What To Know About Walt Disney World BEFORE You Visit

cinderella walking to the castle
Credit: Disney

Visiting Walt Disney World may require some extra planning and patience at the moment, but it’s sure to brighten up your time away from school and work with some extra magic regardless. Here’s what you need to know if you have an upcoming trip to the Walt Disney World Resort:


1. Some resort Guest perks are not currently available

We always recommend staying at a Disney resort to be close to all of the magic and to take advantage of perks reserved only for Disney resort Guests, but at this time it’s important to note that not all of those perks have returned. Disney’s Magical Express is available (for the rest of 2021) however luggage pickup is not available, so you’ll need to stop at baggage claim. Extra Magic Hours have not yet returned either, and package pickup (to both theme park entrances and your resort) is not yet available. 

2. Park pass reservations are required to visit

In addition to valid theme park admission, park pass reservations are now required to visit Walt Disney World theme parks. You can easily make your reservations through My Disney Experience when you purchase your tickets. We recommend making reservations for the parks you’d like to visit as soon as they are available, because parks may fill up while the resort is running on limited capacity.

3. FastPass has not yet returned

FastPass+ is not currently available, so you will not see the option to book FastPasses in the My Disney Experience app, and all Guests will be directed to the standby entrances for all attractions (with the exception of Rise of the Resistance which still requires boarding passes.) While FastPass is currently unavailable, rest assured that standby lines are a little shorter due to no FastPass and limited capacity in the parks!


4. Not all restaurants are open

Many of your favorite Disney restaurants have reopened and are excited to see you! Others have not yet reopened, but if you’re hoping for a certain restaurant to come back before your trip, we recommend checking the My Disney Experience app frequently. Lots of changes seem to be coming for the summer months, so it doesn’t hurt to keep checking the app. 

5. …or taking reservations 

Not all of the restaurants that are open are currently taking advance reservations. Contrary to what many of us have done for years of Disney vacation planning, your best bet for dining at certain locations is to add yourself to the walk-up list rather than making a reservation in advance. You can easily do this by clicking to the restaurant of your choice within the My Disney Experience app. 

Credit: Disney (Three Bridges Bar & Grill)

6. Mobile ordering is the way to go

Contactless payments are on trend this year AND mobile ordering continues to be the quickest way to get your food at Disney quick service restaurants. We love mobile ordering anyway because it makes it easier to budget for and customize orders, plus it saves us time in line at busy restaurants. Order ahead on the app and select the time you’d like your food to be prepared, and eating on the go in Walt Disney World will be a breeze.

7. Character meet and greets have been modified

Traditional character meet and greets will be returning to the parks at a later date, but you can still see characters at the parks today. Character cavalcades roll through the parks all day, allowing Guests to interact with characters from a distance. Additionally select character dining locations have been reopened with more distant character interactions, including Chef Mickey’s and Toppolino’s Terrace to name a few. 

Credit: Disney (Topolino’s Terrace)

8. Park hopping is available (but different)

Park hopping comes with a little more planning at the moment, but it is still doable if you’re hoping to visit more than one park per day. Add the park hopping option to your tickets, and you’ll be able to hop beginning at 2:00 pm. Reservations are only required for your first park of the day.

9. Mask policies have been updated

Disney has been regularly updating their face covering guidance since the parks reopened last year. Currently masks are not required while in outdoor common areas, however they are required whenever you are indoors, including on every attraction. Remember that ‘indoors’ for a ride or show means whenever you walk through the attraction’s entrance, even if the queue is outdoors. 

Credit: Disney

10. Fireworks and parades are on hold

Fireworks and parades have not yet returned to Walt Disney World, but the character cavalcades offer a small taste of what a traditional parade would be like, so we’d recommend trying to catch a couple of those if you can. Fireworks have been heard testing, but they have not yet started operating for Guests yet. Keep following this site and checking the My Disney Experience app for updates on when those make their return. 

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."