Walt Disney World reopened to guests in July 2020. With the reopening, we saw big changes. Some of these changes meant losing some conveniences we had all gotten used to. Two of the biggest changes were the suspension of the dining plan and the Fastpass system. These are definitely two large components of any Disney trip, and now Disney guests would have to plan vacations without them.
Disney currently is only allowing 35% capacity in their parks and requiring Park Pass Reservations. Guests must plan ahead of time, as Park Passes can sell out. The thought is that with a limited capacity, stand-by lines will not get overwhelmed and FastPasses won’t be needed. Has this been true? I’d say both yes and no. We are not seeing the 3 hour wait times for attractions like Flight of Passage anymore, but attractions can still have 90+ min wait times. 90 minutes in the Florida heat with a mask can definitely seem like an eternity. The attractions that seemed hard to get Fastpasses for before Covid, still seem like they have the longest waits. As someone who has taken multiple trips since reopening, I can attest that waits have gotten slightly longer.
There are rumors that FastPass may return but in a different form. Possibly a new system of virtual queues, possibly a system more like the MaxPass system at Disneyland Resort. Another theory is that FastPass will become a for-purchase add-on. For now, all we can do is wait on Disney to release more information. For now, if you see the FastPass lines being utilized, likely you are seeing returning guests with DAS, rider swap, or guests who were given FatPasses due to a breakdown earlier. Club 33 members are also still allowed FastPasses.
As for the Dining Plan, it makes sense that the dining plan will return. The dining plan allows guests to pre-pay for meals and snacks ahead of time. Before the suspension, there were four different plan options to choose from. The dining plan keeps Disney guests on-site and from dining out off-property. Research has shown that guests who are using the dining plan actually spend more on dining than guests going without. Can guests save money using the dining plan? Yes, but the number who do is fairly small. The dining plan is more about convenience. The dining plan adds an “all-inclusive” element to the vacation and many guests waited for free-dining offers to book trips. I will say that when I am vacationing with no dining plan, I definitely am more conscious about how much I am spending.
One thing is certain, we are seeing changes all the time. It seems every week something is brought back to the way it was pre-Covid. Such as mask-free photos and self-service drink stations. We are seeing park hours increasing and more restaurants, resorts, and shops reopening. We are even seeing some live shows return, such as Disney’s Festival of the Lion King which is set to return in mid-May. If I had to guess, I would say the dining plan and some form of FastPass system will return before the 50th-anniversary celebrations start in October. So which one would YOU like to see return first, the dining plan or FastPass system?