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What to Know About Disney World Reservations as Parks Reopen

Everything You Need to Know About Your Current Walt Disney World Reservations

Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., plan to begin a phased reopening in July, pending approval from local and state authorities. Magic Kingdom Park (pictured) and Disney's Animal Kingdom are planned to reopen on July 11, 2020, followed by EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios on July 15, 2020. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

On May 27, Walt Disney World announced they would be reopening their four theme parks in a phased opening starting July 11. The first phase includes opening Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom starting July 11. The second phase opens up Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot, in addition to the two other parks, on July 15. Because of this phased reopening, Disney has take a new approach to how you will be able to experience your vacation, including getting reservations to visit a theme park, modifying existing dining options, and scaling back on some experiences.

If you're overwhelmed by all of the news and updates coming from Disney about the parks reopening and what the new procedures are, don't worry. We've rounded up as much information on each aspect of your Disney vacation as possible, making sure that when you and your family are ready to see Mickey Mouse again, you know exactly what to do.

What Should I Know About the New Walt Disney World Theme Park Reservation System?

Because of the lowered capacity and the need for social distancing at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, there will be a new Walt Disney World theme park reservation system. This system will allow your family the opportunity to book a day to visit the theme parks. This is the same strategy implemented at Shanghai Disneyland to control crowds.

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As of right now, Disney is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations to focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations (this does exclude Disney Vacation Club members). We do not know when the reservation system will open up for people to plan a new vacation. Disney has announced that some groups of people will have priority access to the new planning tool, which we have outlined ahead. Note that all new resort reservations and ticket purchasing is on hold for the time being. The options if you have not purchased either are also outlined ahead.

What Do I Do If I Have a Ticket Already?

If you already bought your ticket to go to Walt Disney World, or are an annual pass holder, you will be part of the first rounds of people to be able to book your theme park reservation.

What Do I Do If I Have Existing Resort Reservations?

If you already booked your Disney resort hotel room, you will need to have already bought your ticket into the parks to gain priority access to the theme park reservation system. If you do not have a valid admission ticket, you will not be allowed to buy one right now, even though you have an existing resort reservation. You will need to wait until Disney opens up purchasing tickets again at a later time.

What If I Don't Have Tickets or Resort Reservations?

If you do not have a ticket or resort reservation, you will be last to be able to access the theme park reservation system. This is after all current ticket holders, annual pass holders, and resort reservation guests have the opportunity to book a theme park reservation. Purchasing new tickets and booking new resort reservations will also resume after current ticketed and resort guests have the chance to book a theme park reservation.

How Can I Book Dining Reservations For My Trip Later This Year?

As of publishing, all current Walt Disney World dining reservations are canceled. This is to be sure that a restaurant can comply with new social distancing and capacity regulations. There are no future dining reservations available right now through the official Walt Disney World website or the My Disney Experience app. If you had an existing dining reservation you will be placed on the priority list to be able to rebook first. A major change in Disney's dining reservation policy is that the booking window has moved from 180 days before your trip to 60 days before your trip. If you want to eat at a restaurant and guarantee your reservation does not get canceled, consider going somewhere in Disney Springs like Raglan Road or Frontera Cocina, which take reservations through their own website or through OpenTable.

What If I Was Using the Disney Dining Plan For Restaurant Reservations?

As of publishing, all existing Disney Dining Plans have been canceled and are in the process of being refunded. If your family got the free Disney Dining Plan from rebooking a canceled room due to closures, those will be canceled as well. Your family's options are to keep your current rebooked reservation without the dining plan, or you can rebook for later with a 35-percent off discount.

What Happened to the Additional Experiences I Booked?

If your family added on an additional experience like a tour or makeover, those have been canceled. Some of these experiences, like tours, will reopen at a lesser capacity and anyone with a canceled reservation will be able to rebook first. If you booked something like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for your child, you should know that no reopening date has been announced for that yet, and nothing has been said about rebooking that experience yet.

Where Are My FastPass+ Bookings?

Currently all FastPass+ bookings for all trips have been canceled. This is because the FastPass+ system has been temporarily disabled at Walt Disney World, and there will be no FastPass+ line when the parks reopen. This space will be used as additional queue space for physical distancing between groups and control capacity.

When Can I Buy New Tickets?

There is no date set when new tickets will be sold again. The window of opportunity will arise when all current ticket holders and resort reservation guests have the chance to book a theme park reservation.

When Can I Book a Disney Resort Hotel Room?

There's no word when all of the hotels at Walt Disney World will open to new reservations. Like buying new tickets, the opportunity to book a new resort reservation will come when all current ticket holders and resort guests have the chance to book a theme park reservation.

Can Disney Vacation Club Members Get New Reservations Now?

All Disney Vacation Club resorts and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will reopen June 22. These can only be booked by Disney Vacation Club members and their guests. Additionally, only Disney Vacation Club members can still purchase new tickets and book new resort hotel stays.

Are There Updated Park Hours?

Because of the limited capacity being allowed in the Walt Disney World theme parks each day, the park hours may be reduced. While all park hours are subject to change, these are the current hours according to the My Disney Experience app for each park each day after opening begins.

Magic Kingdom: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Epcot: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Will There Be Extra Magic Hours?

Disney has temporarily stopped Extra Magic Hours for resort guests. There is no word when this will resume, but keep an eye out because these extra hours are subject to change just like normal operating hours for the parks.

Are Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Other Paid Parties Still Happening?

Disney has mentioned that all Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets will remain valid and will not be canceled. Other in-park experiences and parties are currently subject to cancelation.

Will There Be Parades, Characters, and Fireworks?

Walt Disney World is going to be adhering to strict social distancing guidelines while they begin their phased reopening and during the following months. Because of this, all parades and fireworks will be canceled temporarily. Seeing your family's favorite Disney characters might also be a little different since there won't be a traditional meet-and-greet situation. You will still see the characters at the park, but they will likely be at a distance waving and posing for photographs.

What Should You Do With All of This Information?

In the end, deciding to go to Walt Disney World anytime in the near future is strictly up to your family and what you think is best based on the information available. If you do go, know that Disney has policies in place to keep you and your family, as well as their cast members, as safe as possible. If you decide not to go, the parks will be there to welcome you back when you are ready.

Image Source: The Walt Disney Company
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