As of July 9th, 2020, tickets and hotel reservations have gone back on sale for 2020 trips to Walt Disney World! Also as of July 9th, 2020, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, travel is still limited, and most people are still staying at home. But the parks are continuing to re-open with new restrictions, changes to operating procedures and of course mask and social distancing requirements. With all that being said, it is understandable that many of you are a little hesitant about starting to plan your next trip. However, given the right circumstances, now may actually be the perfect time to get started planning your Disney World or Universal Orlando adventure for this fall or during the holiday season!
Before we get into our recommendations on when and how to go, you may be wondering how different the parks will be with mask wearing and social distancing requirements in place.
Let's look at some of the downsides first.
First of all, there will not be any fireworks, shows or parades. While we expect shows will gradually return over the next few months, the major nightly shows and daily scheduled parades will likely not be shown for quite some time. This is probably the biggest drawback we see to heading to the parks this year. The positive is that it leaves more time for riding rides while maybe doing some new and different nighttime activities that you may have not done otherwise.
Secondly, character interactions will change. You will no longer be able to get a picture with your arm around Elsa and Anna or next to a Transformer. However, the new forms of interaction will still be fun and magical. A small bright side here is that you won’t have to wait in line to see a character. Instead they’ll walk by you on the street or wave to you from a moving parade float. (See the video below for an example of the new character interactions)
Finally, and this one only applies to Disney World, there are no more Fast Pass+ reservations and you cannot park hop between parks. This has some serious implications to planning as our usual strategy of optimizing FastPass+ usage and heading to one park in the morning and then a different park in the evening is no longer possible. Instead, you will have to plan on staying in the parks a little longer each day (or arriving later) and only utilizing standby lines.
Now there are a few bright spots here. For example, EPCOT is opening at 11am each day, making this a great day for a nice big breakfast at the resort. Without FastPass+ the lines should move much quicker and you get to enjoy the great queues that you would not get to see when using a FastPass+ reservation. Plus, without nightly shows, you can spend more time in the evening at Disney Springs, walk around the Boardwalk, or enjoy a nice dinner at a resort.
Now for the positive!
For the rest of 2020, the parks will be considerably less crowded than before. At Disney World they will be limiting the number of guests in the park each day. Additionally, with reduced out of state travel and numerous cancelled trips, there are fewer people planning trips right now. It's unclear how long this will last. However, we expect crowds to be relatively light at least through the fall and likely through the holiday season.
The implications here are massive. During the fall, traditionally the slowest time of year, we’d expect the parks to be even more empty. You may not even miss having a FastPass+ at Disney World and likely won’t need an Express Pass at Universal Orlando.
The biggest benefit at all, will be during the holidays; Disney World is amazing during the most wonderful time of the year! However, it is extremely crowded during the most wonderful time of the year. But, with the limited number of guests that will be allowed in each day and hesitancy from guests in booking travel, the parks may be less crowded than usual. Which could make this 2020 holiday season a great time to visit!
So what do we recommend?
This is an unprecedented time in terms of booking and planning Disney World or Universal Orlando adventures. Everyone is learning for the first time how to operate in this temporary normal. But that doesn’t mean that you should be left in the dust.
At Magical Adventure Co. we are continually exploring what this all means and will continue to share updates with you throughout this process. Sign up for our Base Camp email list, so that you can stay up to date with our planning guides and tips. (PS - We promise not to spam you, we hate clutter in our inboxes too!)
Additionally, we would love to be your guide throughout the whole planning process. You can check out our planning services here.
These next few months might be some of the best times ever at these destination theme parks, if you are willing to endure some minor inconveniences. For Universal Orlando, we would recommend targeting September or October. For a Disney World adventure, any time would be great, but maybe consider going around the holidays this year! It could be the best ever, and will without a doubt be amazing.
There is no guarantee as to what life will be like after this summer. At this point, we aren’t even sure what tomorrow will bring. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward and hope for the best. One of the things that helps to make tough times a little easier is to have something good to look forward to. So why not pick a date on the calendar and start planning your next adventure today!