When I left Walt Disney World after a four-park day in November 2019, I didn’t realize how much would change in the coming months. After a lengthy closure, all four Walt Disney World theme parks as well as Disney Springs are now reopened to guests. If you are planning a visit, here’s what to expect with the Walt Disney World changes for 2020.
Please read this important disclosure. With constant changes occurring, please make sure this information is still accurate before departing (this page is a good resource).
Check with state and local health departments to find current rules and regulations regarding travel to and from Florida. Some states currently have quarantine and testing rules for travel which you should follow.
We are providing this information as an overview of what to expect at the parks, but are not encouraging travel. While I haven’t visited the parks since that November trip, a big thanks to Whitney Pickering for providing the information and photos shown here.
I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the various changes you’ll see in the parks and when planning a Disney vacation.
Walt Disney World Changes For 2020
Park Tickets and Reservations
At present time, all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and Disney Springs are open. Not all of the resorts are open to guests, however. Guests will need to purchase tickets in advance, and then utilize the Disney Park Pass Reservation system.
With this system, you’ll select the Disney theme park that you plan to go to each day and make a reservation. Initially, park hopping wasn’t offered, but it is set to return 1/1/21.
Currently, guests staying at a Disney resort hotel can make park reservations for each day of their trip. Ticket holders can make a reservation for each valid day of tickets they hold, and annual passholders can make reservations for three days. If however, the annual passholder is staying at a Disney hotel, they can make park reservations for each day of their stay.
Here’s where you’ll need to go to make a park reservation. Do this before proceeding with planning your trip.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Guests checking in to a Disney Resort will see plexiglass and social distancing markers on the ground indicating where you should stay in the line while waiting. Not all Disney Resorts are currently open, so you’ll have to check the website to see specifics.
Guests cannot currently resort hop unless they have dining reservations at a resort. Therefore, you can’t go to a resort just to shop or look around the lobby or grounds.
Resort airline check-in, where guests can check their bags at the resort rather than Orlando International Airport, is not currently offered. You’ll need to bring your checked bags to the airport and check-in there.
Table Service and Quick Service Restaurants
While mobile ordering via the My Disney Experience app was always offered, it’s encouraged more now. At quick-service restaurants, you’ll find signage with QR codes directing you right to the exact online spot to place your order. When looking for a place to sit, you’ll find that some of the tables have signage rendering them unavailable for seating.
Table service restaurant guests are required to go through a temperature check before entering the restaurant. There are mobile check-in points offered, and guests are offered paper menus or a QR code to scan to access the menu.
It’s important to note that currently, not every restaurant is open. Some of those that are open are offering a limited menu, so check on that before making plans. Reservations can now be made 60 days in advance.
Entering and Exploring the Theme Parks and Disney Springs
Face coverings must be worn, and there are restrictions on the type allowed. Some of the stores do sell them, however, you’ll need one to even enter the store. So be sure to bring your own.
When I’ve traveled this summer, I made sure to have a good collection of face coverings for my family. They do need to be washed regularly. An alternative is to bring a bunch of disposable masks, which may also be more comfortable in the heat.
Relaxation stations are offered both indoors and outdoors where guests may briefly take off their masks. Face coverings may also be removed when you are eating or drinks, but you’ll need to be stationary. There’s no more walking while snacking on a Mickey bar in the parks or drinking a beverage as you walk around the World Showcase.
Sanitizer and handwashing stations are placed throughout the parks. I’d still recommend bringing your own sanitizer so you have access to it whenever you need it.
Disney World Rides, Shows, and Queues
FastPass reservations are not currently offered, so all guests must go through the standard standby line for the attractions. Markings on the ground indicate where guests should stand so they are properly distanced from the party in front of them.
In addition, some plexiglass has been placed in queues where guests are next to each other in lines passing in the opposite direction. In other cases, the queues have changed where guests no longer have to pass right near each other.
Because of the required distancing, you may find that the queues appear longer than usual. In some cases, these queues which are typically indoors now span to the outdoor area. Umbrellas have been placed to help keep things shady and cooler.
If you are planning on riding Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, you’ll still need to get a boarding group. This can be done via the My Disney Experience app. Make sure you have your party all set before the window to book opens.
Some rides, like the Jungle Cruise boats and safari vehicles, now have some plexiglass separating parties. There also is an “enhanced cleaning” process according to Disney throughout the resorts.
Parades and fireworks shows have been canceled. However, there is some pop up shows to help entertain everyone. In addition, if you are seeing a movie or show in a theater, some seats will be unavailable for seating.
Shopping is one of my favorite parts of a Disney vacation, and luckily the shops are still open. As previously mentioned, however, you won’t be able to go to a resort to shop unless you have a dining reservation or are staying at that resort.
Plexiglass is placed at the registers, and contactless payment is offered. Some of the more popular shops may have a wait to enter. Signage directs guests to provide a mobile number to get a text message when it’s time to return.
What do you think of these changes to Walt Disney World?