One other upside we experienced was that quick-service restaurants throughout the parks and at our resort now require mobile ordering. My family's stay at Disney's Art of Animation Resort was splendid. An homage to Mickey Mouse often in the circular shape of his head with ears that are slightly obscured and often incorporated into construction of buildings, facades, and attractions. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories, Florida is among the worst-affected states, Orlando International Airport was among the busiest airports in the country, articles calling the Magic Kingdom crowd-free and "desolate,", a number of airlines — including Delta, the airline we flew with — were loading from back to front, the Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency-use authorization to two coronavirus vaccines. There are a bunch of new rules to get used to, face masks to struggle with and not to mention the Florida heat. People With Food Allergies Can Still Get A Consultation. Coral Reef Restaurant. One local annual pass holder told me the park was "unrecognizable" today compared with how it appeared to her a few months ago. Though one Disney driver told me they are allowed to load buses only to half-capacity during the pandemic, Disney World has increased the number of buses running — so much so that my family never waited longer than five minutes for a bus to take us anywhere. Ultimately, though, visiting Disney World during the pandemic wasn't worth the money and effort, and I wish I'd saved to return later when it will be safer and more enjoyable. And long lines are inevitable with empty rows left on attractions to keep riders apart and Disney's FastPass system now suspended. Best Time to Visit Disney World: Fall; Off-Season (September 1 to the third week of October—except Columbus Day) Crowd Level: Low Best For: Preschoolers Why: Low crowds, low prices and seasonal “Free Dining” offers Details: If your kids are little, now is the time to visit the World!Enjoy balmy weather (warm enough for an afternoon swim) and lots of elbow room. The question many people are wondering now is: “Should I visit Walt Disney World in 2020, or wait until 2021 and Disney World’s … That being said, it can be very expensive with prices at $426-$600 an hour for up to 10 people and a minimum of 7 hours. You need a plan to eat. Like what you see here? Many of the rides now have plexiglass dividers between rows that make it difficult to see the attraction, and you can't capture the smiles on your children's faces when they're behind a mask. Single Rider Lines are currently in operation on three rides: Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Test Track at Epcot. Though Disney World has made several operational adjustments since it reopened (click here for the most up-to-date park information), at the time of our visit we found many of our favorite park staples were understandably lacking or absent altogether in the interest of safety. And speaking of, with Disneyland still closed, some people who usually visit the West Coast parks may consider heading east (here is some key info you Disneyland fans need to know about visiting Disney World). The first explains what the resort is like during the reopening phase, the second discusses how we recommend you pick the time for your 2021 / 2022 Disney World trip (which we also discuss a bit here). At the same event, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer acknowledged that many people flying in around the holiday were going to Disney World. West Side hosts entertainment options like House of Blues, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, and a 24-screen AMC theater. Visiting Walt Disney World in the Spring has a few pros/cons along with yearly festivals that are fun to partake in for families and groups. (Note: WDW Transportation does not operate directly between resorts. Visiting Disney World at any time requires advanced planning but right now there are extra things to plan for and consider. It was quicker to pick up food with mobile ordering available, transportation ran like clockwork, and we had the pool at our hotel almost to ourselves. A Magic Moment could be as small as receiving a ride photograph for free or as memorable as Alice and the Mad Hatter joining a guest for a spin on the Mad Tea Party. A standalone mobile app that makes navigating on-site shops much easier. Sit-down restaurants now take bookings 60-days in advance and the hot tickets items are booking up. Guests can trade any official Disney pin for another official Disney pin that is on a cast member’s lanyard, an official Disney Pin Trading board, or inside a Disney Pin Trading book, which are located at shops, guest services counters, hotel desks, and many other locations, and can be presented upon request. The process of booking a trip to Walt Disney World with two different hotel stays, allowing guests to experience more of the expansive property. We experienced the same hospitality and friendly service throughout the days we were there, and the crowds seemed significantly smaller around our hotel, where we could escape the packed theme parks. And Disney transportation systems are sanitized frequently, according to the company's commitment to health and safety measures. If you are planning to visit a hotel other than your own, it is suggested to leave up to 90 minutes in order to transfer at a park location. The area formerly known as Downtown Disney has gone through a multi-year transformation to become an entertainment, shopping, and dining district with four “neighborhoods” offering live music, interactive experiences, nightlife, and kid-friendly activities. The Florida theme park had made a number of necessary changes in the interest of safety, but the magic felt a little lost with longer wait times for attractions and popular restaurants closed. Getting to the park early, and strategically riding popular attractions at off-peak times, we were able to ride most attractions 2 or 3 times each day. Each of these items needs to be linked in order to be accessed through your Magic Band, which can easily be done through My Disney Experience or with the assistance of a cast member at the hotel front desk or guest services. Important: Disney World Phased Reopening Notice. Because many pins can be pricey and are collectibles, guests often trade “starter pins” instead, which come in more affordable multi-packs. October at Disney World is busier than it used to be, but it’s still a good time to visit as temperatures start to decline and Halloween celebrations continue. Not sure what either of those are? Planning when to visit Walt Disney World is already a difficult decision, but with everything happening so far in 2020, it’s proved to be a bigger challenge than usual. Check dates of future events prior to booking or planning your trip. This is an opinion column. That’s why we’re here with explanations on everything you need to know, even if you have no clue what "Frozen" is about, can’t remember which parks are in California, or simply haven’t visited EPCOT since the days of Horizons. Courtesy of Daryl Austin. And many of the Disney World annual pass holders and cast members (Disney employees) I spoke with during my visit said they thought the parks were much busier than they were a few months ago. My Disney Experience can also be utilized through a reliable mobile app, allowing guests to change FastPass+ reservations, locate character meet-and-greets, and monitor ride wait times on the go, as well as mobile order food and unlock one’s Walt Disney World hotel room door. In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic rise in new COVID-19 cases nationwide, and Florida is among the worst-affected states in the country. DO buy tickets up front. In fact, before allowing guests to secure a park-pass reservation, the company requires guests to acknowledge its COVID-19 warning that says "an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present" and they "voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19" by visiting Disney World. I visited Disney World with my family in November the week after Thanksgiving. By utilizing the app, guests can locate additional clothing sizes, check stock of items at different gift shops, locate medicine and other necessary toiletries, as well as find packaged food and beverage items, making the search for sundries more seamless. Disney transportation from the airport, and between the hotels, parks, and other Disney World attractions, is complementary for all guests staying on-site. Whether you're traveling solo or planning a family vacation, here are the 50 best places to visit in 2020. Avoiding the Disney Holiday crowd (especially in November and December) means shorter lines and less traffic.For parents, this can be a bit tricky. Plan your family vacation and create memories for a lifetime. It also reminds guests "COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death" and says that by entering the park visitors confirm that they aren't experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms outlined by the CDC. Some of the group will enter the line, and the rest of the party — typically a child who is not riding and any adults supervising them — will wait in a designated area. It is basically an unlimited Fastpass provided by a top-notch guide. A digital package that allows the download of every PhotoPass photo, attraction photo or video, and any photos on the account of friends and family traveling with the guest for one set price. Subscriber Score a Great Deal. Disney World was busier than we expected, but at least mask-wearing was encouraged throughout the parks. Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. When the first group finishes, they take over supervision and any party members who waited and would like to ride can board without waiting in line. Courtesy of Daryl Austin. In the past, at least in my experience, the posted wait-time estimates at Disney theme parks were much longer than the actual wait time, but now actual wait times often exceed posted wait times. Though we tried to make the most of an unexpected situation, I wish my family would have saved the small fortune we spent in going there when we did to instead visit the magical world of Disney at a time when it would have been both safer and more enjoyable. Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Wendy (from Peter Pan) greeting guests as part of one of the impromptu parades the author saw during his visit. If Walt Disney World is your home, the Magic Band is your key. Here’s why. Walt Disney World currently hosts four: the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, Star Wars Half Marathon in April, and Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November. To mitigate safety risks on our travels, we drove ourselves to Salt Lake City's international airport and booked seats in the back of the plane, as we learned that a number of airlines — including Delta, the airline we flew with — were loading from back to front to decrease contact between passengers, and we didn't want to pass others as we boarded or be surrounded by people in the rows behind us as well. Travel + Leisure is part of the Travel + Leisure Group. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of family-friendly attractions, Disney Character experiences and fan-favorite food & beverages spread across 6 distinct areas. Your next Disney getaway … The umbrella term for Walt Disney World’s technologically enhanced booking options which include FastPass+, MagicBands, and My Disney Experience. And while I never saw any measures in place to limit massive crowds of people from forming around the thruways of the parks, I rarely saw a ride queue where people weren't appropriately spaced at least 6 feet apart by adhering to markings on the ground. One of the many signs posted throughout Walt Disney World reminding guests to properly wear a face covering. As of early 2019, Memory Maker costs $169 when purchased in advance (which does not include photos taken three days prior) and $199 when purchased during vacation. Park-Hopping, or visiting multiple parks in the same day, used to be a hallmark of Disney World, but such unrestricted movement is riskier during a global pandemic. You can read all about visiting Disney World in the Spring in our guide. In a press conference during the week of Thanksgiving, Orange County, Florida, Mayor Jerry Demings said Orlando International Airport was among the busiest airports in the country. Reservations can be made at WDW restaurants up to 180 days in advance before arrival — and should be. The are widespread, hidden everywhere from hotel carpeting patterns and sidewalk imprints to ride signs and fireplaces throughout Walt Disney World. ), Credit: Ticketed late-night events that give guests unparalleled access to rides and experiences with minimal wait times once a park has closed to the public, with complimentary ice cream, popcorn, and bottled drinks. Visiting any of the Walt Disney World theme parks right now requires a level of patience. We highly recommend you also visit our Walt Disney World Reopening Masterpost, where we highlight specific issues guests will face during this unique time. A rectangular billfold available at the front of the park upon entering that provides park hours, entertainment times, ride closures, and parade details on a weekly basis. Before starting in the Park, be sure to link your method of payment so it’s easy when the time comes to order. Cast members will not refuse a trade based on the rarity or style of a pin; they will only decline a trade if the pin is not an official Disney pin design, or when the guest has completed the maximum of two trades per individual cast member for that day. In the meantime, Disney has continued offering steep discounts to incentivize cost-conscious families like my own to travel to the area during the pandemic — a move that's paying off for the company. Come and enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Minnie Vans can travel between areas within Walt Disney World for a variable fee or between the resort and Orlando International Airport, which can be booked in advance, for $150 flat rate sans gratuity. This is crazier than a frat party!". Courtesy of Daryl Austin. Character interactions have been suspended, and lavish parades have been replaced with impromptu drive-bys of a vehicle or two and a handful of spaced-apart characters waving. If some members of a group want to ride an attraction and others do not, Rider Switch gives everyone a turn while also preventing younger guests from waiting unsupervised. If special access tours sound fun to you, know that having a Disney World annual pass can save you up to 15%, so check that math if there’s lots of Disney on your horizon. since, “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention”. The activity of park guests trading official Disney pins with cast members across Walt Disney World property. When logged in, guests can make FastPass+ selections, set Advance Dining Reservations, check the times of individual shows and entertainment, and find answers to most questions. I was also relieved to be in a place that enforced mask-wearing more strictly than my home state of Utah, where a surprising number of anti-maskers have driven up the number of new COVID-19 cases. The DDP allows each guest a certain number of quick-service meals and/or table-service meals, along with a beverage and snack each day. Chapek also told investors holiday reservations were 77% booked two weeks before Thanksgiving and that the week of Thanksgiving was, at that time, "booked close to capacity." Rider Switch Is available on many but not all attractions at Walt Disney World and is intended for families and children, but is by no means restricted to that. The Epcot-area resorts. ), A complimentary coach bus service offered to Walt Disney World resort hotel guests between Orlando International Airport and their location of lodging. Looking for smart ways to get more from life? Bay Lake, FL 34747, USA. If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the past few years, brace yourself. While Magic Bands are not necessary — all shops and restaurants take cash and credit card, room keys can be provided and FastPasses can be scanned from your park ticket — they have made visiting Walt Disney World parks more seamless than ever before. Each Disney World attraction, restaurant and resort has an extensive back story. Subscribe to our daily newsletter to get more of it. Denotes an unofficial and surprise gesture or gift bestowed upon a guest from a cast member completely at random. WDW buses arrive approximately every 20 minutes, and only select properties offer boat and monorail access; a gondola system will debut at Walt Disney World in fall 2019. Walt Disney World has long touted its reputation as “the happiest place on earth.” So it is strange to enter the iconic theme parks and realize that the usual welcoming smiles from cast members — … I don't know what attendance was like the week after Thanksgiving when my family arrived, but it seemed very crowded to me. There's Something Fun for Everyone A dining discount program that offers 20% off food and drinks (including alcohol) at over 100 restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as complimentary parking for dining purposes. 2021 packages for Walt Disney World ARE NOW ON SALE through until the end of 2021. "When we first opened in July," one cast member said, "we were a ghost town.". Each party boarding the bus is assigned a numbered seating section, and large dividers and empty seats are placed between them to ensure distance between travelers once on board. This is making visiting Disney World more like visiting Disneyland. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s). Marketplace boasts a range of Disney-affiliated stores, Town Center contains a collection of shops from popular designers and brands, and The Landing’s upscale waterfront area is the place to find many of Disney’s newest restaurants and signature nightlife. Try to plan your trip for the earlier parts of this month and for the weekdays to avoid crowds that can come with people looking to celebrate Halloween on October 31. Here’s a cheat sheet to get you up to speed. Travel + Leisure may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Disney World is encouraging, and often mandating, mobile ordering at quick service restaurants. Disney’s popular timeshare-style membership program that offers apartment-style lodging and operates familiar kiosks inside parks and at hotel lobbies throughout Walt Disney World. A separate and somewhat under-the-radar line offered on multiple attractions at Walt Disney World for individual guests. Do your Disney World memories include waiting in an endless line for Splash Mountain, handing over cash for popcorn, or misplacing a hotel room key? Travel + Leisure is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation Travel + Leisure Group All Rights Reserved, registered in the United States and other countries. Disney pins are enamel and colorful with designs referencing a character, attraction, or experience within the parks, and often come in small collectible sets. While having more visitors has helped Disney's business, the health risks of visiting the park during the pandemic remain high. Let’s just admit this first thing. 1 to 2 hours. My family WILL continue to visit Disney World, even with all of the changes. Guests can purchase individual images and photo gifts inside the parks or on the Disney PhotoPass website; the purchase of Memory Maker allows unlimited downloads of guest images, as well as those of family and friends. Certain photo locations allow for enhanced Magic Shots, which insert Disney characters and effects into images automatically. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. And there's no reason to believe the number of Disney-bound travelers won't continue to rise now that the Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency-use authorization to two coronavirus vaccines, with data from Skyscanner showing a spike in flight-booking searches on November 9, the day news of Pfizer's vaccine broke — suggesting that more people were starting to plan trips again. Made popular by a blog of the same name, this concept refers to park guests dressing like Disney characters by utilizing colors instead of costumes. Despite all the precautions we took to travel safely, I was stunned by what we experienced at the "happiest place on earth. We were also told our hotel room would not be adjacent to other occupied hotel rooms, and we appreciated that all the purchases we made at the resort were contactless through the My Disney Experience app. (Offsite guests can also take the transportation around Disney World for free, but they need other transportation to get to/from WDW). It is Worth Visiting Disney World. The all-in-one web portal that allows Walt Disney World guests to book and manage their trip. Food is not prepared in advance. Extra Magic Hours change daily — check times guides for details — but in general, morning EMH allow for early park admission and ride access and evening EMH simply restrict ride access to resort guests, allowing non-resort guests to exit the park at their leisure. The Epcot-area resorts are all located around Crescent Lake and include the … Read on: Many popular Walt Disney World attractions operate two separate lines: a standby line for guests simply entering and waiting, and a FastPass+ line, which allows guests with a “reservation” to enter the attraction more quickly. Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for your family. The Disney Dining Plan allows guests booking Walt Disney World vacations to also pre-pay for their meals in exchange for credits redeemable at many restaurants and most food service locations across the WDW property. Up to three advance reservations can be made per day for each Walt Disney World ticket holder, regardless of ticket type. (For charges and other sensitive information, guests must first type in a self-created four-digit PIN, which can be set during check-in.). (Note: Pick-up time for departing flights can be up to four hours before actual flight time, which may affect some guests’ plans.). ", My wife and I frequently saw throngs of massive crowds — sometimes shoulder to shoulder — as they gathered in front of Cinderella's castle or made their way through the Magic Kingdom's meandering pathways connecting each "land" to another. Ticketed morning events that give guests early and private access to attractions within Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland or Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before park guests arrive, with a hot breakfast included. (Thankfully, our young children — even our 2-year-old — are so accustomed to wearing face masks that we didn't have any issues complying with Delta's face-mask policies once on board. Hidden Mickey pins are not sold, and can only be obtained by trading with a WDW cast member. So yes, when visiting Walt Disney World during the pandemic, the crowds are much smaller. The general admittance line for all rides at Walt Disney World parks, with estimated wait times listed at the point of entrance. PhotoPass photographers can be spotted in beige vests and will scan guests’ MagicBands after taking photographs so images can be easily accessed on Disney’s PhotoPass website or on the My Disney Experience mobile app instantly. Looking to score a great deal on a Disney vacation? The complementary system of buses, monorails, and boats transporting guests from all Walt Disney World hotel resorts to the four parks, two water parks, and entertainment facilities across the vast property. Disney World VIP Tours are the ultimate way to visit Disney World. The lines for rides, restaurants, and photo ops were certainly shorter than normal times. Walt Disney World is the most popular theme park attraction in North America — the Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world. An app that utilizes ride queues and locations within Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort parks for family-friendly multi-person game play, as well as collectable location badges and Apple Music-backed playlists. Tips for Visiting Disney World in 2020 and 2021. In-demand locations like character breakfasts at Cinderella’s Royal Table and the wildly popular Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom tend to fill up quickly, so booking well in advance is rather necessary. Start listening to T+L's brand new podcast, Let's Go Together! When entering the line, guests must inquire with a cast member about Rider Switch. FastPass+ reservations are free, and only select rides offer FastPass+. But it seems many people aren't afraid to visit Disney World for the holidays. Membership is limited to Florida residents, annual and seasonal passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members. In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic rise in new COVID-19 cases nationwide, and Florida is among the worst-affected states in the country. I was one of them, making the decision to take my family to Disney World the week after Thanksgiving, my concerns assuaged by articles calling the Magic Kingdom crowd-free and "desolate," along with the Walt Disney Co.'s thorough health and safety commitment. What to expect when traveling to Disney World in 2021. To enter an attracting during Extra Magic Hours, park guests must scan their MagicBand or display a Extra Magic Hours voucher from participating hotels to prove eligibility. Getty Images, Everything You Need to Know About Going to Disney World. What's more, Disney's bus and Skyliner transportation systems ran like clockwork throughout our stay. Welcome to Walt Disney World. (Note: RunDisney events often cause parks to become crowded and can limit hotel availability. TIME TO SPEND. Crowds gathered near Cinderella's castle. Many of the park's most popular restaurants are closed too. The parks are less crowded. Courtesy of Daryl Austin. If you’re a solo traveler, this one’s especially for you. As such, we spent the majority of our vacation waiting in line, and we weren't able to experience nearly as many attractions as we have in previous visits. Ultimately, though, none of these upsides began to make visiting Walt Disney World during the pandemic worth the money and effort. Offers may be subject to change without notice. The complementary system of buses, monorails, and boats transporting guests from all Walt Disney World hotel resorts to the four parks, two water parks, and entertainment facilities across … The slow period which occurs right after Marathon weekend in early January allows for Disney to refurbish some of it’s most popular attractions. 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