Planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation can be months, even years, in the making.
There’s deciding on which of the four theme parks and two water parks to visit, where to stay, where to eat, what experiences to make time for and how to navigate around the 40-square-mile resort (which is about the size of San Francisco).
The coronavirus pandemic has been a big game-changer, with Disney World closing in March and gradually reopening in phases starting in May, with new guidelines, procedures and temporarily unavailable attractions and amenities.
To make the most of your Disney World trip if you’re planning to go in 2020, here are the top five tips, strategies and new processes to know.
Note that as of July 16, Florida still had an executive order mandating a 14-day quarantine for many travelers arriving from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Unless you plan to stay more than two weeks in Florida, a Disney World trip is not an option until this restriction is lifted.
1Prioritize buying park tickets and getting park reservations
One of the most important Disney World changes is that a park ticket and a park reservation are required to enter Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
For now, you can only visit one park per day, and you must select specific dates for your tickets and reservations. You can view park availability calendars on the Disney World website before buying tickets and locking in your vacation dates, which is especially important if there is a must-visit park on your list.
Disney recommends making park reservations immediately after buying tickets to secure your desired spot.
If you’re concerned about maintaining a safe distance from others, two Disney World theme parks stand out as top picks for your reservations.
“Epcot and Magic Kingdom are good bets,” says AJ Wolfe, founder of Disney Food Blog and voice behind the DFBGuide YouTube videos.
She explains that theme parks with the most rides and high-capacity attractions will handle the influx of people the best. At Disney World, that’s Magic Kingdom by far. There are more than 20 rides, plus walk-through experiences such as Tom Sawyer Island and theater shows with technology or animatronics in the starring roles (Enchanted Tiki Room and Carousel of Progress to name two).
Epcot has fewer rides, but has many exhibits and large outdoor spaces, especially in the World Showcase.