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Five Must-Know Things for Planning Your Next Walt Disney World Trip

By Alicia Stella, Theme Park Shark Author

Updated 4:52 AM EDT, Thu August 20, 2020

Everyone will need a reservation in addition to a theme park ticket for the foreseeable future, but what exactly does that mean?

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can already be a daunting task, but throw in additional safety measures and a new reservation system and you’re complicating things even further!

Of course, we appreciate all of the new measures the resort is taking to help keep us safer, like restricting capacity at all of the theme parks, but that means you’re going to need to prepare well ahead of your next vacation.

Here a five must-know things about planning your next trip to Walt Disney World.

Phased Park Reopenings

The Walt Disney World theme parks will be reopening next month after a several month closure.

The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open first on July 11, 2020, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15, 2020.

The hotels will also be reopening in phases, and you can see a list of some of their opening dates here.

Something to keep in mind while planning your next trip, is that there will likely be a rush of returning visitors in the early days of reopening.

It might be better (and less stressful) to try and plan your vacation for later in the year—or even for 2021—so you have a better chance of grabbing an otherwise hard-to-get theme park reservation.

Reservations are Required

You might be thinking, do you mean my theme park ticket? Nope, this is something else entirely!

You will need both a park ticket AND a park reservation to visit the theme parks.

Guests with a hotel reservation can already book their park reservations now through the official website.

Annual Passholders can book their reservations beginning June 26, 2020. And anyone that already has theme park tickets, but does not have an on-site hotel reservation can book their park reservations starting June 28, 2020.

The theme park reservations are Disney’s way of ensuring that the parks stay at a lower capacity, which will help make it easier for guests to social distance.

And you’re only able to reserve one park per day, so no ‘Park Hopping.’

Unfortunately, Disney has stopped selling theme park tickets for now. You’ll be able to purchase your theme park tickets for 2021 beginning June 28th.

Theme park tickets for the remainder of 2020 may not go up for sale again until the end of the summer, but keep checking back here as we’ll post about it once they do!

New Safety Precautions

The Walt Disney World Resort is taking your safety very seriously during this sensitive time.

The theme parks will have enhanced cleaning procedures, additional Cast Member training, and new safety precautions that every guest will be expected to follow, like remaining at least 6 feet away from other guests during your visit.

Guests will also undergo a temperature screening with no-touch thermometers before entering a park.

Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed to enter, but you are allowed to wait and try again.

At this time face coverings are required to be worn by all guests ages 2 and older.

You can take them off in select “rest areas,” as long as you remain 6 feet or more away from others, and also while dining inside the parks.

To make this precaution a bit more magical, you can actually purchase official Disney masks for your family from shopDisney ahead of your trip.

They will also be available for purchase at the resort. (Tip: Most adults will need a large size if ordering from the website. Kids may be either small or medium.)

Temporary Closures at the Parks

Some important changes are also being made to the attractions and entertainment offerings that will be available during your visit.

It’s worth considering these changes before booking your next trip. One of the most notable will be the absence of all nighttime fireworks.

Some live entertainment and shows will also be temporarily closed. Cancelling these events is another way Disney is trying to keep their guests safe in the parks, but it can be a bit disappointing for new visitors.

Other changes have been made to way guests interact with characters.

Instead of the usual meet and greets, with hugs and autographs, you’ll only be able to take your selfies from a distance, with the character either up on a stage or a special roaming parade float.

Restaurants will still be serving, but character dining will be temporarily suspended during this time as well.

Some of the Things You Can Do

Now, with all of these changes and cancellations it can be a little difficult to get excited about a Disney vacation, but not all the magic will be gone.

Of course you’ll still be able to experience nearly all of the rides at the resort.

Your favorites like Space Mountain, Avatar: Flight of Passage, and everything in between will be running.

Even new rides will be available, including Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which was only open for a few short days before the parks closed back in March.

FastPass+ will not be available for the time being, so there’s no need to worry about booking rides before your visit.

Everyone that’s been to Walt Disney World knows that the food can be just as much of an attraction as the rides, and thankfully nearly all of your favorite dining locations will be returning.

Whether you’re enjoying a taste around World Showcase in EPCOT or sampling out of this world foods from Batuu in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, your taste buds will thank you.


There’s a lot to consider when thinking about booking a trip to Walt Disney World during these unprecedented times.

Disney warns that even though they’re taking extra safety precautions, there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 associated with being around others in a public setting.

For those that do choose to visit, most of the magic you’ve come to expect from the most magical place on Earth is still here, and waiting for you.

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Alicia Stella

Alicia Stella

Alicia is a lifelong Floridian and has been visiting the Orlando theme parks since the age of 3. Her years of experience, both working at and exploring theme parks, allows her a unique perspective for helping others plan and get the most out of their own visits to the Orlando parks.

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