We’re about a month away from the reopening of the Walt Disney World theme parks and less than two weeks away from select resorts welcoming guests back on property for the first time in over three months. Disney has been slowly (and quietly) releasing details, policies, and procedures for guests coming back. A lot of information was released last weekend on the resorts and dining, and it was easy to miss some of the most significant developments that would greatly affect your Walt Disney World vacation. We don’t want you to miss a thing and have the most information available to you so you can decide if visiting Walt Disney World during the initial reopening phase is right for your family. Check out the 15 details you might have missed about Walt Disney World resort and dining policies below.
1 – Resort Guests Have No Guarantees to Theme Park Access
The theme parks will begin opening on July 11. It has been announced that a new park reservation system will be implemented. You’ll need a reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date to enter the park, and from what’s been hinted at, reservations will be very difficult to get. (Details on the reservation system and when reservations might open have not been released). Being a Disney Resort guest usually brings many benefits, and some were wondering if having a resort reservation would guarantee entry into the park. With the news release this past weekend, Disney confirmed that a Disney Resort hotel reservation does not guarantee theme park access. This is very important to understand if you are planning on visiting this summer. You’ll need to ask yourself if a visit is worth it if you may not be able to visit the parks as much as you want or even at all.
2 – You Cannot Visit a Resort Unless You Have a Resort or Dining Reservation
As locals, one of our favorite activities is visiting Disney resorts to shop, dine, or simply enjoy the atmosphere. In the past, you didn’t need a reservation to visit a Disney resort. It’s important to realize that during the initial reopening phase, you will need either a resort reservation or a valid dining reservation to visit a resort. So, if you want to visit a specific resort and don’t have a reservation to stay there, you’ll need to make a dining reservation to visit.
3 – Magic Express is Available, but Minnie Van Service is Not
If you are arriving at Walt Disney World by Orlando International Airport, you’ll still be able to utilize and enjoy Magic Express to and from the airport. However, Minnie Van Service around the resort and to and from the airport is not available.
4 – Resort Transportation Will Be Modified
While visiting Walt Disney World, many rely on Disney transportation. During the initial reopening phase, bus transportation will be available between Disney Resort hotels and Disney Springs area, before the theme parks open. When the theme parks reopen, complimentary transportation will also be provided between Disney Resort hotels and Disney theme parks. Transportation will operate with physical distancing measures in place, reducing capacity. As a result, you may experience delays.
5 – Character Dining Reduced to One Modified Experience
Are you dreaming of dining with Mickey Mouse? Note that character dining will not be offered during the initial reopening, with the exception of a modified character dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. No details have been released on what this “modified” experience will entail. We expect the characters to be around but not be available for photos with guests if we had to guess. We think the food at Topolino’s Terrace is fantastic, but if you can’t greet with characters, you’ll need to ask yourself if not greeting with characters will take away from the experience.
6 – No Buffets Will Open During the Initial Reopening
Disney has released the resort restaurants that will be opening during the initial reopening. Not surprisingly, no buffet meals will be offered during this time. This includes Cape May Café, Chef Mickey’s, Boma, Ohana, and Trails End restaurants. On the flip side, Whispering Canyon Café is one all you care to eat meal that is available.
7 – Dinner Shows Will Not Be Open During the Initial Reopening
Dinner shows also will not be offered during the initial reopening. Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Hoop Dee Doo Revue will not be available.
8 – No Room Service
Be prepared to visit restaurants at your resort during your stay. Private dining and in-room delivery will not be offered during the initial reopening window.
9 – When the Parks Reopen a Dining Reservation will be Required to Dine at a Park Restaurant
While we await the reopening of the dining reservation system, keep in mind that if you want to dine at a table service restaurant during the initial reopening, Disney has said guests must have a dining reservation to eat there. No walk-up seating is available. So, if you want to dine at a table service restaurant, as soon as you have your park reservation, be sure to make dining reservations at the restaurants you wish to dine at.
10 – Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club will Not be Open During Phased Reopening
While most resort pools will be open during the initial reopening, Walt Disney World’s most popular pool will be closed. Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will not be available during the initial reopening period. Guests of this Disney Resort hotel may enjoy the leisure pool at Disney’s Beach Club Villas.
11 – New Product Launches Will Remain Online
During the closure, Disney has continued to release new product collection launches and limited-edition merchandise on shopDisney.com. If you had your heart set on the scooping up the latest Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction during your stay, you will not find it at the resort. Disney confirmed that new collection product launches and limited-edition merchandise will not be available for in-person purchases at Walt Disney World Resort until further notice.
12 – Pin Trading will be With Boards and Not Cast Members
Pin trading is one of our favorite activities to enjoy at Walt Disney World. Thankfully, it is returning, but the experience will be modified. Disney will continue to offer guests the opportunity to pin trade with Cast Members through the use of pin boards in select locations. Cast pin trading with lanyards will not be available during this time to maintain physical distancing.
13 – Theme Park & Resort Package Deliveries Suspended
Keep this bit of news in mind while shopping at the parks when they reopen. Package delivery to the front of our theme parks or to Disney Resort hotels will be suspended. However, shipping merchandise to guests’ homes continues to be available.
14 – Certain Resort Amenities Suspended including Electrical Water Pagent
It’s important to note that certain resort activities will not be available during the initial reopening period. If you had your heart set on renting boats, playing on the playground, or spa services, you need to know these will not be available. See the full list below.
The following amenities and experiences will not be available during the initial reopening period:
- Character experiences
- Dog parks
- Marina rentals
- Spas, salons and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- Electrical Water Pageant
15 – Special Offerings and Childcare Services Will Not be Available
Finally, it’s important to be aware that many resort activities that provide childcare and other fun activities will be suspended during the initial reopening. There simply will not be a lot of extra activities to enjoy. The following special offerings and childcare services will not be available during the initial reopening:
- Fireworks voyages and tasting cruises, including the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
- Fun runs
- Wonderland Tea Party at Park Fare
- Hula lessons
- In-room childcare services
- Mermaid school
- Special classes and programs—including culinary, cultural and animal programs
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.