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Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida just dropped some BIG news late last night about their re-opening plans. Disney theme parks all across the globe have been closed for an unprecedented amount of time in 2020. Shanghai Disney Resort opened a few weeks ago to much success, and now it’s Walt Disney World’s turn to take the spotlight. These are the Disney World re-opening plans and what you can expect if you are returning in 2020.

Balloons on Main Street in Disney World

Disney World Re-Opening Plans 101

Earlier this week, Disney World announced plans to re-open their Orlando, Florida parks after being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What do these opening plans look like? How much change is expected? Get all the facts before your plan your next Disney World vacation.

Heads up! Disney World is re-opening soon! What can you expect when you go? Lots of changes! Read about them here. #disneyworld #disneytravel #disneyvacations

When will Disney World Re-Open?

First, and most importantly, everyone has been clamoring to hear the new opening dates for the Disney World theme parks.

Disney Springs opened some of it’s non-Disney owned stores and restaurants on May 20, 2020. The following week, Disney-owned stores, such as World of Disney, opened their doors as part of a phased re-opening on May 27, 2020.

Parking entrance to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

News broke this week that the Walt Disney Company put forth a proposal to the government in Florida to open with appropriate precautions related to COVID-19. This proposal is pending state approval. The re-opening dates are set for July 11, 2020 for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and July 15, 2020 for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

Hollywood Studios Sign in Disney World

What about Disney Hotels?

Unless you are a local, you can’t easily visit Disney World without booking a hotel somewhere. When are Disney resort hotels opening? As of this publishing, DVC (Disney Vacation Club) member hotels and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin opening to guests on June 22.

Disney's Beach Club Resort

These resorts are DVC resorts:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas-Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas -Kidani Village
  • Beach Club Villas
  • Boardwalk Villas
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • Riviera Resort
  • Saratoga Springs Resort
  • Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

What Precautions are in Place at Disney World and Disney Springs?

Next, everyone is wondering if the same precautions that are in place at Disney Springs will translate to the theme parks.

Obviously a shopping and dining destination offers different experiences than a theme park, but many of the same rules are in place for both locations. According to the Disney Parks Blog,

  • Masks are required for Cast Members and guests ages 2+
  • Temperature checks prior to park admittance for all guests and Cast Members
  • Cashless transactions are strongly suggested
  • Reservations for theme park entrance are required
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures for high-traffic areas
  • High-touch experiences such as character meets, makeovers, and playgrounds will be temporarily unavailable
  • Experiences that gather large crowds such as parades and fireworks will also be temporarily unavailable
Meet n Greets will be different when Disney World re-opens

Disney World New Reservation System

One of the things I love writing about are all the tips and tricks you can employ to make your Disney World vacation work for you. Unfortunately, after last night’s announcement, many tips and tricks will not work in 2020. All guests will basically be starting at ground zero for reservations.

The following is a direct quote from the Disney Parks Blog:

  • New Ticket Sales and Hotel Reservations: At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations. Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make a theme park reservation before new tickets are sold; we will be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details. We will resume new sales of tickets and Disney Resort hotel reservations after that period of time. Theme park reservations will be limited due to attendance limitations and will be subject to availability.
  • Dining and Experiences: In order to foster physical distancing during this time, upon reopening, our offerings, restaurants and other experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours will be limited in capacity, and other experiences may remain closed. As a result of limited capacity, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages. We will reopen dining and experience bookings with more limited numbers closer to when the parks reopen. We will also shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings going forward to allow Guests to make their plans closer to their visits.
  • FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours: As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being as we plan to use additional queue space to manage capacity at our attractions and maintain physical distancing. We will automatically cancel existing FastPass+ selections and share any future updates on the service at a later date. Also, please note that upon reopening, Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.
Heads up! Disney World is re-opening soon! What can you expect when you go? Lots of changes! Read about them here. #disneyworld #disneytravel #disneyvacations

Bottom Line for Guests in 2020

Unless you have a current reservation in the form of tickets, an annual pass, or a hotel reservation, you will, currently, be unable to book a trip to Walt Disney World. This is temporary change to the current system.

Using a MagicBand to enter Animal Kingdom.

Additionally, dining plans are no more as well as all current dining reservations. This one hurts the most as some of the reservations are hard to come by and may be difficult to reserve a second (or third) time when reservations open.

View from inside California Grill.

Also, unsurprisingly, FastPass+ reservations are out. Personally, I don’t mind this. After experiencing the “old school” FastPasses at Disneyland and the addition of the MaxPass system, I much prefer that way to ride rides.

Will You Visit Disney World in 2020?

If you’re planning on visiting Disney World in 2020, it may look different than you remember. There is no telling how long these procedures will be in place.

Heads up! Disney World is re-opening soon! What can you expect when you go? Lots of changes! Read about them here. #disneyworld #disneytravel #disneyvacations

Make sure you know what to expect before you visit. Guests and Cast Members can still work together to make a vacation a magical one!