What Will Be Different When Walt Disney World Reopens?
We’re counting down the days until Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopen!
However, Disney has announced that some things will change during the pandemic era.
We’re thankful that Disney will protect the safety of its guests, and we want you to understand everything involved.
Here’s what will be different at Walt Disney World when the parks return.
Disney officials have employed a phased reopening strategy at Walt Disney World. For example, Disney Springs came back several weeks ago.
Park strategists have planned to limit the number of daily guests. So, the company doesn’t need to operate all its hotels right now.
In fact, Disney will host Major League Soccer and National Basketball Association tournaments over the next few months.
Walt Disney World could run these events because regular customers won’t require as many hotel rooms during the pandemic.
Disney has announced that all resorts with Disney Vacation Club interests will reopen on June 22nd. That’s virtually all of Disney hotels in the Deluxe Tier.
We’re still in wait-and-see mode on many other popular Walt Disney World resorts.
Bell Services Changes
When you arrive at the hotel, you’ll notice one modest change. A Bell Services employee will no longer escort you to your room.
Disney’s changed the process to avoid extra interactions between employees and customers.
The company wants to ensure the safety of everyone. A safe approach is to have Bell Services deliver luggage at a time when the guests aren’t in the room.
Enhanced My Disney Experience Options
The same thought process drives two other changes.
Frequent Walt Disney World visitors already appreciate the myriad benefits of My Disney Experience.
This robust app empowers guests to control many of their vacation options like park visits and meal orders.
Another feature that’s already available is online check-in. With the app, guests can skip the hotel lobby and head directly to their rooms.
Disney even has functionality that unlocks the hotel room door, although guests must still turn the door handle.
During the pandemic, Disney will encourage guests to use online check-in to prevent needless hotel lobby interactions.
However, My Disney Experience will add a second service that’s more important.
The app will feature live chat with a customer service rep. So, you can ask any questions on your phone rather than wasting time in the lobby.
In a way, you’ll have a cast member with you everywhere at Walt Disney World!
Anytime you have a question about your hotel stay or your park visit, your answer is only a live chat away.
For the reasons previously discussed, housekeepers won’t enter your room as often. They’ll perform light cleaning every other day.
On cleaning days, cast members will exchange towels, wipe down counters and high-touch areas, and restock supplies.
In fact, Disney will take this approach a step further. You have the option to decline housekeeping during your stay.
You should select this option if the idea of someone entering your hotel room makes you feel unsafe.
Otherwise, Disney will provide smarter, more efficient housekeeping during your stay.
Of course, cast members will do additional cleaning, too. Housekeepers will spend more time cleaning common areas of potential disease.
Also, Disney will wipe down items like television remotes and possibly package them in plastic to maintain cleanliness.
Cast members will even deep clean the floors frequently to ensure sanitary environments.
Disney’s taking its cleaning responsibilities seriously.
Here’s one of the surprising changes at the parks. Walt Disney World will follow Shanghai Disneyland by requiring park reservations.
Without a reservation, you can’t get into the parks this year.
In fact, this statement applies to annual passholders and guests staying at official Disney properties, too.
For the time being, there’s nothing you can do to guarantee park admission. Once the reservation system opens, you will schedule a visit.
Disney must take this approach to provide everyone with a fair opportunity to get into a Walt Disney World park.
This statement applies in two ways.
First of all, Disney obviously cannot allow Park Hopping if it’s restricting park access this much. So, people can’t Park Hop at the moment.
This statement applies to guests who had previously purchased Park Hopper passes. It’s true for annual passholders as well.
Nobody gets to Park Hop until Disney says otherwise.
That’s not the surprising change, though.
Disney also won’t allow Resort Hopping when the parks reopen. If you’re not staying at a Disney resort, cast members won’t let you inside.
This policy caught many people off-guard, me included. However, I understand Disney’s logic.
By making each resort exclusive to its guests, Disney reduces the flow of traffic. Again, it’s a necessary measure to reduce the risk of infection.
Social Distancing Measures
If you’ve read MickeyBlog over the past three months, you already know all about these measures.
Park officials are doing everything possible to maintain the safety of guests.
At the parks, you’ll notice signs pointing out where to stand, which direction to walk, and so forth.
Also, a special team of cast members will roam the parks, reminding guests to maintain social distancing practices.
In line queues, Disney will space people apart to negate the chance of infection. And attractions will operate with several empty spaces on the ride vehicles.
The one thing you won’t have to worry about at Disney parks is social distancing. Disney’s taken this issue more seriously than any other theme park company.
Altered Character Meetings
Some people are reporting that Disney has canceled character meetings. I’m actually a guilty party here in that I’ve been sloppy with my phrasing.
Conventional character meetings are on hold for now. When Walt Disney World reopens, you can’t stand in line to meet Merida near Cinderella Castle.
However, Disney will have characters visible at the parks. They won’t be in their usual spots, but they will wander around at undetermined intervals.
In some ways, this change will improve park visits for long-time Disney fans. Your next Disney character meeting will be unlike any other.
No, you won’t “meet” the character to get an autograph or whatever. You will get to watch your favorite characters perform in ways that they never have before, though.
In the immortal words of Groundhog Day, “Anything different is good.”
The FastPass system won’t return with the parks. In fact, there’s a real chance that the most recent system is gone for good.
Park officials had wanted to implement Disney Genie, a new virtual assistant for park visits.
So, these plans were already in place long before the pandemic.
Now, Disney has decided to drop FastPasses for now. Instead, the parks will switch to a virtual queuing system.
I previously wrote about how this process will work.
Disney hasn’t confirmed how many attractions will rely on virtual queuing. However, if FastPass is gone, the answer might be…all of them.
We’re still in wait-and-see mode on this one, but it’s a potentially exciting change at the parks.
Table Service restaurants will receive the final modification.
Disney will finally add a feature that should have existed years ago.
The My Disney Experience app will add a section called Mobile Dine-In.
When you access this part of the app, you can check-in online rather than speaking to a server.
Since you’re bypassing the hosting area, you’ll avoid a needless interaction. Even better, you don’t have to wait in line!
The instant you have the option to check-in, you may do so, expediting the speed with which you’ll get a table!
This streamlined check-in process is much more efficient, which means that you’ll waste less time in restaurants.
Frankly, I wish Disney would have done this one when it launched My Disney Experience.
I hate standing around waiting for a host. It’s a pointless process. Services like Open Table are wildly popular for good reason.
Nobody wants to say, “I’m here and ready to be seated.” It should happen automatically.
From now on, Disney Table Service restaurants will work this way. The one sticking point is that only some of these eateries will offer restaurant check-in at first.
As was true with Mobile Ordering, Disney will gradually introduce more restaurants over time.
Feature Image Rights: Disney