Why Disney World Had To Cancel A Bunch Of Stuff To Let People Back Into The Parks

Be Our Guest restaurant at Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World has been closed for more than two months and when it reopens a lot of things will be different. The need to keep safety in mind means that the park won't be opening to full capacity, and social distancing measures will need to be implemented in places like attraction lines and restaurants. Unfortunately, this means that both of those things will need to be completely restructured, and as a result any restaurant reservations or FastPass+ times that guests had previously set up, were just cancelled across the board.

Walt Disney World says that there was simply no choice but to cancel both restaurant reservations and FastPass+ times for anybody that held them going forward. In the cases of restaurants, space is going to be reallocated to allow for social distancing, and as such, there simply won't be the same number of tables available at any given location at any given time.

When it comes to FastPass+, the system by which guests can gain entry to a limited number of attractions without standing in the normal line, Disney says that the FastPass+ system will not be functioning at all when the parks reopen. In order to allow for social distancing in queues, it looks like lines are being entirely rerouted, and so there's simply no place for FastPass+ to exist.

In the case of FastPass+, the number of frustrated customers is at least somewhat limited. Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can book up to three FastPass+ times per day of their stay, 60 days in advance of their trip. As we are are, as of this writing, about 43 days out from Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom reopening, only guests who scheduled FastPass+ times in the last couple of weeks are impacted. Guests staying off property can only make reservations 30 days out, so they hadn't even made it to the beginning of their window yet.

The restaurant reservation situation is going to be a bit more widespread. Those reservations could be made as much as six months in advance, and if you want to eat meals at some of the resort's most popular locations, especially during peak meal hours, booking that far in advance is something of a necessity. According to Disney, restaurant reservations will be reopened at some point closer to parks opening, but they will only be available 60 days out.

Walt Disney World has currently hit the pause button on new reservations and ticket sales while all those with existing plans get sorted out. There's the potential need for people's existing hotel reservations to change if they need to shift their park days around due to park capacity. And things that looked to be settled, like where people were going to eat, are now up in the air.

It's unclear if people with existing reservations will be able to reschedule meal plans before everybody else, or if it's just going to be a free-for-all once reservations go back online. It's also unclear if hotels will have capacity limits as well, which could require guests to move to other locations.

At the end of the day, none of this could really be avoided, it was necessary to ensure safety and security to the degree that Walt Disney World is able. But it's still certainly going to be a bit of mess that is going to take time for cast members and guests to wade through. Once that's done, however, people should all be back on track for a fun, vacation, no matter what concessions they'll have to make the current circumstances.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.