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17 Important Details You Need to Know About the Disney World Phased Reopening

Walt Disney World theme parks reopened in July 2020 after being closed for nearly four months and some restaurants and resorts have yet to reopen. Aspects of a Disney theme park day have been re-examined in light of the new global environment, with new policies following guidance from health experts and government agencies. In addition to limits on attendance and controlled guest density, new procedures are in place for park entry, attractions, dining, retail, transportation, and more, with the well-being of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of planning. Even with all these changes, the fundamentals of a Disney theme park experience remain the same. The magic is there, and it still can be a very enjoyable experience. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World during the phased reopening.


1 – Resort Openings & Policies

Not all resorts have reopened and the reopening of the resorts is spaced out. There is a lot of information you’ll need to review before your visit to Disney resorts. The Walt Disney World resorts will also undergo a phased reopening. Click here for a complete guide on everything you need to know about your visit to the resorts, including which resorts are reopening and when.

2 – Disney Park Pass Reservation System

To promote physical distancing, capacity is limited at Walt Disney World theme parks. During the phased reopening, guests with a ticket or Annual Pass must use the new Disney Park Pass system to make a reservation in advance for each park entry.

Once guests log in to their My Disney Experience accounts on and link their tickets, they have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park; multi-day tickets require a park reservation for each day of their tickets. Families and friends can link their tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time. Park reservations are limited in number and subject to availability.

Click here for our guide to making park reservations – how to use your MyDisney Account during the phased reopening of Disney World.

3 – Health and Safety Procedures

As guests and Disney cast members work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, the theme parks will feature new protocols during this phased reopening.

“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices.”

Cast members have gone through extensive new training to prepare for the theme parks’ reopening in this new environment. Cast members in the Incredi-Crew will wear brightly colored, easily identifiable attire and walk through the parks to explain the new procedures and answer any guest questions while encouraging everyone to follow these new health and safety measures.

4 – You’ll Need Face Coverings in Certain Areas Within Walt Disney World Property

All guests 2 years of age and older, along with cast members, are required to wear an appropriate face covering while visiting certain areas within Walt Disney World. See below for the full policy.

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 in all indoor locations, except when actively eating or drinking while stationary and maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World Resort, but are still required upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation.

All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:

  • Be made with at least 2 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, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings.

Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.

Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings must:

  • Be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching
  • Meet all face covering requirements listed above

The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Credit: Disney


5 – Transportation

Capacity and guest density is limited for complimentary Walt Disney World guest transportation, and guests are required to wear appropriate face coverings at all times during their journey. Buses and Monorails have implemented a combination of physical distancing and physical barriers to provide separation between guest parties. Party groups will be required to maintain physical distancing while aboard Disney watercraft. Disney Skyliner loads one party per gondola. For those arriving in their own vehicles, auto plazas offer cashless payment. Finally, parking lot trams will not be available at this time.


6 – Physical Distancing and Capacity Measures

To maintain appropriate physical distancing, a limited number of guests are able to visit each theme park each day. The limits are also in place for indoor locations within the parks, such as retail shops and dining locations. Ground markings help promote proper physical distancing throughout the parks, including attraction queues. Physical barriers are in place in select locations where maintaining a proper physical distance from others may be difficult. Over time Disney has added more capacity to attractions and have added plexiglass to many attractions as a safety measure. Disney has stated that they will gradually reduce the physical distancing measures around property.

7 – Cleanliness

High-traffic areas receive increased cleaning. Guests are encouraged to frequently use hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer available in the theme parks.

To promote health and well-being at the restaurants of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., new and enhanced cleaning measures are in place as part of the resort’s phased reopening. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

8 – Cashless Transactions

Guests are encouraged to use cashless options whenever possible, including MagicBands, debit cards, credit cards, Disney gift cards and mobile payment methods.

9 – Dining

New measures promoting health and well-being are being implemented at Walt Disney World theme park restaurants during their phased reopening. These include enhanced cleaning procedures in seating, dining and common areas, as well as changes to self-serve options. In addition, mobile technology via the My Disney Experience app is being used in convenient ways to minimize contact, such as Mobile Order at select quick-service theme park locations and Mobile Dine Check-in at select theme park table-service locations, as well as reduced- contact menus at select theme park restaurants. All Guests may now make dining reservations up to 60 days in advance.


10 – Expect Reduced Park Hours

The park operating hours have been reduced from normal operating hours. Each park has different operating hours. Disney has adjusted park hours and added more hours when the resort at busier times. Always check the My Disney Experience app or the Walt Disney World calendar on the website for up-to-date hours.

11 – No FastPass+ & No Extra Magic Hours

As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the FastPass+ service is suspended for the time being as Disney plans to use additional queue space to manage capacity at the attractions and maintain physical distancing. This is largely the biggest complaint we hear from guests visiting Walt Disney World right now. People really miss FastPass+!

Also, please note, Extra Magic Hours have been suspended and Disney recently announced Extra Magic Hours will not return. At some point in 2021, Disney resort guests will have the benefit of early entry into parks. Resort guests will be allowed to enter 30 minutes early. This option will be available every day and at every park.

12 – Park Hopping Has Returned

Park hopping has returned to Walt Disney World. Guests who purchase a ticket or annual pass with Park Hopper benefits will be able to visit more than one park per day (with some new modifications). Learn more about modified park hopping at the link below.

Click here for more information on the modified Park Hopping process.

13 – Attractions, Entertainment, and Characters in the Park

We now know which attractions are open, the available entertainment, and what we can expect with the characters when the theme parks reopen. Get more details at the link below.

Click here for details on the character interactions you’ll find in the parks.


14 – Visiting the Parks

We know that visiting the parks right now is different, but it is still magical. We recently visited all four parks. Check out the links below to learn what you need to know about visiting each of the parks during the phased reopening.

Magic Kingdom

Click here for our guide to visiting Magic Kingdom during the phased reopening.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Click here for what you need to know about visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the phased reopening.


Click here for our guide to visiting EPCOT during the phased reopening.

15 – Enchanting Extras–Events, Tours, Recreation, and Other Experiences Update

There are a lot of extra activities such as special events, tours, recreation, and more, like spa services, that will be impacted during the phased reopening.  Click here to learn what is available and what is not. 

16 – Annual Passholders

If you are a Disney annual passholder, you’ll want to be aware that visiting Walt Disney World will not be as easy as it used to be. Keep in mind in mind, when the parks reopen, park capacity will be significantly limited—and may continue to be for a period of time, based on guidance from health experts to promote physical distancing. During this time, an annual pass will not guarantee park entry and annual passholders will be required to make an advance reservation to enter a park via the new Disney Park Pass system.

If you have any questions, please contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277. Options to manage your annual pass continue to be available during the closure period.

17 – You’ll Need the My Disney Experience App

We always encourage guests to have the latest version of the My Disney Experience app for the Walt Disney World vacations. This app will be even more important during the phased reopening. You’ll want the app for online check-in at Disney Resorts so you can skip the Front Desk, for Mobile Order Service for dining, and for scannable codes at select restaurants to access the digital menu. If you do not have a credit card linked to your Magic Band, you will also want to consider Apple Pay or Google Pay for contactless payments. You’ll want to have that set up before your visit.

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.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!