Disney World Is Closed – Now What?

This has been an astonishing week across the United States and around the globe as the reality of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has finally begun to sink in. Disney announced late this week that the theme parks at both Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as well as Disneyland Resort in California would close through the end of March.

If you’re like me, and you probably are since you’re reading this blog, you probably have a trip planned to Walt Disney World in the near future. So Disney World is closed, now what? Do you wait and see, reschedule, cancel…cry? In this post, I’ll cover what Disney has to say, what I am doing about my upcoming trips, and where we go from here.

DISNEY WORLD IS CLOSED

Well, here’s what we know so far, everything is changing. Every time you turn around, there seems to be more information, restrictions, cancellations, and things to worry about being shared across social media. Hopefully, I can put your mind at ease, at least where your Walt Disney World vacation is concerned.

Let’s begin here…Disney is a strong, reputable company that has been around over 100 years. It is resilient, and I have no doubt, will bounce back from this situation, better than ever. The Disney Company cares about the health and safety of its employees as well as its guests, so I am sure that the decision to close its theme parks didn’t come easily. However, top officials knew that it was the right thing to do given the severity of the situation. Disney’s unprecedented decision to continue to pay its theme park employees during this time, should hopefully give you some reassurance that they will take care of you and your vacation plans, too.

WHAT DISNEY HAS TO SAY

For now, if you have a trip that does not begin within the next 3 days, please wait to call Disney. The phone lines and cast members are currently overwhelmed helping guests that were scheduled to travel during the closure. If you can wait patiently to call closer to your travel date, you will help everyone out. Remember you can access the Disney website 24 hours a day, and many modifications and cancellations can be made there without calling. If your travel dates are within the 3 day window, please call (407) 939-5277 for help, and be prepared to wait on hold for several hours.

In the meantime, if you have a question, here are some common ones that cast members have been receiving, and the official answers from Disney:

PARK TICKETS

May I get a refund on my ticket?

Unexpired multi-day theme park tickets with unused days, or date-specific theme park tickets with a start date on or before March 31, 2020 will automatically be extended to use any date through December 15, 2020. If you are unable to visit by December 15, 2020 you may apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward the purchase of a ticket for a future date.

What about special event tickets?

Guests who have purchased tickets for Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours and Disney Early Morning Magic from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 will be automatically refunded.

ANNUAL PASSES

How does the closure impact Walt Disney World annual passes?

All Walt Disney World Annual Passes will be extended by the number of days the parks are closed.

RESORTS

I have a future stay at a Disney Resort hotel while the park is closed. What does that mean for my vacation?

Guests who have not checked in for stays between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 may modify or cancel their Disney Resort room reservation or Walt Disney Travel Company package up to their original check-in date. If no action is taken, Disney will automatically process a refund to the original form of payment within seven days of the original check-in date. If you did not book through Disney directly, please contact your travel professional.

What if I want to cancel a Disney Resort hotel reservation after the parks reopen?

Disney will waive all Disney imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in through June 30, 2020.

DINING & OTHER EXPERIENCES

I have a pre-paid dining reservation or experience reservation like Droid Depot or Savi’s Workshop while the parks are closed. Will I receive a refund?

Yes. All pre-paid dining and experience reservations will be automatically refunded if scheduled between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020.

What happens to dining reservations that required a credit card at the time of booking?

Reservations made at locations impacted by the closure will not be charged a cancellation or no-show fee.

FASTPASS+

What happens to FastPass+ reservations made during the closure?

All Fastpass+ reservations during this time period will be automatically cancelled without replacement.

WHAT I AM DOING ABOUT MY UPCOMING TRIPS

So if you’ve read this far, I am guessing you have a trip planned to Walt Disney World too. I understand this is extremely disappointing, and my heart goes out to you and your family. Hopefully, you’re planning to reschedule for a future date, and if so the silver lining might be that one of the new attractions you were going to just miss like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, TRON Lightcycle Run, or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be open by your new travel dates!

I have a few trips scheduled for the remainder of this year, and I am trying to adjust them one at a time. I have a slightly different approach for each that I will share with you, in hopes that this information will help if you are on the fence as to what to do next.

Epcot Flower & Garden FestivalSPRING TRIP

My next trip is a short three night onsite stay near the end of April. I really want to go on this trip, as I am sure you feel about your trip too. It’s been a long cold winter here in Colorado, and I haven’t been to Florida since December. I was looking forward to some sun, flowers, palm trees, and Mickey Mouse to celebrate my birthday. Realistically, it’s looking more and more like I will need to cancel this vacation. The Disney parks in China and Japan have been closed almost eight weeks now, and have not yet reopened. If our situation here in the US tracks similarly, we could be looking at a closure through mid-May, at a minimum.

Flights

I have airline tickets on Frontier for this trip. While I love flying Frontier for its cheap rates, it is definitely no frills, and often has hefty change and cancellation fees. Because of COVID-19, they are allowing passengers to change or cancel flights during my travel dates with no penalties and giving a credit that must be booked within 90 days and flown on by November 2020. So as long as I reschedule and use the credit by November of this year, I’m not out any money.

Tickets

I have an annual pass, so I am not worried about tickets for this visit.

Hotel

I have a reservation at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort in a pirate room. I booked this room with an unbelievably good bounce back offer, so it might be hard to get that rate again in the future.

Bottom Line

It’s a gamble, and I am normally a risk-averse person, but I am not cancelling or rescheduling yet. I was able to make arrangements for my kids in case I get stuck in Florida, or have to be quarantined when I arrive home, since they aren’t traveling with me on this visit. I have no risk of money loss on my admission ticket or hotel, and Frontier will give me a credit on my flight, so I think its worth the gamble. This is normally how I roll with trips scheduled during hurricane season. Last year for one of my visits, I didn’t know until just a few hours before take off, if the Orlando airport would reopen and if I would be able to fly out. So for this visit, I am going to be cautiously optimistic, hoping that something turns around, and that I will be able to travel, but understanding that the odds aren’t great.

Tree of LifeSUMMER TRIP

My next trip is much more complicated. It is scheduled for early summer with the entire family, and whenever there are more people involved, it always get exponentially more complex.

Flights

Again I have cheap, no frills tickets on Frontier. I am currently outside the 60 day window, so I could cancel my flights now for a full credit for future travel. Same rules apply, I would need to book within 90 days and use by November of this year.

Tickets

While I have an annual pass, my kids don’t. I purchased each of them 7-day, 1 park each day tickets that are non-refundable which cost me over $1000. If I have to cancel this trip, it is likely that they will not be able to travel with me for a full week until summer 2021.

Hotel

For this trip, our plan was to stay offsite at a Magical Vacation Homes rental in the Reunion Resort. I love to do this when traveling with my kids. We usually stay at a huge vacation home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, its own private pool and hot tub, game room, pool table, theatre room, and more, for less money per night than a one bedroom villa at a deluxe Walt Disney World resort hotel or a family suite at Art of Animation. The only thing with this type of rental, is that their policies aren’t as flexible as staying at a Disney resort hotel so there is a risk of money loss if we need to cancel or reschedule.

Car Rental

Because we were planning to stay offsite, we had a car rental booked for this visit. There is no risk of money loss with this since I booked without paying in advance.

Bottom Line

Even though this trip is further out, I have already had to make some difficult decisions and modifications. Hopefully, Walt Disney World will be back up and running sooner rather than later, but it’s impossible to predict exactly when with any degree of accuracy at this point. I am optimistic that my kids and I will still be able to go this summer, so I don’t want to cancel until the very last moment unless I have to, similar to my plan for my spring trip. However, I want to minimize the amount of money I could be out, if a last minute cancellation does need to occur. So even though it was difficult, I let my kids in on what is going on with the vacation plans, telling them I had made some adjustments for now, but that there is a chance that we might have to postpone until summer 2021.

For the flights, I am just going to wait and see what happens. Even though I could cancel now and receive a full credit with no cancellation fee, I am going to take the gamble that if I need to cancel closer to my travel date, Frontier will still have in place their special cancellation fee waivers due to COVID-19. For the park admission tickets for my kids, if Walt Disney World is closed, the same rules will probably apply to my tickets allowing me to use them through December 15, 2020. Even if I can’t reschedule before that date, I will be able to apply that $1000 I spent on the tickets towards new ones to use next summer if I need to move my trip to 2021. The car rental was also an easy decision, I just went ahead and cancelled it this weekend, for no cost.

The most difficult decision was cancelling the vacation home. It cost me a non-refundable 20% deposit (ouch!), but if I don’t cancel now, the amount of money that I could lose just continues to go up from here. Magical Vacation Homes does not allow rescheduling and they do not refund money under any circumstances which is all clearly spelled out in the rental agreement that you sign at the time of booking. Their company is not making an exception due to the Coronavirus. I decided rather than taking the chance on losing the full amount of the rental if I had to cancel closer the to trip dates, I would rather have the flexibility that Disney offers. So after cancelling the vacation home, I rebooked onsite at a Walt Disney World resort hotel for my summer vacation with my kids. Although it is a little more expensive and a lot less space, it gives me the peace of mind that I need knowing that I won’t lose money and that Disney will work with me to modify or cancel my reservation if necessary.

LATE SUMMER AND BEYOND TRIPS

For my trips in July and beyond, I am going to continue to take them one day at a time. I would hope that by mid summer we as a country and as a world are in a much better place both health-wise and economically. I imagine it will take some time to recover, but as things start to calm down and begin looking up, I would expect the parks to reopen and crowds to slowly pick up as people become more comfortable traveling again.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

In the meantime, while we wait for things to get back to normal, I will continue to share Walt Disney World information here. You can still expect to see several posts a week, updating you on the latest news and filling you in on all of the fun things coming up at the most magical place on earth for the rest of the year and beyond!

Please stay safe and well, and I will see you in the parks real soon!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Are you rescheduling or cancelling? Have any tips or concerns?
Please leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

First Details Of The 2020 Epcot International Flower And Garden Festival

With snow still coming down here in Colorado, it is hard to believe that in just a few weeks spring will be here and along with it the 2020 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Recently Disney gave us a sneak peek into what we can expect this time around. Here’s everything we know so far:


The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival continually sprouts fresh surprises for Walt Disney World Resort guests, and this year there’s more fun in store than ever before when the 90-day spring extravaganza bursts into bloom March 4. The 27th annual festival will run through June 1 with colorful new topiary whimsy, tasty seasonal bites and daily Garden Rocks concerts starring new musicians crossing many decades and genres.

Epcot International Flower And Garden FestivalFamily-fun at the festival will include the charming new Remy topiary at the France pavilion, where Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open in summer 2020. The five-foot-tall floral Remy will stand atop a huge wheel of cheese brandishing a giant spoon as he reigns over a veggie-and-herb garden sprouting with tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and onions. And a stunning new 18-foot-long dragon topiary that changes color in full sun will breathe fresh floral fantasy into the Japan pavilion.

Festival food is always a big draw, and delicious spring flavors will inspire guests to try sweet and savory treats from food-and-beverage stops throughout the park, including the new Magnolia Terrace, one of 16 Outdoor Kitchens popping up during the festival.

What began in 1994 as a 38-day celebration of Disney-style gardens and topiaries has grown over the years to a 90-day spring extravaganza with something for every generation. There’s enough music, food and floral fun to engage everyone in the family.

  • New festival-exclusive dishes will debut at Outdoor Kitchens, including the new Magnolia Terrace at The American Adventure. Here, low-country, gulf-region comfort food will thrill fish fans with a Southern Seafood Boil and Grilled Oysters prepared on site for guests to view. Guests will also enjoy an innovative plant-based menu at Trowel & Trellis hosted by IMPOSSIBLE Foods.
  • Guests can try the new Garden Graze Stroll to purchase five festival dishes from select locations, track their progress with Festival Passport stamps and receive a complimentary commemorative keepsake upon completing the delectable journey.
  • Guests can celebrate spring with festival favorites including Orange Bird and Spike the Bee sipper cups and a Spike the Bee spork (available at select Outdoor Kitchens while supplies last).
  • The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series will run three times daily featuring chart-toppers of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s on the America Gardens Theatre stage. That’s 270 concerts presenting new acts like Mark Wills and High Valley, and returning fan favorites spanning multiple genres. Back by demand: STARSHIP featuring Mickey ThomasThe Pointer Sisters, and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
  • One of the best ways to enjoy the music is to book a Garden Rocks Concert Series Dining Package. Each package includes breakfast, lunch or dinner at a select Epcot restaurant and guaranteed concert seating.
  • Bo Peep in top topiary form will round up her sheep and other Toy Story pals at Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds topiary garden and playground.
  • Mickey MouseMinnie MouseGoofy and Pluto will wield shovels and other tools to help with the historic EPCOT transformation now under way. Donald and Daisy topiaries will crop up at World Showcase Plaza for a photo op with mischievous nephews HueyDewey and Louie. Dozens of additional character topiaries including Belle, Beast, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Buzz Lightyear and more will dot the festival landscape, along with dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms.
  • Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration family scavenger hunt will be more fun than ever this year with festival surprises to uncover along the garden pollination trail.
  • This year’s Goodness Garden Butterfly House presented by GoGo SqueeZ will move its flurry of vibrant-winged beauties to a new location between The Land and Imagination! Other not-to-miss gardens will include the Urban Spice Garden at the Morocco pavilion; and the Garden Italiano in Italy, where “Lady and the Tramp” topiaries share that famous plate of spaghetti.
  • Epcot Flower & Garden FestivalAt the Health Full Trail presented by AdventHealththe entire family can learn fun ways to stay active at a playground, enjoy healthy seasonal treats at an Outdoor Kitchen and relax and unwind in a decompression area.
  • Spring themes will brighten festival merchandise collections with irresistible items. Mickey’s Home Grown Collection celebrates farmer’s market finds on clothing, a magnet, and drinkwareThe Minnie’s World in Bloom Collection brings the freshest apparel, headwear, and other fashions right from the flower cart.
  • Enjoy some extra sunshine with Orange Bird in a citrus-inspired merchandise collection made up of apparel, headwear, accessories and more. Spike the Bee is also dropping in with merchandise that’s all the buzz. Enjoy this sweet collection, ranging from drinkware, apparel and an ornament, among other items. All merchandise is available while supplies last.
  • The Royal Tea Garden Tour will return each festival morning at the United Kingdom pavilion. For a small fee, guests can follow a knowledgeable guide through a tranquil tea garden setting to learn the history and artistry behind growing and blending tea. A post-tour treat of tea and scones is included. The shorter, complimentary English Tea Garden Tour presented by Twinings of London also will be offered on select days.

For this year’s festival, guests can also explore these just-opened EPCOT film attractions:

  • “Awesome Planet” – This new 10-minute film in The Land pavilion offers a breathtaking look at Earth’s beauty and diversity through spectacular imagery, in-theater effects and an original score from Academy Award®-winning composer Steven Price.
  • “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” – Directed by Don Hahn, who produced the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films, this magical experience in the France pavilion invites guests to embrace a twist on a “tale as old as time.” Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film, narrates the new sing-along that shares the pavillion’s theater with the classic “Impressions de France” film.
  • “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” – Canada pavilion’s original “O Canada!” is refreshed with dazzling new scenes, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and narration by award-winning Canadian actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

501 WaysHeading to Disney World this Spring?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Will you be attending the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival?
What are you most excited about? Please leave a comment!

Helpful Information For Your September 2020 Disney World Vacation

So you are planning a vacation to Disney World in September 2020?
September is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World!

Weather

The weather in Disney World during September is warm and mildly rainy. The average high is about 90 degrees, the average low is about 72 degrees and the average rainfall is about 5.09 inches. You can expect a little rain during your vacation, so be sure to bring your poncho!

Crowds

The crowds in September drop dramatically as kids head back to school. This month has the lowest crowd levels of the year.

Magic Kingdom Welcome ShowSeptember 1 – September 5
Average Crowd Level 1.6 out of 10
September 6 – September 12
Average Crowd Level 1.6 out of 10
September 13 – September 19
Average Crowd Level 1.7 out of 10
September 20 – September 26
Average Crowd Level 1.9 out of 10
September 27 – September 30
Average Crowd Level 2.0 out of 10

Magic Kingdom ClockPark Hours

Magic Kingdom
Open most days from 8am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Epcot
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Hollywood Studios
Open most days from 9am – 8:30pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Animal Kingdom
Open most days from 8am – 8pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)

For specific hours on each day during September, please click this link. Remember that park hours are subject to change and are often adjusted two weeks prior.

Events

MNSSHP 1On select nights during September, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is held at Magic Kingdom. This party is a lively, light-hearted, family friendly event. There are special parades, exciting dance parties, stunning fireworks and tons of trick-or-treating stations filled with candy for everyone! Adults and children alike really get into the spirit of the event by dressing in costume, trick-or-treating and dancing the night away with all of the characters.

Epcot International Food & Wine FestivalOne of the best things about visiting Disney World in September is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Last year’s festival featured 197 chefs and included more than 35 food and beverage marketplaces scattered around World Showcase, signature dining experiences, food and beverage demonstrations and music concerts.

Refurbishments

Periodically throughout the year, Disney closes attractions for refurbishments and enhancements. Here are the currently scheduled closures during September (subject to change without notice):

Magic Kingdom
TRON Lightcycle Run: Opening in 2021
Walt Disney World Railroad: December 2018 – TBD

Epcot
Fountain View Dining: TBD
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: Opening in 2021
Journey of Water: Opening in 2021
La Creperie de Paris: Opening in Summer 2020
Mary Poppins Attraction: TBD
PLAY! Pavilion: Opening in 2021
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: Opening in Summer 2020
Wondrous China: Opening in 2021

Hollywood Studios
Roundup Rodeo BBQ: Opening in 2020

Animal Kingdom
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Water Parks
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Disney Springs
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Planning Tips

If you are traveling to Disney World in September 2020, your planning is probably well under way at this point. Here’s a checklist to make sure you are on track:

  • Make sure you have created your My Disney Experience account. If you haven’t, click here to sign up now.
  • If you haven’t already made your dining reservations, be sure to make them now by clicking here.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to customize your MagicBand on your My Disney Experience account by picking the color and adding your name. And if you really want to make your MagicBand special, personalize it with your own custom designed MagicBand Skin from Magic YOUR Band. Click here to get started!
  • Now is a great time to research what attractions you and your family would like to see at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Because Walt Disney World is so large, it is very difficult to see everything during one trip, so be sure to get everyone’s top priorities. This is also a great time to begin looking at menus for counter service restaurants so that you have an idea of which locations serve foods that your entire family will enjoy.
  • Whether you are staying on site or off-property, be sure to purchase your admission tickets and link them to your My Disney Experience account.
  • 501 WaysOnce your tickets are linked and at exactly 60 days in advance of your check in date (7am EST time) if you are staying on site or 30 days in advance for all other guests, login to your My Disney Experience account and book your Fastpass+ reservations.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to check in online at 60 days out from your arrival date.
  • Double check your flight times and if you will be using Disney’s Magical Express for your airport transportation make your reservation at least 60 days in advance by clicking here.
  • It’s never too early to start creating a packing list so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Need more help planning? Please check out my book UPDATED FOR 2020 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation, for hundreds of insider tips and secrets for having the most magical Disney World vacation possible!

Special Offers

If you haven’t already made your September 2020 reservations, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save money:

Join The Fun

I have created a Facebook Group called Disney World Enthusiast! It is the perfect place to talk about your next Disney vacation, ask your questions, get them answered, and share the magic. Everyday you’ll find posts, photos, trivia, tips, and more that we find all throughout the Disney Universe. If you’re counting the days until your next Disney vacation or just dreaming of one, we would love to have you join in the fun! Please click here to be a part of the group!

Have a magical vacation!