Are you planning a Walt Disney World vacation for 2021? Disney is still filled with magic but like everything else in our world right now, there are modifications and guidelines in place to help keep us all safe. Disney has always required planning but now planning is more important than ever.
The entire Disney resort is currently operating at a reduced capacity meaning that space in the park, in restaurants, in resorts and everywhere else is limited.
Can you still have fun? Absolutely! The tips below are not meant to deter you from visiting Walt Disney World – only to equip you with the right knowledge. We’ve been to Disney many times this year and have had a blast. BUT proper planning and knowledge is required.
Below are the top tips and information that you need to know when visiting Walt Disney World in 2021.
We will post updates and new information as it becomes available so check back often.
1. You must make a park reservation. This one is the MOST important. Even if you have a ticket, a park reservation is still required. You can make the reservation on the Disney website or on the My Disney Experience app. It is advised that you check the calendar in advance to make sure there is availability before you purchase your tickets. There are three tabs on the calendar – Theme Park Tickets, Select Resort Hotels or Annual Passholder. Make sure you check the one that applies to you.
2. You can make dining reservations 60 days in advance. Dining reservations for everyone opens up 60 days in advance for everyone. There are still some restaurants closed and those that are open are seating at a limited capacity meaning that it is even harder to obtain a dining reservation. If you are trying to snag a popular restaurant book it at your 60-day mark. Reservations open at 6:00 am eastern time. *Also note that you currently can’t purchase a Disney Dining Plan.
3. Have a game plan for meals. Quick Service restaurants are also limited and most are requiring Mobile Order. Don’t wait until you are starving to try to order food. Plan ahead, especially if you have small kids. You can mobile order once you arrive outside of the restaurant but keep in mind that this can be a lengthy process for certain restaurants and on busy days. We advise that you pre-order in advance for a scheduled time.
4. There are no parades. Keep in mind that there are currently no parades at any of the parks. Instead, there are cavalcade floats that appear randomly throughout the day. There are several different cavalcades at each park and depending on which park you are at you will see characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Disney Junior and Princesses.
5. There are no fireworks or nighttime shows. During the holiday season (November and December) you may find projections on Cinderella’s Castle but that is the extent of the current nighttime shows. There is a good chance that a new nighttime show, Harmonious, will debut at Epcot for the 50th anniversary in October, but don’t expect to see fireworks anytime soon.
6. Character Dining is limited. There are a few Character Dining experiences including Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort (breakfast only), Garden Grill at Epcot, and at Hollywood Studios. The characters walk through the dining room as opposed to visiting your table like they previously did. There’s also no buffets, but some of the restaurants are offering family style, all-you-can-eat portions.
7. There are no character meet and greets. This is a biggie for some people who dream of that moment when their little one runs up to hug Mickey. Hopefully, we will have character meet and greets back soon, but in the meantime, you can still see random character appearances throughout the parks.
8. No FastPasses. Speaking of biggies, FastPass + is currently not offered. The exception is if you are a Club 33 member (most of us normal people are not!) or staying at club level at select resorts. Be prepared to wait in line for all rides.
9. Masks are still required and the policy is heavily enforced. The only time you may remove your mask is when you are eating and drinking while stationary, in a relaxation station or for outside photos when you are physically distanced. Make sure you review the masks guidelines on the Disney website to be familiar with the type of mask that is allowed and bring extra masks. Especially during the hot summer months.
10. Park hopping is now available but is a little different. If you have a park hopper ticket or annual pass, you can now park hop! First, you must have a park reservation for one park and you must scan in at that park. After 2:00 you may hop to any or all of the other three parks as long as there is availability. Keep in mind that you do not need additional reservations for the parks that you are hopping to.
11. Early entry for resort guests begins October 1st. There is no Early Morning Magic or extended park hours for resort guest, however, starting in October guests staying at Disney-owned resorts and other select resorts will be allowed 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park every day. Resort guests will have the ability to enter the parks early, no matter what day it is.
12. The 50th anniversary celebrations start October 1st. The celebrations continue for 18 months but it will be EXTREMELY busy during that first week especially. If you are planning on visiting during the first week of October, plan ahead and book early.
13. Resort pools may reach capacity. Resort pools can reach capacity during busy times. If you are at Disney during a holiday week or busy time we suggest getting to the pool early. Otherwise, if the pool reaches capacity, you can add your name to a waiting list and enter once there is availability.
14. Allow extra time for Disney transportation. Because of social distancing measures, the Skyliner, buses and boats are not loading to full capacity. This is increasing wait times for transportation, especially during early morning opening hours. Allow extra time and have a good game plan for transportation.
15. Photopass is still available. Even though there aren’t character photos, there are still some opportunities for some great Photopass shots. The photographers are getting very creative and adding magic scenes to some of the photos. Plus, you can now remove your mask for photos. Bonus!
Yes! Disney is still magical and as long as you are prepared you can have an amazing vacation. Remember to book early, set proper expectations and most of all…have FUN!