With all that is going on in the world these days, we think it’s safe to say a lot of us are feeling uncertainty about the future. And if you have a trip to Disney World planned in the next couple months, you may be feeling extra stress because you have to make the call of whether to cancel your Disney trip or not.
Although we can’t find you a treasure trove of toilet paper or make you the world’s best homeschooler overnight, we can help in the Disney planning department! Here are a few things you should be considering while you’re wondering whether to cancel outright, reschedule, or actually take your trip to Disney World.
When will Disney World really reopen?
When Disney first announced the closure, April 1st sure sounded like a long way away. But, now the closure has been extended indefinitely, so we aren’t sure when we’ll be stepping into the parks next. If you have turned on the news between your loop of Frozen 2 streams (Just us? Cool.), you may have seen the Mayor of Orange County, Florida issued a “stay in place” order beginning Thursday, March 26th, and lasting at least two weeks. Osceola County also followed up with the same stay-at-home order extending into April.
We aren’t mathematicians (or licensed therapists, oops) buuuuut since Disney World doesn’t fall under the exempt “essential businesses,” the parks won’t be opening back up again until at least April 9th. Shanghai Disneyland Resort began to reopen to open certain shopping, dining, and recreation areas earlier this month after initially closing down about two months ago.
And currently, Disney seems to be putting a lot of focus on June 1st as a potential reopening date. They’re introducing discounts starting June 1st, and they’ve limited any new hotel and restaurant bookings to June 1st and later.
Although the closures may not directly mirror those in Shanghai, we want you to be prepared that Disney World might be closed a lot longer than we expected. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more information, but if you had your sights set on rope dropping next weekend, you may want to rethink your plans.
What will the parks be like when they reopen?
Even when the parks reopen, they could NOT be what you expected when you originally booked your vacation. Honestly, the recent closures might change how Disney World continues to operate with increased health and safety procedures, construction delays, a move away from finger scanning, and more.
Phased Reopenings Or Necessary Attraction Closures, and Lower Hotel and Restaurant Capacity
Although we will be thrilled when we hear word of Disney World reopening, we have to wonder if they will follow Shanghai Disneyland’s lead and open the resorts, parks, or even attractions in phases. With the importance of “flattening the curve” and social distancing, we could see Disney lower capacity in hotels, parks, and restaurants all throughout Disney World.
It may not be feasible to socially distance in certain queues or attractions, so could your favorite ride be closed down or at least modified as a result? I mean, the Haunted Mansion stretching room certainly isn’t ideal if we’re all trying to avoid passing around germs. Will you still be able to have the full-on Disney World trip you were hoping for even if you face unexpected ride closures? It all depends on you and your family, your expectations, and what a Disney World visit needs to be for you to enjoy it and consider it worth the cost.
Remember, phased reopenings, limited capacity decisions, and ride modifications are a long way off — and definitely NOT confirmed by Disney. But they do seem like a good way for Disney to reopen more safely.
So if your trip is scheduled for the first few months the park may reopen, consider carefully if a half-open or modified park experience will be worth your vacation time and cost outlay, or if you’d rather reschedule for later in the year — or even 2021 — to have a better chance of taking the vacation you expected to take originally.
Potential Crowd Pattern Changes
Again, we really don’t know 1) When the parks will reopen, 2) If people will flood the parks as soon as they reopen (people may continue so socially distance for safety’s sake), 3) If economic difficulty will prohibit many guests from taking Disney trips this year, and 4) If guests will want to spend money to go to parks that may be modified for safety concerns.
If your schedule is flexible, you may be better off to avoid the summer months and aim for a trip in the fall when schools are back in session, or potentially early in 2021.
Check out our post ALL about how these closures could affect Disney World crowds levels this year HERE!
What type of planner are you?
In the midst of these closures, nearly everyone’s normal routine has been thrown off. The chaos may be less of a jolt for the more “go with the flow” folks, but both Type A and Type B personalities have to make the call of whether to wait it out or reschedule their trip for various reasons.
If you’re more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” type planner, or if you’re a Florida resident or Annual Passholder who’s been to Disney World multiple times, you may be able to get away with taking things one day at a time and making the most of whatever your trip ends up looking like.
But, if you have spent months (or years) planning the perfect Disney World trip and have a very clear vision for your BEST DAYS EVER in the parks (We’re sending you a virtual hug! Keep your Disney dreams alive!), it may be worth waiting on your trip until we have a better picture of what the future holds.
What about Advance Dining Reservations and FastPasses?
Well, if you plan to reschedule your trip, your FastPasses and advance dining reservations can’t go with you to the new dates at this time. (Disney has not created a policy allowing us to just pick up our whole planned vacation and move it to new dates.) However, any reservations scheduled between March 16th through March 31st will be canceled automatically as long as you haven’t check into your resort. Still, if you want to keep those reservations, you’ll have to modify current reservations or re-book all of them. And if your rescheduled dates fall within 180 days from now…it might be really difficult to construct the trip as you did before if you had chosen very popular or hard to get reservations.
However, if you’re rescheduling your trip for more than 180 days out, you should be able to reconstruct the same vacation. It’ll just be a hassle, because you’ll have to get up early and master the reservations all over again.
Beware that your FastPasses may be linked to your Disney hotel reservation, so if you cancel or reschedule, it may wipe your FastPass reservations, too.
Dining reservations often have a cancellation fee attached to them, so if you no-show while the parks are open, you’ll be charged (usually $10 per person on the reservation)…and that can add up. So if you decide to cancel or reschedule your vacation, be sure to also cancel your dining reservations if they don’t fall during a time that the parks are already closed. If you’re worried, you can always cancel yourself or give Disney a call at (407) 824-1391 to be sure.
Can you get more (or different) vacation time?
Getting super logistical here: you may have been planning your trip to Disney World for over a year now. You requested the vacation time from your employer months ago and you may not have the flexibility to push your time off to a few weeks later.
Consider this when choosing to reschedule or cancel: do you HAVE to take the vacation time you secured?, can you postpone the vacation time until a later date?, what kind of penalties will you encounter if you do so?
All of these answers can help you decide whether to just go for it and take the vacation regardless of what the parks are like, or save the time off for later when you can be assured of a great vacation.
So should I cancel?
When to Wait it Out
Very little is certain right now — on a global scale and a local Orlando scale. We don’t know how this situation is going to evolve, or how long it will take to return to some sort of “normal.” If your trip is scheduled for April through July, it’s much more difficult to predict how things will pan out than if it’s scheduled for September to December or in 2021.
Our advice to guests with trips scheduled in April might be to cancel or reschedule (if you can) since Disney World has officially announced a closure extension. This way, you can take advantage of the best possible refunds and rescheduling flexibility.
If your trip is scheduled for later in the year, hopefully the points we made above in this article will be helpful for you as you come to your own conclusions that are best for your family.
How To Reschedule Easily
If you are already in the window of refund or rescheduling flexibility and decide to go ahead and change your plans, check out our how-to guide for rescheduling or canceling and refunding your Disney trip here! You can also take a look at what Disney World is refunding so you’ll know what to expect if you move forward with changing up your trip.
If you need even MORE tips on rescheduling, check out our recommendations for when you should move your Disney trip to in the latest DFB Video:
Do you have any more questions about whether you should cancel your Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments below!