Disney World is set to begin a phased reopening of the theme parks on July 11th, and things certainly won’t be like they used to be.
In light of the impending reopening, Disney has made some MASSIVE changes to the way things are done. They’ve canceled what feels like everything for everybody — no FastPasses, no dining reservations, no new ticket sales, and more.
From a guest perspective, it can feel a little bit like the folks at Disney have TOTALLY lost their collective mind. We know MANY of you are affected by these sudden changes, and we’re here to help. We’re taking a look at what you should do if you’re impacted and answering some big questions.
What has Disney changed?
In preparation for the changes coming with the reopening, Disney has suspended and canceled many offerings. First, it was announced with their reopening proposal that new hotel reservations and ticket sales are suspended at this time. Existing hotel reservations and ticket sales still stand.
If you had a trip coming up, you’ll notice that all of your existing FastPass+ reservations, advance dining reservations, and experience reservations through September 2021 have been canceled. This is due to the fact that these services will likely see some change in the next few weeks. The Disney Dining Plan and Extra Magic Hours are currently suspended as well.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Finally, we’re expecting to see the introduction of a new theme park reservation system that will help to limit capacity in the theme parks. This system is still in development but will launch prior to the reopening of the parks on July 11th, per the reopening plan for the parks.
Click here to read more details about the reopening plan.
What am I supposed to do now?
Basically, Disney has cleared out their system. Capacity changes in the parks mean capacity changes in ride queues and dining — but that DOESN’T mean that you won’t be able to make dining reservations OR FastPass reservations. It just might be a little different than we’re used to.
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Disney CEO Bob Chapek mentioned that they’ve pretty much had to re-engineer the parks to keep these capacity changes in mind, and that apparently means a big overhaul to their reservation systems.
FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours Suspension
As we mentioned, Disney has instituted a suspension of the FastPass+ system and Extra Magic Hours until further notice. According to the announcement from Disney, the removal of Fastpass means that they can use all of the queue areas to better distance guests. Removing Extra Magic Hours helps to simplify things for Disney and for guests who are hoping to navigate the reopening.
But we get it — if you LOST precious FastPasses or extra hours you were banking on having it flat out stinks. Does this jeopardize our chance to breeze onto these hard-to-get FastPass rides? Maybe not. After all, Disney is significantly limiting capacity and expecting shorter wait times in general at reopening. You might not even NEED a FastPass if capacity limits keep lines down. Disney has also stated they’re considering a virtual queue system in the parks when they open, so while it might feel like we’re losing FastPasses, we could be gaining something possibly better.
Need more info on the suspension of the Fastpass+ system? Click here.
This one is a doozy. If you had any Advance Dining Reservations (and trust us, we had a BUNCH!), those are no more. Gone. Donezo. Disney has canceled all of these reservations now so that they can edit capacity restrictions in their restaurants.
Via Napoli Dining Room
We reached out to a Cast Member who explained that following the CDC guidelines is tricky and Disney isn’t positive that all of the table-service and quick-service locations will be open initially. With reservations continuing as normal up until the reopening plan was announced, more guests may have made reservations than there will be room for with the distanced tables and reduced capacity. And we’ve also recently reported that character dining will be unlikely when the parks reopen.
If you thought that the FastPass cancellations were rough, the dining cancellations feel much worse for many. Meals are a big part of a Disney vacation for lots of guests (like us!). The good news is that Disney IS reopening dining reservations closer to the opening of the parks.
Family-Style Dining Seating
There’s no news on when exactly this will be, but we do know that after dining reservations come back, the reservation window will change from 180 days to 60 days in advance for the time being. The point is, the Advance Dining Reservation system isn’t GONE, we’re just all going to have to do one more round of reservations before our trips roll around.
If you lost previous reservations, all hope is not lost. With lower capacity, there’s still a fair chance you could snag them again. And if you couldn’t get a table at a spot you wanted, you get a second chance!
For what we know about the dining cancellations, click here!
Disney Dining Plan Cancellations
Going along with the dining reservation cancelations, all levels of the Disney Dining Plan have been canceled for guests as well. This also plays into the fact that Disney is uncertain what restaurants will reopen and at what capacity. They HAVE indicated that the Disney Dining Plan will return, they just haven’t said when. They don’t want to promise the Disney Dining Plan to guests initially only to not be able to hold up their end of the deal if restaurants can’t support the crowds.
Note that if you were a recipient of the Disney World Free Dining Offer as a result of the closure, your new Dining Plans will be automatically canceled. This hassle certainly doesn’t feel fair to those who already had to deal with their vacations being canceled at least once already (some multiple times!).
On the bright side, some of the affected guests have reported that Disney is automatically canceling their Disney World Free Dining Offer and applying a whopping 35% discount to their hotel room cost. If this applies to your vacation, you should receive an email about the cancellation and discount.
Click here for more about the suspension of the Disney Dining Plan!
Prepaid Experience Cancellations
Experience reservations have been canceled as well. The good news is we reached out to a Cast Member who told us that prepaid experiences like certain Advance Dining Reservations, dessert parties, and tours will be refunded with no action required by guests.
When will Disney bring these offerings BACK?
This is hard to say as Disney hasn’t given us specific dates for…well…anything! For FastPass+, Extra Magic Hours, the Disney Dining Plan, and new reservations, the suspensions are indefinite. Still, Disney uses language that seems to indicate that all of these systems will return, they just don’t want to back themselves into a corner with a date they might have to change later.
Dining Reservations and Experience Reservations
We DO have a little extra information on when dining and experience reservations will return. Though the official date is unspecified, Disney has elaborated on the changes to this system. They stated that going forward, Advance Dining Reservations will be made 60 days in advance instead of 180 days in advance, and that reservations for dining and experiences will be re-introduced once Disney updates the system to reflect capacity limitations.
Wagyu Taberkurabe Presentation at Takumi-Tei
Now, we are already within the 60-days-out window for the reopening of the parks, so the initial return of dining reservations may give us fewer than 60 days to book for the initial reopening. Guests with resort reservations or a canceled dining reservations will be given priority when rebooking.
Tableside Cheese Cart at Topolino’s Terrace
Disney HAS mentioned restaurants in their reopening plan and with reservations being so important to limiting capacity, we will likely see the new dining reservation system launched prior to the parks reopening.
Want to learn more about health measures at reopening? Click here!
What’s the deal with the theme park reservation system?
This mysterious theme park reservation system certainly has folks pretty perplexed — us (and possibly YOU) included! While Disney hasn’t shared much information about this system, we can clear up a few things we DO know about how it will work.
MagicBand Park Scanner ©Disney
The new system will be accessed online through DisneyWorld.com and all guests will be required to make a reservation in advance for theme park entry. Guests will need valid park admission to make a reservation, and guests won’t be permitted to enter the park without BOTH a ticket and a reservation. Confused yet? Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.
It’s unclear in what specific order guests will be able to reserve their park day when the reservation system opens, but we do know that guests with resort hotel reservations and Annual Passholders will have priority access to the new park reservation system. We also know Annual Passholders have also been told they can expect some form of passholder previews for the parks.
At this time, WE CANNOT CONFIRM that if you have a resort reservation, but don’t already have park tickets, that you will definitely be included in the priority access to the park reservation system.
Epcot Entrance in Walt Disney World
Disney World isn’t the only park to opt into a reservation system. We’ve seen this used with the reopening of Disneyland Shanghai. Shockingly, we’ve also seen it with the Universal Orlando Passholder Preview Days, even though they indicated that they would not be using a reservation system with their theme parks.
To learn more about the theme park reservation system, click here!
Who qualifies as resort guests?
Like we said, those with resort hotel reservations and valid ticket media will get priority when accessing the theme park reservation system. So, who does this mean? Those staying at the Disney-owned Resort Hotels will qualify. Though you cannot currently make a new reservation, it appears that Disney will accommodate those with existing reservations at these hotels.
Polynesian Village Resort Lobby as viewed from upstairs
We reached out to Disney to see if these perks would be extended to the partner resorts and a Cast Member told us that YES, those staying at partner resorts will count in the new system as well. So, if you have a reservation at Shades of Green, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, or another partner, this information indicates that you will get priority access to the reservation system as well.
Click here to learn more about who counts as a resort guest!
What does the new reservation system mean for Park Hopper tickets?
Disney has not mentioned whether the reservation system will limit guests to one park per day. If it does, this could be a serious bummer for those who purchased Park Hopper tickets and planned their vacation around their ability to get from one park to another!
Keep in mind though, this is likely on Disney’s radar. Consider the first few days of reopening when Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are the only parks that will be open. Guests won’t have access to all four parks to hop.
Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
So this is definitely a complicated one and we’re antsy for more details. It’s possible that Disney is considering a refund or cancellation option for Park Hopper tickets in light of the new reservation system. Or they could simply say that Park Hoppers can hop to whatever parks are currently open. But we have nothing confirmed at the moment.
When will we find out about the reservation system beginning?
Like much of the changes, dates are frustratingly foggy about when we will see the new reservation system implemented. In the original launch statement, Disney said “Over the coming weeks, we will be making some necessary updates to prepare for the launch of this park reservation system.”
Guests who wanted to make reservations for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland last year had plenty of time to prepare, and we imagine that will be the case here as well. Keep an eye on your email and on Disney Food Blog for any details.
How will we find out about the reservation system?
We will be keeping an eye on all channels where Disney may announce the reservation system. Keep a close eye on DFB in the coming weeks to know as soon as date of the new system is announced and as soon as the system goes live. If you fall into the groups who are to receive priority access to the system, keep an eye on your email as well.
Why are they canceling my Quick Service Dining Plan and will I be able to rebook?
It certainly caught our attention that even Quick Service Disney Dining Plans were canceled when there isn’t a need to limit ordering capability in these restaurant models due to physical distancing. Still, Disney isn’t sure that all quick service locations will reopen, and beyond that, they are cleaning out their system by completing these cancellations across the board.
So, with so much uncertainty and the system changes, Disney opted to cancel all Disney Dining Plans for right now. There’s no certainty on when or if guests will be able to rebook these plans, but a Cast Member suggested that guests call at their 60-day window for more information if they have an upcoming trip!
I got the Disney World Free Dining Offer with my room package; does that mean I don’t get my Dining Plan anymore?
It does look that way. Disney has specifically mentioned removing Disney Dining Plans that were included in packages. Remember that you can still cancel your current package, but modifications cannot be made at this time.
Disney Dining Plan Shirt
For those who were affected by the closure and received a Disney World Free Dining Offer when they rebooked, your dining plans will be canceled. Folks that this applies to will receive that hefty 35% room discount on their rebooking though.
We don’t currently have confirmation that guests who booked with the Free Dining Plan offer earlier this year, prior to the park closures, will receive the same discount.
For more information on the 35% discount, click here.
I’ve already been affected by the closures and rescheduled. What does this mean for me?
Speaking of which, if you were already affected by the closures you will likely be wondering how these changes affect you (sorry you keep having to rebook, guys!). If you’ve rebooked your resort hotel and ticket reservations, you will get priority in the theme park reservation system and the dining reservation system.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
As a reminder, if you booked through the Disney World Free Dining Offer that was presented to those affected by the closure, your dining plan will be canceled and replaced with a 35% room discount applied to your package.
What counts as a canceled “experience?”
Disney hasn’t officially announced much information on what is included in the “experience” category of the cancellations, but they have clarified that things like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Wild Africa Trek, and behind-the-scenes tours are included. Keep in mind these offerings may not be available at first when the parks reopen.
If an experience is canceled and you have already paid, Disney will be refunding these experiences, so keep an eye out.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ©Disney
Separately ticketed events like After Hours and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are a different situation. Information is a little bit unclear about these events at this point. We heard from a Cast Member that tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are still valid, but no new ticket sales are available.
We’re not taking this as a guarantee that there won’t be changes to separately-ticketed events. Keep in mind too that Disney can always change this and cancel at a later point.
Click here to see what we know about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets.
I’m an Annual Passholder. What does this mean for me?
Of course, the situation is unique for Annual Passholders and the changes can be especially frustrating for those with this type of ticket. You paid (a hefty price!) for access to the Disney parks and right now, that can feel up in the air. Many of us are Annual Passholders so trust us, we feel your pain right now!
2020 Annual Passholder Magnet
As of now, Disney has not mentioned any further extension of the Annual Passes beyond what was originally confirmed. Some Passholders have received communication from Disney that passholders will have access to the theme park reservation system before new tickets are sold. Passholders with previously booked experiences and dining will also have priority access to new reservations for those.
Disney launched a webpage specifically for Annual Passholders that notes that Passholders will be limited to a certain number of reserved days at one time. It also notes that some AP member benefits may be unavailable and that blackout dates will still apply.
Chef Remy Magnet
As a note, Disney has also announced that they will be offering Passholder previews to the reopened parks!
Will Disney be canceling reservations in Disney Springs restaurants?
The language indicates that all reservations made through the Disney system are affected by the cancellation. Even if you plan on dining at a third-party restaurant, if you made your reservation through My Disney Experience it will likely be canceled.
Now, at this time OpenTable reservations have NOT been canceled. If you’d like to confirm a reservation before the Disney reservations system reopens (for example, if you’re a local who wants to go to a Disney Springs restaurant this weekend), you can book through OpenTable at any time at eligible restaurants. We’ve been successful booking a number of third-party restaurants at Disney Springs this way.
Click here for more information on Disney Springs reservations.
What do I do now?
Whew. We all wanted to hear when the parks were reopening and now that we know, we’ve got a lot of bleh and confusion to go with it. It’s important not to panic though! We’re sure MANY of you are biting your nails waiting to hear if and when you can get back to the parks and if it will even resemble the Disney World we’ve come to love for so many years.
These changes are certainly frustrating and shocking for many, especially those of you who have already changed your plans multiple times. WE’RE HERE TO HELP. We’re working as hard as we can to get you some answers. As information appears over the next few days, things may get much clearer for managing your trip plans, and you can count on us to get that information to you quickly and in the easiest to understand way possible.
For many, you don’t need to DO anything at this moment (frustrating, right?!). Guests with resort reservations still have them and rebooking options aren’t available yet for canceled dining and experiences. You should still be able to make new bookings for your vacation sometime in the near future, so hang in there. However, if you’d like to cancel your hotel reservation outright, you CAN do so at this point!
Patience is the name of the game here. You can count on us to find the answers and get you all of the most up-to-date information as soon as Disney confirms it, but it’s a little bit of a waiting game as they organize this crazy overhaul. If you’re antsy that you’ll miss something, join our newsletter and stay tuned to our site and social channels. We’ll report as soon as new information arrives.
If you booked your trip through a travel agent, go ahead and reach out to them for details and what to do next. If you booked on your own, don’t worry. Disney will be releasing more information in the coming weeks to answer our questions; and once we have that information, you can look to us when you’re ready to take the next steps in returning to the parks.
If you have any specific questions, you can reach out to Disney Guest Services, but expect long waits. There are a lot of confused Disney fans right now so you can always reach out to us! We’ll get to the bottom of any questions you may have.
We will be updating this post with more information and questions as they develop.
Have any questions we missed? Ask them in the comments!
From our friends at www.disneyfoodblog.com
Filed Under: Disney News, disney parks, disney resorts, Featured, Walt Disney World, advance dining reservations, Annual Passholder, annual passholders, Dining Reservations, disney dining plan, disney springs, disney springs restaurants, Disney World, Disney World reopening, extra magic hours, FastPass+, free dining, hotel reservations, parkhopper, quick service dining plan, Reservation System, Resort Guests, theme park reservation system, Ticketed Events