SPRING BREAK, WHOOO!!! OK, Spring break is a popular time of year not just for college kids on break but for families too. And for many families that find themselves with a week off and are looking for a vacation, Disney World fits that bill nicely. Not only are kiddos are usually off from school, but the weather is more comfortable than in the sweltering summer months.
But with all of the new protocols and safety measures, does it make sense to visit Disney World for spring break in 2021, or should you skip it this year?
That answer could vary greatly from family to family, so let’s take a look at what YOU should consider when deciding! We’ll weigh the pros and cons, look at what may or may not be available by that time, and let you know what our thoughts are on whether or not you should book a vacation for spring break 2021!
Which reopening protocols will still be in effect in 2021?
At this time, it’s VERY hard to predict exactly which health and safety measures will still be around in 2021. We’ve reported on how the mask mandate could continue into the spring of 2021, in addition to the new Disney Park Pass reservation system remaining bookable into early 2022.
To make matters more confusing, Park Hopping will be returning on January 1, 2021, which contradicts the idea of Park Passes in the first place. This means that it’s still very much up in the air what visiting Disney World come spring break season could look like.
If Park Passes stick around, that would likely indicate limited park capacity could also still be in effect for this coming spring break, although by then it could be set to a higher capacity than what we saw in Disney World’s first couple of months of reopening. CEO Bob Chapek recently shared that the parks are currently operating at 35% capacity.
While it would not surprise us to see those measures stick around through spring break, there are other things that are a bit more up in the air. During Disney World’s phased reopening, it was announced that certain events, such as nightly fireworks, parades, and character meet and greets, would be temporarily suspended, and as of this writing, no return date has been announced.
While it’s certainly possible that those things may still be unavailable next year, there is reason to believe we COULD see the return of fireworks, parades, and meet and greets within the next six months. Why? Because Disney Parks around the world are beginning to reintroduce them!
Nightly fireworks and parades returned to Tokyo Disney Resort on September 1st, only two months after the resort reopened for guests. Just a few weeks after that, Tokyo Disney Resort also saw the return of character meet and greets on September 19th.
Just recently we’ve started to see characters appearing at a distance in select locations in Disney World. Could this be the beginning of opening up a new form of character meet and greet? Possibly. Time will tell if the method is reliable with guest and character safety in mind.
However, there are some other things that have yet to return to Disney World that are very much still marked with big question marks including FastPass+ and the Disney Dining Plan. If these are important elements of your Disney World vacations, then you will want to keep a close watch to see if they make their return in the coming months.
Your favorite resort or restaurant could still be closed.
While most of Disney World has reopened in some way, shape, or form, a few key pieces are still closed at this time. These include several resorts and restaurants, a few of which are worth mentioning if you’re considering a spring break trip in 2021.
The following resorts are still closed, as of this writing:
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (scheduled to reopen summer of 2021)
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort (closed until further notice)
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (closed until further notice)
- Disney’s All-Star Resorts: Music, and Sports (closed until further notice)
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts: French Quarter and Riverside (closed until further notice)
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (only DVC rooms are open)
Keep in mind that the villa (AKA DVC) portions of the Polynesian, Beach Club, and BoardWalk resorts are currently open, and you do not need to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay in one of those resorts’ villas, but they are a bit pricier than your standard rooms, often with more space.
In total, the closed hotels account for over 10,000 rooms! That’s a lot of rooms to fill, especially when Disney themselves stated that attendance from out-of-town guests, at least when they initially reopened, was lower than anticipated. Locals accounted for 50% of those visiting when the parks first reopened, many of whom more than likely do not need hotel accommodations.
With those things considered, it may not be financially feasible for Disney World to reopen (and staff) those resorts at this time, only to have little to no guest occupancy. It likely wouldn’t justify the operating expenses associated with the resorts being open.
Looking ahead to 2021, analysts are already predicting a bleak year for travel. According to analysts at Deutsche Bank, the 2021 fiscal year will likely be a “lost year” for Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. We may see these resorts remain closed through spring break if travel does not pick up.
Some resorts are using their extended closures to implement a significant amount of renovation work, including a re-inspiration of the guest room theming at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to include Disney’s animated film, Moana. Due to this renovation, this resort isn’t scheduled to reopen until the summer of 2021, so we already know that the Polynesian won’t be fully open for spring break.
In addition to the resorts, there are also several Disney World restaurants that have yet to announce a reopening date.
While the reasons for these closures may vary, some of these restaurants are owned by third parties, so one possible explanation could be that those owners may be making individual business decisions to keep them closed for the time being. Basically, think ahead of the resort or restaurants you dream of visiting on your Disney trip. If it’s not open (or planning to be by then), and that experience is a big deal to your family, maybe hold off for a bit.
Click here for a complete list of Disney World dining locations that ARE and ARE NOT currently open.
What we MIGHT see happen during spring break 2021.
While certain aspects of Disney World may still be unavailable in 2021, and you can more than likely expect a spring break trip to be somewhat modified from your “typical” Disney World vacation, there are some other things we COULD see happen that may or may not suit your family.
Spring break is notoriously one of the most hectic, crowded times of the year at Disney World. As we mentioned earlier, if Disney still limits capacity in the parks by then, we could see lower than average wait times for attractions, and a general “less crowded” feel in the parks. If this happens, this could be one of the quietest spring break seasons we’ve seen in quite some time.
So here’s the flip side of the coin: in recent weeks, however, we’ve been seeing more and more days’ Park Pass reservations book up, and we have also started to see an uptick in wait times which may indicate that the crowds aren’t quite as sparse as they were in July. Florida has moved into Phase 3, meaning they have fully lifted capacity restrictions for theme parks, restaurants, and more across the state. This means if Disney WANTED to choose to let more people in they could do so.
If spring break crowds are your main worry, we recommend holding off a bit to see what crowds look like as we enter into the busy Christmas season. Crowds have been increasing, so the not SUPER short wait times we’re seeing now could potentially rise as Christmas gets closer. Time will tell!
If you are a Florida resident, you may have more financial incentives from Disney coming your way that may “sweeten” the deal when it comes to booking a spring break trip. Disney World has already extended some solid deals to Florida residents, including Disney Magic Flex Tickets, 35% off resort rooms, and 20% off merchandise purchases. There may be even MORE hotel discounts coming next year, especially around spring break, so keep a watchful eye on DFB for all the latest info.
Click here to see all of the current Disney World hotel discounts and who is eligible to redeem them!
Will Disney World be “safer” in 2021?
Perhaps the most important factor many families will want to know when deciding whether or not to book a spring break trip to Disney World is whether or not the parks and resorts will be safe.
The short answer to that question is that it is hard to say at this time and will depend largely on you and your family and what you consider to be “safe.” However, over the course of the last couple of months, Disney has fine-tuned its safety measures to make sure they are doing what they can to keep both guests and Cast Members safe.
For example, Disney World’s face mask policy has been continuously updated and tightened, which indicates that Disney constantly has their finger on the pulse of best practices in regards to how to operate in the midst of a global pandemic.
But spring break is months away. What will mask-wearing and safety protocols be like then?? Moving forward, there are two possible scenarios that we could see play out not just in Disney World, but throughout the country.
One scenario is that over the next several months, we will all be seasoned “social distancers,” and practicing pandemic protocol could be second nature, making the parks a reasonably safe place to be. You’ll have backups for your backup masks, you’ll be a sanitizing pro, and visiting the parks will be a piece of cake.
The other scenario is where folks may be more prone to let their guard down as time passes. This is a situation that we are already starting to see in real-time, particularly at Disney Springs. As pandemic numbers go down and the situation slowly seems to improve, many individuals may feel more comfortable and become less likely to follow the protocols as strictly as Disney would like.
We’ve seen the result of this recently with Disney World’s decision to enact much stricter mask policies basically saying if a guest chooses to wear their mask incorrectly, they need to leave.
At this point, safety is the name of the game. If you go to Disney World, you know what rules and risks you’re agreeing to and Disney has no problem holding you to that.
What about GETTING to Disney World? Will THAT be safe??
Keep in mind that visiting Disney World is only half of the equation for many guests. GETTING there is just as much or even more of a worry for many. Air travel is way down and concerns over safety while flying are high.
Driving is considered the safer option but is only practical for some families. With limited travel time or a long distance to travel, driving may not be feasible for certain families. Once you figure out how and IF you can get to Disney World, you can begin to question how safe you’ll feel inside those gates.
So, should you book a spring break 2021 vacation to Disney World?
Given everything we just discussed, is booking a vacation for spring break 2021 a good idea? If your family has been strongly considering a trip, our advice is to go ahead and book the trip. From there, plan your vacation based on current information, but keep an eye on what things are like during the upcoming holiday season.
Outside of crowd levels, you will want to continue to check on the reopening status for your favorite restaurants (remember, Advance Dining Reservation booking windows are only 60 days out now!), and closely monitor pandemic numbers as spring break will also be on the tail end of flu season.
And, as always, keep checking in with DFB! We have reporters in the parks and resorts daily, meaning that we will be showing you daily updates from Disney World so you know exactly what it’s like in real-time!
If you book your trip but later decide to cancel, be sure to know exactly what your timeframe is for when Disney will allow you to cancel without any penalties or fees. Currently, Disney is waiving cancellation fees through April of 2021. This means you can book that trip with confidence that if things take a turn or you change your mind, you can cancel with no issue.
Keep an eye on any third-party reservations you may book as well. Typically, airlines, rental car companies, and travel insurance will have different cancellation policies, so be sure to read the fine print before you book.
Ultimately, only YOU can determine what will be best for your family. Given what we have seen coming out of Disney Parks since reopening, and what we may expect to see moving forward, we think that those considering a spring break trip should book the proper reservations and then watch closely and wait to see if down the road it still makes sense to go.
Click here to read more about analysts’ predictions that 2021 may be a “lost year” for Disney Parks.
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Are you considering booking a Disney World vacation for spring break 2021? Let us know in the comments!