What to Expect When Visiting Magic Kingdom During the Pandemic

Walt Disney World Resort Reopening
Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images / Getty Images

Walt Disney World has reopened after being closed for four months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While some overarching rules like wearing a face covering apply to each park, there are some new rules and procedures that vary depending on what park you’re visiting. Magic Kingdom has many changes that are visible to guests, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. 

Before heading to Magic Kingdom during the pandemic you should know a few key things, including how entering the park has changed, how dining is altered, and a few insider tips to be sure your family makes the most of your time at the park. 

Entering the Park

Entering Magic Kingdom has changed slightly since the park has reopened and implemented new health and safety protocols. Anyone with a valid ticket and Magic Kingdom park pass is allowed inside the gates, but everyone will undergo a temperature screening. Inside Magic Kingdom, there are screenings at the Ticket and Transportation Center; each of the Magic Kingdom Resorts before getting on the monorail; the boat launches for the resorts; the entry plaza to Magic Kingdom; the bus drop off; and along the walkway to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. 

Magic Kingdom’s security process has also changed. Guests will not have to take things out of their bag unless it’s an umbrella or metal water bottle. If you are pulled over by security for an additional screening, you will be told to take everything out of your bag and place it in a bin on your own. Security should not touch your things during this time, only the outside of your bag. 

Attractions and Rides

While social distancing reminders and indicators are all over the park, they're most prevalent on attractions and rides. The biggest change at Magic Kingdom is at attractions with pre-shows, like the Haunted Mansion, where the queue now goes through the pre-show, but large groups don't stop inside the stretching room.

Magic Kingdom wait times also seem to be deceptively inflated for most attractions. Cast members are now estimating wait times based on the current line capacity; however, even though entire queues can be full and wrapped around an extended outside queue, guests must realize that the long line does not indicate a long wait since social distancing is being maintained in each line. This is most prevalent at the bigger attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. 

Events and Performances

Many shows that utilize singers and performers have been canceled at Magic Kingdom, so you won’t see parades or Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire at the castle stage. Magic Kingdom’s annual Halloween party, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, has also been canceled for the 2020 season. 

What you will see at Magic Kingdom in terms of performances is mini-parades called character cavalcades. These go along the parade route and guests can wave, dance, and take socially distant selfies with their favorite characters. Magic Kingdom has the most opportunities to see characters of all four Walt Disney World theme parks. 

Restaurants and Dining

Planning out meals for Magic Kingdom can be challenging because of reduced park hours and limited dining options. If you plan to make a dining reservation for a table service restaurant, you will need to do so 60 days in advance on the My Disney Experience app or online at Walt Disney World’s website. 

All table service restaurants at Magic Kingdom are using QR codes to pull up menus on your phone, but a limited number of single-use menus are available if needed. You just need to ask your server or hostess when you check in.

Mobile ordering is also a big initiative, especially at Magic Kingdom. You will need to mobile order through the My Disney Experience app at any quick-service food and beverage location that offers the service to even be let in the doors. That even includes just getting cups of water. Since mobile ordering is so popular, you’ll want to order about 30 minutes before you actually want to eat if you’re planning on dining at a peak time. If you have a dietary restriction and mobile ordering does not support your needs, let a cast member at the entrance of the restaurant know, and they will direct you to the one or two registers that are actually open to order in person. 

Helpful Tips & Things to Know

  • Magic Kingdom seems to be the busiest park of all four Walt Disney World theme parks. The park can get crowded in some areas, especially through Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Avoid these areas in the middle of the afternoon when the park is most crowded. 
  • Disney has limited menu selections right now, and some menus have been drastically cut. Check the menus of Skipper Canteen and Be Our Guest before making a reservation to ensure that there’s something for everyone in your party to enjoy. 
  • Because Magic Kingdom has the most attractions, you’re likely to spend the most time here. Bring extra masks for everyone in your group. Putting a clean fresh mask on midday is super helpful in not feeling uncomfortable in a sweaty mask all day. 
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