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Walt Disney World Reopening: What To Expect Before Returning

June 8, 2020

As more information is being released about the reopening of Walt Disney World, we may have more questions than answers.

What can we expect to see (or not see) at our favorite place? And how will these changes affect the way we experience Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World Reopening: What To Expect Before Returning

Recently, Disney asked us Travel Agents to send our clients some information about what we should know prior to returning to the Parks. This information is also found on Walt Disney World’s website.

Of course, Disney mentioned what they had already stated about Dining Plans, FastPasses, activities that draw large crowds, and those requiring close contact being temporarily cancelled.

But, now we have a better understanding about what the overall Park experience will look like.

Disney Resorts

As a part of Disney’s phased reopening, Resorts will be reopening in stages. If your Resort is not on the following list, addition changes will need to be made to your reservation.

The following Resorts are reopening June 22, 2020

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort 
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge 
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Beach Club Villas
  • BoardWalk Villas
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Polynesian Villas & Bungalows 
  • Riviera Resort 
  • Saratoga Springs Resort
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

The following Resorts are reopening at a later time

  • July 10 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Aug. 12 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Aug. 24 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Sept. 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Oct. 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
  • Oct. 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Each Resort has their own update of which Restaurants, Shops, and activities will be open. Use this link for the most up-to-date information about each Resort.

Maui at the entrance of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Rules for visiting any Disney Resort

Resort Hopping will still be allowed. But, there are additional steps being taken. This includes face coverings for Guests ages 2 and up (in all public areas) and the possibility of getting your temperature checked at the entrance.

To confirm what we already were expecting, you will also need a confirmed Room Reservation or a confirmed Dining Reservation to be allowed inside.

Cashless or contactless forms of payment are recommended. If you’re staying on Walt Disney World property, this includes charging purchases to their Disney Resort hotel folio using your MagicBands.

Line for Disney's Magical Express at the Orlando International Airport

Disney’s Magical Express

The Magical Express will still be operating as usual to take Guests from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to their Resort.

However, airline check-in services at your Resort will most likely not be available at first.

Resort Services

Bell Services

Bell Services will still be delivering luggage to rooms. But, they will temporarily not be able to escort Guests to their rooms.

While it’s nice to get a quick ride back to your Resort room, as least you don’t have to hoof it back to your room with luggage in hand.

Club Level Services

Unfortunately, for Guests who love their Club lounges, Club level services will also be unavailable for awhile.

Deliveries

In-room celebrations and shipping services will not be starting back up with the reopening of Walt Disney World.

Deliveries will still be allowed. However, they will only be made to occupied rooms. This sounds like Disney does not want to keep packages at the front desk for the time being.

Laundry

No one really wants to do laundry on vacation. But, sometimes you just need some clothes cleaned. The good news is that the self-service laundry will be open. But, the dry-cleaning and the valet laundry will be temporarily closed.

Martinique Room at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Additional Cleaning

Mousekeeping will be working extra hard to keep your room clean. This will include paying extra attention to high touch areas, like TV remotes and door handles. Mousekeeping will also be steam cleaning between Guests.

All glassware and other items will be individually wrapped. We’re hoping that this means we will be getting those cute little Mickey soaps back!

Normal Mousekeeping services will be reduced to light cleaning every other day. However, if you want to decline this, you’re more than welcome to.

Light cleaning just means that Mousekeeping will remove trash. They will also replace towels and amenities, wipe down surfaces, and vacuum (if needed).

Resort Amenities

Pools

Pools will be open, with the exception of the Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts.

Leisure Pools will be open 24 hours a day, but feature pools will most likely have reduced hours.

Fitness Centers

If you’re someone who likes to work out on your vacations, more power to you. 10+ miles walking per day is more than enough exercise for me!

Disney will be following state guidelines when it comes to their fitness centers. This means there will most likely be reduced hours and capacity. and Instructor-led fitness classes will not be available.

Crowd Collectors and High Touch Experiences

Unfortunately, the current situation has temporarily put a stop to activities such as:

  • Arcades
  • Campfires
  • Dog parks
  • Electrical Water Pageant
  • Marina rentals
  • Playgrounds
  • Spas, salons and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Childcare services
  • Fireworks voyages and tasting cruises, including the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
  • Fun runs
  • Wonderland Tea Party at Park Fare
  • Hula lessons
  • Mermaid school
  • Special classes and programs – including culinary, cultural and animal programs

Virtual Chat With a Resort Cast Member

This is something that is brand new! Beginning June 22, 2020, you will be able to chat with a Resort Cast Member via the My Disney Experience app.

To avoid visiting the Lobby, or standing in line, this new feature will offer assistance for questions you may have during your stay.

Disney Parks

Park Reservations

Whether or not you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, both a Park Reservation and Valid Admission to the same park on the same date is required. Park Reservations are now open on My Disney Experience.

Because of the Park Reservation System, Park Hopping will not be available upon reopening.

Disney has also gone out of their way to say that a Resort reservation does not guarantee access into the Theme Parks. So, booking early is the key.

Disney Transportation arriving to pick up Guests

Transportation

Disney Buses will be available once the Walt Disney World parks start reopening.

They will be using social distancing. While this will most likely mean that there will be longer waits, let’s look on the bright side. This could also mean that standing on the Disney buses will not be seen for the (temporary) future.

Minnie Vans and valet parking (except for those with special needs) will not be available right away.

There is no word on the Monorail or the Skyliner yet, but I do believe that they will be operational. Disney buses are much harder to maintain social distancing than the Monorail and the Skyliner. As far as cleanliness, I’m sure Disney has something up their sleeve. I have complete faith in them to figure something out.

Pin Trading

Pin Trading will continue! However, trading will be limited to pin boards. Cast Members will not be allowed to trade from their lanyards, as they did before. To reduce temptation, I suspect they won’t be wearing pins at all for a while.

Package Delivery

Oh, how I love package delivery. Purchasing something in the Parks and having it sent back to my Resort is a definite back saver. Unfortunately, Package delivery to the front of our theme parks or to Disney Resort hotels will be suspended.

However, shipping merchandise to your homes will continue to be available.

Knights guarding the hallways of Be Our Guest

Dining in the Parks

To eat at a table service restaurant within the Disney Parks, you will need a valid park admission, a reservation for park entry, and a dining reservation.

If you miss out on getting a reservation for Park entry, please don’t make a Dining Reservation. This will not guarantee you admission to the Park.

Mobile Order

Additional Mobile Order Services will be available. We’ve always loved this option, so if you see it, definitely use it!

Online Menus

Scannable Codes for Select Restaurant Menus are also being made. This way you can access a digital menu from your own phone. Although menus can be found on the Walt Disney World website, there will likely be modifications from the regular menus.

In other words, make sure to being extra phone chargers!

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Tusker House during Breakfast

Character Interactions

Meet and Greets

While you can not get up close and personal to the Characters, just yet, they will still be in our parks to entertain you during your visit.

Character Dining

Unfortunately, Character Dining is another thing that will initially not be available. The only exception is a modified experience at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at the brand new Riviera Resort.

The Takeaway of all the changes

Reopening Walt Disney World is not an easy thing. And the Walt Disney Company is doing all they can to give their Guests the best possible experience they can during this crazy time.

Some changes are harder to understand than others. But, we need to look on the bright side.

All of these changes are temporary.

Your experience may be a little different right now. But, there’s no rule saying you can’t have a good time.

Hang in there a little longer. Before we know it, the Walt Disney World that we know and love will be back.

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