Experiences We Are Missing the Most During Walt Disney World’s Phased Reopening

Life at Walt Disney World is different now than it has ever been.  The phased reopening and safety procedures are creating a really unique experience that brings with it some really cool things – like short lines!  But there are also a lot of things that we’re missing these days.  Here are the things we are missing most. 


1. Meet and Greets

The #1 thing that many guests are missing right now is the character meet and greets that Disney is so famous for.  Kids and adults alike delight in the authentic interactions that Disney characters are known for and the special moments that the Photopass photographers capture.  It is pretty cool that the characters are showing up more throughout the parks, but it’s awfully hard to not be able to give them a hug or a high five!

2. The Shows

While many people think of Disney as a place for rides, its shows are the favorite attraction for many guests.  They are known for their excellent performers and high quality productions that have guests returning to the same shows every time they visit.  The shows also offer guests the opportunity to get off their feet and out of the heat for a while, and there’s no substitute for that right now!  For families with small children or any family members for who some rides aren’t accessible or enjoyable, the shows offer the chance to still experience Disney magic together.  For all of these reasons, we really hope that Disney is able to bring back their shows safely in the near future!

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3. The Interaction with Other Guests

Most people visiting Disney right now are enjoying the low crowds and short waits and not missing the throngs of people that are usually there.  But one really fun aspect of the crowds is also missing – fun interactions with other guests.  There is something special about chatting with the party ahead of you in line, or having people wish you Happy Birthday when they see your button, or watching your toddler make friends while playing in the splash pad.  The current Disney experience, with masks and social distancing, makes it harder to have these interactions and feel connected to other guests. 

4. Some of our Favorite Restaurants

With the limited park capacity, it makes sense that Disney would keep a significant number of restaurants closed during this time, but that doesn’t make us miss them any less!  The biggest hits are those that have special food that you can’t get anywhere else.  I’m really going to miss grabbing a LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland and the tots at Woody’s Lunchbox!

Gaston’s Tavern

5. Some of our Favorite Resorts

Disney is taking a measured approach to reopening its resorts, which makes sense given the low park capacity and hesitance of many people to travel right now.  Disney is doing a great job of ensuring that anyone with a reservation at a closed resort gets moved to an open one. For some people, this ends up giving them a great upgrade to a more expensive resort for the same price!  But for others, it is a big disappointment to not be able to stay at the resort of their choice.  We have a Port Orleans French Quarter trip scheduled and were really looking to its pool and beignets, and even though we’ll be staying at another great hotel, we are bummed that it won’t be the resort that we initially chose. 

6. Walking Around While Eating

Wearing a mask all day at the parks is hard, but in general people are managing it ok and following the rules.  This is great because it helps everyone stay safe and allows the parks to stay open.  One weird problem the mask rule causes is that you can’t eat while walking around the parks.  You can take off your mask while eating in a stationary location, but once you are moving the mask needs to be on.  This was probably instituted to keep people from using a loophole and keeping their masks off all the time and saying that they were eating.  But it also changes the snacking experience so you can’t enjoy your popcorn, pretzel, or Mickey Ice Cream Bar as you make your way around the park. 

7. Walking Around While Drinking

You could lump this in with eating, but since it is Food and Wine Festival season at EPCOT it deserves its own spot on the list.  Disney decided to go ahead with the festival this year and even extend it to start in the summer, but visiting the kiosks around the park and trying different drinks is not quite the same when you have to stay stationary to enjoy them!  This might end up being a good thing for safety, as people who have had a lot to drink probably won’t be as good at keeping their masks on.

8. Character Meals

While Topolino’s Terrace breakfast, Chef Mickey’s, and Garden Grill Restaurant do offer modified Character dining experiences, we still miss several of our favorite character meals that are currently unavailable. They offer the opportunity to have fun interactions with several characters while enjoying a great meal.  We usually book at least one character meal and our three year old is always super excited for them.  Some families are even used to doing one character meal per day!  Not being able to have these experiences right now is disappointing, but hopefully it will make them feel even more special when they return!

Mickey at Tusker House

9. Happily Ever After

We are missing all of the nighttime shows right now, especially the Happily Ever After fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.  Disney does an amazing job with this show and it is the perfect way to end the day at the happiest place on earth.  We miss the music, the fireworks, and the warm fuzzy feeling it always leaves us with. 

About Katie D

I grew up in New Jersey in a family where the word “vacation” was synonymous with “Disney World.” After a few years of visiting regularly, my family became Disney Vacation Club members which meant we visited even more! Going to Disney always felt kind of like going home, and some of my best childhood and teenage memories occurred there. Now that I live in Jacksonville, FL I am excited to be a short drive from this magical place and look forward to making new memories for years to come.