Navigating Walt Disney World in 2020

Walt Disney World is still the most magical place on earth and I feel like the luckiest girl on earth that I was able to visit the parks shortly after their reopening!

Many of my clients left on the books in 2020 decided to postpone their trips and I completely understand the hesitation to travel at the moment– with so much unknown it is difficult to plan and with so many changes to the Walt Disney World experience, many people are wondering; is is worth it? My answer is 110% yes and I’m here to tell you why!

Low Crowds: Never have I ever seen such low crowds in the parks. I travel to Walt Disney World at least twice per year; visiting each of the four theme parks and staying at a different resort everytime, and I really can’t stress enough how amazing it is to have the parks so empty. Disney is limiting the number of guests who can visit each day and this makes for the most magical experience. At the moment, there are no FastPasses, but they are not needed. We never waited more than 30 minutes for any attraction and were able to ride nearly every ride multiple times during our visit. Attractions that usually see a one, two, or even three hour wait on normal days have lines of 10-20 minutes. These low wait times meant more time enjoying ourselves, less stress, less rushing, and more time just having fun.

Limited Park Hours and Lack of Park Hopping: I know this may sound like a negative to some (and I even thought it was a drag before our visit) but these shorter park hours and necessity of choosing only one park per day, again made for more time enjoying ourselves, less stress, less rushing, and more time just having fun. I loved the late opening for Epcot and Hollywood Studios (sleeping in on a Disney trip had never been heard of before!) and the early closing for Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom (evening pool visits and time spent playing Uno in our room was so great!).

Character Sightings: This felt so nostalgic! I loved walking around the parks and spotting characters. In my opinion, it was more fun in a lot of ways than waiting an hour in line to say hello to a princess and take a photo! When characters start their “cavalcade” (as they are calling it) the park music changes, letting everyone know something exciting is coming! My favorite sightings were Alice and Anastasia & Drisella (Cinderella’s Step Sisters). Alice had a wonderful conversation with my daughter and we simply walked up to her– usually meeting Alice is a 45 minute commitment to a line at select times during the day. Anastasia & Drisella perched themselves on the balcony of Cinderella Castle and were advertising for a maid position, which was so funny. 100% of their former maids have become Princesses, in case you are interested in the job!

Safety: The safety measures put into place at Walt Disney World are unparalleled. From limited park attendance, to frequently cleaning all of the ride vehicles (every time we were in line for a ride they announced they were cleaning again!), to hand sanitizer (absolutely everywhere), to mobile food ordering, mobile dining reservation check in, thoughtful spacing of every line, and 100% of people wearing a face covering 100% of the time unless they are eating or drinking and stationary; Walt Disney World is certainly in a “World of their Own”. Because the Disney Company owns and operates all of the hotels, restaurants, dining, and experiences in their “bubble” they are able to create and monitor the safety precautions of every aspect of your vacation; something that is very hard (if not impossible) to do anywhere else.

Many of those immediately interested in traveling to this Whole New (Disney) World have asked— “How long will these low crowds last?”. Well, we honestly do not know. I know that for 2020 the park attendance will be greatly limited, but Disney can increase the number of park reservations at any time and they will not disclose this information when they do it. If you are wanting to go, my advice is to go as soon as you can and feel comfortable doing so. The amazing thing right now is that we do not need any advance notice to plan a wonderful trip, which is simply magical!

Walt Disney World Reopening Plans

In an interview with CNBC in late April, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, was quoted to say that the future of the travel industry is basically in the hands of Walt Disney World. “Speculating on Americans’ impending return to air travel, and travel in general, Kelly referred back to the broader picture. In order for people to plan a trip, “They need to have something to be able to do when they get there,” he said. “So, Disney World needs to open back up. Restaurants need to open back up,” for example.”

While, I’m not sure that everyone is like me and already coordinating my masks with my park attire, the announcement of the reopening of Walt Disney World in July gave me a lot of hope! Here are the details about the safety and protocols the parks will be following.

  • July 11th, 2020- Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks will reopen with limited capacity.
  • July 15th, 2020- Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen with limited capacity.
  • Reservations to the parks will be required
  • Masks or Face Coverings will be required. “Relaxation areas” may be available for guests to use to temporarily remove their masks during their visit.
  • Upon the initial reopening, there will not be any parades, fireworks, or character meet and greets.
  • Characters may be visible from a distance and interact with guests.
  • Mobile ordering of food will be encouraged as well as digital menus for table service restaurants
  • Online Check In to the Resorts will be required (by passing the front desk).
  • Temperature screening will be required upon entrance of the parks.
  • Cashless payment is encouraged (Credit Cards or Magic Band Payment)
  • Park Hours may be shorter than usual.

While all the new guidelines are not quite “normal”, I’m excited for low crowds and to return to one of my favorite places on earth!

We will, of course, keep our clients updated as we know more!

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

My daughter and I embarked on our annual Mother Daughter Disney trip this year in July, and as any good Travel Advisor would do, we experienced new things and stayed at a resort which we had visited but never stayed at.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is located in the Magic Kingdom Area of the Walt Disney World property and is the only deluxe resort in that area that is not on the monorail.  This makes the price point significantly lower, generally speaking, but still has easy boat access to Magic Kingdom, so it is a great value for a lot of families.

 

Favorite things about this property:

  • The Restaurants- Whispering Canyon (casual dining option) is a really great time and Artist’s Point (signature dining option) is truly amazing
  • Location and Price Point- For a Deluxe Disney Resort in Magic Kingdom, it’s hard to beat the price point of Wilderness Lodge.
  • The new Copper Creek Villas and Cabins- the newly renovated Copper Creek Villas and Cabins are located within Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the new decor does not disappoint.

Drawbacks:

  • Standard rooms are smaller at this property than many of the other deluxe resorts.
  • Not being on the monorail, should you want to dine outside of the parks it is difficult to visit restaurants other than those on property.
  • The pool area was a disappointment to me.  The water features and even small size of the main pool would make me shy away from this resort during the summer months.

 

Have you stayed at this Disney property?  Would love to hear your thoughts!