The Walt Disney World Resort began its reopening on June 22, 2020 with just as much magic, but some changes, so here’s what you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World in 2021! If you’ve visited in the past, you’re used to 6-month dining windows, the 3 o’clock parade, and hugging your favorite characters. All these experiences look a little different right now, but we are seriously liking many of these changes. Keep reading for more info!
Booking Your Vacation for 2021
Let’s start with the planning process for visiting Walt Disney World in 2021. Two of the first details you want to confirm are when you are traveling and where you are staying. Many of the other planning details are a little more fluid and you can make changes, but locking in your resort stay is key so that can book the accommodations you want as well as the dates you want. About two thirds of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels are currently open, with a few more scheduled to open in 2021. You still have fantastic options in all the resort categories – value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts. Is your favorite resort one of the few not scheduled yet to open? This is the perfect time to try out another resort! We recommend checking out a resort on the Skyliner route or perhaps near Disney Springs! Check out the the most up-to-date list of What Walt Disney World Hotels are Open and this blog post lists everything that is open at each of these resorts.
Some Disney Resort hotel services will be modified or unavailable during the initial reopening period, based on physical distancing and health guidelines. The most notable changes include:
- Bell Services will deliver luggage to rooms, but will not escort Guests
- Club-level service is temporarily unavailable
- Deliveries may only be made to occupied rooms
- In-room celebrations are not available
- In-room dining is not available
- Dry-cleaning and valet laundry services is temporarily unavailable; self-service laundry is available
- Shipping services are temporarily unavailable
- In addition, the resort airline check-in service is no longer available
Theme Park Reservations
Once you secure your stay with a fully refundable $200 deposit, the next step is to make theme park reservations with Disney’s new Park Pass System. This is a change and one you won’t want to overlook! You’ll need both valid park admission and a theme park reservation to enter any of the four theme parks. We have all the details with step-by-step video and printed instructions to walk you through this process, and of course, let your Magic For Less Travel Counselor know if you have questions! Theme park reservations are required to enter the theme parks.
Are you a park hopper? Or maybe you’re a first-time visitor and want to see all that the Walt Disney World theme parks have to offer and want the flexibility of park hopping – visiting more than one theme park in the same day. The good news is, park hopping will be available again beginning January 1st for those visiting Walt Disney World in 2021! How do you park hop with the theme park reservation system in place? We’ve got the details right here for you! Resort guests can really benefit from park hopping – starting at one theme park, maybe enjoying lunch, a nap, or a swim at your resort – then wrapping up your day at another theme park!
If you’ve visited Walt Disney World before, you know the significance of the number 180. Dining reservations had to be made a half a year in advance. Disney has now shifted to a 60-day booking window which guests are really liking! It allows them to make plans closer to their visit. One of the other most notable changes to Disney dining is that dining plans remain unavailable at this time. There are other changes to the guest dining experience that revolve heavily around the use of your My Disney Experience app. You’ll use the app and/or your mobile device to:
- Mobile order at quick-service locations (required)
- Check-in to table service locations that you have a reservation at
- Scan a QR Code to read the menu at your location
- Get on the walk-up list for a table service location
Character dining is available at some select locations. These experiences are modified but guests are loving them! You’ll get to see your favorite friends and take some physically distanced photos and selfies! Of course, characters are up to the challenge of entertaining you and you may see some dancing and fun antics! Here are the best tips and info on all the the details on Disney dining changes.
One of the perks of staying onsite is the complimentary transportation Disney offers! We’d have to argue that some of these forms of transportation double as our favorite experiences! Have you ridden the new Skyliner? It’s so fun, you’ll be sad that the trip between points is so quick & efficient when you have to debark! The monorail and friendship boats are operating in a limited capacity so be sure to check out these Disney Transportation Tips and Tricks After Reopening.
Attractions, Entertainment, and Character Interactions
Character Interactions are Still Available
The new character interactions and appearances may be our favorite thing to come out of all these changes! There are so many more opportunities to see characters around the parks. Character cavalcades are not scheduled so that crowds don’t gather waiting for them, but boy are they plentiful! There are multiple cavalcades occurring in each of the four theme parks and you’ll see some characters that make rare appearances! Several are also located throughout the parks in areas that allow physical distancing like the Train Station, Cinderella Castle, Galaxy’s Edge, and many other buildings. There are even special cavalcades to celebrate the holidays!
Physical Distancing Continues
Throughout attractions, dining locations, and other areas like shops, you’ll find there are often markers on the ground to assist in physical distancing. As a result of the space between parties, lines for both checking out or riding an attraction may seem a lot longer than they are – because of the actual space needed to accommodate. Ride vehicles that can accommodate multiple parties may have clear, plexiglass partitions between rows as well queues that circle back, buses and monorails. There are contactless ways to purchase items too.
Disney is Celebrating the Holidays!
Who does the holidays better than Disney? And there are great discounts available for 2020 travel still! Even though Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party isn’t taking place this year, Disney is bringing so much of that Christmas magic straight to the parks to celebrate everyday! You can Celebrate With Holiday Magic at Walt Disney World by completing the Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs, attending the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, trying one of the many holiday treats available in the parks, or visiting the resorts to see the gorgeous trees and décor they boast! You can even see Santa Goofy at Hollywood & Vine during Minnie’s yuletide gatherings.
Characters are dressed up for the holidays and get this – you can see the Toy Soldiers march down Main St. in one of the holiday cavalcades. The big guy in red (sorry Mickey, we’re talking about Santa himself!) also spends his days making special appearances to guests in all the parks! Sometimes his sleigh even puts on water shoes to dash through the water!
Water Parks are Opening in March of 2021
- How to Link your Walt Disney World Reservation and Use the Park Pass Reservation System
- Changes to Walt Disney World Dining
- Walt Disney World Introduces New Theme Park Reservation System
- 2022 Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages Now Available
- Additional Changes Coming to Your Walt Disney World Experience