Walt Disney World has released new “Know Before You Go” temporary policies and operational changes for its resorts reopening in June. In this post, we’ll share the latest news and offer speculation about what this means for other WDW hotels. (Updated June 16, 2020.)
This comes after Walt Disney World allowed guests with reservations between now and June 21, 2020 to modify their reservations, and change their trip with check out dates up until December 31, 2020 (meaning the vacation must be completed by the end of this year). This allows eligible guests to retain their 35% resort discount, but with the colossal catch that they need to opt for either Fort Wilderness or a Deluxe Villa Resort.
Today’s update starts with a list of resorts that are reopening on June 22, 2020. These select Deluxe Villa Resorts include Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort, Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom – Kidani Village, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Riviera Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort, and the Villas at Grand Floridian Resort.
As expected, Walt Disney World indicates that both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date is required–and confirms that a Disney Resort hotel reservation does not guarantee theme park access.
However, still no info on how park entry reservations will work, when they’ll be released, or if resort guests will have priority access (which is how prior capacity restrictions have worked). This is one of the big question marks about Walt Disney World’s reopening for many readers and, unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little longer for the answers.
We are closely watching for any updates about the park entry reservations, monitoring both the official app and website for the slightest changes and will immediately send our subscribers a heads up when the new theme park reservation system launches. (Sign-up for our free email newsletter here!)
The resort Know Before You Go page does offer new info about resort cleaning. Walt Disney World indicates that there will be increased cleaning in high-traffic common areas areas such as public elevators and escalators, handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms and more.
As for guest rooms, those will undergo thorough pre-arrival cleaning, with special attention paid to high-touch areas, like TV remotes and door handles and floors, which will be steam cleaned and vacuumed between guests.
Inside guest rooms, there will be extra linens and towels wrapped in single-use packaging, individually wrapped glassware, double-cased pillows, and additional items that have been cleaned and wrapped in single-use packaging.
During guest stays, rooms will receive a light cleaning service every other day, which will include removal of trash and used towels, replenishment of towels and amenities throughout the room and bathroom, wiping and cleaning of the vanity and counter surfaces, as well as vacuuming (as necessary).
Transportation has been a common question, and we also have an update on that. First, Disney’s Magical Express service will be available as normal for guests arriving and departing from Orlando International Airport.
Bus transportation to Disney Springs will operate once the hotels open. Transportation to theme parks will operate once those reopen in July. The page does not specify whether the monorails, Skyliner, or boats will run once the parks reopen. (We assume they all will, albeit with reduced capacity.)
Transportation will operate with physical distancing measures in place, which will reduce capacity. As a result, you may experience delays. Minnie Van Service will not be available during the initial reopening period. Self-parking will be available; valet parking won’t be available.
Whether hotel pools will reopen has been another common question, and we now have some answers to that. Feature pools may operate with reduced hours; leisure pools will be open 24 hours a day.
Pools will operate with reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing, and select poolside activities may not be available. Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will not be available during the initial reopening period.
Other Amenities & Entertainment
Some Disney Resort hotel services will be modified or unavailable during the initial reopening period, based on physical distancing and health guidelines.
Bell Services will deliver luggage to rooms
Club-level service will be temporarily unavailable
Deliveries will only be made to occupied rooms
In-room celebrations will not be available
Dry-cleaning and valet laundry services will be temporarily unavailable; self-service laundry will remain available
Shipping services will be temporarily unavailable
Resort airline check-in service may be temporarily unavailable
Fitness centers will operate with reduced hours and capacity
The following amenities and experiences will not be available during the initial reopening period:
Electrical Water Pageant
Spas, salons and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Additionally, the following special offerings and childcare services will not be available during the initial reopening:
Fireworks voyages and tasting cruises, including the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
Wonderland Tea Party at Park Fare
In-room childcare services
Special classes and programs—including culinary, cultural and animal programs
The rest of the “Know Before You Go” page for resorts covers familiar territory. Info about face masks being required everywhere except while swimming or dining, wellness (temperature) screenings, plus a reminder to make sure that you have reviewed any advisories or restrictions that may be in place for travel to Florida. (As far as entry to Florida goes, the tri-state quarantine order expires on July 7, 2020–that’s the only one that would impact arrivals.)
Unfortunately, we still don’t have info on which regular hotels will reopen, or when reservations will be accepted. A big part of the delay is undoubtedly Walt Disney World’s ongoing negotiations with the NBA. (We now know that Major League Soccer is Coming to Walt Disney World, and they’ll use the Swan & Dolphin Resorts.)
Disney Vacation Club has now confirmed that Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House will not reopen immediately (despite being available for booking). Here’s the warning you receive when attempting to book Jambo House on DVCMember.com:
“Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House will not be open during this initial period. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village will initially welcome home Members and Guests. Member Services will contact Members with confirmed reservations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House to transfer their existing reservations to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village.
Over time, as the volume of reservations increase, inventory will be expanded to include Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House. Upon the reopening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House, some amenities such as restaurants and merchandise locations will likely remain closed until the rest of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge opens. However, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, merchandise locations and restaurants will be available.”
It bears underscoring that not every Walt Disney World resort hotel is going to reopen with the parks. This is even absent the NBA, Major League Soccer, and whichever other professional sports end up coming to the ESPN Wide World of Sports and renting out entire resorts. (We’re hoping for Jelle’s Marble Runs, a competitive marble-racing league.)
Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated that not all resorts would reopen right away. The least likely resorts to remain closed are those within walking, monorail, or Skyliner distance to the parks and Deluxe Resorts with Disney Vacation Club add-ons. The most likely to stay shuttered are resorts that only offer bus transportation to the parks or those that do a lot of special event business.
All of these new Walt Disney World resort hotel policies are a lot to digest, and still leave a lot of unanswered questions. On the plus side, Walt Disney World recognizes this and is waiving change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in for reservations with arrivals through October 3, 2020.
This makes it more or less risk-free to maintain your reservation until the last possible minute, assessing new info and future policies once they’re released to determine whether it’s the right time for you to visit, or if all of the changes are “too much” (and that might already be the case for a lot of people). Regardless, we’ll keep you posted and share more details on all of this once specifics are confirmed!
Will you be booking a resort reservation for Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or are these rules/restrictions/policies going to cause you to postpone? Still waiting until more is known about the theme park entry registration? Surprised that Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House is not going to reopen? Do you agree or disagree with our speculation? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!