Guide to Disney Resort Changes in 2021

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Disney World is well into the reopening process, but things certainly look different! There are some key Disney resort changes you should be aware of before you book (Updated July 4, 2021).

Some Disney resorts are now open, but not all. This post focuses on what resorts you can book, which will open in the future, and which resorts have no plans for reopening at this time.

We’ll also take a look at what changes you can expect to see at the resorts because of the new protocols.

Also note that within everything that follows here, the standard health precaution procedures still apply.

What Disney Resorts Are Currently Open?

The Disney Vacation Club resorts (Deluxe Villas) were the first to open. This was due to the fact that DVC members are some of the most rabid Disney fans out there. They were the guaranteed visitors at first.

As time has gone on, more and more resorts have opened up. However, most of the available resorts skew towards the Deluxe (translation: expensive) resorts.

The silver lining to this is Disney is pushing out some crazy high room discounts at times. Keep an eye on my Disney World discounts post to see if you qualify for any current discounts.

So let’s take a look at what resorts are open and what you can expect in the near future.

Disney Deluxe Villas (Disney Vacation Club Resorts)

Disney Deluxe Resorts

  • Contemporary Resort
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Yacht Club Resort
  • Wilderness Lodge Resort
  • Boardwalk Inn
  • Beach Club Resort

You may be asking yourself what the different is between the Deluxe Villas and the Deluxe Resorts. In fact, most of them fall into the same category with similar names.

The difference is the Villas are the DVC style rooms. They are all villas (studios, 1,2,3 bedroom suites) with kitchens and so on. The Deluxe Resorts are more of your “standard” hotel rooms.

You’ll notice that some of the Deluxe Resorts remain closed while their Deluxe Villa counterparts are open. You can still book a cash room at a Disney Deluxe Villa, you don’t have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay there.

Disney Moderate Resorts

  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Coronado Springs Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins

Disney Value Resorts

  • Pop Century Resort
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • All Stars Movie Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Resort Campsites

If you’re wondering about the differences between the different resort categories, you can find much more detail in my guide to the Disney resort categories.

Other Disney Resort Opening Schedule

Disney has released a tentative timeline for when to expect some of the other Disney resorts to begin opening. However, this timeline has already changed several times, so I would anticipate it will change again.

Here is the current tentative timeline for the Disney resort reopening:

DateDisney Resort
July 19, 2021Polynesian Village Resort
August 26, 2021Animal Kingdom Lodge
August 26, 2021Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

You can make bookings for any of the above resorts at this time, you don’t have to wait until it officially opens.

I’m sure you’ve noticed there are quite a few rather popular resorts not included in this list. Among them are most of the All Star Resorts, and both Port Orleans Resorts. There is no word yet for when those resorts will open.

Polynesian Village Resort was scheduled to open later summer 2020, however, Disney changed this due to renovations now planned for the resort.

The Ceremonial House is getting a major reno, as are the resort rooms. The room renovations are slated to have a touch of Moana to theme.

What to Expect During Your Disney Resort Stay – Operating Procedures

There are a number of changes put in place temporarily for all resort stays. Let’s take a look at what you can expect during your Disney resort stay for the foreseeable future.

In Order to Enter a Resort

We know that resort hopping is permitted, as is going to any of the Disney resorts for meals at the restaurants.

However, there’s a bit of a caveat here. If you are using Disney transportation, none of this is an issue. Simply take the bus, monorail, boat, or Skyliner to the resort you want to visit and you’re good to go.

The problem comes in the form of people driving their own cars, or even taking ride shares such as Uber or Lyft.

If you don’t have a reservation for a table service meal at that resort, you are not allowed to park there. This has been done to cut down on the number of people parking in the resort lots and walking to the parks from there.

This is definitely a your mileage may vary kind of situation, depending on the resort. But any resort that also has easy access to a park (i.e. Contemporary/Bay Lake, Boardwalk, Beach & Yacht Club, and so on) has become more strict.

And a quick service mobile order doesn’t cut it anymore, either. Too many people were making orders, getting into the parking lot, canceling their orders, and going to the park.

Disney’s Magical Express

Disney’s Magical Express is running, for now. Magical Express provides free transportation to and from Disney resorts and Orlando International Airport.

However, the Magical Express won’t offer it’s full compliment of services. The only real difference is a big one: they will not deliver your checked baggage to your room.

It is your responsibility to pick up all of your checked baggage and bring it to the bus.

If you have any questions about how Magical Express works, take a gander at my guide all about Disney’s Magical Express.

Magical Express ends all services as of January 1, 2022.

Cleaning of Common Areas and Guest Rooms

Clearly, this is a big one in order to keep everything as clean and sanitized as possible. All common areas of the resorts receive heightened cleaning procedures. The guest rooms themselves are “thoroughly” cleaned prior to guest arrival.

Here are some of the procedures Disney has put in place for servicing of the guest rooms:

  • Floors are steam cleaned and vacuumed between guests
  • Extra linens and towels wrapped in single use packaging
  • Basically anything that they can is wrapped in single use packaging
  • Double cased pillows
  • Every other day light cleaning service (this can also be declined by the guest)
    • Removal of trash and used towels
    • Replenishment of towels and toiletry amenities
    • Wiping and cleaning of counters
    • Vacuuming if necessary

If you are staying on Disney Vacation Club points, housekeeping follows the standard offering of servicing the room on the 4th and 8th days of the reservation.

Also, if you have a split stay booked and decline housekeeping at one resort, the request will automatically get applied to all your reservations.

Transportation and Parking

At this stage of the game, most of the standard transportation is running. Boats, Skyliner, buses, and monorail are all operational. The only difference is there’s no monorail transportation available at Epcot.

However, like everything else, the transportation experience is physically distanced. For example, each party gets their own gondola on the Skyliner (I LOVE this). The buses now hold much fewer people and there are plastic dividers all over the place.

Because of the physical distancing rules in place, plan for transportation to take a little longer and plan accordingly.

Self parking is available to guests with cars. However, there is no valet parking option available. Also, Minnie Van service is temporarily unavailable.

Instead of taking buses, I highly recommend considering using Lyft or Uber. You’ll save time and not have to worry about feeling confined with other people.

Resort Services

Some of the typical resort services are operating with some changes in place, while others are unavailable altogether.

  • Bell Services: will deliver luggage, but will not escort guests to their room
  • Deliveries: will be made to rooms only when a guest is present in the room
  • Resort Airline Check-in: may be temporarily unavailable
  • Club Level Service: is unavailable
  • In Room Celebrations: unavailable
  • Dry Cleaning and Valet Laundry Service: unavailable (self laundry still available)
  • Shipping Services: unavailable

Clearly, these should all be temporary, but it’s anybody’s guess when they will be offered again.

What to Expect During Your Stay – What Amenities are Open?

Now that we’ve gotten all of the practical things out of the way, what can you actually do at the resorts now?

Resort Pools

At this point, if a resort is open, you can count on its pool being open. This wasn’t the case at first because Stormalong Bay at Beach Club Resort was closed until the end of August. However, this was due to the NBA bubble.

Physical distancing rules apply when in the pool areas. Cast Members have done a great job developing a system to spread guests out on the pool deck.

There’s an entrance and an exit to control the flow of traffic in and out of the pool. Once you reach your assigned area, you are permitted to remove your face masks. It is recommended to keep them on while hanging around the pool deck, but they aren’t required.

Guests have also reported some great poolside entertainment provided by Cast Members as well.


There will be dining options available at all of the resorts which are open. However, not ALL of the dining options will be open.

Table Service Restaurants

This is where you see some noticeably absent, or amended, offerings. The following restaurants will be open:

  • The Wave…Of American Flavors (Contemporary)
  • California Grill (Contemporary)
  • Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary) – excluding character dining until December 16
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe (Wilderness Lodge)
  • Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village)
  • Beaches n Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club)
  • Ale & Compass (Beach and Yacht Club)
  • Trattoria al Forno, excluding character dining (Boardwalk)
  • Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian)
  • Grand Floridian Cafe (Grand Floridian)
  • Olivia’s Cafe (Old Key West)
  • Kona Cafe (Polynesian)
  • Topolino’s Terrace, character dining will be modified (Riviera)
  • The Paddock Grill (Saratoga Springs)

Remember, just like usual, you are able to book a meal at any of these restaurants regardless of which resort you are staying in. The dining booking window is changing from 180 days prior to check in to 60 days prior to check in.

Quick Service, Lounges, and Pool Bars

You definitely have quite a few more quick service options available to you during your stay.

  • Martha’s Vineyard (Beach Club)
  • Ale & Compass Lounge (Beach Club)
  • Hurricane Hannah’s (Beach Club)
  • Beach Club Marketplace (Beach Club)
  • The Market at Ale & Compass (Beach/Yacht Club)
  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • Contempo Cafe (Contemporary)
  • Cove Bar (Bay Lake)
  • The Wave Lounge (Contemporary)
  • Outer Rim (Contemprorary)
  • Roaring Fork (Wilderness Lodge)
  • Geyser Point (Wilderness Lodge)
  • Kidani Breakfast at Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village)
  • Sanaa Lounge (Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village)
  • Maji Pool Bar (Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village)
  • Uzima Springs Pool Bar (Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village)
  • Pizza Window (BoardWalk)
  • BoardWalk Bakery (BoardWalk)
  • Leaping Horse Libations (BoardWalk)
  • AbracadaBar (Boardwalk)
  • Centertown Market (Caribbean Beach Resort)
  • Banana Cabana (Caribbean Beach Resort)
  • Crockett’s Tavern (Fort Wilderness Resort)
  • Meadow Snack Bar (Fort Wilderness Resort)
  • P&J’s Southern Takeout (Fort Wilderness Resort)
  • Good’s Food to Go (Old Key West)
  • Gurgling Suitcase (Old Key West)
  • Captain Cook’s (Polynesian)
  • Pineapple Lanai (Polynesian)
  • Barefoot Pool Bar (Polynesian)
  • Tambu Lounge (Polynesian)
  • Everything POP Dining & Shopping (Pop Century Resort)
  • Petals Pool Bar (Pop Century Resort)
  • Primo Piatto (Riviera)
  • Bar Riva (Riviera)
  • Le Petit Cafe (Riviera)
  • The Artist’s Palette (Saratoga Springs)
  • On the Rock Pool Bar (Saratoga Springs)
  • Gasparilla Island Grill (Grand Floridian)
  • Enchanted Rose (Grand Floridian)
  • Beaches Pool Bar & Grill (Grand Floridian)
  • Courtyard Pool Bar (Grand Floridian)

Other Resort Amenities

There’s a laundry list of other resort amenities which are typically on offer. Clearly, they will not all be available when the resorts reopen.

Fitness Centers may have reduced hours and will have reduced capacity. Fitness centers will follow mandates developed by the state for fitness facilities. Instructor led fitness classes are unavailable. Sports courts will be open, physical distancing must be followed.

Merchandise locations will be open around the resorts, however, there will be some restrictions.

  • You can ship merchandise purchases to your home
    • Sending merchandise to the front of parks or your Disney resort will not be available
  • Dressing rooms are closed
  • In person returns are permitted
  • New product launches will not take place in stores, they are available through shopDisney
  • Pin Trading will take place at select pin trading boards throughout resorts and park – Cast Member lanyard pin trading is unavailable at this time to promote physical distancing

Unavailable Resort Amenities

  • Arcades
  • Campfires
  • Character experiences
  • Dog parks
  • Electrical Water Pageant
  • Marina Rentals
  • Pin Trading
  • Playgrounds
  • Spas, Bippidi Boppidy Boutique

Final Thoughts

Well, it certainly won’t look like normal, but at least it’s a step towards getting a little closer to normal. And it remains to be seen how this will translate to the other resorts once they open. Whenever that happens, anyway.

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Your Thoughts

Well, what do you think of this rather long post of modified experiences? Would you still plan a resort stay during this time? Not gonna lie, I would…let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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