Disney have already begun to celebrate their 50th Anniversary, and this spectacular celebration will continue into 2022! Though, many Disney Lovers who live in UK have been unable to visit the parks for a while now and they may look a little different than you remember. Here is our guide to a few of the changes to expect on your next Walt Disney World holiday:
- Safety measures are still in place – but changing!
Covid-19 safety measures like masks and social distancing are not new for anyone now, and Disney World are no exception. Currently the parks require masks for all guests ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status, at all indoor locations including on transportation and attractions. Masks remain optional for guests when outside, though Walt Disney World famously attracts large amounts of people so on our 2022 trip we will be opting for masks, even outside. Temperature checks and social distancing measures that were previously in place are being phased out across the parks. This information is correct as of December 2021 so be sure to read up on Walt Disney World’s safety measures at the time of your visit.
- Character interactions, dining, and parades
Walt Disney World are famous for their Magical parades, but for now they are still not returning as a staple feature due to their ability to attract large crowds. Though parades are returning at Magic Kingdom for Disney Very Merriest After Hours event that runs through until December 21st 2021. Disney Very Merriest After Hours is a ticketed event that will require separate tickets to your Walt Disney World Resort tickets. Character Dining experiences are being reopened and currently character dining experiences are being offered at various locations including Chef Mickey's, Hollywood & Vine and Tusker House.
Typical character’ meet and greets’ are not operating yet, and instead Walt Disney World are offering ‘character processions’ that run at select times throughout the day and also pop-up greetings with selected characters. Though your little ones may not be able to give their favourite characters a hug right now, Disney have managed to make this new way of seeing our favourite characters just as Magical.
- Restaurants are reopening!
More and more Walt Disney World restaurants are beginning to reopen, though with a much more limited capacity than pre-pandemic, so booking will be essential if you want to secure your spot. Dining reservations for table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World can currently be made 60 days in advance so you’ll want to make a list of all the restaurants you’ll want to dine in – including at Disney Springs (where there seems to be the most availability!
- Park reservations are required
To ensure the parks stick to their allotted capacity (which is increasing continuously from the original 20% when Walt Disney World first reopened after Covid19), Walt Disney World have implemented a Park Pass Reservation System where you will need to reserve the park you plan to attend each day. From experience, I can tell you that these slots fill up quickly, with Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios reservations being the hardest to secure! Reservations are also required for park hopping (which has now returned) and you will have to reserve the park you want to begin your day in before being allowed to hop over to another at 2pm (if there is availability). Currently, it is thought that Walt Disney World’s Park Pass Reservation System will be in place until early 2023.
- Almost all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels have reopened!
All Walt Disney World Resort hotels, except Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, have reopened for guests to stay in. The most recent reopening was from Disney's Polynesian Village Resort where they debuted their new Moana-inspired rooms, shortly followed by Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Port Orleans Resorts. Another change for guests arriving at Walt Disney World Resort hotels in 2022 will be the lack of Magical Express transportation, which previously provided transportation to and from Orlando Airport, that is retiring at the end of 2021. Though, this gives guests the opportunity to hire a car and explore Orlando outside of Walt Disney World! We highly recommend this as Orlando has so much more to offer, including Universal Studios Resort!
- Extra Magic Hours are now Early Theme Park Entry
Extra Magic Hours did not restart when Walt Disney World resort reopened, and it will not be making a return as Disney have debut their new scheme of Early Theme Park Entry! Early Theme Park Entry allows Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and select Disney Partner hotel guests access to the any theme park 30 minutes before it officially opens, everyday! Deluxe and Villa resort guests will also have access to Extended Evening Hours at select parks on select nights. For more information on this, why not read our Early Theme Park Entry blog : https://www.chartertravel.co.uk/blog/2021/11/10/early-theme-park-entry-at-walt-disney-world/
- Disney Genie and Genie+ -> Walt Disney World’s latest innovation
FastPass+ has officially been retired and in its place Disney Genie and Disney Genie+ have been born. As a part of Genie+, general Lightning Lane access is available for many attractions (at a cost) to skip the regular lines. There are also individual rides that require a separate purchase to access the Lightening Lanes – for more information on this, why not read our Disney Genie blog.
- Virtual queues
Walt Disney World are trying out using virtual queuing for their most popular rides to reduce long lines and wait times. The first ride that used virtual queuing was Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, but Boarding Groups (virtual queuing) are temporarily closed for this ride and guests will have access via the standard line and Lightning Lane. Other rides are now trialling virtual queues, one being Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT that recently opened.
Walt Disney World have made some amazing changes that are here to stay, like virtual queues and Disney Genie, that will help to make your next Walt Disney World holiday even more spectacular!