Should I Go to Walt Disney World in 2020?
Before we start, here is the answer…it depends. At the time of writing this blog post, many countries still have closed borders with the United States (including Canada) and within the US itself, the residents of some US states are required to quarantine off-property for 14 days before starting their Disney vacation. For those that can go, this blog is for you.
What’s Open (and What’s Not)
First and foremost, some Disney resorts and many of the non-owned Disney hotels on property will not be open when the parks begin re-opening in June. For those who booked vacations prior to the closure, your reservations will be moved to one of the open resorts of Disney’s choice, with some amenities closed until further notice, such as fitness centers and some pools. This means you may not get to stay where you want to stay. It’s also important to note that entry into an open theme park is not guaranteed if you stay on property and you’ll be subject to the same reservation system as everyone else due to the lowering of attendance limits on the park.
Similarly, if you had booked the Disney Dining Plan package with your stay, you will be refunded that portion as the Disney Dining Plan is currently unavailable. All previously booked FastPass and dining reservations (including character dining experiences) have also been cancelled.
Disney Transportation will be up and running at reduced operating capacity, which means that there may be delays in getting to and from the places it services (such as theme parks, Disney Springs, and resort hotels. Resort hopping will not be possible, as you will require a valid dining reservation (which you’ll need to re-make) or reservation at the resort to go there.
As for attractions, there will be virtual queuing in place (although with reduced crowd sizes, you should have no issues riding open attractions), which is definitely a good reason to go (assuming you get into the parks you want).
All fireworks, the water pageant, and parades are not currently running. There is no information about the Food and Wine Festival, extra magic hours, or add-on evening parties (such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) available, and those may not happen this year. Similarly, there is no news on the August pin event celebrating 20 years of Disney Pin Trading.
Speaking of Disney Pin Trading, there is a heavy restriction on Pin Trading, with no cast member lanyards, just pin boards available to trade on. Limited-edition merchandise will not be available on any Disney properties as it has all be moved online to ShopDisney.com until further notice.
Why Go Then?
After that rather depressing list of what’s not available, there may actually be some great reasons for some to go to Walt Disney World.
First and foremost, Disney is taking no chances when it comes to health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resort hotel rooms are undergoing deep cleans between guests, with a heavy push to use online check-in and automatic check-out to minimize cast interaction. Cleaning while guests are staying has also been reduced and limited to things such as garbage removal and towel refreshes. Temperature checks are also an additional safety measure when entering Disney Springs and theme parks.
If you’re travelling to Walt Disney World as a seasoned park visitor and are open/flexible to only doing the things currently operational at that time (and not concerned with missing out on the things not running, reduced operating capacity will make it possible to enjoy them without the crowds. For those (like myself) who have been there numerous times and have seen much of what Walt Disney World has to offer, you may be happy seeing what’s available and not as concerned about those that aren’t available.
All that said, that’s why the answer really is “it depends”. Under normal circumstances, anytime is great to visit Walt Disney World. During a medical pandemic with all the restrictions and modifications to support the so-called “new normal”, a visit to Walt Disney World may not be right for you and your family. The best way to decide is really to do your research about what’s open and the modifications currently in place and determine if it will dramatically affect your plans. If it does in a negative way, then you may want to postpone (which I suspect is many of you). If not, then go ahead, understanding that the situation is fluid and different for all of us, including The Walt Disney Company, and that plans may change along the way. Just be prepared and willing to accept that things aren’t as they were before the closure and that, despite the commitment to maintaining the magic during these times, will be very different.