Should I Visit Walt Disney World in 2020?

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At TouringPlans, we’re obviously pro-theme park vacation and we’ve run many stories over the years about how to decide when to book your Disney vacation. Usually we ask you to consider things like your children’s school vacation weeks and the Crowd Calendar projections when deciding travel dates.

Main Street USA might feel a little less festive without some of the entertainment options. Will this matter to you as you consider whether to plan a visit in the near future?

Now with COVID-19 as a factor in your trip planning, there are many more aspects to consider as you decide when, or if, you should visit Walt Disney World over the next year. Here are some things to think about:

  • Am I willing to wear a mask? Disney has made it abundantly clear that guests entering the Disney theme parks will be required to wear a mask and keep it on. There will be some temporary relief zones and exceptions while dining, but otherwise you’ll need to wear a mask. We have been assured that this is non-negotiable. If you’re not okay with wearing a mask in the parks, you should likely postpone your trip.
  • Do members of my party have medical issues? Just because the parks are reopening doesn’t mean the risks associated with Coronavirus have gone away. If your travel party includes family/friends with compromised immune systems, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or a number of other risk factors, you should probably stay home.
  • Are there members of my family/friend circle at home who have medical issues? Even if they’re not traveling with you, if you have folks in your home life with medical issues, you may want to skip the trip to a high-density location like Disney World to avoid potentially bringing home germs.
  • How old am I and the members of my traveling party? Even if everyone in your traveling party and home life is perfectly healthy, you still may want to skip the visit if these folks are age 65 or over. Age itself is a risk factor.
  • Are any members of my party of the Grumpy persuasion? Many people have folks in their life who are just plain ornery. Take an honest look at your travel party. If you know in your heart that cranky Uncle Larry will balk at the temperature checks, sass the nice cast member who asks him to adjust his mask, and disregard distancing reminders, then you should probably postpone your trip or leave Larry at home. (Sorry, Larry.)
  • How large is my traveling party? With social distancing measures in place, traveling parties can/should stick together and keep an appropriate distance from other parties. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with visiting WDW with a dozen family members, having a large group will make it difficult to keep away from others. Additionally, there may be limits on the number of people that can be seated together at a restaurant table, as well as limits on how many people can get reservations together for meals or attractions. A large group is almost always more difficult to manage, but even more so now.
  • Where are you traveling from? If you’re visiting Florida from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, you may be subject to a quarantine period before you would be allowed out and about. We believe that the executive order which required folks arriving in Florida from the New York tri-state area expires on July 7, 2020, just ahead of the park reopening on July 11, but not ahead of the DVC resort reopening on June 22. (Though the wording on all this is murky at best.) So if you’re coming to Florida from the New York area, do your homework just prior to arrival. Quarantine measures are always subject to change. It might even happen that Florida institutes a mandatory quarantine for visitors from other states with virulent COVID outbreaks. These issues are compounded if you’re an international visitor. Other countries might institute prohibitions on travel to and from the United States. The moral of the story is that you should be as up to date as possible with legal issues related to travel during the pandemic.
  • What’s the COVID situation in my home state? If you’re healthy, but traveling from a state that is the middle of a severe COVID outbreak, consider whether it might be challenging to get appropriate care at home if you were to acquire COVID while traveling. Would your home town hospital have an ICU bed available for you if you were to acquire COVID during vacation?
  • Do I have strong feelings about which hotel I stay at? Given that the NBA and MLS seasons will now take place at Walt Disney World, those organizations will be quartered in several WDW hotels, making them unavailable to the public. The exact list of hotels is not yet public. Guests who had reservations at the commandeered hotels will certainly be accommodated elsewhere, so (assuming you have a reservation) you will have a place to stay–it just might not be your preferred venue. For most folks this will either be a non-event or a welcome upgrade, but some guests might have a particular attachment to a specific resort.
  • Will my favorite attractions be unavailable? At least at first, many iconic Disney experiences will not happen. There will be no fireworks, parades, or character greetings, for example. If these are must-dos for you, you may want to wait to travel.
  • Will my favorite restaurants be unavailable? As with attractions, some WDW visitors have intense feelings about their favorite restaurants. Not all dining establishments are going to be open. If this matters to you, perhaps rethink your trip.
  • Am a strongly attached to the dining plan? The Disney Dining Plan will not exist when WDW reopens. (I assume this change is temporary, but you never know.) Some WDW guests rely on the DDP to keep their dining planning and budget in check. If not having the Dining Plan in place makes you uncomfortable, skip this trip.
  • Am I strongly attached to the Park Hopper? During the initial phase of reopening, it is likely guests will only be allowed to visit one theme park per day. If you are strongly wedded to the idea of park hopping (visiting more than one of Disney’s theme parks in a single day), this could be a signal to wait to visit.
  • Am I able to entertain myself during the evenings? This is a corollary of the Park Hopper question. Many guests choose to park hop because it gives them more options for things to do in the evenings. For example, they might tour the Magic Kingdom during the day, but have dinner and then drink around the world at Epcot in the evening. With no park hopping, this strategy will not be possible. The park hours will also be limited. Are you okay with having a trip with more downtime? Will you go stir crazy if you’re not constantly on the go? Will you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth if you can’t follow your usual schedule?
  • How long is your trip? This is also related to Park Hopping. If your trip is only, say, three days, previously you could visit all four parks during that time period. This won’t be possible at the outset of reopening. Are you okay with skipping one or more parks? If you’re planning a long trip, are you okay with the possibility of Disney choosing which park you visit multiple times, if at all?
  • Am I okay with uncertainty in the planning process? Disney planning right now is obviously a moving target. Procedures are changing. Rules are changing. There will be lots of glitches and making it up on the fly. If that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you should consider postponing.
  • What are the financial implications of this trip? It’s no secret that millions of Americans have been furloughed or fired, businesses have been shuttered, and the financial markets are volatile. It’s a rare family that hasn’t been impacted by the current economy. Yes, a vacation might be great for your mental health, but before embarking on your trip you should take a realistic look at your financial situation, the fiscal health of your employer, and the economy in general. Make sure that spending on a big-ticket vacation makes sense for you right now, or whether you should wait a bit to get more clarity on the real financial impact of the trip.
  • Is this a once in a lifetime trip? If you are a frequent WDW guest, then these changes might be an interesting blip for you, but if your budget or constitution allow for only rare Disney touring, then this may not be the trip you want. Will you be happier if you can take in all that Disney has to offer, rather than being served a limited menu?

What are your thoughts about visiting WDW now? Are you having second thoughts or plowing ahead? Why? Are there other issues weighing on your decision? Let us know.

Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel at DisneyWorldMoms.com, a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater. Erin can be reached on Twitter @MsErinFoster.

12 thoughts on “Should I Visit Walt Disney World in 2020?

  • June 15, 2020 at 3:57 pm
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    Yep, for many of the above reasons, we are not going to WDW for the foreseeable future. We should have been checking out of our Disney hotel today actually (*sob*). When we cancelled our trip, we debated rebooking for later, but this is probably our only trip this decade. It didn’t seem worth spending so much money but having to miss out on much of what we were looking forward to. It’s not Disney’s fault–I appreciate that they’re taking steps to keep people safe. Very sadly, though, our family will have to wait. I’m guessing it will be at least 2 years before we get to go.

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  • June 15, 2020 at 5:41 pm
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    We have a KO BG weekend planned at the end of the year, but sadly I’m not optimistic it will happen. We can be flexible as we are only a few hours away and we can always wait. Great points in the article. For me, I want to have it planned ahead but be carefree when I get there. The current situation doesn’t support that ideology.

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  • June 15, 2020 at 6:29 pm
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    We have rented DVC points in September at Boardwalk and Beach Club and weren’t smart enough to get travel insurance, so we can’t cancel. We also have annual passes, so it’s all paid for regardless. We live in SC, so we don’t have to worry about flying, which might have deterred me if it had been a factor. We’re going to go and try to enjoy a more laid back experience. I’m such a big planner though; it’s a bit stressful not knowing how the park reservations are going to work. I guess worst case we hang at a pool and go to Disney Springs now and then. It’s just my husband and me, and we’re relatively young. We’ll try to make the most of it, and I’m sure it will be a good time.

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  • June 15, 2020 at 7:50 pm
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    I’m wondering if Disney will give us any credit for park hoppers we purchased and now can’t use for our August trip.

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  • June 16, 2020 at 11:02 am
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    We are likely postponing our planned 2021 trip. Not only do I fear that things will not be back to normal in summer 2021, I think things may be compounded if Disney plans a huge 50 anniversary celebration at MK. People putting off plans this year may make for a full year of Christmas-like crowds. Construction delays may not have the Tron and Guardians coasters operational yet. We may not get the full Disney experience if pre-shows, parades, and fireworks are still cancelled.

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  • June 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm
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    We’re still considering whether to visit this fall. As DVC members who have points and existing tickets from a cancelled spring trip, the expense is not that great. We purchased cheap tickets with a great change policy too. We’re healthy and don’t have young kids or older relatives who are coming along. Right now we’re thinking a 3-4 day trip will be enough to get our Disney “fix” but won’t plan a longer trip due to all the things closed. We figure it will be a unique experience for sure! At this point the cancellations of some experiences don’t bother us, but if the COVID-19 cases seem to be getting out of control a month or so before our trip, we’ll cancel.

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  • June 16, 2020 at 9:52 pm
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    Normally we would go in February, after my annual conference in Miami. But at this point I don’t know if that large conference will be held; even if it is I, as a high-risk person, likely will not attend. And it’s unlikely either of us would feel comfortable at WDW. I do not see another trip until February 2022.

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  • June 17, 2020 at 8:43 am
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    Thank you for your honest opinion while everyone else is saying it’s safe to come. We all have to weigh each situation but you lay out good points to consider. We have children and in a state where covid cases are not declining and have decided not to visit any time soon. Kids are sad but we are all healthy.

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  • June 17, 2020 at 8:48 am
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    On the plus side, if everyone leaves their uncle Larry at home there will be less of them to deal with in the parks!

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  • June 18, 2020 at 2:08 am
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    We will be going when it opens, but as we are only a few hours away, drive, and have many friends to visit with in the surrounding areas it’s not a big deal. Looking at how easy it is right now at Universal with its lower crowds, lines are generally 5-10 minutes and everyone is social distancing without issues with Masks. Count us in. ☺️

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  • June 21, 2020 at 11:39 am
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    I have been several times and love disney but with all the stuff that will b excluded this year I will skip :(.as I understand the precautions being taken disney is very expensive so when u go the parades,fireworks,meet and greets etc are definately part of the experience u dont want to miss.

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  • July 8, 2020 at 4:01 pm
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    Thanks so many ch for this article. Real desl…not spun!
    We cancelled our family April break trip to Disney ( and our HomeAway reservations.)
    That was sad because we’d saved up to go and we’re going as a family reunion of sorts.
    Was hoping to go at Thanksgiving instead, but I have lung issues already and until they have an excellent treatment or a cure I’m worried about the possibility of contacting the virus somewhere on the journey.
    Not worth the risk in my mind.

    Reply

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