After many cancelled 2020 vacations, families are looking forward to planning their next getaway. When is the best time to visit a Disney destination is a common question we receive as travel advisors. Now, with many families rescheduling their cancelled 2020 vacation, that question now turns to Should I visit Walt Disney World in 2021 or wait until 2022?
Before beginning, we understand this may not be the time for some to travel and we acknowledge and respect that. We are here when you are ready to travel. This information is for those that are curious about the new policies, what does the magic look like now, and what does the future hold.
When should I visit a Disney Park?
Let’s start with the top reason families decide on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation: Seeing the magic through their children’s eyes. Personally, I’m not a fan of postponing any trip for something that may, theoretically, be better the following year or two down the line. This is more than true with a Disney park. Disney is always innovating and imagining new and updated versions of their classic attractions. Disney imagineers have years and years of projects scheduled, so waiting for the perfect time is almost impossible. There will always be something “Coming Soon” to a Disney park.
On top of the continual updates, more importantly is the fact that kids grow up fast. Continuing to push a Disney vacation out year by year could close the “magic time bubble”. Don’t miss that window of time when the magic is still real for your family. Watching a child see the beauty of Cinderella Castle for the first time brings tears to many parents’ eyes. Seeing the joy and excitement as your little one sees their favorite character is a memory that will last a lifetime. Disney is a destination for all ages. However, if you are taking your family for the first time, nothing beats the moments you will cherish when the experience is truly magic to your littlest ones.
Should I wait until the new experiences are open?
Disney imagineers have been working for years on the “coming soon” attractions, so waiting for the perfect time is almost impossible. There will always be something “Coming Soon” to a Disney park – whether that is in 2021 or 2025.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, Walt Disney World has many new additions in the works. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure joins the Paris pavilion in Epcot sometime in 2021. Also coming in 2021 to Epcot is the long awaited Space 220 Restaurant. A brand new nighttime experience, Harmonious, is emerging in World Showcase. No opening date has been announced for Harmonious yet, however some of the massive barges have already made their way into the lagoon in preparation.
October 1, 2021 will be a momentous day – as Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products stated that he will share details regarding the 50th Anniversary “at a later date, but what I can tell you is, it’s going to be very remarkable, and we intend to celebrate the stories and experiences our guests love.”
Coming in late 2021 or early 2022, TRON Lightcycle Run will be Space Mountain’s neighbor in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. Already a huge hit in Shanghai Disneyland, this brand new coaster will be a must do once opened. Another late 2021 or early 2022 highly anticipated ride is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This first of its kind ride is a Marvel-themed roller coaster currently under construction at Epcot.
When will Disney parks “return to normal”?
A “return to normal” is a question that has no answer. Like many other industries, the travel and tourism industry has suffered tremendously during the pandemic. Prior to reopening in July 2020, Walt Disney World recreated their parks atmosphere into one that holds health and safety to an even higher level than ever imagined – all while maintaining the “magic of Disney”. In order to keep the health and safety of both cast members and guests at the forefront, changes within the parks were a necessity. In park shows and experiences were halted in order to avoid large gatherings and crowds. As the pandemic continues into 2021, other business decisions have been necessary.
So, the question should be updated to has the magic of Disney returned? The answer is : Yes. Over the last 6 months, we have had countless agents and clients return from the parks with various reports.
Pop up cavalcades have replaced your typical parades. The new cavalcades are now at all four theme parks with characters from Mickey & Minnie to Buzz Lightyear to Anna and Elsa waving, dancing and singing at a distance. You may see Tinkerbell perched atop a treasure box, Joy and Winnie the Pooh frolicking outside Epcot, or Cinderella’s step-sisters trying to get all the attention on the balcony of Cinderella Castle.
Character dining has returned to select dining locations around the resort. Characters visit from a distance to wave and take a socially-distanced photo. If traveling with younger children, many families will find both calvacades and modified character meals to be perfect for their little ones. We often find the younger ones can be scared with up close and personal meet and greets. So, the new socially distanced options are perfect for those magical experiences.
Whether you have been to Disney multiple times or a first visit, there is always so much more to the parks than many realize. There is so much detail put in place throughout attractions, restaurants, and resort lobbies. Now is the time to discover these magical additions. Instead of running from ride to ride to beat the crowds, lower capacity restrictions allow you to stop and take it all in. From the smells of walking down Main Street U.S.A to the fine details in an attraction queue. Prior to 2020, many of us had never seen the full queue of Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. We were always rushing through the fastpass line. In doing that, we missed an integral part of the attraction. Disney imagineers create an immersive story line when creating an attraction. Disney parks tell a story with each and everything they do. Now is the time to soak it all in and really experience the true magic of Disney.
Has Disney ‘returned to normal”? That question really can not be answered. What is “Disney normal” to one family may not be “Disney normal” to another. The magic is still there. And, as our world continues to heal, the experiences will continue to expand. The magic remains in your heart. A visit to DIsney at any time is what you make of it. Whether it is your first trip or 25th trip, you can always find new experiences and make new memories. No two visits are the same. That “magical window” is finite in children – but the memories you will create are infinite.