2020 was an unprecedented year and Walt Disney World Resort made significant changes to enable Guests to be welcomed back. Since July 2020, when the Disney Parks had their grand reopenings, there have been so many updates, with restaurant and resorts reopening, new safety measures in place, modified character experiences and so much more.
In the past few weeks even more news has been released. So what do recent updates tell us about how Disney World will be in 2021?
Park Hopping Resumes
From the 1st of January 2021 park hopping resumes! Guests will be able to visit multiple parks in a day, something that has been suspended ever since the parks reopened.
A valid Park Pass reservation for the first park of the day is required (as well as park hopper tickets). From 2pm Guests can visit another park. Park Pass reservations are not needed for the second park, but if the capacity has been reached entry may be denied.
Park hopping is a much loved feature for visitors to Disney World so it is fantastic news that it is back for people to enjoy! It also shows us Disney are keen to start reinstating elements that enhance visitors experience. The ability to spend part of the day enjoying one park and then to hop to another to spend the rest of the day certainly enhances the magic!
Blizzard Beach Reopens on 7th March 2021
Both of Disney's water parks have been shut since March 2020 but this is about to change! On 7th March 2021 Blizzard Beach will reopen. Five out of the six Disney Parks will then have welcomed Guests back.
In the hot Florida sun it will be a welcome return to be able to visit a water park to cool down and splash around in!
The enhanced safety measures that will be in place are yet to be released but it is certain the park will operate differently to before. Much like in the other Disney Parks the new measures put in place will seek to make Blizzard Beach safe for Guests and Cast Members whilst still creating a fun atmosphere with as many of the previous activities in place as possible.
More Resorts Will Start Welcoming Guests Back
In June 2020 the first Disney Resorts started to welcome Guests back. A number of resorts still remain closed but four extra resorts are confirmed to be reopening in 2021!
With even more resorts opening this means Disney are expecting more people to be visiting. This should mean park capacity will also increase to accommodate more people.
With more resorts open this also means more restaurants will reopen!
The four resorts reopening in 2021 are:
All-Star Movies reopening on 22nd March 2021
Beach Club Resort reopening on 30th May 2021
Wilderness Lodge reopening on 6th June 2021
Polynesian Village and Resort reopening Summer 2021
Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House, BoardWalk Inn, Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, All-Star Music Resort and All-Star Sport Resort are yet to have reopening dates announced.
Remy's Ratatouille Adventure is Confirmed To Open in 2021
This much anticipated ride had its Summer 2020 opening date postponed. This attraction was due to be one of the big openings this year but due to the limited capacity of the parks this was postponed.
For a while it was unclear if any new openings would happen in 2021. Any new ride opening always brings bigger crowds and with Disney being unable to accommodate this it put any grand openings in 2021 into doubt.
But Josh D'Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, recently confirmed that Remy's Ratatouille Adventure will open in 2021! This also means the expansion of the France pavilion will be unveiled for Guests to enjoy.
This is big news! Disney are confident enough that they can have a grand opening for a new attraction and pavilion extension and still be able to accommodate the rise in Guests this will bring.
Disney have recently given a sneak peak of how this attractions looks, which indicate it is likely close to completion! An opening date is yet to be announced but it will likely be spring/summer, which is when new attraction usually make their debut.
More Restaurants Continue To Open
Dining at Disney is such an important element of any trip! With over 200 restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort there is something for everyone. With lower crowd levels not all the restaurants opened straight away. But over the past few months more and more have opened their doors.
Just recently Tomorrowland Terrace and The Crystal Palace reopened in Magic Kingdom, both with new menus. Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort also resumed it's Character Dining with a modified experience and a brand new menu.
Over the Christmas period a number of restaurants have temporarily reopened to accommodate higher levels of guests at this time of year.
With more resorts reopening we will also see more resort restaurants open back up and with bigger crowds more park restaurants will open to keep up with the demand.
Disney World Parks Have Been Hitting Capacity For Park Pass Reservations
In the past few months Disney World has been getting busier and busier. This has lead to some days being completely full with no Park Pass Reservations left. It has been announced that Disney World is currently running at 35% capacity.
With more and more days being fully booked, showing a demand for people wanting to return to Disney, with enhanced safety measures put into place it is expected Disney will increase the park capacity in 2021.
Fireworks Being Tested
Fireworks have been tested after park close in Magic Kingdom. There has been speculation that the fireworks may have been for a recording of a Disney special, a wedding or even tests for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The fact that Disney are doing firework tests tells us that they are looking ahead to when Nighttime Spectaculars will return. There is no date announced for this yet but with testing going ahead it seems Disney are planning for the future.
With the 50th Anniversary of Magic Kingdom's opening happening on 1st October 2021 there is speculation that these firework tests may be to do with the special anniversary celebrations.
The Electrical Water Pageant Has Returned
On 20th December 2020 this much loved evening show returned to Seven Seas Lagoon near Magic Kingdom. This nighttime spectacular features a parade of floats that are beautifully lit up and is a wonderful evening entertainment.
The Electrical Water Pageant can be enjoyed at the following locations:
The Polynesian Village Resort at 8.45PM
The Grand Floridian Resort at 9PM
Wilderness Lodge at 9.30PM
Fort Wilderness at 9.45PM
The Contemporary Resort at 10PM
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort Due to Open in 2021
This is one of the most highly anticipated new openings at Walt Disney World. This Star Wars Resort will be unlike any other. This 2 night, 3 day stay is a fully immersive experience and will be out of this world!
Step into a launch pod and be transported to the Starcruiser, known as The Halcyon, for an luxury stay in a galaxy far far away.
Instead of windows the Starcruiser is fitted with screens, enabling you to look out across the galaxy. From the moment you step into this resort you will be transported into the Star Wars realm. This isn't just a resort stay, it is an experience!
The Starcruiser offers incredible immersive theming and you can also learn to use a lightsaber, help to operate the navigational systems under the watchful eye of the crew at The Bridge and go behind the scenes and visit The Engineering Room to see how a galactic cruiser operates. There is also expected to be a highly themed dinner show for Guests to enjoy.
As well as getting to enjoy everything the resort has to offer Guests will also have their own entrance directly into Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios.
You can learn more about all you can experience at this incredible immersive resort here!
This resort has been one of the most highly anticipated new developments at Disney World for years so to see it finally open in 2021 is fantastic! It also shows that Disney aren't afraid to push forward with one of their biggest openings and feel they will be able to deliver all aspects of this incredible resort's experiences in 2021.
Modified Character Dining
Character Dining has always been a firm favourite for people visiting Disney World. Getting to meet characters whilst enjoying a tasty meal was often on everyone's must do list! When restaurants started welcoming Guests back character dining was suspended. Some character dining restaurants remain closed, with others having opened but without characters.
Luckily there have been a range of character dining experiences that have come back with a modified experience. You still get to see your favourite characters but now from a safe physically distance area.
There are now 4 locations for Character Dining:
Garden Grill in EPCOT
Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios
Topolino's Terrace at the Riveria Resort
Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort
Hollywood & Vine and Chef Mickey's were previous buffet restaurants but have reopened with new menus, changing to family style dining with a choice of entrees to pick from.
Disney are keen to bring back features that are beloved by Guests so by creating slightly modified experiences it has enabled them to do so. With the success of these four locations it can be predicted that in 2021 we may see some further character dining resume with the same modified model.
EPCOT Festivals Going Ahead
EPCOT's International Festival of the Arts takes place 8th January - 22nd February. Guests will be able to immerse themselves in the arts and enjoy viewing work from Disney Imagineers as well as other local artists. Culinary art plays a big part of this festival, with 20 booths feature different cuisines. There is an interactive art zone called the Expression Section. This is a massive paint by number mural that visitors to the festival can take part in creating. Figment also has his own scavenger hunt called Figment's Brush With The Masters.
Performance art will also be featured. The Voices of Liberty will also be performing The Disney Songbook, where you will get to hear all the classic songs Disney have created over the years. Art Defying Gravity showcases amazing aerial performance, chalk artists will be creating art in front of your eyes and there will be performances from the legendary EPCOT band the JAMMitors.
The dates for the 2021 Flower and Garden Festival have also been announced. From 3rd March till 5th July EPCOT will be blooming with beautiful flowers and incredible topiaries depicting everyone's favourite Disney characters. No EPCOT festival is complete without amazing food and the Flower and Garden Festival offers a range of outdoor kitchens showcasing delicious, fresh cuisines. There is also a scavenger hunt called Spike's Pollen Nation Exploration with stations throughout World Showcase.
EPCOT has been able to carry out all it's annual festivals so far with some modifications. It is fantastic news these events have been going ahead. They offer an excellent extra activity for Guests to enjoy and the best part is entrance to all these festival is included in the ticket price!
The fact that EPCOT are continuing to put on all of their festivals shows that Disney are committed to trying to keep as many extra events as they can to help visitors feel like they are getting a normal Disney experience. These festivals are certainly a bonus for any trip and a great reason to make time to visit EPCOT.
Disney Have Released Offers For 2021
Disney have a range of offers for 2021 including free park days with certain ticket packages and free nights for UK Guest packages. This shows that Disney are keen to have even more people return and by offering tempting deals it gives a great incentive to book a trip to Disney.
With all these updates it shows Disney are confident that 2021 will be the year where more and more features return to Disney, park capacity will increase which will lead to more restaurants and resorts reopening and plenty of exciting new projects will debut. It is great to see that Disney are pushing forward with recreating the Disney World experience that people know and love and are even expanding with lots of fantastic new elements to be enjoyed in 2021.