On May 27th, the Senior Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World, Jim McPhee, gave a presentation to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force with a proposal to reopen the parks starting in mid-July. The proposal is pending approval from local authorities, but Disney hopes to open the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom with limited capacity on July 11th, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15th. A topic that remained unclear at the presentation was when the resort hotels would open and how a new theme park reservation system would work to let in the limited number of fans hoping to get in. Today, we've learned more details that included a pause on any new ticket sales and hotel reservations.
Disney has stated that in order to roll out a new reservation system that all guests would have to utilize to enter the parks and work with limited capacity, "...we have made the difficult decision to cancel all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages." Shortly after McPhee's presentation to the task force, Disney's website stop taking any new dining reservations across the resort. However, Disney has said that when we get closer to the reopening of the parks, they would reopen the ability to make dining and other experience reservations based on new capacity limits but would move from a 160-day booking window to a 60-day booking window. Meaning if you were hoping to book a table at your favorite restaurant in November soon, you're going to have to wait until you reach the 60-day mark before your desired date to make that reservation.
Some Disney fans may be delighted to hear that Disney is also going to suspend the use of Fastpass+ at the parks in order to make more queue space and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some guests have expressed in the past their belief that Fastpass+ only makes standby lines worse. But this suspension may not mean you'll get to walk right on popular attractions with little wait times. The removal of Fastpass+ will not only give guests the opportunity to keep a safe distance from others while waiting in line, but also is presumably to accommodate this new reservation system coming. Disney has previously teased the idea of virtual queues at select attractions when they reopen. While Fastpass+ will be eliminated for the foreseeable future, we may see a whole new virtual queuing system put in place at some attractions. Additionally, while some have pointed out possible new park hours later this summer, Disney has confirmed that Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.
Finally, Disney has stated that they have now paused any new ticket sales and hotel reservations at the resort. Again, this is all about focusing on those with existing reservations and tickets and how to manage what they've already sold for specific dates under their new limited capacity threshold. Some guests have been contacted already with the new changes to operations, but it appears that those with existing tickets and annual passes from mid-July onwards will get priority at reserving entry into the parks. Disney has yet to explain how this will work, but if you have annual passes or tickets for later this summer and beyond, you may still get to enter the gates of the Magic Kingdom. It is important to note that upon reopening Shanghai Disneyland, Disney rolled out a new reservation system for all guests and announced that they would be extending expiry dates for annual passes by the number of days the resort was closed and the number of days the park is in the new reservation period.
If you have any existing dining or hotel reservations, you'll notice on My Disney Experience, that you cannot make any modifications to those bookings but you can cancel them. Disney has said that they would be contacting these guests soon with details of what they can do next and how those reservations are affected. We at Beyond the Kingdoms had previously booked a stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for August and have annual passes. If we learn more details about cancellations and/or options we have to modify these bookings, we will inform you of the details.