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Planning a Trip to Disney? Remember to Check Restrictions Before Heading Out!


I had the opportunity to make a very short trip to Disney in April. I'll preface this by saying, rules and restrictions seem to change on the hour, so if you are planning a trip, make sure to do some research before you leave (and perhaps, even upon arrival!). 

Reservations and Tickets

I arranged for a short 2 night trip at the Beach Club Resort with a 1 Day Ticket to Epcot. 

Disney Parks currently require park reservations along with tickets. Tickets must be purchased first before making park reservations. Disney WILL cancel your park reservations if they are not attached to a ticket. 

After determining I could go on this short trip, the only park with reservations left was Epcot. The Flower and Garden Festival is open through July 05, so that was right up my alley! 

So, my experience rests solely with Epcot as I didn't have the opportunity to travel to other parks. 

Park Hopper Tickets are available for an extra cost so that your family could visit more than one park in a single day if after 2:00 pm. But, Disney does require that park hoppers first enter the park they do have reservations with in order for park hopper tickets to be valid! Example- if you book a reservation with Animal Kingdom and decide you want to park hop over to Hollywood Studios, you HAVE to visit Animal Kingdom sometime before going to Hollywood Studios. 

My Disney Experience

The phone app will become your best friend when planning your Disney Trip and while on vacation. Some don't like being tethered to a phone, but its your best bet to get a plan for your day. Attraction Times, Wait Times, Food Venues, Reservations, Tickets.. all show up on this app. If staying on property, the phone app can be used as a room key too. 

Magic Bands

Disney no longer mails out free magic bands with on property reservations. For those who don't know, Magic Bands were a portal to access your room, make purchases (with a previously set pin), and enter the theme parks. Magic Bands are purchasable or you can reuse a previous year's if you have them! They can still be used as room keys, ticket holders, and to make purchases if they are connected to your My Disney Experience Account. 

Mask Restrictions

Right before I went to Disney, they relaxed the mask restriction for photography. At that time, it was masks were required everywhere onsite for all ages 2 and above, unless actively taking pictures or eating/ drinking off to the side. (one could not walk and eat/drink without a mask). Now, Disney's mask policy has relaxed but there are still lots of restrictions, so make sure to check it out. 

As it stands, masks are not required outside in common areas (like Main Street USA or Epcot's World Showcase). Masks are required for entering all rides/ attractions (including outdoor ones too!). Disney Cast members try their best to enforce Disney policies, so please be polite. We all have various opinions and the poor cast members do their best as they can!

Masks are hard to wear in the heat. I totally get it. I was at Epcot on a day when it was 93 degrees. I had to take lots of water breaks, decided to take an afternoon room break (which, honestly I never do.. I'm a all day in the parks kind of gal), and definitely appreciated a sit-down meal where I could remove it for an extended period of time. Masks are also required in hotel pools when up and moving about too. Of course, being in the water doesn't count. 

Drinks and Food: The cheapest way to do Disney is to take your own snacks, drinks, and foods. Food, Water, and Drinks are allowed in the parks. You could carry around your snack bag in your stroller/ backpack, or rent lockers for the day- totally up to you. Coolers, backpacks and and suitcases, with or without wheels, cannot be larger than 24" long x 15" wide x 18” high to enter the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.

Of course, Disney wouldn't be Disney without all of the meals, quick service, and snacks! Word in the Disney Groups is that reservations are getting harder to book as Disney increases capacity levels, so make sure you get your reservations ASAP. Currently, guests can book reservations 60 days out from your visit! 

When I visited, several restaurants were still closed. Gradually, some are announcing reopening as the weeks move on, so just make sure you check out Disney Dining to find out what's open and closed when you go! 

Mobile Ordering: Another great part Disney implemented during Covid is the ability to use your phone to order quick service and take-out meals. Take advantage of this opportunity as it will definitely help you save on time and energy! One note- you cannot enter into quick service areas without showing proof that your food is ready to pick-up, so make sure you order before reaching your destination so that you don't have to wait! 

Capacity Limits and Distancing

Disney recently announced that they will increase their 35% capacity limit but has not shared with the public what this will look like yet. Social distancing spacing, including plexiglass dividers, are being rolled back in attractions and parking lots, but will remain in dining, merchandise areas, and rest areas. 

When I was at Epcot in April, it was already difficult to social distance in common areas. The World Showcase area (where all the countries are with the vendors, etc) felt crowded, even at the capacity limits of the time. Disney had done a great job at distancing out ride ques but sometimes it made it wrap all the way around and into other areas, making lines seem longer than they were. 

Resort Life

Honestly, I didn't spend much time at my resort. I arrived Monday afternoon and headed over to Disney Springs for a bit. Afterwards, I did wander my resort and then headed over to the new Riveria Resort for dinner. Tuesday morning, before Epcot was open, I explored the resort further but didn't go into the pool area. For the most part, people were respectful of spacing, didn't hang out much outside (because the mask mandate was still in place at that point), and it was quieter than normal. I'm sure that will change as capacity limits increase.

Resorts were offering modified guest experiences as well. Encouraging mobile check-ins, modified movie nights and resort activities were offered, but not in abundance as before. 

Disney Parks

Even with all of the restrictions, there are still amazing ways to have fun at Disney during this time-period. Disney Parks are not fully back with all of their programming, shows, and attractions, so if you are a long- time park goer, you might miss some of your favorites. 

If it's a once- in- a- lifetime magical trip or a big occasion, you may also miss out on the shows, fireworks, and parades. Disney is bringing back more opportunities to interact with characters and reports of shows are coming back as well. Currently, most character opportunities have been in small cavalcades that roam throughout the park so that big crowds don't gather (think the Disney Magic Kingdom Parades and Fireworks). 

Yet, as always, if you are concerned about the influx of folks and the relaxing of restrictions, it might be best to hold off on your trip for a while longer. 

Also, don't forget.. Disney's 50th Anniversary celebration will be in late September/ October so it is bound to be nuts! If you are even thinking of a fall trip, I'd recommend jumping forward with research and reservations as I've already seen reports of weeks and weekend availability being full or limited! 

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