With so much up in the air at the moment is 2021 a good time to visit Disney World?
In today's post I will talk about the pros and cons of a trip to Disney World in 2021.
Currently park capacity is lower which is a bonus as it means smaller crowds. We have seen incredible photos with very few people around which is amazing! It is super rare to get iconic Disney photos, such as in front of Cinderella Castle, with nobody else in them. This opportunity is a big plus for visiting in 2021.
Smaller park capacity also means the parks are more spacious and walking around is easier, as there are no large crowds to navigate your way through. This makes the experience just so much more enjoyable.
The downside to visiting in the coming months is that a number of attractions and entertainments are currently not open. Some attractions have remained closed, such as Enchanted Tales with Belle in Magic Kingdom, due to the interaction between Guests and Cast Members. There is no indication of when these will be able to reopen.
There are also no shows, parades, fireworks or character meets. With the sad announcement that so many cast members, particularly in performance roles, have recently been laid off this indicates these entertainments will not be returning to the parks for the foreseeable future.
Disney World has introduced character cavalcades where you still get to see everyone's favourite characters either on floats, in cars or on boats! This is a really nice way to still have the characters be a part of the parks but in a physically distanced way.
With their being less available to do in the parks the ride queues can be busy due to everyone queuing for them.
Although queues may look very long in photos this is a bit of an illusion as there is spacing between groups to maintain physical distancing. So the queues are actually shorter than they appear. However the rides themselves have less capacity, as fewer people are loaded onto each ride to maintain physical distancing between parties. So this will add time to the queue.
In the past few months we have seen the ride wait times creeping up with more people now visiting Disney World. The glory days of 5 to 10 minute queues that we saw when the Parks first reopened in July are now long gone. FastPass+ is also not available so there is no way to cut your queuing time.
Disney are expected to raise the park capacity over the coming months. This will mean ride wait times will increase further. This is definitely something to consider for you 2021 trip. With no shows or entertainment to help spread people out throughout the park the only options are to ride attractions or visit shops. If you are visiting in 2021 be prepared for a lot of queuing. Bringing entertainment with you can be a fun way to help pass the time in the queues.
One if the biggest deciding factors as to whether to visit Disney World in 2021 is the fact you will be getting a lot less of the Disney experience for the same, if not more, money. Ticket prices have not dropped to accommodate the modifications and closures. So this is the number one thing to consider. Do you feel you would be getting bang for your buck if you visit in 2021? What are the key experiences that make a Disney trip so special for you and will they be available?
Disney World introduced the Park Pass reservation system this year to help control the amount of guests in each park to ensure they are at a safe level. When you visit Disney World now you have to have valid park tickets as well as Park Pass Reservations to enter. A ticket alone will not gain you entry into the parks.
I like the Park Pass system as it allows you to know you have guaranteed entry to the parks you wish to visit and you can plan your holiday without having the uncertainty of whether the park will be at capacity on the day you want to attend.
I would advise to book your Park Pass Reservations as soon as you can. If you already have a trip booked and have bought your park tickets this should be the number one priority to ensure you can visit all the parks you would like.
If you are yet to book a 2021 trip be sure to check the Park Pass reservation system before booking to ensure your dates have availability.
You can check the park pass availability here.
The introduction of the Park Pass reservation system does require planning an itinerary before you can make your reservations, which is something not everyone likes to do. So this can be a downside to a trip in 2021. Luckily there is Your Most Magical Itinerary Planner for Walt Disney World to help make this simple!
The downside to the Park Pass system is there is very little flexibility. If you wanted to change park days whilst visiting you would need to cancel your reservation for the park you had planned to visit and then make a new reservation, if there is availability for the park you now wish to go to.
If you prefer a flexible trip where you can decide on the morning what you feel in the mood to do that day then postponing your trip would be the best bet. A 2021 trip will need advanced planning to get park and dining reservations and make the most out of your trip.
Park hopping is currently suspended and there are no dates announced for when, or if, this will be returning. Being able to visit multiple parks in one day was a big benefit as you could enjoy part of the day at one park and then go to another for dinner. With this no longer an option this is a factor to think about in regards to your 2021 trip.
At the moment there is no way to know if events such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party will happen next year. But with certain special events taking place, such as EPCOT's International Festival of the Holidays and EPCOT's International Festival of the Arts we know Disney are looking at ways to do modified experiences.
Even though Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party has been cancelled for this year a projection show onto Cinderella Castle is happening. This is the first nighttime show that we have seen since the parks reopened. So Disney seem to be trying to see what they can do and what they can't.
Even if these events do go ahead they will most likely be modified in some way. But with Disney testing the waters it seems they are hoping to be able to implement more special events or modified nighttime spectaculars in 2021.
There are a lot of renovation works being undertaken at the moment, to seize the opportunity to do this when less people are visiting. This may continue into 2021, so some additional attraction may be closed during your trip due to this. The plus side to this is that currently a lot of renovations are happening right now. So those attractions will be ready and reopened in 2021!
In March 2021 one of Disney's water parks is expected to reopen. It hasn't been announced yet which of the two parks this will be but this will give people even more options of where they can enjoy their time whilst at Disney World. Being able to cool off in a water park will be a big plus for 2021!
- Smaller capacity equals smaller crowds
- More comfortable to walk around
- Great photo opportunities
- Character cavalcades allow you to still see your favourite characters
- Park Pass Reservation system guarantees you entry once you have booked your reservations
- EPCOT's International Festival of the Arts will be returning in January with a modified experience
- Park capacity is expected to increase
- In March 2021 one of Disney's water parks will be reopening
- No entertainment, shows or fireworks and no date for when these will return
- No character meets
- Ride queue times expected to increase with park capacity increasing
- No park hopping
- No FastPass+
- Ticket price the same even with less on offer
- Need to plan an itinerary in advance to book Park Pass Reservation
- Lots of renovations taking place to take advantage of the smaller crowds
A number of Disney Resorts are open and welcoming guests back. Staying at a Disney Resort is always a memorable experience and a great way to enjoy being in the 'Disney Bubble'.
But in 2021 is staying on site at Walt Disney World worth the cost?
This Fall Disney offered some amazing deals for US citizens which was a massive bonus. There deals were to encourage people to visit Disney World and this did bring in more guests. It is likely more offers will appear throughout the year to help increase room occupancy in the Disney Resort, particularly in the quieter seasons.
In the past few weeks Disney World just released a new deal for UK guests. It seems Disney are hopeful international travel may resume in 2021, although at the current time this is no set date for this to happen in the foreseeable future. Disney are offering free cancellation up until 7 days before your trip to help with the uncertainty (this doesn't include flights).
Although UK guests are able to book with Disney in 2021 unless international travel is able to happen then the trip will be cancelled or postponed. So it is wise to keep this in mind and be flexible in case your trip may need to be modified.
There are a number of resort that are still closed and some are yet to have a reopening date. At the current time with reduced park capacity fewer resorts are needed as room occupancy can be covered by the open resorts. If Disney are able to increase their capacity in the parks then more resorts will most likely reopen in 2021.
The downside to less resorts being open is that it can drive the prices up as there are less rooms available across Walt Disney World Resort for people to stay in. Even with offers on some of the rates for Disney Resorts are still very high, considering the lack of benefits for staying onsite at the moment.
The usual incentives such as Extra Magic Hours or offers like the free Disney Dining Plan are currently suspended. The lack of such benefits may be worth considering if staying at a Disney Resort is offering the best value in 2021.
One great thing about staying at a Disney Resort is that Disney Complimentary Transport is still operating, including the Magical Express. This means you can easily stay at Disney World without any other means of transport. A huge bonus to staying on site!The Magical Express will take you to and from the airport and Disney Transport such as the buses, monorail, Skyliner and boats are still able to take you all around Walt Disney World Resort.
If the resort you have booked to stay in is one without an opening date Disney will move you to a different resort. This may really benefit you as you may get an incredible upgrade!
However, if you really wanted to stay at a certain resort for a specific reason, such as great dining options or a variety of transport links, then may need to postpone your trip to be able to take advantage of this.
Disney will automatically move you to another resort. If you would wish to stay in a different resort than the one they assign you and there is availability Disney will move you but there will likely cost you.
One option that is good for 2021 is staying off site. Many hotels have a lot of great deals on and some fantastic prices. In 2021 Disney Resorts don't have as many benefits to offer for a premium price, so looking at hotels in the Orlando area can be a great option to still be able to visit Disney but at a much more affordable price.
- Lots of resorts are open
- Disney Complimentary Transport still operating, including the Magical Express
- If your resort is not scheduled to reopen by the time of your trip you will be moved to another resort and you may receive an upgrade
- Some Disney offers have offered great prices for resort stays
- Your resort may not be open so will be switched to another resort. If you were staying at a resort for the restaurants or transport options your new resort may not have the same benefits for you
- Not all the restaurants are open at the resorts. If dining at the resort was a dealbreaker for you this may be something to consider
- Although offers are available the prices may still be incredibly high for the dates you require
- Fewer benefits to staying on site at Disney such as no Extra Magic Hours
The great news is there are lots of restaurants available at Disney World! Although not all the restaurants have currently reopened there is still a lot of different choices for everyone to have amazing dining experiences still.
In the coming months as Disney are expected to increase park capacity this will mean more restaurants will reopen which is great!
Character dining has also resumed in select locations. The character experience is modified but you are still able to take physically distanced photos.
Although there is a lot of restaurant open to enjoy they do have lower capacity. This may mean it can be harder to get dining reservations. To make sure you can eat where you would like be sure to take advantage of booking your dining reservations via My Disney Experience 60 days before the start of your trip.
With less restaurants open it can mean slightly less choice and the possibility of some of your 'must do' restaurants not being available. Dining experience and dessert parties are also temporarily suspended.
I still think there are a range of awesome restaurants available. Be sure to get Your Most Magical Guide To Which Restaurants Are Currently Open at Walt Disney World to know the latest information on which restaurants will be available for your trip.
If you are travelling with a group with mixed dietary needs there may be fewer options as less restaurants are open and they may have limited menus. Whenever I travel it is always in a group with mixed dietary needs as I am a vegan. When I heard about limited menus I was worried because usually the vegan options are the first to be taken away. Luckily there are still lots of delicious options for vegans at Disney World! Make sure you get your copy of Your Most Magical Guide To Which Vegan Options Are Currently Available at Walt Disney World before your trip to know exactly what you can eat and where!
If anyone in your group has food allergies or intolerances the Special Diets team at Disney are fantastic! It is always worth contacting them before your trip as they can answer any questions you have and can speak directly to the chefs are the restaurants you wish to dine in. This is particular helpful now as some restaurants are operating with limited menus. You will be able to check in advance with the chef if there are options available for you and your requirements.
In the past few months we saw a flurry of restaurants reopen. We can predict that as park attendance increase even more restaurants will be open, which means more choice, which is great news!
To help with physical distancing Disney have added more restaurants to the mobile ordering option on My Disney Experience and have now even included some table service restaurants. This is a really helpful feature and really helps when dining at Disney World. In 2021 we may seen even more restaurants included in the mobile ordering option.
My Disney Experience has also added a new walk-up check-in feature. This is perfect for people who haven't booking dining reservations in advance. When you find a table service restaurant you would like to dine in you can look on the app and it will tell you how long the walk-up time is to get a table. You are then able to add your dining party to a virtual queue. When your table is ready you will be notified and can walk right in!
The one downside to eating at Disney World is that the Disney Dining Plan is no longer available. Due to lower capacity in restaurants and no longer being able to park hop this would lead to a lot of restrictions on the dining plan. It is not expected that the Disney Dining Plan will return in 2021.
- Lots of restaurants are open so still plenty of choice
- Can book your dining 60 days in advance
- Can now use mobile ordering in a large number of quick service restaurants
- Can now use mobile ordering in select table service restaurants
- The walk up check-in feature is super helpful if you don't have dining reservations
- Some modified character dining experiences are available to enjoy
- Even more restaurants will reopen over the coming months
- Lower capacity in restaurants means you may not get the reservations you want
- A restaurant you really wanted to dine in may no longer be an option if is closed
- Not all the restaurants at open resorts have reopened so you may have less choice when dining at your resort
- All dining experiences and dessert parties are temporarily suspended with no reopening dates
- If you have dietary requirements you may need to check with the Special Diets team ahead of your trip as some restaurants now have limited menus so your options may have decreased
- No Disney Dining Plan
New Rides and the 50th Anniversary Celebrations
In 2020 and 2021 a flurry of new rides were due to open. This was a massive bonus of visiting in 2021 as there would be so many new rides to experience. At the moment all new ride openings have been pushed back.
Tron was expected for 2021 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary celebration. That has now been pushed back until at least 2022. This may happen with other rides as Disney know new ride openings bring a lot of people to the parks and at the moment they can't have so many visiting.
At the moment we don't know if any new rides will open in 2021. If getting to experience these was a big part of your upcoming trip it is best advised to postpone until at least 2022.
The 50th Anniversary of Disney World opening is on 1st October 2021. 50 years of magic! Disney will definitely still be commemorating this wonderful occasion and will have a 50th Anniversary season. There is a possibility that some of the planned celebrations may need to be pared back or won't happen.
Originally it was predicted that an extra 10 million people would visit Disney World in 2021 due to the 50th Anniversary. Obviously far less people will be able to visit now but the parks may still be busier or even hit their capacity around the anniversary celebrations.
- The 50th Anniversary will be celebrated
- There may be no new rides opening in 2021. Definitely fewer than expected.
- 50th Anniversary celebrations may be pared back.
- May be very busy with long wait times if a lot of people visit for the celebrations.
Enhanced Health and Safety Measures
Face coverings and physical distancing will more than likely be around for a while, well into 2021. If this is something that isn't possible for your party or makes you uncomfortable then postponing would be a good option.
If you can't wear a face covering Disney have asked you to postpone your trip. To remain open they are unable to allowed any Guests exceptions to the face covering rules.
This topic is often a big deciding factor for people as to whether they could cancel their 2021 trip. If you are wanting to visit Disney World without a face covering it would be advisable to cancel or postpone your trip.
- Disney have implemented a lot of enhanced safety measures to make sure Guests can safely enjoy the parks.
- Physical distancing is in place in ride queues, on rides and on Disney transport so you can comfortably be a safe distance from others.
- Hand sanitizer stations are placed all around so you can easily keep your hands clean.
- Disney sell their own range of awesome face coverings.
- If you are unable to wear a face covering you will not be able to enter the parks. Disney have requested anyone unable to wear face coverings to postpone their trips.
- You will need to wear a face covering at all times for prolonged periods. If the weather is very hot this may be something that needs to be considered for how comfortable you are.
US citizen are currently able to visit Disney World. Travel between states may change so it is good to be flexible in case this occurs.
International travel is still restricted and it is not known when these restrictions will be lifted. Because of this there is still a chance any booked trips for 2021 may need to be cancelled or postponed. Once international travel does open up there is always a possibility that it may close once again. Again being flexible is the best option in case this happens.
There is also the possibility that when international travel resumes a quarantine period may be needed when arriving in the US or when returning home.
Air travel will require face coverings and the experience may be different than before, depending on the modified operations each airline will impose. It will be a personal choice as to how safe you feel travelling by plane. It is advisable to book plane tickets that offer flexibility in case you do need to change the dates of your trip.
- US citizens who are able to travel can enjoy Disney with lower crowds
- Disney have announced some deals for US and UK citizens so are encouraging people to return
- No set date of when international travel to the US will be allowed
- May need to quarantine on arrival to Orlando or when returning home
- As the situation progresses travel restrictions may be put in place if required
- Restrictions and updates are happening all the time so there is no guarantee that your trip may go ahead or may need be modified in some capacity.
Should I stay or should I go?
You should go if:
If you have a cheap deal
Are prepared that there will be less on offer
Are happy to follow the new enhanced safety measures now in place
If you are intrigued to experience Disney like never before!
Are flexible in case of any travel restrictions or the inability to travel occur
Are happy with doing some planning beforehand so you can have an amazing trip!
You should cancel or postpone if:
If you are wanting the full Disney experience
You have paid a significant amount of money.
If certain elements of your holiday you were really looking forward to are still closed
If you are wanting to meet characters
If you want to see the nighttime spectaculars and fireworks
If you want the full rang
If you want to see the shows in the parks such as Festival of the Lion King
If you are wanting to attend a specific special events
Although a Disney World trip in 2021 will not be the full Disney experience with some planning in advance and knowing what will be on offer for you there is still so much you can enjoy! I think if you have a great offer and want to experience Disney World like never before and are able to travel to Orlando you can still make the most of your trip.
If you are wanting the full Disney experience, with shows, firework and characters then postponing your trip may be the best bet. If you have paid a significant amount of money for your trip it is a good idea to consider if you will be getting your full monies worth at this time. If you are travelling internationally you may decide that postponing or cancelling may be the best option until it is known when and how international travel will resume.
Although we would all love to be back at Disney as soon as possible if you do decide to postpone or cancel your trip it means you then have more time to save up more money to spend when you do return!
If you are raring to go and are planning your 2021 Disney World trip make sure you buy your copy of Your Most Magical Guide to Covid-19 Updates at Walt Disney World. This guide is a must for anyone visiting in 2021! As well as giving you up to date information on what is open and available for you to enjoy it also features information about what you now need to pack for a Disney trip, some great alternative entertainments instead of the firework shows and hidden gem restaurants to enjoy on your trip!