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. 2021 packages for Walt Disney World ARE NOW ON SALE through until the end of 2021. If you enjoy shopping, then no visit to Orlando would … Disney transportation from the airport, and between the hotels, parks, and other Disney World attractions, is complementary for all guests staying on-site. 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. Looking for smart ways to get more from life? 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. 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. Bay Lake, FL 34747, USA. Because many pins can be pricey and are collectibles, guests often trade “starter pins” instead, which come in more affordable multi-packs. The level of detail at the Animal … 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. Courtesy of Daryl Austin. Check dates of future events prior to booking or planning your trip. New Security at Disney World. The process of booking a trip to Walt Disney World with two different hotel stays, allowing guests to experience more of the expansive property. West Side hosts entertainment options like House of Blues, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, and a 24-screen AMC theater. We also called ahead to make sure our transportation from the airport to our Disney hotel had safety measures in place. One local annual pass holder told me the park was "unrecognizable" today compared with how it appeared to her a few months ago. The lines for rides, restaurants, and photo ops were certainly shorter than normal times. This topic is temporarily impacted by the ongoing phased reopening of Walt Disney World after its extended mid-2020 closure. Plan your family vacation and create memories for a lifetime. One of the many signs posted throughout Walt Disney World reminding guests to properly wear a face covering. 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. 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. It is Worth Visiting Disney World. Let’s just admit this first thing. Yes, I admit I am a spoiled brat when it comes to my Disney World vacations. ), The author's son watched Delta's in-flight entertainment on the flight to Orlando, Florida. Loudspeaker announcements frequently reminded parkgoers to properly wear a face covering, signs were posted everywhere warning that "guests not properly wearing an approved mask will be asked to leave," and cast members immediately asked guests to adjust their face mask if it ever fell below their nostrils. Home to the iconic Cinderella Castle, this was the very first theme park to open at Walt Disney World Resort. Hidden Mickey pins are not sold, and can only be obtained by trading with a WDW cast member. 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. 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. Disney World’s new health policies made us feel safe while visiting Disney World post-COVID reopening. (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney World Resort) Appreciate the details. If you’re a solo traveler, this one’s especially for you. Travel + Leisure is part of the Travel + Leisure Group. 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? The umbrella term for Walt Disney World’s technologically enhanced booking options which include FastPass+, MagicBands, and My Disney Experience. 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. The uptick in visitors has improved Disney's revenue in the past few months, with the company's fiscal earnings reports from last quarter to the previous quarter showing that Disney World's profits increased dramatically. Subscribe to our daily newsletter to get more of it. My family WILL continue to visit Disney World, even with all of the changes. 1 to 2 hours. The new ways of Walt Disney World can make a vacation more enjoyable, but it’s all too easy for first-timers or former visitors to get completely overwhelmed. Though I never saw a line form at the pool while we were there, a lifeguard told me the resort did limit the number of people in the area and masks were required when walking or lounging around the pool — though not while swimming. (For charges and other sensitive information, guests must first type in a self-created four-digit PIN, which can be set during check-in.). (Offsite guests can also take the transportation around Disney World for free, but they need other transportation to get to/from WDW). (Note: RunDisney events often cause parks to become crowded and can limit hotel availability. 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. There are a bunch of new rules to get used to, face masks to struggle with and not to mention the Florida heat. To utilize the FastPass+ line, each member of a party needs to have a time-specific reservation for the individual ride. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of family-friendly attractions, Disney Character experiences and fan-favorite food & beverages spread across 6 distinct areas. Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. The best feature though, and one you’ll need to be familiar with if you’re visiting Disney World during COVID-19 is Mobile Order and Pay. TIME TO SPEND. 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 — … So far Disney World is the talk of the town. The slow period which occurs right after Marathon weekend in early January allows for Disney to refurbish some of it’s most popular attractions. Reservations can be made at WDW restaurants up to 180 days in advance before arrival — and should be. 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. Spring also means Easter, International Flower and Garden Festival, and mild weather. .For those giving travel plans in 2020 a miss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought we’d share with you some of our “preferred” times to visit Disney next year. If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the past few years, brace yourself. So yes, when visiting Walt Disney World during the pandemic, the crowds are much smaller. You can read all about visiting Disney World in the Spring in our guide. This is an opinion column. Walt Disney World’s ticketing system allows guests to reserve a FastPass+ 60 days in advance of a check-in date if staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel or participating hotel and 30 days in advance with general park admission. 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. 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. Bag check security measures have changed with the reopening of Walt Disney World … Like what you see here? 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. 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. What's more, Disney's bus and Skyliner transportation systems ran like clockwork throughout our stay. ", 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. 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. FastPass+ reservations are free, and only select rides offer FastPass+. 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. Disney World in Spring and Summer. Like the quarantined NBA playoffs currently hosted on property, Disney World has become a bubble. Ultimately, though, none of these upsides began to make visiting Walt Disney World during the pandemic worth the money and effort. 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. A cast member told me the FastPass line was closed to the general public with some exceptions for those with disabilities, rider-switch parties (Disney's service that lets ridegoers hold their place in line as they wait with nonriders, often children, while others in their party enjoy the attraction), and Club 33 members who pay steep membership fees for perks (Club 33 membership is said to cost $12,000 annually on top of a onetime $25,000 entrance fee). The are widespread, hidden everywhere from hotel carpeting patterns and sidewalk imprints to ride signs and fireplaces throughout Walt Disney World. 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. Membership is limited to Florida residents, annual and seasonal passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members. What to expect when traveling to Disney World in 2021. ), A complimentary coach bus service offered to Walt Disney World resort hotel guests between Orlando International Airport and their location of lodging. A standalone mobile app that makes navigating on-site shops much easier. 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). 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. And long lines are inevitable with empty rows left on attractions to keep riders apart and Disney's FastPass system now suspended. The parks are less crowded. Courtesy of Daryl Austin. Travel + Leisure is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation Travel + Leisure Group All Rights Reserved, registered in the United States and other countries. 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. Whether you're traveling solo or planning a family vacation, here are the 50 best places to visit in 2020. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s). When we booked the room, we were told that "enhanced cleaning" was used to "thoroughly sanitize" our room, and the resort gave us the option to opt out of housekeeping altogether during our stay or have a "light cleaning" every other day. The all-in-one web portal that allows Walt Disney World guests to book and manage their trip. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Journey to Pandora, the World of Avatar. Not sure what either of those are? When entering the line, guests must inquire with a cast member about Rider Switch. Getty Images, Everything You Need to Know About Going to Disney World. Disney World was busier than we expected, but at least mask-wearing was encouraged throughout the parks. "When we first opened in July," one cast member said, "we were a ghost town.". The best time to visit Disney World in regards to refurbishments is essentially anytime outside of January and February. (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. 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. Visiting any of the Walt Disney World theme parks right now requires a level of patience. 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. Subscriber A representative for Disney World declined Insider's request for comment on this article. It pays—literally—to plan ahead. Identify Your “Must-Do’s” At approximately 27 square miles, the Walt Disney World resort is roughly … Walt Disney World typically sees the largest crowds around the Holiday Season. 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