I'm Going(?) to Disney World!
I’ve started planning a Walt Disney World trip for the 50th anniversary and with my deposit down, it seems like a good time to discuss how to plan a vacation package to the resort, especially with the anniversary celebrations coming up.
While on the phone with the reservations Cast Member, she let me know that many Canadians have started to book vacation packages. For myself personally, I’ve selected a package in late 2022 in the hopes that pandemic-related issues will not impact our visit.
First and foremost, it should be noted that at the time of this blog, the US-Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel and therefore you would need to check the current rules in place at the time of your planned visit.
For my trip, as a seasoned traveler to the resort, I’ve decided to plan the vacation package myself. For those less confident at the planning process, you are definitely able to do it yourself if you do your research or if you’re more of a turn-key vacation sort of planner, there are several good Disney-knowledgeable travel agents out there who can help you.
To book a resort package through the Walt Disney Travel Company (their reservations desk), call 1-407 -W-DISNEY. You may also book online directly from the Walt Disney World website. Booking resort packages through this method allows for a minimum deposit of $200 and is fully refundable up to thirty (30) days prior to your arrival. Full payment must also be in by that time (they’re excellent at giving you dates when payments are due).
When booking, be sure to select your resort hotel, park tickets, and the Memory Maker package for photographs. You will want these additional items (beyond your resort reservation) for several reasons, including your ability to start making park reservations (you need to book a slot for your first park you’re planning to visit for each day of your visit and require a valid ticket to do so, booking your Memory Maker package now will save you money rather than waiting until your arrival). The Cast Member at the Walt Disney Travel Company can review the details and benefits of each with you.
You will then need to log in to (or create) your My Disney Experience account and link your reservation. This will allow you add each member of your party to book things such as park reservations (as well as other reservations as your trip draws closer). A My Disney Experience account also allows you to make payments from within which will result in fewer long-distance calls down to Florida (if that applies to you).
I would suggest you start making park reservations as soon as you book to ensure that you get the reservations you wish.
As far as when to go down, it’s safe to say that from October 1, 2021 to March 2023 (while the 50th anniversary celebrations are on), crowds will likely be higher than normal. There will be higher crowds around the holidays, attraction openings, and other big events planned throughout the celebration, with higher crowds expected around the start (October 2021), Christmas 2021 and Christmas 2022, along with the EPCOT 40th anniversary on October 1, 2022. That said, between festivals (typically the summer months) and in non-holiday periods (i.e. when kids are normally in school), there could be lower crowds. In any case, expect higher crowds that come with milestone anniversaries and the added special touches that come with it.
For those planning a package in 2021, you will continue to be eligible to receive a complimentary MagicBand and Disney’s Magical Express up until December 31, 2021, after which, they will no longer be offered. For those trying to figure out how to get to and from the resort in 2022 and beyond, there will be a paid replacement operated by Mears (the same company that runs the Disney Magical Express) called Mears Connect. You can also choose a car rental, taxi, limo, or rideshare services.
Personally, our family chose later in 2022 to allow time for planning and the opening of additional attractions, as well as to ensure that the Canada-US border would be open and travel safe to resume. That said, you should pick a date that suits your individual needs.
At the current time, FastPass and the Disney Dining Plan are not options. Similarly, there are no special offers running beyond September (2021) so you should keep checking back for any available offers to have added to your package if you’re eligible to do so.
Over the course of the next few months (and for that matter, as our planning continues), we’ll be both expanding and updating our Vacation Planning and WDW 50th sections with more information on how to make the most of your visit. Check back often to see our progress and to stay informed on these changes.