Disney During the Pandemic: What to Expect

by  Christine Dayao | Updated on May 24, 2021
Epcot / Christine Dayao

Like most travel experiences, a trip to the most magical and happiest places on Earth looks much different now than during the pre-pandemic era. From safety protocols to new procedures and more, here’s what you can expect the next time you visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland during COVID. 

Is Disney open right now?

Walt Disney World reopened in mid July and limits its parks’ attendance to at least 35% capacity, though this has been expanding. This requires that you have valid park admission or an annual pass to make a park reservation ahead of your visit.

Disneyland reopened on April 30 after being shuttered for nearly 14 months. Capacity is capped at 35% and only open to California residents (proof of residency may be required) for the time being. Here, you’ll also need to make a park reservation with valid tickets.

Do you have to wear a mask at Disney?

Guests ages 2 and up are required to wear a face covering at both resorts, though there are exceptions. At Walt Disney World, masks are optional in outdoor common areas and must be worn from the entrances at all attractions, theaters, or transportation and throughout. You must also wear them at indoor restaurants, save for when you're eating and drinking. There are relaxation areas where you may take a break outside to remove your masks. At Disneyland, masks are required to be worn at all times – except when dining or swimming; when eating or drinking, you must be stationary while doing so. 

What are Disney’s safety protocols?

All guests must undergo temperature screenings with no-touch thermometers for entry at Disneyland’s two theme parks and its Downtown Disney District, Those with temperatures of 100.4º F or above will be denied entry, as will their party. This will come to an end on June 15. 

Visitors must maintain physical distancing at Disney, made possible by signage and ground markings throughout the resorts. Queues, transportation, vehicles, and attractions have been modified with physical barriers to separate parties. In Florida, party sizes of more than10 will be split into smaller groups in queues and dining locations. Party sizes in California may not exceed three households.

Both resorts have implemented enhanced cleaning procedures with more attention given to high-traffic areas like restrooms, handrails, benches, vehicles, and more.

Guests are encouraged to use cashless payment options and opt for online hotel check-in.

Is the overall experience different at Disney during a pandemic?

One major change at Disney during the pandemic is the lack of some of the most beloved Disney park experiences: parades and nighttime entertainment like fireworks and shows. To prevent crowds from gathering, popular shows like Happily Ever After, Festival of Fantasy, Fantasmic, and World of Color are currently on pause.

With smaller capacity, guests may find that some dining venues are closed, some amenities are unavailable, and the park hours are shorter than pre-pandemic times. At Walt Disney World, a few hotels have yet to reopen – but will do so by summertime.

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