2021 has been a strange year for the Disney Parks. Well, really it’s been a weird year for everywhere. 2020 was the same. I think this has left people confused. I can tell you that I am confused nearly every day. Thankfully for the sake of this blog post, I’m not very confused about the current state of the Disney Parks and am here to answer some questions that we get asked the most!
I’ll keep this simple and just list the question with the answer for it straight below. Some will have very direct and easy answers while others are more complicated. I’m trying to have a very general list of questions but if you have any that aren’t asked here then please leave us a comment. Without further ado, let’s get to the questions!
Do you need a reservation to visit the Disney Parks currently? How full are the reservations?
Yes, you will need a park reservation to enter any of the U.S. Disney Parks along with a ticket to whichever resort you are going to. While late summer and September were a dry spell at both parks, guest demand has grown exponentially in October. There are days where reservations are not currently available but they are few and far between. We do recommend checking the reservation calendar before buying tickets, just to make sure that your dates are available. You can find Disneyland’s here and Walt Disney World’s here. Even with October being busy, November and December look very available at this point.
How do you make a reservation?
You will need to link your ticket to your Disney account, which is done easily by a confirmation number or by scanning the ticket once inside of the app. After that, you will select ‘Make A Park Reservation” and then follow the site to the calendar. From there, you’ll be able to select which dates you want followed by which parks you want. If a park is full on a certain day then it will say that the park is unavailable. If that happens to you, keep checking back for the next few days as the calendar does change from time to time.
Where should I get my park tickets?
Park Prodigy is our preferred place to buy tickets! Click here for Disneyland and here for Walt Disney World. There are a number of other options including the official Disney site, although it’s more expensive. Basically just stay away from buying off Craigslist and stick to certified sellers!
Are masks required?
Currently, Disney requires masks inside but not outside. That means that you’ll have to wear a mask on the majority of attractions and on the indoor portions of queues, stores, and restaurants until you are eating or drinking.
Are shows, parades and fireworks happening?
Fireworks and some shows have returned over the last few months, including some special debuts for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. While entertainment isn’t all the way back to what it was pre-pandemic, it’s slowly working its way to that point. Unfortunately, parades haven’t come back yet but character cavalcades are common especially in the castle parks. It does seem as if parades will return for the Christmas season.
Do the parks utilize a FastPass system currently?
Not anymore! Disney has opted to run with a new system called Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. These will be paid services that allow guests to jump to the front of the line at certain attractions. The system will debut on October 19th at Walt Disney World and probably not long after that at Disneyland Resort.
What restaurants are open? Do they have reduced menus?
Like the entertainment, restaurants are making their way back to pre-pandemic levels, as well. Many of them opened with reduced menus but have recently expanded with specialty items for Halloween and/or WDW’s 50th anniversary! There are a select few restaurants that haven’t opened yet but the majority of them have reopened and are working their way back to a bigger menu.
Are there character meet & greets?
Character meet & greets have taken on a different form over the last year and continue to evolve. There weren’t any meet & greets for a while but instead there were characters out and about the parks throughout the day that guests could take a socially distanced selfie with. I actually prefer this method as it feels more organic to the park. But, guests wouldn’t be able to have one-on-one time with characters in this instance. The situation continues to evolve and character meets are on their way back to the more traditional form, albeit in a socially distanced format. That means there’s one-on-one time but no hugging. As much as I’d love to hug Chewbacca right now, that will have to wait for just a while longer.
Are there Extra Magic Hours or Early Entry?
Currently, Disneyland doesn’t offer anything of the sort. Walt Disney World just started offering half an hour early entry to all four of their parks daily if you are staying at a Disney Resort. There is also an extra two hours of park opening weekly at Magic Kingdom and Epcot for guests who are staying at a deluxe resort. This is an excellent perk, as the parks are completely empty and you’re able to do a large amount of attractions in a very short amount of time.
If you have any questions about the parks, please let us know in the comments below! If you’re planning a trip to the Disney Parks, check out our planning guides to get you started! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!