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We know everyone is excited about planning a 2021 Disney World vacation. Disney World is celebrating the 50th anniversary in October. Plus, there are new rides and attractions opening throughout the year. It is an exciting time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, even though things are a little different. Today, we are going to share 2021 Disney World tips for your next vacation.
VIDEO: 2021 Disney World Tips
2021 Disney World Tips
Let’s jump into the 2021 Disney World tips for your next vacation.
Masks are Required
As you probably can guess, masks are required at the Disney Resorts, Disney Parks, and Disney Springs. This is a local Orange County ordinance that Disney is following. They are also very strict in regards to face masks. The masks must be two layers of breathable material and fully cover the mouth and nose. It also must fit snugly around the side of the face.
The masks at Disney World went up in price (almost double the price). If you want to purchase a cute Disney mask, hop on Shop Disney (before your vacation) to order at a less expensive price.
Bring Several Masks
Plan on packing (2) masks for each day at the Disney Parks. Wearing masks all day at the Disney Parks is like wearing shoes all day. We always recommend packing several pairs of shoes for a Disney World vacation. Now we also recommend packing several masks for your Disney World vacation.
Pack a Backup Mask for the Parks
For your days at the Disney Parks, plan on packing a backup mask in your day bag for everyone in your family. It gets hot in Orlando (almost year round). Imagine wearing a mask all morning. You take it off at lunch. You have a nice refreshing lunch. Afterwards, you have to put the sweaty wet mask back on your face. YUCK!
Instead you can pull out your backup masks for the rest of your day at the parks. This makes wearing masks, much more comfortable.
Download My Disney Experience
For 2021, so much of your Disney World vacation is centered around the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone. You will use this app to book dining, order fast food, order snacks, open your resort door, check wait times, Play Disney Parks, book a virtual queue, and even view PhotoPass pictures.
Take the time before your Disney World vacation to download the My Disney Experience app to your smartphone. Then spend some time just getting used to the app and options. This will save you time and stress during your vacation.
Book Dining Reservations Before You Leave
If you are planning on dining at any sit down locations during your Disney World vacation, be sure you book your reservations before you leave home. You can currently book dining reservations 60 days in advance. Disney Resort guests can book their dining reservations for their entire vacation (up to 10 days) on the 60 day mark.
The popular Disney World restaurants do book up early, so we recommend booking your reservations as close to the 90 day mark as possible.
Do Online Check In
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort, be sure you do the online check in, before you arrive to Disney. This involves some basic information on the My Disney Experience app and leaving a credit card for incidentals.
Once you complete your online check in, you will receive a text from your Disney Resort when your room is ready. This will include a link to a resort map and your room number. You can skip the front desk and go straight to your room. Once you arrive to your room, you can just the My Disney Experience to even unlock your door.
We love this timesaver. Standing at the front desk can sometimes take 30 minutes to an hour. We love skipping the front desk and going straight to our room.
If you need some guidance on picking the best Disney World Resort for your vacation, check out this post. We rank the Disney World hotels from worst to best!
Make Your Disney Park Reservations
One of the biggest changes at Disney World is Disney Park Reservations. Disney now requires a theme park ticket AND Disney Park Pass reservation to enter the Disney Parks. This new reservation system helps keep the Disney Parks at limited capacity.
When planning your Disney World vacation, you should check the Disney Park Pass calendar first to make sure there is availability for your favorite parks. If there is availability, you can start booking your Disney Package and then make your Park Pass reservations. This is a new step in the Disney World planning process to visit Walt Disney World.
Set Timer on Phone to Stop to Hydrate
Florida is hot a majority of the year. Wearing the masks all day long makes it even hotter. I started setting my phone timer for every 30-45 minutes. This reminds me to stop with my family, take off the masks, and get some water. This is a refreshing break that helps to keep us going all day long at the Disney Parks.
Use Map on My Disney Experience to Skip Long Lines
The Disney Parks do not offer FastPass+ right now. We use the My Disney Experience app to view wait times at the rides. This helps us navigate the park to hit the rides with the shorter lines. This is a valuable resource right now, so you do not waste your time waiting in longer lines.
Even with no FastPass+, we have not waited in a line longer than 30 minutes. We may walk more, but bouncing between rides based on wait times helps us eliminate the longer waits.
Hit Popular Rides in Morning or End of Night
Prior to FastPass+ (years ago), our technique for beating the lines was arrive at the Disney Parks (right at opening) or at the very end of the night (right before the park closed). This technique is still popular today.
We try to arrive to the Disney Parks at opening. You will be amazed how much of the park you can get through, before the crowds hit between 11-2. Take advantage of this 2021 Disney World tip to ride the more popular rides and attractions.
Plan Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for More Popular Parks
When planning your park days, plan on less popular days of the week for the more popular parks. The two most popular parks at Disney World (right now) are Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.
Plan your days at these two parks on less popular days like Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
Check My Disney Experience for Last Minute Dining
Our trips to the Disney World Parks are usually last minute. However, we are always able to find a great sit down restaurant, even last minute. There is an option on the My Disney Experience called Now. This is a walk-up list. You can often find a last minute booking using this option.
If you were not able to get your favorite restaurant before you left for your Disney World vacation, try to see if you can get a last minute reservation.
Disney recommends Mobile Ordering for any fast food location. We always use Mobile Ordering, just because it saves you so much time. In 2021 this is key to ordering food at the Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, and Disney Springs.
This is also a huge timesaver. You can order your food while you are walking to the restaurant or while waiting in a ride line. Once you get to the restaurant, you can grab a seat and relax. Once your food is ready, you will get a message to go pick up your food. It is a more relaxing way to enjoy a fast food meal.
The Disney Characters are such a major part of any family vacation to Disney. The character experiences are different at Disney World for 2021, but just as magical!
The Disney Characters do keep the social distance. This means you can get a “social distancing” selfie. You will not be able to give hugs or get close to the characters. They do keep the proper social distancing.
You can see the Disney Characters throughout the Disney Parks. You may see a character parade down Main Street USA, Anna and Elsa in a parade at Epcot, or StormTroopers at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. They may be in a parade, on a stage, on a balcony, or in the distance.
These experiences can be just as magical. One of my favorites was with Winnie the Pooh at Epcot. He was waving at guests near Journey into Imagination with Figment. He was on a hill next to a tree. He was waving to guests and pausing for selfie pics. He was dancing, playing hike and seek with the kids behind a tree, and just having fun. I loved watching the kids interact with him. It was one of my favorite Disney Character experiences ever.
One of our favorite ways to experience the Disney Characters is with character dining. This is a great 2021 Disney World tip, too!
There are a few character dining opportunities available right now, including Garden Grill at Epcot, Topolinos Terrace, Flavors of the Riviera at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is still a fun way to experience the characters. You will get distance selfies and see the characters just being super silly.
Shop at Disney Outlet
One of my favorite money saving tips (even in 2021) is actually right outside the Walt Disney World Resort (less than 5 minutes from Disney Springs). This is the Disney Character Warehouse. This is an outlet store with Disney merchandise. You will find the exact same Disney merchandise that you will find at Disney World. There just may be one thing slightly wrong with the image or that did not sell or they over ordered. We love shopping at the Disney Character Warehouse. It is fun to save up to 80% off Disney merch!
Skip Park Stores at End of Night
One of the biggest shocks for me at Disney World was the long waits for the merchandise shops at the end of the night. We know guests like to shop at Disney World. Do not wait until the end of the night to hit the merchandise shops or you will be waiting in super long lines.
One Way Entrance & Exits
All of the stores and restaurants at Walt Disney World have one way directions. You would enter one door and exit out another door. They even had directional arrows on the ground to remind you the direction you should go. Be sure you watch for signs for the entrance and exit for stores and restaurants.
Bring Portable Chargers or Fuel Rods
I know I have mentioned the My Disney Experience app is an important part of your Disney World vacation. Using your phone all day long will drain it. Be sure you bring portable chargers to keep your phone charged all day long. If you forget a portable charger, you can also buy a Fuel Rod and swap that out throughout the day.
Longer Waits for Disney Transportation
We love the benefit of using Disney Transportation when staying at a Disney World Resort. However, wait times for Disney Transportation have been longer than normal. This is due to social distancing on the buses, boats, and monorails. Just plan a little extra time for transportation during your days.
We hope this helps you plan your 2021 Disney World vacation. If you have another tip, leave a comment below so we can share with everyone.
Temperature Testing & Social Distancing to Continue
The next big change at the Disney Parks is the temperature testing. You will go through a temperature testing area at the front entrance to the theme parks or at the Ticket & Transportation Center.
Advent Health (which is a hospital system here in Orlando) performs the temperature testing. The thermometer is held close to your head to check our temperature. The thermometer never touches your skin.
If your temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher, you and your party will be asked to leave. The temp checks are a quick process. It only took a few seconds to check a family.
For 2021, you will continue to see social distancing through the transportation, rides, restaurants, restrooms, merchandise shops, and more. Watch for the signs or floor markings throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
We hope this helps you plan your 2021 Disney World vacation. If you need even more information, check out the Complete Guide to Visiting Disney World.