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Disney World Is Axing 3 COVID-Era Restrictions, Starting Today

Guests will enjoy a bit more freedom when visiting the Orlando parks.

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Saying that travel was challenging during the COVID pandemic is an understatement, but trips to typically crowded theme parks like those at Walt Disney World Resort were that much trickier. The Orlando, Florida, parks reopened in July 2020 following an almost four-month closure, with Disney enacting a number of new policies to help with crowd control and social distancing. But while the pandemic was officially declared over in May 2023, Disney is just now making changes that are more in line with pre-COVID times. Read on to find out the three COVID-era restrictions that are finally being lifted at all four parks, starting today.

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You no longer need reservations with standard tickets.

disney animal kingdom

Back in 2020, Disney implemented Park Passes at its theme parks. According to AllEars, a travel site for Disney parks, this required visitors to make a reservation for the specific park they were going to visit each day. But as of Jan. 9, guests no longer have to do that at Disney World, per a post on the Disney Parks Blog.

"Guests who purchase date-based tickets, the standard Disney theme park tickets, no longer need to make theme park reservations!" the post reads.

The standard tickets are what you purchase if you aren't an Annual Pass holder, or if you have tickets with a school or convention group that don't have specific dates attached, according to AllEars.

While annual passholders are still required to make reservations ahead of time, they're in for another treat this year: good-to-go days. These are a new feature for 2024, allowing passholders to enter the park without reservations. Good-to-go days will be added to admission calendars starting Thursday, Jan. 11, and will be added periodically and sometimes days or weeks in advance, the blog post states.

Annual passholders will still have the option to visit without a park reservation any day after 2 p.m., except for on Saturday or Sunday at Magic Kingdom and on blackout dates.

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You aren't limited when it comes to park-hopping.

guests walking around magic kingdom
Lee / Flickr Creative Commons

If you want to move between parks, you'll also be able to do so at any time of the day thanks to the reintroduction of all-day Park Hopper access today.

In 2021, Disney World limited park-hopping (going from one of the four parks to another) until after 2 p.m., according to an Oct. 2023 Disney Parks Blog post. But you'll now be able to go from park to park all day long—or until 10 p.m. when Magic Kingdom closes—when purchasing a Park Hopper ticket.

"Now, there will be no more waiting—YOU can decide when it's time to visit another park," the post reads. "Guests with Park Hopper benefits will now have more flexibility to explore the Disney World theme parks the way they want and enjoy even more during their visits."

RELATED: Guests Are Ditching Disney World in Droves While Other Parks Thrive.

You don't have to worry about figuring meals or snacks out on your own.

mickey waffle
Jonathan Ooi / Flickr Creative Commons

Dining plans were once a favorite among Disney park-goers, but they were also nixed as a result of COVID in March 2020. The prepaid Disney Dining Plan offered different options with varying numbers of meals and snacks that were then bundled together, according to WDW Magazine.

Back in May 2023, Disney confirmed that the popular plans would be returning on Jan. 9, 2024, for guests who purchase a vacation package. Two options are available: the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan ($57.01 per adult and $23.83 per child per night), or the Disney Dining Plan ($94.28 per adult and $29.69 per child per night).

Disneyland isn't making adjustments to its reservation policy at the moment.

A crowd of people walking in through the entrance to Disneyland park
iStock / LordRunar

While Disney World is rethinking reservations in 2024, the same can't be said for Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Disneyland is keeping COVID-era rules in place indefinitely. Back in Feb. 2022, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said that he doesn't see the park doing away with reservations.

"People ask me if reservations are going to go away," Potrock said, per the L.A. Daily News. "I don't think so. Reservations create a really important opportunity for us to be able to manage the demand more effectively than we ever could."

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Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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