What Walt Disney World looks like during COVID-19

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Summer 2021 Walt Disney World updates

As Walt Disney World approaches the 1-year mark of its reopening after almost 4 months of closure due to COVID-19, changes have been implemented as The Mouse looks towards normalcy.


Giphy via LALtoday

Since our last update, the parks have implemented a handful of changes. Should you plan to visit this summer, here’s what you can expect:

  • Fireworks are back. As of July 1, both Magic Kingdom + Epcot have resumed their respective shows.
  • Masks are no longer required for vaccinated guests. Originally, masks were optional outside, but now, masks are optional across the entirety of the property, except while on Disney’s forms of transportation.
  • Physical distancing markers have officially begun the removal process across the park’s ride queues, restaurants, transportation lines, and more. While keeping your distance is still strongly encouraged, guests will no longer have to wait 6-ft apart in lines. However, many attractions will be operating at a limited capacity.
  • All 4 Disney parks have increased capacity from their original 35% to an unspecified amount. With the capacity increase, the park pass reservation system has also increased the park’s availability for guests.
  • While not all resorts are open and fully operational, a handful has reopened or are on the books to open soon. Most recently, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort has reopened with both Disney’s Boardwalk Inn + Disney’s Polynesian Resort slated to open this July, followed by Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort this Sept.-Dec.
  • Also on the list of re-openings is Blizzard Beach. The 1 of 2 water parks reopened in March to the public for the summer season 

2021’s Walt Disney World updates

If you’re a Disney passholder here in Polk County, or, you’re itching to get back on property safely this year, it’s important to know that the parks are far from “normal for those looking to hit Main Street this year.

From an updated park-hopping policy to resort availability, here’s what you can expect in 2021 at Walt Disney World.

  • Late last year, capacity was upped to 35%which is still considerably low in comparison to the parks’ usual 100%
  • Cast members will continue to crack down on guests not abiding by mask rules with occasional intercom reminders to “wear proper face coverings at all times except while eating or drinking while stationary. Guests who do not comply will be asked to leave.” 
  • Expect continued temperature screenings and a valid park pass reservation. Guests must still book their days via the Park Pass Reservation system, which, due to an increased capacity, has more availability
  • Park hopping is back. Now, with a valid ticket and park pass reservation, guests may hop from park to park beginning at 2 p.m. as long as there is a valid park-hopping ticket or pass and availability at the next park(s). You can read more about 2021’s park-hopping rules here.
  • Over half of the park’s hotel accommodations were temporarily suspended in 2020, but this year, popular resorts such as Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort,  Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort all have re-opening dates. Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park is also set to re-open this spring on March 7.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge | Photo via @thelaltoday

Other whisperings of change to come this year include the opening of new rides, attractions, restaurants, and potentially even the return of fireworks at a limited supply.

2020’s Walt Disney World Updates

Happy Friday, Lakeland. Katelyn here. 👋 Before I kick-off this conversation, please note that I am in no way promoting visiting theme parks during a pandemic, I am a paying passholder with a monthly fee and at the very least, wanted to check out the parks to see what Disney’s implemented and if I felt safe

Understanding the Park Pass Reservation System

The first major change to hit Walt Disney World’s phased reopening was the reservation system for park visitors. Due to a decrease in park visitors + to effectively practice safety protocols, guests are no longer able to waltz into any park they want on any given day. 

Now, Disney has implemented a reservation system where passholders, regular ticket-holders, and resort guests, can select the days of their choosing and the park with open availability. Once your day is reserved, you can enter and exit that park anytime between opening + closing. #ProTip: Hollywood Studios has been filling up the quickest so make those reservations in advance + if you don’t get the park you want, check back – people cancel all the time


Screenshot via Walt Disney World

COVID-19 safety protocols

To be honest, my biggest concern, being a life-long Disney kid was, “how is a theme park going to make me feel safe during a pandemic?” Well, surprisingly, Disney does a pretty good job. The parks are already at a limited capacity, so depending on the day and the park, the vibes can become a little abandoned ghost-town-esque. 

Before you enter the park, whether you’re a resort guest or a day visitor, all must enter security where bags are checked and temperatures are scanned. Anyone attempting to enter the parks with a temperature above 100.4 will not be admitted entry. 

Another big change to the parks in light of the pandemic are masks. All guests + cast members (Disney employees) must wear a face covering while on property, whether you can social distance or not. Disney is pretty strict on this rule and even those eating or drinking must do so stationary.  Additionally, certain masks (neck gaiters, vents, + bandana) are not permitted. For full details on Disney mask etiquette, click here

If you’re worried about social distancing, the parks have implemented safety markers at least 6-feet apart. In most ride ques + other spots around the park where crowds could gather (restaurants, cavalcades, etc) the markers are well over 6- feet apart + ride queues have plexiglass dividers to keep all guests safe. ProTip: If this is your first time wearing a mask for 10+ hours in the Florida heat, bring multiples with you until you find one that is the most comfortable + if you’re going to wear disposable masks, bring back-ups in case of rain.

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