This week was a big week for Disney World. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have reopened, but we’re still learning of new changes almost every day. Disney has made significant modifications to its mask policy and to how Magical Express works. If you are planning to visit during the phased reopening you’re going to want to make sure you’ve reviewed the new policies to avoid major problems. Dining reservations, hotel reservations, and ticket sales are finally back open for 2020 visits, and Disney released menus for the modified Food & Wine Festival. Disney revealed modifications and details on character experiences in the parks, a new process for Rise of the Resistance, and clarified some passholder policies. All this and a bunch more in this week’s news roundup below.
1 – Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Reopen
This week Walt Disney World took a huge step in their phased reopening plans when both Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom reopened on Saturday, July 11. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on Wednesday, July 15. It was an exciting day for guests and cast members alike. Crowd levels were a pleasant surprise, especially at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Throughout the day, wait times for mostly all the attractions were around only five to ten minutes long—including Avatar: Flight of Passage! A five-minute wait for this attraction, especially in the summer, in unheard of! Over at Magic Kingdom, many of the popular attractions had wait times between 30 and 45 minutes long. Again, in the summer, it’s more common to see wait times over two hours for these attractions. Disney clearly meant it when they said they would have reduced capacity in the parks. A trip to Walt Disney World during the phased reopening is different than what we are used to, but the magic is still there. If you are considering visiting Walt Disney World during the phased reopening, you’ll want to know what you can expect. Visit the link below for important information you’ll need for planning a visit during the phased reopening.
2 – Menus Released for the 2020 Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
This year, because of the phased reopening, Disney will not hold a traditional Food and Wine Festival. Instead, a modified festival will open on July 15, the same day the park reopens. There will be 20 global marketplaces spread out with more limited menus. This week Disney released the menus for the marketplaces. Get all the details at the link below.
3 – 2020 Theme Park Ticket Sales and Disney Resort Hotel Bookings Now Available
After pausing 2020 ticket sales and Disney resort hotel bookings, Disney resumed sales for 2020 this week. Now all guests can purchase tickets and book a resort stay for 2020 dates. Note that annual pass sales have not resumed. Learn more at the link below.
4 – Walt Disney World Dining and Experience Reservations Now Open to All Guests
All guests can now make advanced dining reservations and experience reservations. Not all dining locations will be operating during the phased reopening. Learn more at the link below.
5 – Visiting Magic Kingdom During the Phased Reopening
We’ve put together a guide for everything you need to know about visiting Magic Kingdom during the phased reopening. Check out the link below for more information. Be on the lookout for our guides to all four parks.
6 – Walt Disney World Updates Face Covering Requirements
This week Disney updated their face covering requirements and have banned neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas. Read the updated policy below.
Here is the policy as stated on the Walt Disney World Website:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.
Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.
7 – Temporary Change to Disney’s Magical Express
Disney has updated its policy regarding luggage with Disney’s Magical Express. In the past, Disney handled guests’ luggage for them at the airport, transporting it to Disney and delivering luggage directly to guest rooms. Now guests will need to retrieve their own luggage at the airport. See the updated policy below.
Here is the statement from the Walt Disney World website:
Complimentary airport transportation via Disney’s Magical Express service for Guests arriving and departing from Orlando International Airport is continuing to operate during this period, with some modifications. Beginning July 16, 2020, Disney’s Magical Express service will not be providing luggage delivery service for those arriving to and departing from the airport.
Guests who choose to use Disney’s Magical Express service will be responsible for picking up any of their checked luggage from the airport’s baggage claim area, so that it can be loaded onto the motorcoach to their Disney Resort hotel. Please know that your luggage will travel with you to your Disney Resort hotel.
Luggage assistance will be available at the front of your Disney Resort hotel, including luggage storage and/or transport to the room.
Upon your departure, please ensure your luggage is with you and is loaded onto the motorcoach, so you can check it in with your airline once you reach the airport. The resort airline check-in service will not be offered at this time.
Many airlines have modified their flight schedules, so please confirm your flight information. If you plan to use Disney’s Magical Express service, contact your room reservation booking agent, or call (407) 939-1936 to make any updates to your flight information on file.
8 – Disney Updates Virtual Queue Policy for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened last December, it has used a virtual queue and boarding pass system for guests wanting to enjoy the attraction. One of the biggest questions remaining was how Disney would handle Rise of the Resistance with the lower crowd levels. Would a virtual queue still be used? This week Disney answered that question with details on how a modified virtual queue will be used during the phased reopening. Learn more at the link below.
9 – Royal Makeover of Cinderella Castle Almost Complete
Earlier this year, Disney announced that Cinderella Castle was to undergo a “royal makeover,” and receive a new paint job in time for the park’s 50th Anniversary next year. The makeover is almost complete with crews quickly finishing painting the castle. The reactions to the makeover have been mixed, but we will say it looks a lot better in person. We were not crazy about it when we saw early photos, but now that we have seen it in person, we think the castle looks fantastic. The deeper blue color really makes the castle stand out!
10 – Characters in the Parks During the Phased Reopening
Greeting characters is one aspect of a Walt Disney World vacation that many look forward to. Since character greetings have been temporarily suspended, Disney has come up with new ways to see the characters in the parks. Learn more at the links below.
11 – Disney Clarified Annual Passholder Use of the Disney Park Pass Reservation System
When the Disney Park Pass reservation system rolled out, there were some glitches and problems for some guests who were both Disney resort guests and annual passholders. Some could not book their length of stay park reservations. This week Disney clarified the policy and assured passholders that they shouldn’t have any more problems booking park pass reservations for their resort stay. Also, passholders can hold park pass reservations for their resort stay in addition to their three annual pass park reservations. Read the full update below.
Here is the updated policy as stated on the Walt Disney World Website:
UPDATED – Annual Passholders staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid theme park admission are eligible to make theme park reservations for each day of their stay(s), and now in addition, all Annual Passholders are eligible to make theme park reservations for up to 3 days at a time on a rolling basis. Once you use a theme park reservation, you can make another reservation for a future date.
12 – Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort Reopens
The Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort Reopened on July 9. Several operational changes have been implemented based on guidance from health authorities to promote physical distancing and enhanced cleanliness throughout the Downtown Disney District. Learn more at the link below.
13 – Disney Parks Commitment to Health & Safety Measures
Disney recently released a statement on their health and safety measures. Here is more from Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer:
As we continue the phased reopenings of our parks and resorts across the world, promoting health and safety for our guests, cast members, and the larger community is a responsibility we take very seriously.
On Saturday, we continue[d] the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort, marking the first of our domestic theme parks to welcome guests back to the magic. While we await California guidelines for reopening Disneyland Resort, and will adjust as necessary, we wanted to share more information on our approach to health and safety in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks.
We remain deeply committed to focusing on your well-being when you visit or work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. From increased cleaning and disinfecting across our parks and resorts, to updated health and safety policies, we have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly. We implemented our health and safety measures after considering the guidance of government and local health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to the U.S. Travel Association and Disney’s team of health experts.
Together, we are a Disney family, and while COVID-19, and the risk of contracting it, is present in public places, there are many important ways that we can all help promote each other’s safety. As we implement our guidelines at our parks and resorts, we want to thank our guests and cast members for all they do to care for one another by doing their part.
1 – Health & Wellness
At Disney, our approach emphasizes a combination of measures to help reduce risk in the carefully managed environment of our parks and resorts.
- Limited and carefully managed attendance: All guests will be required to make advanced ticket purchases and reservations.
- Reduced capacity and physical distancing: We’re reducing capacity by letting fewer people enter our parks and are adjusting experiences to allow for physical distancing, a key measure reinforced by the CDC. This includes physical distancing in dining experiences, attractions, queues and other locations. Additionally, physical barriers have been installed in areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, like cash registers.
- Temperature checks: Quick temperature checks are required for all guests at entry to our theme parks.
- Face coverings: We will be requiring both cast members and guests ages two and older to wear a face covering – unless swimming or when eating or drinking – and enforcing this policy across our parks and resorts.
- Handwashing and hand sanitizer: We have increased the number of hand sanitizer locations and handwashing stations throughout our parks and resorts.
- First Aid locations: Our first aid locations are staffed by experienced nursing staff and have updated their protocols for responding to symptoms of illness.
2 – Cleaning & Disinfecting
We’ve updated our already high standards for cleanliness across our parks and resorts, with a special emphasis on areas such as attractions, queues, dining, lobbies, transportation and other common spaces.
- Increased cleaning & disinfecting: We’re increasing the frequency of cleaning, especially for frequently-touched surfaces and high-traffic areas. Following park close, each park will receive an enhanced cleaning before guests arrive the next day.
- New procedures for resort stays: In addition to increasing cleaning in areas such as elevators and escalators, handrails, tables, handles, and restrooms, we’ve updated our procedures for guest rooms at our owned-and-operated Walt Disney World hotels. Before arrival, every room will be given an enhanced cleaning and a light cleaning service (including removal of trash and replenishment of towels and amenities) will be offered every other day during the stay.
3 – Technology Solutions
We are tapping into Disney innovation to help promote health and safety for our guests and cast members.
- Disney apps: With the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps our guests already know and love, guests can view hand sanitizer locations, explore digital menus, and more.
- Limited-contact options: From Mobile Order and cashless payments, to Walt Disney World’s MagicBands and online check-in at select locations, we’re offering technology solutions that can make it easier for our guests to minimize contact and maintain physical distancing.
4 – Cast Member Training & Workplace Safety
Safety starts with our cast, and we’ve adopted a number of new policies and practices for cast members at work.
- Training: Cast members are receiving additional training on both new measures and the continued importance of personal health and hygiene, such as handwashing and of course, staying home when ill. For some, this includes training on how to help everyone who visits to follow new health and safety measures, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing.
- Workplace health and safety: We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning in work areas, adjusted our work practices to promote physical distancing, and introduced new protocols for temperature checks and face coverings.
- Health screenings: Cast members will self-screen for temperature and symptoms of illness before each shift and will stay home if they are not feeling well.
5 – Working Together
Because each of us shares a responsibility for the health of our community, we’re making resources available to make guests aware of our new policies, so they too can do their part.
- Guest communication: We’re proactively sharing information with guests about what to expect ahead of their visit to support their planning. In our parks and resorts, we have added signage about personal health and hygiene measures, physical distancing, and more.
- Following our guidelines: A special group of cast members will also be present in the parks to explain our new procedures, answer questions guests may have, and encourage everyone to follow these measures to promote the well-being of us all.
- “Together We Can Make Today Incredible” campaign: In June, we introduced “Together We Can Make Today Incredible,” a health and safety campaign that spotlights healthy behaviors featuring fan-favorite characters from the Incredibles animated movies. The campaign emphasizes that everyone has an important role to play in health and safety while engaging guests in a uniquely Disney way.
We’re looking forward to upholding this plan each day, and to the return of our guests and cast members to our parks and resorts.
When you’re ready to join us at your favorite Disney destinations, we’re excited to welcome you back. Until then, be well – see you soon!
Dr. Pamela Hymel
Chief Medical Officer
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
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.