As much as you want to go on your carefully orchestrated trip to Walt Disney World, things happen. Work schedules change. Illness of all sorts might befall members of your family. Your kid makes the playoffs. A long-awaited pregnancy finally happens. Any number of events, both positive and negative, can spur a need to cancel your plans. So what do you need to think about if you’re cancelling a Disney World trip? Are there penalties? Can you cancel everything with one click or call, or do you need to cancel vacation components separately? Here’s the scoop.
Note: The information here represents current conditions. During the pandemic era, Disney has tinkered with cancellation policies several times. Be sure to double check the terms in place when cancelling your vacation.
How do I cancel my stay at a Disney World hotel?
In many cases you can cancel your Disney World hotel stay directly on the Disney website. Log in to your account, click the My Disney Experience tab, head to the “My Reservations” section, find the stay, and look for a cancellation button. If you do not have an online cancellation option, you will have to call 407-934-7639 for cast member assistance. (Be sure you have a chunk of time available; hold times have been long recently.)
There may be penalty fees involved in canceling your stay. Fees vary depending on the type of package you booked, how far in advance of the trip you’re making the cancelation, and what policies Disney has in place during the time of you’re cancelling (these have varied several times during the pandemic era). If your stay was at Walt Disney World, your first stop should be official Disney terms and conditions page to see what penalties you may incur. Current policies include:
- For cancellations made 30 days or more prior to guest arrival: Amounts paid, minus cancellation fees and non-refundable items, will be refunded.
- For cancellations made 2 days to 29 days prior to guest arrival: Amounts paid, minus a cancellation fee of $200 per package and minus non-refundable items, will be refunded.
- For cancellations made 1 day or less prior to guest arrival or for no-shows, the full price of the package is non-refundable.
Note that the above rules apply to stays booked directly with Disney (either on your own or via a travel agent). If you booked your Disney stay with a discount travel aggregator such as Priceline or Expedia, you may be subject to an entirely different set of rules. Be sure to understand your cancellation options before you book a stay through a travel aggregator.
If you’ve booked your stay using Disney Vacation Club points, consult with DVC member services directly regarding cancelation rules and penalties.
Additionally, some hotels are located at Walt Disney World, but are not owned by Disney. Examples of this are the Dolphin, Swan, Swan Reserve, and the Four Seasons. These hotels have their own unique cancellation rules and penalties.
What happens if I have to cancel my Disney World trip because of bad weather?
Hurricanes are one instance when Disney changes most of their cancelation policies. The official statement on hurricanes reads:
If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Disney Resort hotel packages and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney. If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or travel insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.
Other weather events, such as a storm near your home, but far away from Disney World, do not trigger any cancellation policy exceptions.
If I cancel my hotel reservation, what happens to other parts of my stay? Do I have to cancel those too?
Other parts of a planned Disney World vacation must be cancelled separately – simply cancelling your hotel doesn’t get you off the hook.
One of the key additional things you’ll have to cancel are any table service dining reservations you’ve made. In most cases, you will be assessed a $10 per person penalty for no-shows. If you had many reservations for a large party, those penalty fees could be substantial.
To avoid fees, be sure to cancel at least 24 hours in advance. You can do this on the Disney World website by logging into your Disney World account online. Click on the My Disney Experience tab, then click on “My Plans.” Scroll through your days to see each meal reservation and then click on the “Cancel Reservation” button.
If I cancel my trip, can I get a refund on the park tickets I purchased?
Walt Disney World theme park tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable. From the Disney website, “You cannot cancel or get a refund for a ticket or package, but in some cases you can use unexpired theme park tickets for a future vacation.”
In practice, this means that fully unused tickets will just remain in your Disney account. If you don’t use them, you won’t lose them. Your tickets won’t be refunded, but you can apply their value to rebooking your tickets for a different date. Remember, different travel dates have different prices at Disney World, so you may not get a one-for-one exchange if the cost of your old tickets is different than your new tickets.
Note: There are still some pre-2004 “No Expiration” tickets out there that have their own set of rules.
I had theme park reservations, do I have to cancel those?
You won’t be penalized for not canceling theme park reservations at Walt Disney World, but it’s the polite thing to do. Cancelling your park reservation will make space available for other guests who may desperate to find a time to visit.
The procedure for cancelling park passes is essentially the same as that for cancelling dining reservations. Log in to your Disney World account online. Click on the My Disney Experience tab, then click on “My Plans.” Scroll through your days to see each park pass reservation and then click on the “Cancel Reservation” button.
Disney’s Magical Express bus service from Orlando International to the Disney resorts is still operational until the end of 2021 (it will cease operations at the beginning of 2022). If you are cancelling a trip before that time and have ME reservations, you won’t incur penalties for no-showing, but again it’s polite to let them know. Call 866-599-0951 to make changes to your reservation.
If you have reservations for flights, for a car service, or any other transportation arrangement, you’ll need to cancel those separately. See your carrier for their terms and procedures.
I made Genie+ reservations. Will I get a refund for those if I cancel my trip?
If you buy Genie+ reservations in advance, they are subject to the same terms as the hotel cancelations noted above. If you cancel more than 30 days before your trip, you’ll get the full cost back. If you can cancel later, you may be subject to penalties.
Disney claims that Genie+ buying opportunities won’t “sell out.” If you’re not 100% sure that you will be making your trip, you may want to hold off on buying the Genie+ add-on until close to your travel date.
Are there other things I should be thinking about?
Disney offers a range of vacation extras that are non-refundable. These include things like runDisney race fees, tickets for after-hours parties, Cirque du Soleil tickets, and other special events. Be sure to look at the fine print before undertaking any substantial vacation-related purchase.
Will travel insurance help me?
It might, depending on what type of insurance you purchase, what your reasons for cancelation are, and how well you can document those reasons. Here is another situation where reading the fine print is critical.
If you cancel your trip, fees you’ve paid for trip insurance are generally non-refundable, which feels very Catch-22 to me, but so it goes.
I booked my trip with a travel agent. Can they help?
If you’ve used a travel agent to book your trip, they can help you cancel – and in some cases, they are required to help you cancel. However, please bear in mind that travel agents don’t charge you a fee. They get paid by Disney only after you’ve completed your vacation. This means that if an agent books a trip for you and then you cancel, they may have been working for many hours, with no compensation.
If you end up in this situation, it’s polite to help the agent out by using them when you’re again ready to go on your trip. Agents also love it when you refer friends and family to them.
Have any questions about cancelling a Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments.