When can we book Walt Disney World vacation packages for 2020? After dates and info about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Free Dining, and which Country Bear is best (Big Al, obviously), this is the most frequently asked question we receive. The good news is that we finally have a date: June 18, 2019.
These packages will be valid for arrivals January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. As always, reservations may not be made more than 499 days in advance, and can be made over the phone by calling (407) 939-1936 or via an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.
In the past, we’ve recommended holding off on booking until closer to your travel dates as there’s little gain by booking so far in advance and you’re essentially giving Disney an interest-free loan vis-à-vis your deposit. However, that’s not necessarily true anymore…
Some hotels sold out of select December travel dates (for this year) months ago, and we’re expecting to see more of that in 2020. This is especially true with both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios debuting substantial new offerings late this year and in early 2020. Most notably, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens its first phase late this summer, with Rise of the Resistance expected to open before January 2020.
It’s premature to predict Walt Disney World crowd levels for 2020 (or, more importantly as it relates to this, hotel occupancy). Nevertheless, we get the sense that many Walt Disney World fans are holding off on visiting until after everything in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened and crowds “die down a bit.”
We also get the impression that people think that’ll happen a few months after Star Wars Land opens, which is…questionable, at best. In our Revised 2019 Walt Disney World Crowd Predictions: When to Go & Avoid, we’ve basically stated that we expect the least-busy time to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be in the few weeks after it opens.
Pandora has seen no reduction in popularity in the couple of years it has been open, and that land is based upon Avatar. Avatar! A movie so unmemorable that you probably can’t name a single character from it. Galaxy’s Edge is a land based upon Star Wars, one of the most popular film franchises of all time, that has legions of diehard fans around the globe. (Also, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a better land than Pandora.)
Relating this back to booking a 2020 Walt Disney World vacation package now, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the entirety of 2020 have significantly higher hotel occupancy numbers than all of 2019.
If you’re planning a visit during traditionally busy times (runDisney events, holidays, ESPN Wide World of Sports youth events, October, or December), there’s also the chance of rooms selling out before we even enter 2020, which is why booking early could be essential.
Of course, we have to underscore the fact that it is still early, and anything could happen. The economy or consumer confidence could worsen, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could inexplicably flop, or myriad other extraneous variables could impact hotel occupancy at Walt Disney World.
Booking early is essentially hedging your bets against the former scenario, while still having the flexibility of applying future discounts as they’re released (in the event of the latter scenario). If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World regardless in 2020, you really can’t lose either way by locking in something early.
Now, this is not to say that you need to be up at the crack of dawn on June 18 to book a standard view Caribbean Beach Resort room for September 2020. Quite the contrary–you’d probably be just fine waiting days, weeks, or months to book that. Even December 2020 at Wilderness Lodge is not going to sell out on June 18, or in the next month or two.
Unless you enjoy Disney’s hold music on the phone (or dealing with Stitch eating your page) you might as well wait at least day or two after June 18, 2019 to book. The only exceptions to this are suites and other categories with only a handful of rooms in their inventory.
As for what we’re expecting with the release of Walt Disney World’s 2020 vacation packages on June 18, 2019…the obvious would be price increases on hotel rack rates. We’d expect this to occur across the board, on every single room category at every single Walt Disney World resort.
Demand is currently high, and Disney can tout significant investments in the parks and resorts as justification. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likely going to be a marketing juggernaut, and plenty more is on the horizon in 2020, including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway for the families that are less enthusiastic about Star Wars.
Some hotels will almost certainly see their biggest price spikes in years (ever?). Specifically, expect this to occur at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach.
In case it’s not clear, the commonality among those is Disney Skyliner gondola access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which should prove to be a selling point for many guests. (If it’s not for you, we’d suggest looking elsewhere–otherwise you’re effectively paying a premium for an amenity you won’t use.)
One thing we’ve anticipated with the debut of the Skyliner is a shift from the Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resort tiers to something more location/amenity-based. Think Magic Kingdom Area, Epcot Area, Skyliner Area, Animal Kingdom Area, and so on.
We do not anticipate the Value, Moderate, Deluxe, etc. tiers to be immediately retired, but less focus is likely to be placed upon them. Whether this happens now or in the future remains to be seen; it’s just a bit odd to call something a “Value” hotel when it’s priced at $200/night or above for much of the year.
Plus, organizing resorts based upon locations or key amenities is arguably more useful to first-time guests than the previous tiers, which is information that more or less is ascertainable from the range of price points.
Overall, I’m both curious to see 2020 Walt Disney World vacation package pricing…and a bit nervous about it. Normally, this isn’t a day I really care about one way or another; we don’t book this early and past price increases have been fairly consistent, predictable, and ultimately meaningless. This last one is because we never pay rack rates, so the important numbers for us are the release dates and amounts of discounts. I’m a bit worried that this time it’s different, and it might come to paying rack rates in 2020 if occupancy numbers continue to hold as strong as they are for December. More likely, if it comes to that, we’ll start delivering more off-site coverage for the sake of research. 😉
Are you expecting big bumps in Walt Disney World vacation package pricing for 2020? Think the anticipated attendance increases generated by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will already be evident in price-points? Do you agree or disagree with our take that it might be a good idea to lock-in a hotel for 2020 earlier rather than later? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!