9 Ways That A Visit to Disney World Might Be Different Well Into The Future
With the reopening of Walt Disney World theme parks only a month away, this is a time to get excited. Though I’m sure you’re also feeling a bit of trepidation, going to a familiar place but where things might feel very different. With the constantly evolving changes brought about by COVID-19, we can expect the parks to have changed in a myriad of different ways.
But how permanent are these changes? It’s nearly impossible to predict and Disney is trying to keep things as fluid and changeable as possible. However, if we had to venture a guess. We’d say that the 9 items on our list could be areas of the Walt Disney World experience that will be different well into the future.
My Disney Experience Becomes and Even More Crucial Tool:
Disney World has really been pushing the use of their My Disney Experience App for years now and we have to admit that it is pretty ingenious tool. Where else can you order food, book Fastpasses, plot out a quick route from one area of the park to the next, find out what characters are out saying “Hello!” and unlock your resort room door all using the same bit of tech? Though most people have embraced the app, those that haven’t best get on board. We expect My Disney Experience to be even more crucial in the future with everything from cashless payments and boarding groups to theme park admission and ordering food.
Disney is giving us a hint already of what’s to come with the news that they will be introducing a Virtual Chat to help resort guests visiting Disney World. The idea is that if you have a cast member available at the push of a button then you won’t need to head to the hotel lobby. We expect more moves like this in the years ahead.
Refillable Resort Mugs, Condiment Bars and Buffets
One thing that we may see for good are changes to communal, self-serve dining experiences. During our visits to Disney Springs over the past few weeks we’ve noticed that soda fountains are off-limits at many of the eateries that have reopened, making us wonder what the future might hold for the refillable resort mug stations at the resorts. Surely if Disney is giving self serve beverage stations a rethink the same would apply to condiment bars where you can top your own burgers or add a few extra fixings to your salad. And what about buffets in general? Will we be saying good-bye to some of our favorite spreads at places like Tusker House and 1900 Park Fare in favor of more standard table service options?
The Return of Individual Toiletries
Okay. Maybe this is one more geared toward my “Wish List” but over the past year or two, Disney has been shifting away from individual toiletries like the ones above in favor of communal dispensers. However, as we mentioned yesterday, Disney World has recently updated their hotel policies and at least for the foreseeable future, there’s an emphasis on in-room items like drinking glasses being individually wrapped and sealed to ensure sanitation. We venture to guess the same rules might apply to toiletries. Which means that once again we’ll have those awesome individual shampoos all to ourselves. (A girl can dream!)
A Move Toward a Cashless System
If you’ve ever been on a Disney Cruise then you know that the ships promote a cashless system where all payments are made through Key Card and billed to the credit card you have on file. This is also the way things have been going at Disney World for a while with guests being able to charge everything from meals to souvenirs to your MagicBands. Disney World has trialled cashless systems before most recently at Animal Kingdom Lodge and once the resorts and parks open this Summer they are advocating that cash change hands as little as possible. Soon the days of dollar bills and traveller’s checks will be behind us and all payments will be made through your MagicBand or My Disney Experience App.
You May Have A Ticket But Where’s Your Reservation?
As Disney looks to keep better tabs on those coming in and out of the parks, it will take more than just a ticket (at least initially.) In addition to having a valid admission to the theme park, guests will also be required to make a reservation registering your intent to visit a specific park on a specific day. From a social distancing perspective, this makes sense as it will allow Disney to better gauge theme park attendance including those with annual passes and open-ended tickets. Will it stay in place once restrictions are relaxed? That remains to be seen but we suspect it will be around for a while.
The End of the FastPass System?
One of the first changes Disney World unveiled when releasing their reopening plans was that the FastPass system (allowing guests to go to the front of the lines of attractions) would be going on hiatus. Though the move has left many regulars disappointed, we think the logic behind it is sound. Namely, the move will eliminate congestion and allow Disney to expand attraction entrances. Whether or not they’ll return as restrictions are loosened remains to be seen. However, there’s been speculation for a while that Disney World may be rethinking the system. Maybe in the future, we may see something similar to the MaxPass system in Disneyland combining speedier queuing with PhotoPass benefits.
Good-bye Long Queues Hello Boarding Groups
In this day and age with physical distancing being important the idea of seeing guests crammed into a 210-minute line for Flight of Passage may be a thing of the past. When Galaxy’s Edge first opened Disney tested a new boarding group system. Guests signed up for the ride upon entering the park in the morning and were given a specific time to ride at some point later that day. It’s not a FastPass but it’s Not a Standby line. Boarding Groups lie somewhere in between. We wouldn’t be surprised if Disney moved toward a system where more attractions adopted the Boarding Group model to eliminate insane lines.
A New Way of Meeting the Characters
Whether it’s your favorite Disney Princess or Mickey himself, mingling with Disney characters has always been an intimate affair. There’s snuggles, princess processions, close proximity photo ops and so much more. However, in order to keep Cast Members and guests safe, minimizing the contact the happens during these events may be the new norm. Though we have little idea about how this might work going forward, I think it would be naive to think that Disney won’t change this up.
We are seeing an example of this already with Disney cutting back on the character dining experiences on offer when the resorts reopen. They announced this weekend that only character dining experience initially will be at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Rivera Resort. Disney has also that the experience will be modified to meet social distancing requirements.
Enhanced Screening and Security Measures
Many Disney regulars might regale you with stories of a time before 9/11 where you could seemingly walk into the parks with little concern for security. But just as 9/11 changed the cultural climate, we can expect the parks after the COVID-19 closure to mean a new way of entering the parks. We’ve seen a bit of this with Disney Springs including physical distancing, temperature checks, limited parking, reduced entrances and more. Though some precautions (like the use of face masks) may eventually be reduced as time goes on, we definitely see a future where Disney exercises more caution when it comes to who is entering and exiting the parks.
We’ve highlighted some of the ways that we think the Disney experience will be different going forward. However, please keep in mind that many of these measures are our opinion. As soon as Disney World makes an official announcement regarding any of the items listed above will let you know so keep following along!
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