We now have a better idea what touring a Walt Disney World theme park might look like after the COVID-19 lockdown. Here are our first thoughts.
First, an acknowledgement. We aren’t saying that you should feel comfortable going to a theme park when they open and we aren’t saying you shouldn’t feel comfortable either. The fact is, people will be in the parks when they re-open and we want to provide the best touring advice we can for those that go.
Admission to the parks will be like a special event. Think Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party but during the day. So, that means:
- No FastPass+
- Limited admission
- A subset of available attractions
That’s right, no FastPasses. For the first time since 1999, all Walt Disney World attractions will be standby only. This opens up the physical space in the queues which allows easier control of the spaces between guests in line. It isn’t clear whether or not some standby queues will use virtual queues. Limited admission is not a surprise, but the way to buy tickets is still a mystery. Some attractions may be closed or may operate with less than normal capacity.
Here’s the good news:
Our TouringPlans software is ready to handle these new park conditions. In fact, without FastPass+ the process of optimizing a touring plan becomes simpler. We know what wait times to expect based on our knowledge of the attractions, our database of wait times collected during normal hours, and wait times collected during party events with limited admission.
The touring plans have always had dedicated “day of” wait-time models, whose only job is to look at what’s happening a park right now, and make predictions for the rest of the day. Those models update every 5 minutes while the parks are open, so you’ll be able to react quickly to whatever changes happen. We’re already updating our long-term wait time forecasts to account for limited admission and changes to ride capacity.
Here’s the less-good news:
You’ll need a reservation to get into the parks. Pent-up demand for returning to the parks and a limited supply of reservations might make visits hard to come by. We don’t know much about the system that will be in place to get a park-entry reservation. If you’re able to get them, touring the parks with an optimized plan will be a breeze.
Stay tuned for more details as they arrive and watch for a crowd calendar update in the near future.