Before and After Photos Show Changes At Disney World Since Pandemic

in Walt Disney World

cinderella castle

Credit: Inside the Magic

It’s say to say Disney World has had to make a lot of changes ever since the global pandemic hit. In order to reopen to the public, they had to ensure their Cast Members and Guests would be as safe as possible when visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth. And this had to come at a price.

From limited capacity to social distancing to eliminating character meet and greets, fireworks, parades and shows, to encouraging mobile dining, the theme parks definitely look different than they did prior to the temporary closure.

Related: WDW Comparison: Closing Day VS Reopening AP Preview

Here is a list of before and after photos showing just how different Walt Disney World is after reopening to the public during the pandemic.

Character Dining – Before

character dining
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic
Credit: TJ M. Inside the Magic

Character dining used to be one of the most popular things on Walt Disney World property. Guests loved booking a breakfast reservation at Ohana to dine with Lilo and Stitch or at 1900 Park Fare to visit Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and others while enjoying Mickey Waffles and scrambled eggs.

Related: Union Says Disney Buffets Will Be Family Style Instead

Character Dining – After

character dining
Credit: Disney

However, due to the global pandemic, Disney World had to eliminate character dining. Though, one location still does offer a modified character dining experience. Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort offers a unique experience as you can still dine with Mickey and the gang — but at a safe social distance. You can read more about this here.

Another location just recently announced they would be reopening with modifications as well — Garden Grill in EPCOT! You can read more about this here.

Character Meet and Greets – Before

chip meet and greet
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Before the pandemic, Guests loved visiting their favorite Disney characters at the theme parks. Giving Mickey a big ol’ hug or messing around with Chip and Dale.

Character Meet and Greets – After

Unfortunately, in order to keep Guests and Cast Members safe, they had to eliminate character meet and greets. Instead, you can spot some of your favorite Disney characters randomly throughout the parks — Like the Country Bears who appear above their show in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom. Guests will also see characters as they make appearances in the pop up cavalcades.

Cinderella Castle Photo Spot – Before

cinderella castle
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Before the pandemic, you can see a few things in this before photo:

  1. No face masks
  2. Crowds gathered behind the couple in the photo
  3. No social distancing
  4. The old colors on Cinderella Castle — Pre-makeover!

Cinderella Castle Photo Spot – After

cinderella castle
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Post pandemic, you can see a few things that contrast the before photo:

  1. Requirement of face masks — Yes, even for photos and if you are socially distanced!
  2. No crowds gathered anywhere in the photo — Practically empty theme park.
  3. Social distancing protocols in place
  4. The new Cinderella Castle makeover is nearly completed

Overall Crowd Level – Before

Credit: TJ M. Inside the Magic

You can see in the photo above that Toy Story Land (pre pandemic) was one of the most high level crowd areas in Walt Disney World. People were eager to ride Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, and the Alien Swirling Saucers each and every day. And people always gathered around to watch the Toy Soldier march which popped up randomly throughout the day.

Overall Crowd Level – After

Now, with limited capacity measures put into place, the theme parks aren’t nearly as crowded. You can see in our video above, which was taken of one of the new cavalcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there isn’t nearly as many people gathered around.

Ride Photos – Before

ride photos
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Prior to the temporary closures and the global pandemic, Guests were packed into ride vehicles and were not required to wear face masks.

Ride Photos – After

ride photos
Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Now, Disney World is requiring you to keep your face masks on while riding the rides and the Cast Members are seating Guests at a safe distance from one another — yes, even on ride vehicles.

Parades/Shows – Before

Credit: Kelly C. Inside the Magic

Before the pandemic, Disney World hosted several different shows and parades throughout the day, including Mickey’s Friendship Faire (pictured above) at Cinderella Castle, which happened varies times every day.

Cavalcades – After

disney parade
Credit: Disney

To eliminate crowds gathering, Disney World made the difficult decision to suspend its shows and parades. However, you can still spot your favorite Disney characters as they pop up on different cavalcades throughout the day.

Other New Changes

Social Distancing Markers in Ride Queue Areas

social distancing
Credit: Disney

Social Distancing Markers in Stores

social distancing
Credit: Disney

Online Mobile Check In At Restaurants

mobile check in
Credit: Disney

Related: Is Whispering Canyon Cafe Still Magical With New Protocols?

Temperature Checks To Enter Disney Parks

temp checks
Credit: Disney


Despite the new safety and health protocols, Walt Disney World is still a magical place to visit. The Cast Members have been doing an excellent job keeping their Guests safe and happy as they welcome everyone with a smile (even behind those face masks) and help to make magical moments for the Guests that they will never forget.

Don’t forget to contact the expert Disney Vacation Planners at Academy Travel to help you put together your dream trip. Get in touch for a free quote today!

Have you visited Disney World since the reopening? Let us know your thoughts on the new safety measures in the comments below.

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