Planning a trip to Disney World…during a pandemic

For over a year, we have been planning a Disney World vacation. Last Fall, we settled on going over Thanksgiving…in 2020. Yeah, who would have guessed we would be in the midst of a pandemic?  In January, I bought our park tickets just days before the rate increase. And I booked our hotel by renting Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points so we could stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (where we also stayed in 2016 – our last trip to Disney World.) Everything was falling into place.

That is until March and the orders to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. The kids didn’t go to school and for the first time, Disney World closed its doors.

Now booking under rented DVC points is a great way to stay at a deluxe resort for the price of a moderate resort. But the kicker is that the transaction is non-refundable and typically non-changeable. You could of course buy travel insurance that would let you cancel (receiving less money back the closer you get to your trip) but while I considered it, there was little reason to think we would need to cancel our trip so I didn’t purchase it. Yeah, if I knew what was coming then I might have done something differently.

In April, we decided we would just wait to see how things would go. Our trip was still 6 months away and we thought for sure all this pandemic mess would be over. Of course, it isn’t but at the time we hoped that would be the case.

In July, Disney World reopened. The parks and transportation were capped at 25% capacity, and masks were required. They set up social distance makers in the lines and added plexiglass dividers on some rides and on the buses. And there were hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Temperature checks and reservations (in addition to your tickets) were required.

The initial reports were promising. People felt safe. There was news about low crowds and often no waiting for any of the rides. It sounded great.

Then in September and October, more people felt secure to travel and more of them began going to WDW. The lines have gotten longer.  

But when we decided on a Thanksgiving trip, we were expecting crowds. This is after all one of the busiest times in WDW. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving typically gets more crowded. For a while in August, I had hoped we would see the sparse crowds of July and August. But reality set in earlier this month. It is going to feel crowded even though they are still at 25% capacity.

We are going with the expectation that this trip won’t be like any other. We will be wearing masks – even in the majority of our photos. We will have to wait in lines that we aren’t used to standing in because we have always used their FastPass system and bypassed these lines. Many restaurants are closed as are most shows. But there is always the pool (where you don’t have to wear a mask) and we will be at the Animal Kingdom with giraffes and zebras out our balcony.

Going with the right expectation, I think is key. It won’t be like it was last time. But we will still have fun. We have some great things booked such as building droids and lightsabers in Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars themed area (where we will also get to ride two new Star Wars themed rides). And the parks and hotels will be decked with Christmas decorations and characters in their Christmas outfits. Personally, I can’t wait!      

2 thoughts on “Planning a trip to Disney World…during a pandemic

  1. […] weeks ago, I wrote about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. This is a trip a year in the making, and yes, we will be going during the pandemic. Last time we […]

  2. […] For over a year, we have been planning a Disney World vacation. Last Fall, we settled on going over Thanksgiving…in 2020. Yeah, who would have guessed we would be in the midst of a pandemic? (To keep reading, click here.) […]

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