Walt Disney World theme parks are getting ready to begin their phased opening this week starting with Cast Member previews today and Annual Passholder previews starting on Thursday, before the general public opening begins on July 11th. And though guests will still be able to experience Disney's signature magic, there will be a LOT of differences in policies and rules in effect when the parks reopen that guests should know about.
1. No more bag check as guests will now pass through all in one screening machine
Walt Disney World has been testing a brand new security scanning technology with guests at Disney Springs that will replace traditional bag check with a new contact-less body scanner, powered by Evolv Technology, that can automatically screen groups of people as they walk through without slowing or stopping.
According to the manufacturer, this automated system uses proprietary technology to differentiate weapons from personal items, and is the fastest weapons-screening system on the market, consistently screening 60 people every minute for firearms and other contraband items, while also scanning temperatures of guests entering the park as well.
2. Masks will be required (almost) everywhere
The biggest (and thus far most polarizing) change that guests will encounter at Walt Disney World is required mask usage, which will be required in the theme parks as well as in common areas at hotels and also on Disney transportation. Disney has confirmed that, like Universal Orlando Resort, there will be several "rest" areas where guests can take their masks off for a little while while remaining socially distant, and these areas will be marked on park maps.
3. Park Reservations will be required
In order to gain entrance to a Walt Disney World theme park, all guests, no matter whether they are staying on-site or somewhere else, will need valid admission tickets as well as an arrival reservation time. Reservations are now available through My Disney Experience, but depending on your type of admission, you'll have to check the availability calendar before heading out, as many dates in July and August are either partially or fully sold out.
4. No park hopping
As of right now, park hopping has been discontinued for all confirmed tickets through 2020. It looks like this feature may return in 2021, but right now, guests are limited to visiting one park per day.
5. Transportation will be different
Transportation will be a lot different when Walt Disney World reopens, as busses will be socially distant, and connective transportation, including the monorail line that links the Magic Kingdom and Epcot will not run.
Guests will also need to ensure that they pack comfortable shoes, as no parking trams will be available when the theme parks reopen.
It has also been confirmed that the popular Minnie Van service will not be available once the parks reopen, along with valet service at resorts.
6. No FastPass+ advance planning will be available
Disney has made the unprecedented step of completely shutting down the FastPass+ service for the foreseeable future and will be using the additional queue space to manage capacity at attractions and maintain physical distancing. All current FastPass+ reservations have already been cancelled, and the FastPass+ section of My Disney Experience has been completely removed.
7. Extra Magic Hours have been cancelled indefinitely
In addition to cancelling FastPass+ indefinitely, Disney has announced that Extra Magic Hours will also be temporarily suspended when the theme parks reopen, and will not be available indefinitely.
8. Entertainment will be curtailed in a big way
Because of social distancing best practices, Disney has announced that all fireworks shows, character meet and greets, and parades (including the nightly Electrical Water Parade) have been suspended until further notice.