Happy New year everyone! 2020 was a crazy year and 2021 will likely continue to be pretty hectic as well but we are adjusting at this point and I hope everyone is staying safe! After a year of waiting since my families big 2020 Disney trip was canceled, we are getting ready to return to Disney! Obviously Disney has made some changes since the start of the pandemic and I want to help you plan your 2021 Disney vacation so you still have an amazing trip!
Staying on or off Disney Property?
I am a COMPLETE Disney resorts advocate, we are DVC members (you can read about DVC membership here if you are considering joining!) so we tend to stay on property. However, our 2021 trip is our makeup from 2020 with my mom, sister and her family, plus all the fur babies! Anyway, we had booked a rental house through VRBO that the owner let us reschedule for this year due to the COVID closure last spring.
There are absolutely a bunch of pros and cons to weigh this year when choosing whether to book a Disney resort or a rental home. You need to consider cleanliness which I totally trust Disney with! But also closeness to people is a concern that you can avoid by renting a house. It all comes down to what is important to you and your family but you can check out my pros and cons list here! As well as some specific COVID related pros to Disney here!
If you want my advice/opinion though…I would totally book a Disney resort this year if it was just a normal trip with Jesse, little man and I. I trust the cleanliness at a Disney resort and as for contact with others? Well it won’t be any more than what you may experience in the parks. My only concern may be the pools, as with a rental you can have your own private pool, but Disney does have a max capacity for the pool areas so that’s a plus.
Tickets and Park Reservations
Due to the reduced maximum capacity (currently at about 35%) Disney has implemented park reservations. This means that before you can enter a park, you must have made a reservation to visit that park for that specific day. These reservations can be made in your My Disney Experience account, but you must have a park ticket purchased already as well.
Tickets can be purchased with a resort package or individually. Disney’s base rate tickets do require you to select the first day of your ticket to determine the price. So be sure you check the park availability before purchasing tickets because you will need both the park ticket and a park reservation for a specific date to enter the park. (Don’t forget though, you are still not guaranteed access to the park until you go through Covid screening temperature checks).
If you are like my family members and have tickets to use that were extended from the 2020 closure, then you have until September 26th of this year to use those up!
While on the topic of tickets, Disney did recently bring back the park hopper option! Park reservations are still required for your first park of the day, then after 2 o’clock PM you are free to hop to another park that did not reach their max capacity for the day. So be sure to keep an eye on you My Disney Experience app for updates on the parks attendance.
In my opinion the park hopper really is a waste with the new shortened park hours but sometimes a park hopper is a necessity…it all depends on your specific trip. If you need help deciding, be sure to check out my detailed decision guide on whether a park hopper is worth it for you and some other ways to fit everything in!
As with everything else, dining at Disney has been altered due to the pandemic. Back in the good ‘ol, pre pandemic days we could make Disney dining reservations 180 days in advance!! But as with everything, all good things come to an end 😜 kidding, I’m sure we will see 180 days again in the future but for now we will just have to accept the new rules.
Currently dining reservations can be made 60 days in advance but not all restaurants are open and many have limited menus. There are some character dining locations that are up and running again but the character interactions are a bit different as the characters don’t stop at each table for autographs anymore. Instead they will be walking by and may stop for some physically distanced selfies.
Some of the character dining locations open are:
- Topolino’s Terrace
- Crystal Palace
- Chef Mickey’s
- Garden Grill
- Hollywood & Vine
Hopefully more will continue to be added!
The beloved fastpass+ is still MIA in Disney World. One of the main reasons for this is that the 6 feet physically distanced ride lines are taking up A LOT more space and therefore the ride lines will run through both the standby and fastpass lines.
I have heard some mixed information here on the wait times. I have heard that the lines are shorter than normal due to the low capacity of people and it isn’t unusual to ride space mountain 3 times in one day.
However, I have also heard that the wait times are much longer since there are no fastpasses and since not everything is open, more people are drawn to the ride lines.
What’s true? I can’t tell you until March. But! I will make an educated guess that the lines were very short over the summer and fall, when people were still to scared to do to much unnecessary outings. We know that Disney did not hit max capacity until the holiday season sooo my guess is that during the time from thanksgiving through New Years is when the lines began to get longer.
So now the question is, what will happen next? Will the lines continue to stay longer as we reach spring or will Disney empty out again? Here’s to hoping the lines are short in March!
Masks are still a requirement in all Disney parks. Resorts and Disney Springs. Everyone 2 and up is required to wear a mask.
The only time masks may be removed are while eating or drinking in a stationary location, while swimming and in one of the designated relaxation stations to take a breather.
Disney has announced some special offers including a 30% off select rooms and 2 free days added to your ticket for select 4 day/3 night reservations.
Plus with the park hopper option being available again, Disney is definitely trying to get people back in their parks!
I am ABSOLUTELY looking forward to getting back to Disney in March, I can not even express in words how excited I am!! It may look something like this though 😆😍🤩
Are you planning a 2021 Disney Vacation? Have you already taken a trip after the COVID closure? If so, what advice would you add?