance as you can, in order to stay at the resort of your choice, as many of them are not open. Some resorts don’t have a reopening date, so one of your favorites (if you’ve been before) may not be available for your stay. Online check-in is encouraged, as your room number will be provided to you before your arrival via text and in your My Disney Experience account. You can use a MagicBand that you purchased before your arrival or at the resort gift shop (ask a cast member to help you link it to your My Disney Experience account), or you can access your My Disney Experience account via a mobile device to open your resort room door. Disney is encouraging guests to reduce contact with face-to-face interaction unless it is absolutely needed. 

Housekeeping services are also modified to provide thorough cleaning between guests per room, and only minimal service is offered during your stay. Cast members limit their entry into resort rooms but will empty trash and provide clean towels when needed.

Park Reservation System and Park Hours

To help control the number of guests in the parks, everyone must make a park reservation when a theme park ticket is purchased. This allows guests to maintain social distancing and for Disney to track the number of guests in the park before their arrival. Also, be sure to check your My Disney Experience account for the park hours. Most of the parks are closing around 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. during the week and a little later on the weekends. Epcot, however, isn’t opening until 11:00 a.m. every day. Remember that these times are subject to change at any time without warning, so be sure to check your My Disney Experience account often.

Relaxation Station
Relaxation Stations are located in each theme park for a place to rest, eat and take off your mask safely.

FastPass+ and Park Hopping

Due to the lower amount of guests in the parks, FastPass+ is not currently being offered. But don’t fret! The average wait time for some of the most popular attractions is around 30 minutes. During my last trip this month, we walked onto most attractions without waiting at all. 

Park Hopping has resumed as of January 2021, but you’ll have to follow these steps to be able to hop from park to park.

  1. Purchase a Parkhopper ticket for everyone who plans to visit more than one theme park in a day.
  2. You must make a Park reservation at one of the theme parks for that day. 
  3. You will start your day at the theme park where you made your park reservation.
  4. Park Hopping doesn’t begin until 2:00 p.m.
  5. Be sure to check with a cast member before you leave the theme park where you have a park reservation to ensure that the park you want to “hop” to has NOT reached capacity. 

Dining

Some restaurants have yet to reopen, but you will still have plenty to choose from during your vacation. Unlike times past, advanced dining reservations can be made 60 days in advance, instead of the standard 180 days in advance. For character dining, there are only a few locations open at this time, and each of them has a modified character experience. Characters remain at a distance but allow time to snap a quick photo as they wave to your table. 

Parades and Fireworks and Character Experiences, Oh My!

Fireworks and other nighttime experiences are not being offered at this time. Having guests stand around for long periods of time and close together causes a risk for spreading Covid, so Disney has discontinued these at this time. However, they are offering some pretty special cavalcades. These are short parades that feature a few of our favorite Disney characters. Princesses in horse-drawn carriages at Epcot, Mickey and his pals rolling down Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom, Vampirina cruising through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Baloo and King Louis floating down the river at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are just a few of the sightings throughout the parks.

Even though you may feel that some of the magic is gone because of the lack of offerings, believe me when I say the magic is still in the air and there’s plenty of pixie dust being sprinkled. Walt Disney World has done an exceptional job of keeping all of their guests safe and providing a unique experience during this time. 

If you have more questions on how to plan your Disney vacation, leave them in the comments below or find me on social media at Your Disney Homegirl

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Born and raised just outside of Birmingham in Fairfield, AL, Korliss is married to Kelvin and they have a 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. She spent her college years in Tuscaloosa at Stillman College, until she moved to Michigan to attend graduate school, but eventually found her way back to Birmingham. Korliss has enjoyed working in human services and career development, but now she loves her experience in education as a college Psychology instructor and doctoral candidate. When she’s not in school, with friends or volunteering at her church, Sardis Missionary Baptist Church, she’s talking and blogging about travel and Disney…mostly Disney, though! She was selected as a 2016 panelist for the Disney Parks Moms Panel, now planDisney, to help families create magical experiences while on a Disney vacation. From that, she decided to create Your Disney Homegirl, which is her platform to encourage more Black families and families of color to get a taste of what Disney offers through their vacations, educational programs, and business conferences.

3 COMMENTS

  1. These tips are all so great! I especially love that there are relaxation stations created to give guests a quick mask break. Disney thinks of everything!

  2. Great article! I have been twice with my family since it reopened and totally agree! Are you a Disney vacation planner? I am, so I was going to offer help here for anyone who is looking to book a trip, but I didn’t want to infringe 🙂

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