Saturday, June 25, 2022

What Does Disney World Look Like

Theres More Than Rides At The Parks

What Does Walt Disney World Look Like During the Holidays?

While every park has a diverse offering of rides, there is more to each park than rides. Each park offers shows, including stage performances and “street” performances. They also all have different restaurants, from quick service burger stops to table service three-course meal joints.

Three of the parks have nighttime shows. They also all offer great places to explore and take in. This sounds silly, but the detail Disney puts into these parks is unparalleled. We cover the rides and attractions at Walt Disney World in the following posts:

    Walt Disney World Dining Changes

    Dining has underwent a large transformation since Walt Disney World’s reopening with some changes that may be here to stay and others that are slowly being phased out. Here are the top things you can expect:

    • Dining windows now open 60 days in advance
    • Modified character dining
    • Modified character dining experiences will include characters present at meals but with no hugs or autographs- characters will maintain proper distancing
  • Limited menus in some restaurants
  • Dining plans and dining packages are currently suspended
  • Items that used to be self serve will be served by cast members
  • Disney will encourage the use of disposable paper menus and QR codes for menu access
  • Increased cleaning of high traffic areas of the restaurants and spaced seating
  • Each restaurant will give you a QR code to scan with your phone. They also have paper menus on request.

    Despite some dining options not being available, Disney World still has an enormous amount of dining options to pick from and making your reservation as soon as possible is crucial to get your spot.

    Waiting Until After The 50th Anniversary

    I dont see any reason at all to wait until after the 50th Anniversary for your next visit. The latest Id be looking at right now is February 2023, the 17th month of the 18-month celebration.

    Guardians is basically a lock for 2022, and wed be shocked to see TRON delayed until after the 50th . Other than that, attempting to wait out crowds / prices seems a risky strategy. Prices only go up, and crowds will always be unpredictable.

    With two new rides scheduled to debut during the 50th Anniversary, a third also having debuted in 2021, were not expecting any major changes to the resort during most of 2023. Announcements? Definitely. Animal Kingdom in particular is due for something new, though perhaps some clarity on Epcots future might be a more immediate issue.

    If you looking toward after the 50th, presumably its partly because youd like less hoopla. If thats the case, then summer 2023 is probably your best bet. Itll be after the 50th, soon enough that we probably dont expect anything major to happen , and before holiday crowds descend on the resort.

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    Best Rides In Magic Kingdom

    The classic, must-see favorite rides for most visitors are:

    • Its a Small World a boat ride that shows the diversity of our world while the classic song belts in the background
    • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a zippy roller coaster taking you within the gem mines where the dwarfs work
    • Haunted Mansion a spooky, fun trip through a ghostly house where many surprises await
    • Finally, no trip is complete without the classic Pirates of the Caribbean where a boat travels in darkness and the hunt is on for the famed Captain Jack Sparrow. A pirates life is definitely for me!

    Haunted Mansion is located in Liberty Square and Pirates of the Caribbean is in Adventureland.Since my son can proudly state hes ridden every ride in Disney World, some of his all-time favorites include:

    • Space Mountain a wild, indoor roller coaster in the dark
    • Splash Mountain a whimsical, log-flume-type ride with various-sized hills you will get wet on this one!
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a runaway mine roller coaster with thrilling side twists and speed

    The Briar Patch is temporarily closed, but you can still find Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain souvenirs at Splashdown.

    Explore Walt Disney World Resort In Orlando


    Walt Disney World Resorts crown jewel is Magic Kingdom® Park, which offers some of Disneys most iconic attractions, magical encounters with beloved Disney characters, and special seasonal events like Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party. At Disneys EPCOT®, explore Earths past, present and future and enjoy annual celebrations like falls EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival and springs EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.

    Mother Nature takes center stage at Disneys Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, which will transport you to some of the most remote locations on the planet without leaving Orlando. Then, its time for lights, camera and plenty of action at Disneys Hollywood Studios®, Disney’s stunning salute to movies.

    Speaking of Disneys Hollywood Studios, for the first time ever, theres a place where you can live your very own Star Wars story, from flying the Millennium Falcon to getting caught in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance, only at Star Wars: Galaxys Edge. And now, the wackiest, silliest train trip ever is ready to take you through the cartoon world and Mickey & Minnies first ride-through attraction in Disney Parks history. When Mouse Rules apply, anything can happen aboard Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway!

    Disney Springs

    And Disney fans, take note: The Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary gala, The Worlds Most Magical Celebration, is underway!

    Orlando’s Only Official Website

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    Walt Disney World Requires Planning

    Chances are by now you’ve figured out Walt Disney World requires planning. Nowadays, this doesnt mean you need to do much booking in advance, but you should at least have a strategy in mind for the parks. If you just showed up and expected to wander into a good time, youre likely to be disappointed.

    As far as doing things in advance, the most important thing right now is that you get your Disney Parks Pass Reservation to visit a park. While these dont run out often, you cant enter the park without oneeven with a valid ticket.

    As far as strategy for visiting the parkstheres a lot. A good place to start is at our one-day park itineraries. These link to things like our Genie+ and rope drop posts that take deeper dives into those issues:

    • Magic Kingdom One Day Itinerary

    Worried about wrapping your head around this? Then an Authorize Disney Vacation Planner might be for you. We recommend using our form to get a quote from Lauren Quirk At Travel With Character LLC. Lauren can guide you step by step through the process of planning a Walt Disney World vacation!

    The Quiet Kingdom: What Does Disney World Look Like With No Guests

    Walt Disney World has closed its doors in response to the novel coronavirus. This marks the first non-weather related closure of the parks since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, and the longest continuous closure of the parks in their history.

    Its rare to see the Magic Kingdom bereft of people, even after closure, as the park is usually bustling with guests or staff at all hours. Today, WKMG-TV/Click Orlando in Orlando, gave us a rare look at what the park looks like without guests and its definitely eerie.

    These aerial photos are a particular rarity because flying less than 3000 feet over Walt Disney World is normally forbidden, thanks to the No Fly Zone in effect over the area. WKMG-TV had to get special permission to take these shots, which were streamed on earlier today.

    Main Street USA looks similarly deserted, though it is a rare chance to see the rooftops of the buildings here. Most buildings at Disney World only maintain their facades from guest level, switching to a more utilitarian look when viewed from above or behind.

    As the chopper approaches Castle Plaza, its clear just how empty the park actually is. This is usually the busiest area of the entire park, as the main thoroughfare between the various lands. The fact a maintenance truck can drive through the normally packed streets is astounding.

    Other popular areas of the park seem almost unrecognizable.

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    Face Masks Required Indoors At Disney World

    Face coverings are required for all Guests while indoors including all Disney transportation like buses, monorail, and the Disney Skyliner. Face coverings are still optional outdoors for all guests which is great news considering the heat and humidity in Florida! Remember: you’re not inside very long on your Walt Disney World trip and with the air conditioning indoors it should make it easier!

    Disneyland has also updated its face covering policy with indoor masks now required for all guests and cast members since July 30th. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are located in counties with COVID case counts that are considered in the high or substantial transmission range. The CDC recommends that all people, including those that are vaccinated, wear masks indoors at this time.

    Walt Disney World previously made masks optional for all guests on June 15th but is changing it’s guidance to align with the CDC’s new recommendation. You can stay up to date on all of Walt Disney World’s health recommendations on their website.

    Universal Orlando has updated their face covering guidelines as well to recommending masks indoors for all guests but it’s not required or mandated like it is at Walt Disney World.

    Solarium And Bathing Beach On Lake Estelle Orlando

    What Does an EMPTY Disney World Look Like?

    The solarium at Lake Estelle was open from 1934 1956. The solarium was originally opened by the Orlando Jaycees, who intended for the area to serve as a bathing beach on the lake. A year later the city built a road in the area, dredging parts of the lake and literally dividing the lake in half with a road. The construction of the road contaminated the water, and the solarium never regained its popularity.

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    Walt Disney World Resort Safety Measures

    Disney World theme parks, hotels, restaurants, attractions, services and other experiences may be modified, limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or even closure. Disney has implemented the following safety measures based on the guidance of government officials and health advisers:

    • Cleanliness and sanitization: Disney has increased cleaning and disinfection measures, and will continue to hold this standard. While regular cleaning has been reduced in frequency since first reopening in 2020, the hand sanitizers remain. Note that finger scanning at the touchpoints has returned.
    • Cast training: Disney provided new training and reinforcement to emphasize a strong culture of health and safety among its cast members.
    • Face coverings: The mask policy is ever-changing, based on current health guidelines. See our separate post for more details!
    • Contactless payment: Payment through MagicBands, Apple Pay and Google Pay is available at restaurants and retail shops. Mobile ordering at restaurants has been expanded and is highly encouraged or required.

    Key Scenes Have Gone Missing From A Few Rides

    In order to avoid having guests congregate in close quarters, several attractions have had their preshows cut, in some cases leaving out iconic scenes like Haunted Mansions Stretching Room. Some ride preshows remain intact or have been modified: Flight of Passages two preshows have been shortened and merged into one. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Runs preshow is still running, but guests may be asked to keep moving before theyve heard audio-animatronic Hondo Ohnaka give his full spiel.

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    Disney World Theme Park Reservation System Park Hopping Disney Genie Service & Dining Reservations

    In order to better manage capacity, Disney World has implemented a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance . Theme park tickets are required to make reservations, so make sure you buy your tickets right away! Find out more information about the Disney Park Pass reservation system in our separate blog post.

    For Disney World’s initial reopening phase, guests were only able to visit one park per day no park hopping was allowed. But as of Jan. 1, 2021, the Park Hopper option has returned with some slight modifications. Guests with passes or tickets that include the Park Hopper option must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit and enter that first park prior to visiting another. Additionally, there are specific Park Hopper hours Park Hopper hours begin at 2 p.m. each day and end at the parks scheduled close time, and entry is still subject to capacity limits . Be sure to check and the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours, as they could start earlier at a later date, depending on the day and park. Since park hopping has returned, park availability has been open and accessible. For more details about park hopping policies, check out our separate guide.

    There Are No Parades But It Doesnt Feel That Way

    What does Walt Disney World look like during COVID ...

    Disney Worlds parades have been suspended for the time being, but youll still get a chance to see some pretty impressive floats making the rounds. Adorable Character Cavalcades make impromptu appearances regularly throughout all four parks . Keep your ears peeled when the loud music starts, theres probably a float on its way!

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    You Can Have Breakfast With Your Favorite Character Or Lunch With An Imagineer At Disney World

    Guests can skip long meet-and-greet lines to their favorite characters if they pre-book a character breakfast. With a few characters circulating the room, guests are able to take photos and get autographs from them while dining. There are multiple locations with different characters who participate in this.

    You can also book lunch with an Imagineer at Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby or Citrico’s at the Grand Floridian resort and ask them about the creative processes behind the making of Disney World.

    Every Park Has Designated Spaces Where You Can Take A Mask Break

    Orlando can get pretty hot, so its nice to get a break to cool off and remove your face covering. Each of Disney Worlds four theme parks has several Relaxation Stations where youll be directed to a distanced table or spot to stand where you are allowed to remove your mask. If its AC youre after, theres an indoor Relaxation Station in each park in addition to outdoor zones.

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    The Best Of The Rest At Magic Kingdom

    Once youve got the main rides out of the way, one of the best things to do at Magic Kingdom is just wander, soak up the atmosphere, and pop into one of the random shows and attractions that rarely have long waits.

    If you are wondering what to do at Disney World when youre feeling hot and exhausted, I recommend musical shows like the Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree , and Mickeys PhilharMagic. You wont need to wait for long and they are perfect when you need a break.

    We also love having a picnic on Tom Sawyers Island, clambering up the Swiss Family Treehouse, and getting on the water on the pun-tastic or the leisurely Liberty Square Riverboat.

    The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover takes you behind the scenes of Tomorrowlands attractions and is especially lovely at sunset when you can see the park from above. We enjoy taking the Railroad around the park in the afternoon when were feeling tired.

    Finishing the day with the Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle is a Disney World must do.

    How Long To Visit Walt Disney World

    What’s Disney World Like in 2021?

    To start, we have a few posts for shorter visits that go through some of the decisions youll be making on a shorter visit:

      For a first visit, we recommend at least three full days. Thats four nights, and with the arrival and departure days, five days. Obviously this is better if you can fly in very early and out very late. With three days, you can spend two full days at one park each, and split the third day between the remaining two parks.

      Four full days plus one travel day is better. If flight prices work out, consider flying in one night earlier than planned and staying at the cheapest Disney room you can find. Wake up the next morning, tell them to send your bags to the Disney hotel you booked the rest of your trip at , and go enjoy the parks.

      Five full days, or four full days plus a solid half day , is ideal. This will allow you full days at each park and an extra half day at Magic Kingdom.

      Weve done ten-day vacations at Walt Disney World and month-long Airbnb stays off property. Theres really no amount of time wed say is too long. After six to eight days, youll need look beyond the standard plan though, and to things like water parks, spa / no parks days, and backstage tours.

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      Extended Evening Hours For Deluxe Hotels

      Along with the early theme park entry for all resort guest, Walt Disney World has also announced Deluxe hotel guests and DVC members can enjoy extended evening hours at the theme parks.

      Extended evening hours will begin in early October with specific dates and parks to be shared at a later time, so please be sure to check back for the latest. For both of these options, select attractions, merchandise and food and beverage locations will be available.

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