The times they are a-changin’, but we’re here to help!
We know you’re asking a lot of questions right now. How do I reschedule my trip? When should I go to Disney World now? Has anything changed since I was last there? Where’s my sandwich? (That last one’s just me? Cool, cool.) Anyway, there are a lot of questions and a lot of speculation; so we’re here to make sure you know how to approach planning your next Disney trip with all of this…crazy…going on!
Here are 5 important ways to adjust how you plan your next trip in light of recent updates!
1. Make Sure Your Trip is Protected
There’s a LOT happening right now that could put your Disney trip at risk if you’re planning to head back to the World in 2020.
Since Disney World is located in Central Florida, there is a chance for weather-related impacts on your trip. We’re close to entering Hurricane season, which runs from June 1st-November 30th, and will occupy most of the rest of the year. Hurricanes have caused the parks to close seven times in Disney World history, so while not SUPER common, they could potentially cause issues if one decides to head to Central Florida.
But the most recent closure highlights the possibility of other factors interrupting your vacation as well. So far, Disney World has been very accommodating with issuing automatic refunds for hotel reservations, dining reservations, and extra-ticketed events that were scheduled during the closure. Similarly, they also have a somewhat lenient hurricane cancellation policy to assist guests affected by weather-related shutdowns.
But remember — while Disney is lenient with reservations impacted by closures, they can’t assist with any third-party reservations, like flights or ground travel you may have purchased separately. Now, more than ever, it’s important to review the cancellation policies of other companies involved in your travel, including airlines, off-property hotels, and car rental agencies.
Travel insurance is available to mitigate the risk of losing money due to an unforeseen cancellation. But, be sure to read the list of covered reasons for trip cancellation in the policy! According to Travel Insurance Review, many basic plans have a long list of exemptions — which can include poor weather! So, if you do opt to insure your trip, read the fine print before you buy.
2. Plan An Early Morning to Snag a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group
Ever since Rise of the Resistance opened at Hollywood Studios in December 2019, it’s been considered a must-do attraction! The ride offers an ultra-immersive experience and cutting-edge technology that guests can appreciate even if they aren’t a Star Wars fan.
But if you want to hop on this ride, you’ll have to do some intense planning. Currently, the only way to experience Rise of the Resistance is by securing a boarding group — no standby line or FastPass+! Boarding groups are made available in the My Disney Experience app as soon as Hollywood Studios officially opens for the day. So, if the park is scheduled to open at 8:00AM, that’s when boarding groups become available!
In order to join a boarding group, all of the members of your party need to be through the gates of Hollywood Studios. ONE member of your group can snag boarding groups for everyone in your party, so make sure you’re all synced up in My Disney Experience before you arrive. Typically all groups are full within a few minutes of the park opening, so you’ll want to get there plenty early to make sure that you don’t miss out!
While Disney transportation does operate before the park opening, we suggest using alternative transportation. Delays in Disney transportation aren’t uncommon, so either a ride-share or Minnie van would be a safer option to ensure you make it on time.
If you aim to arrive at Hollywood Studios about 1 hour before park opening, that should give you plenty of time to make it through security and the front entrance. Just make sure your phone is charged so you’re ready to snag a boarding group in My Disney Experience when the time comes! AND to be extra safe, in the event you run into any glitches grabbing that coveted boarding group, remember to snap some pics on your phone to show a Guest Relations team member, just in case!
3. Add a New Restaurant to Your Itinerary
Disney World opened a slew of new restaurants in 2019, across the parks, hotels, and Disney Springs! And a few of those new openings have quickly jumped on our list of favorites!
Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera
We absolutely love the character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera! This rooftop restaurant is located at the newly opened hotel, Disney’s Riviera Resort. The character breakfast is a prix fixe meal where guests can dine with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy all dressed in adorable art-inspired outfits!
We loved the food AND the character interactions, so this is a great option if you’re looking for a new breakfast spot to try!
Here’s a fun way to immerse yourself even further into the Star Wars universe! Oga’s Cantina is located in Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While there are only a few snacks available on the menu, we love the unique drink concoctions they offer!
One of our personal favorites is the Fuzzy Tauntaun, a cocktail with Cîroc Peach Vodka, Bols Peach Schnapps, and Simply Orange® topped with tangerine, pure cane sugar AND a foam that makes your mouth numb!
The theming in Oga’s Cantina is next-level, and we definitely recommend stopping by for a drink — especially if you’re a Star Wars fan! Note it can be TOUGH to snag a reservation here, so be sure to start looking 180 days out from your visit!
4. Don’t Forget to Use (Or Avoid) the Skyliner!
In fall 2019, Disney World debuted a new form of transportation — the Disney Skyliner! The Skyliner is a gondola system that connects Epcot and Hollywood Studios with several Disney Resort hotels. This new mode of transportation can allow guests to cut down on travel time while getting some awesome views!
The Disney Resort hotels with Skyliner stations are Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation/Pop Century Resorts, and Disney’s Riviera Resort. So, if you’re a huge fan of Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you may want to look into staying at one of these hotels to take advantage of the easy transportation to the parks!
But if the thought of traveling by a gondola high up in the air makes your palms sweaty, staying at a hotel with a Skyliner station may not be the best fit. If you’d rather stay on land, bus service to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT does still run from these hotels, but has been reduced to once per hour for the resorts with Skyliner stations.
So far, we’ve enjoyed the Skyliner and found it to be a welcome addition to Disney’s transportation offerings. As long as you’re not too scared of heights, we definitely recommend putting it to use! But, if heights are a no-go for you, be sure to keep in mind you have other options at Skyliner hotels!
5. Plan Your Top Tier FastPass+ Choices
FastPass+ allows guests to bypass the standby line at many of the top attractions in Disney World. Guests staying in a Disney World Resort hotel can make FastPass+ selections 60 days before their check-in date, and guests staying off-property can make FastPass+ selections 30 days in advance.
Guests can make up to three FastPass+ selections in advance per day, and all three selections must be in the same park. But it isn’t as simple as just picking all your top choices. Currently, every Disney World park except Magic Kingdom utilizes a tiered FastPass+ system. And while the FastPass+ system has been around for several years, the attraction tiers have undergone several changes, so your selection options might look different than your last visit!
The most popular attractions are placed in Tier 1, while all other attractions available on FastPass+ are placed in Tier 2. Of the three daily selections, guests can only select one Tier 1 attraction, and the other two selections must be from Tier 2.
In Animal Kingdom, the only Tier 1 attractions are Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, both located in Pandora – The World of Avatar. All other attractions available on FastPass+ are Tier 2. While Na’vi River Journey is a visually stunning boat ride, we recommend selecting Flight of Passage as your Tier 1 FastPass+ for Animal Kingdom if everyone in your group is tall enough to ride.
In Epcot, there are four Tier 1 options — Frozen Ever After, Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World, and Epcot Forever. Epcot Forever is the nightly fireworks show which takes place on the World Showcase Lagoon. Since there are plenty of locations with a good view of the show, we recommend saving your Tier 1 option for one of the three rides.
All three rides have their pros and cons, so the best Tier 1 choice comes down to preference! If you or other members of your family are Frozen fanatics or young kids where height requirements will come into play, then Frozen Ever After might be the best choice! Test Track is an exciting ride for the thrillseekers, but it also offers a single rider line, which usually has a shorter wait than the standby queue.
Soarin’ Around the World is an immersive and exciting experience, but it could be too much if you’re afraid of heights. We find Soarin’ usually doesn’t have TOO long of a wait, so if you’re up for hopping in the standby line you might be able to save a FastPass on this.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has seen the most recent shakeups to their FastPass+ Tiers! Tier 1 attractions in Hollywood Studios are Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Slinky Dog Dash, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. There is a single rider line for Millennium Falcon that you can take advantage of if you’re torn on your Tier 1 selection! And as cute as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is, our top Tier 1 selection in Hollywood Studios is Slinky Dog Dash!
Just keep in mind again that little ones may be too short to ride both Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon, so check those heights at home BEFORE you book your FastPasses!
Again, there are no FastPass+ tiers at Magic Kingdom (yet!), so you’re free to pick any three available attractions of your choice! (Psst…Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most popular!)
We love that Disney World is constantly evolving and changing. It’s one of the many things that keeps us coming back to the parks again and again! It’s important to consider these new additions, policies, and situations when planning your trip to set yourself up for an awesome vacation! Be sure to use these tips to add a little extra magic to your Disney World experience.
How are you changing the way you plan your Disney World trip? Let us know in the comments!