Walt Disney World continues to update the resort reopening timeline for 2021, with revised dates for hotels that were TBD and continuing delays. This looks at the schedule, how refurbishments and construction are impacting opening dates, and offers predictions for what’s next through 2022. (Updated April 4, 2021.)
As a quick recap, all Disney Vacation Club resorts welcomed guests back during the summer, before the parks even reopened. This included the DVC units in hotels that were–and still are–otherwise closed. The most extreme example of this is at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is operating at about ~10% occupancy because the hotel rooms are not in use.
In the months since the parks reopened, Walt Disney World has resumed operations at numerous hotels, starting with those on the Skyliner gondola and monorail routes, and also opening some other properties that are only connected to the parks via bus transportation. At this point, most hotels either are operating or have reopening dates in Summer 2021…
Let’s start with a look at the resorts that are currently operating at Walt Disney World, followed by the hotel reopening timeline for 2021…
Walt Disney World Resorts – Now Open
Here are the Disney Vacation Club & Deluxe Villa resorts that are currently open at Walt Disney World:
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort
- Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Wilderness Lodge
- Old Key West Resort
- Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Riviera Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Villas at Grand Floridian Resort
Here are the hotels open at Walt Disney World:
- All Star Movies Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort & Gran Destino Tower
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Pop Century Resort
- Yacht Club Resort
Note that it might appear some hotels are listed on the ‘currently open’ list above and the ‘reopening timeline’ below. However, that’s because some resorts have both standard hotel room wings and Disney Vacation Club villa wings. In many cases, only the DVC wings of the properties are open, with the hotel side yet to open.
2021 Walt Disney World Resort Reopening Timeline
Here’s the new timeline for 2021 Walt Disney World resort reopenings:
- May 30, 2021 – Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- June 6, 2021 – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Late July 2021 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Additionally, the following hotels do not have 2021 reopening dates yet:
- Disney’s All Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House (hotel rooms)
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Starting with the hotels that do not have reopening dates, our expectation is that All Star Music will be next to reopen. Movies was the logical first choice of the All Stars to reopen because it’s the only one of the trio to complete the room redesign project prior to the closure of Walt Disney World.
Along those same lines, All Star Music is the sensible second to return since its room overhaul was in progress at the time of the closure, and could be finished by now (or in short order) whereas work had not started at All Star Sports. (See our Photos & Video: Newly Reimagined Rooms at the All Star Resorts post for more on the room overhaul.)
Our expectation is that All Star Music will reopen in Summer 2021. Anecdotally, things are starting to look up for some of the resorts that have reopened, especially on the Value Resort end of the spectrum. Pop Century is sold out for a handful of dates over the next two months, and options are limited at Art of Animation.
Then there’s All Star Movies, which has been overbooked to the point for spring break that there are widespread reports of guests being upgraded from there to the Grand Floridian. That has happened for the last couple of weeks now, and likely bodes well for the return of All Star Music.
It’s hard to predict what’s next in line after that. BoardWalk Inn and Jambo House are logical options give that both are already operating in some capacity due to their DVC wings. It would thus make sense to bring the hotel side back. Each also have unique characteristics and/or desirable locations.
However, demand has not been nearly as strong for Deluxe Resorts as Value or Moderates, which is why both the Polynesian and Contemporary are undergoing room refurbishments, and several Deluxes have had their reopening dates pushed back. Bookings could still pick up, but at this point we question whether any additional Deluxe Resorts (aside from those scheduled above) will return before October 1, 2021.
On the Moderate Resort level, the Port Orleans Resorts are a wild card. They are not connected to the parks via non-bus transportation, and the two have a ton of room inventory. Additionally, Disney might intend upon some light cosmetic and signage changes before reopening one of them.
A few months ago, we said it was entirely possible neither Port Orleans Resort would reopen until 2022. However, that was when bookings at Coronado Springs were weak and Caribbean Beach was only busy on weekends and holidays. A lot has changed since, and another Moderate Resort might be needed for the summer tourist season. If not, we’d expect one to reopen by October 1, 2021. First up will probably be Port Orleans French Quarter since it has fewer rooms.
That leaves Port Orleans Riverside and All Star Sports. The former has a ton of rooms. The latter is unlikely to be “needed” until events resume in full force at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, or if occupancy rates at the other two All Stars somehow spike by fall.
At this point, it’s realistic that Port Orleans Riverside and All Star Sports won’t reopen until next year, but the Christmas 2021 season is another possibility.
Now let’s turn to the hotels with scheduled reopening dates coming in 2021. The next up is Beach Club Resort. This is a logical one because Yacht Club, its sister resort, reopened last fall. The two share facilities and a lot of amenities, and a lack of demand is the only thing that has kept Beach Club from reopening before now.
On the plus side, the delayed reopening has allowed Walt Disney World to make some improvements around the resort. One big, under-the-radar update came to Beach Club Marketplace. This was once arguably the worst counter service restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Since reopening, it has a range of more ambitious entrees, plus an array of seasonal desserts.
After that, Wilderness Lodge will also reopen in Summer 2021. This delayed reopening is driven in part by Wilderness Lodge’s big room refurbishment, which began before the closure with the Club Level and higher floors of the hotel going down for overhauls. The hotel side of Wilderness Lodge has not reopened since.
Work has resumed on the room project and is now mostly finished. A lot is changing in these redesigned rooms–new feature wall art, walk-in showers, elevated beds, and removal of bunkbeds. There’s still a bit to wrap up and Disney likely wants the reopening of Wilderness Lodge to coincide with the start of summer tourist season, hence the June 6, 2021 reopening date.
Finally, there’s Polynesian Village Resort, which is officially slated to return in “Late July 2021” according to Walt Disney World. The reason for this delay is well-documented elsewhere, as we’ve done construction reports and recently shared a sneak peek at the Moana Room Makeover at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Additionally, the porte cochere is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul that will feature a high-pitched, open-truss roof covered in a thatch style with pops of color. The Monorail station is essentially being rebuilt, and getting new wooden screens with tropical colors, adding to the open and airy vibe befitting of the South Seas.
Ultimately, this protracted timeline is not a huge surprise given bookings at the Disney Vacation Club resorts and hotels from last summer through early 2021. While park crowds have steadily increased over every month since reopening, this is attributable mostly to increased Disney Park Pass availability for Annual Passholders and Cast Members. It should go without saying, but most locals are not booking hotel rooms for their park visits.
The good news is that occupancy at the resorts has really accelerated through Easter 2021. This year’s spring break was busier than anticipated, and that was largely driven by out of state visitors to Florida who did book hotel rooms for their park visits. The unknown at this point is whether that was the beginning of a return to normal with pent-up demand fueling travel through the remainder of 2021, or a quick blip for spring break season.
We should know later this month and in May 2021–times that are normally shoulder season at Walt Disney World, but could bring unexpected crowds and hotel bookings this year. Regardless, we expect hotel bookings to increase for Summer 2021, allowing for the reopening of more resorts as Walt Disney World continues its slow and steady process of returning to normalcy.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think about these reopening dates for Walt Disney World hotels? Any surprises on this list for you? Excited that Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge now have dates? Concerned that it might be a while before the Port Orleans Resorts return? Will you be attempting to visit Walt Disney World in 2021, or are you waiting until 2022? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!