Walt Disney World Operational Updates, Closures and Reservation Details – Complete Guide

Alicia Stella 0 Comments

Walt Disney World is planning a phased reopening of its four theme parks beginning July 11th. There will be many changes to the way the resort will be operating as part of this plan. Most notably of these changes is that all guests will be required to make an advance reservation to be able to visit one of the theme parks on any given day, even if you already have a park ticket or valid annual pass.

Other changes, including many closures, event cancellations, and of course additional safety precautions, have also been introduced. Some perks, including early park admission for hotel guests and FastPass+ reservations for all guests will also not be available for the foreseeable future. More details on all of these changes and more are listed below.

Parks Phased Reopening Details

Let’s start with the plan, (as it stands now,) for the reopening of the theme parks of Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park are currently scheduled to open on July 11th, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

Passholder previews will take place at Magic Kingdom park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park on July 9th and 10th. Weekday Select, Theme Park Select, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus and Premier Passholders will have the opportunity to register for a special preview to either of these parks. Email invitations with registration details will be sent out soon. More info.

Theme park tickets are currently NOT available for purchase at this time. Disney has said that they hope to resume ticket sales for 2020 and beyond beginning later this summer, but only after the reservation system is up and running, (details on that below). This way they can better judge availability of the parks before selling more tickets.

By June 28, all guests will be able to purchase new Disney Resort hotel packages and theme park tickets (as well as make their park reservations) for arrivals starting in 2021.

Additionally, Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen to Members and Guests on June 22nd. Disney Springs is already open and accepting guests at this time.

Disney warns guests before visiting that: “Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort Hotels, restaurants and other offerings may be modified, limited in capacity and subject to availability or closure.”



Parks Reservation Information

All guests planning to visit any of the four theme parks of Walt Disney World will be required to make an advance reservation. This is in addition to purchasing a theme park ticket or having an annual pass, and having a ticket does not guarantee you access into the theme parks once they are open. These measures are intended to limit and control the capacity of each of the theme parks to assist in social distancing while guests are visiting.

Guests will be able to make reservations using a new online tool on DisneyWorld.com. You must already have a Disney account, either through the My Disney Experience app, or any other Disney company website. If you haven’t yet, you should connect your family’s park tickets or passes, as well as any resort hotel reservation, before attempting to make a reservation.

Reservations will first become available on the following dates:

  • Beginning June 22, 2020, Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations.
  • Beginning June 26, 2020, Annual Passholders without a Resort stay can make reservations.
  • Beginning June 28, 2020, existing ticket holders can make reservations.

Initially, reservations will be able to be made through September 26, 2021, based on your Resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window.


Important details for booking your park reservation:

  • Reservations are limited and subject to availability and are not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
  • At this time, Guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.
  • A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit.
  • It is recommended you make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized.
  • Guests staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for their entire Resort length of stay
  • All Annual Passholders are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for up to 3 days at a time, or Annual Passholders staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for their entire Resort length of stay.

More information can be found on the official Reservation Page here.


Important Operational Changes and Restrictions

As the parks will be running at limited capacity, and with additional safety measures in place (see below,) many of their long-term perks and benefits will be temporarily discontinued. Here are some of the important changes to the way the parks, and the resort in general, will be running upon reopening.

FastPass+, Early Magic Hours and Magical Express

As a result of the COVID-19 impact, FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being as the parks will be using the additional queue space to manage capacity at attractions and maintain physical distancing.

The Extra Magic Hours benefit, where resort guests are able to visit a theme park before or after regular guests, will also be unavailable until further notice.

Complimentary airport transportation via Disney’s Magical Express service will still be available for Guests arriving and departing from Orlando International Airport. More info.

Changes to MagicBands

While MagicBands themselves aren’t going away (for now,) many of their features are going to be introduced in the My Disney Experience app. Instead of having to use your plastic park ticket or MagicBand, guests will soon be able to use their mobile device. Using your device to unlock your hotel room has already been introduced, but more features are on the way.

Complimentary MagicBands for resort guests and annual passholders will be discontinued for vacations starting January 1, 2021. MagicBands will still be available for purchase, and at a discounted rate for resort guests, but they will no longer be free with your stay. Your plastic ticket or app can then be used instead, if you do not wish to purchase a MagicBand.


Walt Disney World Resort Transportation

Transportation, including monorails, buses, boats and more, should be operating when the parks reopen. However, they will have physical distancing measures in place, reducing capacity. As a result, you may experience delays.

Minnie Van Service will not be available during the initial reopening period.

Self-parking will be available throughout the resort, but valet service will be temporarily unavailable, with the exception of Guests with disabilities who may require parking assistance. A valid disability parking permit is required.

Dining Reservations

Dining reservations for restaurants located within the theme parks are not currently available to book. Reservations will resume at a later date. When in-park dining initially becomes available, you’ll need valid park admission, a reservation for park entry, and a dining reservation to dine at an in-park, table-service restaurant. Dining reservations do not guarantee admission to the park.

At this time, a valid Disney Resort hotel reservation is required to make dining reservations for restaurants located at the hotels. Call the Disney Reservation Center at (407) 824-1391 to check availability and make reservations. Or, if you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, call Member Services at (800) 800-9800.

Online reservations are only available at select Disney Springs dining locations at this time. Online reservations for other dining experiences will reopen at a later date.

Disney Dining Plan

At this time, Disney dining plans cannot be added to reservations.



Safety Measures and Restrictions

Disney wants everyone to know the following before visiting: “An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and Guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting Walt Disney World Resort you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

Walt Disney World has taken enhanced health and safety measures for guests and Cast Members. Everyone must follow all posted instructions while visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Here are just *some* of the safety measures in place to help you prepare for your visit.

Face Coverings
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.

Temperature Screenings
Upon arrival at Disney Springs area or at the Walt Disney World theme parks, you may undergo a temperature screening with no-touch thermometers. Based on guidance from health authorities, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.

Contactless App Features
Make the most of your visit with the My Disney Experience app. Mobile Order Service for Dining, Scannable Codes for Select Restaurant Menus, and Online Check-In at Disney Resort Hotels are just some of the features that will help limit contact with other surfaces or Cast Members. Cashless Transactions using your credit/debit card or mobile wallets are also suggested to limit contact with others or handling money.

Enhanced Cleaning
Cleaning procedures will be enhanced throughout Walt Disney World Resort. Extra attention will be given to high-traffic areas, including public elevators and escalators, handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms and more. Additionally, housekeeping services will be modified at Disney Resort hotels to include enhanced cleaning and reduced contact. Learn more about updates at Disney Resort hotels.

Physical Distancing
Temporary adjustments will be in place to promote physical distancing. Physical distancing measures may include Signage and Ground Markings, Physical Barriers, and Enhanced Cast Member Training.

Learn more about Walt Disney World’s additional safety precautions here.



Event Cancellations, Experience Closures and Other Changes

Some major events have been cancelled, and the parks will be opening with many of their popular experiences temporarily closed. Here’s just some of these changes, cancellations, and closures.

Event Cancellations

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Disney H2O Glow Nights events have been cancelled for 2020. You can read more about this decision here. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays have not yet been cancelled as of now, but this can change as they reassess in the coming months.

Updated Events

This year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is still going on, planned to start when the park reopens on July 15th. Under the new name “A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival,” this year’s event will be somewhat smaller, featuring 20 global marketplaces, like Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean, spaced out around the park. Some topiaries from Flower & Garden will be featured during the event, including a new Remy one. Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt will return, as well as event merchandise. The “Eat to the Beat Concert Series” will not be returning this year for safety reasons. More details on this event can be found here.

Suspended Theme Park Experiences

Walt Disney World theme parks will be temporarily suspending certain experiences inside of the theme parks. Nightly fireworks, other nighttime spectaculars, and all parades are cancelled until further notice. Many character meet and greets will also be suspended, and those that are not will be carried out from a distance for safety reasons. Smaller street performers and shows may still be available, such as The Dapper Dan’s, but with social distance measures in place.

Character Dining at the parks and resorts will also not be available. Additionally, temporary changes to the operations of certain restaurants, including buffets, will also be made. (Rumors are that buffet restaurants may offer “family-style” dining instead, but this information has not yet been confirmed by Disney.)

Closed Recreation Offerings

The following experiences and offerings will remain closed until further notice, and may not be available during your visit during the initial reopening period.

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will remain closed during the initial reopening period
  • Miniature golf will be unavailable during the initial reopening period
  • Surfing activities—including group lessons and private sessions—will be unavailable during the initial reopening period
  • Spas, salons and Harmony Barbershop will remain closed during the initial reopening period

Tours Not Operating

The following unique tours are currently unavailable.

  • Backstage Magic
  • Behind the Seeds
  • Disney Private VIP Tours
  • Disney’s Family Magic Tour
  • Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour
  • Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
  • Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
  • The UnDISCOVERed Future World
  • Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
  • Up Close with Rhinos
  • Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
  • World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
  • Wild Africa Trek

Additional Closures and Cancellations

Makeover experiences including Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew are not available at this time. All Dessert Party offerings are also currently unavailable, as well as Adventures in Dining, Nature Experiences and more.

For a complete list of closures and cancellation information, please visit the official Walt Disney World website here.


For additional information on the phased reopening, please visit the official website. Keep in mind that Walt Disney World is following the advice of medical experts and that the reopening schedules and safety precautions may be updated regularly. Subscribe to our News Feed to never miss an update or entery our email address below. Photos: Disney

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