Disney Parks and Resorts Update for June 22nd
The Walt Disney World park reservation system is now online. I’ve got detailed information about it, and oh so much more, in the latest Disney Parks & Resorts Update for June 22, 2020.
Park Reservations Now Open
I’ve since had the opportunity to use it this morning, and the process is about what you’d expect. Disney will currently allow anyone with an official resort reservation and park admission tickets to book Park Passes.
If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member with park admission tickets or an annual pass but no current hotel reservation, you can book starting on June 26. All other guests can schedule reservations beginning on June 28.
Presuming that you can book right now, the actual process is simple. You’ll pick a date, pick a park, and schedule a reservation. Getting to that part…requires patience.
About the Booking Process
Disney’s system is undeniably overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands of people attempt to book reservations. A pro tip is to start a Disney dining reservation first. Once you’ve logged into Disney this way, cancel out of the restaurant booking.
Then, go to this landing page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/park…/create-party/
Many people explored the trial and error phases of the system this morning as demand was at its highest. This process seemed to work the best. I’ve managed to book park visits every day of my trip without incident. If you haven’t yet, you may check availability here:
As I type this, no date appears sold out. Remember to click the tab that states Disney Resort Guests. Otherwise, you won’t show any other availability until June 26.
Disney will employ this system until September 26, 2021. Presumably, the company has cut off dates after that since the following week represents the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
So, DVC members can book park reservations for dates when we haven’t even reached the 11-month window yet. I strongly recommend that you take full advantage of this opportunity while you can. Otherwise, a date you prefer might sell out of park visits before you even schedule your DVC stay.
Nobody knows how we will evaluate the pandemic a year from now. I’m advising friends (and now you) to plan for the worst with vacations. Assume that Disney never increases capacity over 50 percent during the Disney Park Pass System dates. Then, you won’t need the park reservations later if/when the situation improves.
One final pro tip on the Disney Park Pass System: People are reporting the most success by using a Google Chrome browser in Incognito Mode. You can do a web search for your My Disney Experience log-in, go straight to that page, log into your account, and then access the Park Reservations page.
Disney Park Updates
In anticipation of the parks reopening in less than three weeks (YES!), Disney has released complete details about how the parks will operate during the pandemic.
I’m going to come at this backward since you’re DVC members and know what the parks have to offer. Here are the attractions that will NOT reopen with the parks:
Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
- The Boneyard
- Finding Nemo The Musical
- Primeval Whirl
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
- Star Wars Launch Bay
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along Film
- Bruce’s Shark World
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
- Main Street Vehicles
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
The only one of these that surprises me in the least is Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which takes place outdoors. The rest are either high-touch environments or indoor presentations. And singing is especially problematic during the pandemic.
Overall, I view the operational attractions list as a best-case scenario. I’d feared that Disney might keep some rides offline due to the smaller park attendance. Instead, what they list here is a fully operational park experience. However, Hollywood Studios will suffer modestly from the lack of those shows.
The primary culprits here are tours, dessert parties, paid gatherings, and anything else that would force a lot of people into a tight space. Also, people who want to embrace Disney’s nature services are out of luck right, as the Living with the Land and Animal Kingdom safari options are currently tabled.
More about the Parks
Disney has also provided a trio of modestly surprising updates about the parks. For starters, Single Rider lines won’t run during the pandemic, which makes sense. Disney wants to lower the capacity of rides. So, stuffing more people onboard would go against that philosophy.
The real shocker is that Disney allegedly won’t employ virtual queuing when the parks reopen. The company had previously announced that FastPass won’t return, either.
So, Disney’s apparently going to reply on good old-fashioned standby lines. The thought process is that park capacity will remain low, and so the lines won’t be problematic anywhere.
Disney has proven that it can implement virtual queuing quickly when needed. Ergo, if this strategy proves too optimistic, the parks can add digital queues later.
There are a couple of ancillary aspects to this decision. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance won’t utilize Boarding Groups anymore. It’ll employ standby lines, too.
Also, the overall strategy seems curious. When Universal Orlando Resort reopened, that park utilized more virtual queuing than ever before. Several attractions rotate virtual queues each week. The two businesses are employing totally different tactics here.
Disney Changes Magic Band Policy
The third update involves Magic Bands. Disney will no longer give these away with each hotel stay, even for DVC members. Starting in 2021, anyone who wants a Magic Band must pay the upgrade fee, the one currently associated with specialty Magic Bands.
The parks will no longer require Magic Bands, which is somewhat misleading since they never really did. However, Disney emphasized the utilization of Magic Bands during the program’s years. Since then, the ubiquity of smartphones has caused park officials to reconsider.
Some of the Magic Band services have already relocated to the My Disney Experience app. For example, you can now open your DVC hotel room door via the app. Disney will add other services to the app later.
I’m not ready to say that Magic Bands are dead. Still, Disney’s clearly phasing out integral parts of the program…well, relocating them. If you’re like me and have a closet full of Magic Bands, you’ve got some collector’s items now.
Also, if you’re scheduling a Disney trip for the rest of 2020, make sure to choose the Magic Band option. Get ‘em while they’re still free!
Table Service Restaurant Changes
Park officials have chosen to modify some aspects of Table Service dining. For starters, a couple of popular buffets will return in a different form.
Chef Mickey’s and Biergarten Restaurant no longer offer buffet services. During the pandemic, that’s the worst practice imaginable.
So, Disney has changed both meals to family-style service, the kind you know from The Garden Grill Restaurant and ‘Ohana. It’s the right thing to do.
The other alteration will occur at many Table Service restaurants. Disney will enable online check-in when guests arrive for their meals. As DVC members, you know that this move is long overdue.
Before now, we had to wait until all members of our party arrived and then walk over to the hosting station to request service. Then, we go back to where we were and wait until our table is ready.
With online check-in, the process will work more like restaurant apps such as OpenTable. You’ll signal your arrival on the app, and then someone will call your name when your table becomes available. It’s a much more efficient process that Disney should have used years ago.
More importantly, this move reduces the risk for hosts and hostesses. They’ll have fewer personal interactions with customers, which means you’re safer this way, too.
I could write 5,000 more words about everything happening at Disney right now. However, you’d get bored. So, here are the other topics that will impact you as DVC members.
Disney had previously indicated that Jambo House wouldn’t reopen when Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge returned today (June 22). The company has since announced that the DVC portion of Jambo House’s scheduled comeback date is July 10. I’ll post the full list of known hotel reopening dates at the end of the article.
Fans of Adventures by Disney must wait a little longer. Management has canceled all remaining trips through August. It’ll be an adventure-less summer, I’m afraid.
When you’re at the parks, you’ll notice a new team of Disney cast members. Their sole purpose is to ensure that guests honor social distancing practices. To make this group more charming, park officials have themed them as the Incredi-Crew.
If you notice someone wearing a mask with The Incredibles colors, that’s who they are! And you might do that soon. Members of the Incredi-Crew are already working at Disney Springs.
Also, Walt Disney World DVC resorts are back in business. They reopened to the public this morning. The early word is that the returns have gone smoothly. I’ll update you more next week, but you can also check out your favorite vloggers on YouTube and other social media for further details.
And here’s the list of reopening resort dates that I promised:
July 10: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House (for DVC only), Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort
July 29: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
August 12: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
August 24: Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts
September 21: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
October 1: Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
October 14: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort