Walt Disney World continues to reopen resorts throughout 2021, with revised dates for hotels that were TBD and continuing delays. Now, Disney has also announced return dates for Club Level rooms, and suites as well as booking dates for the concierge lounges between now and December 2021.
As a quick reminder, Club Level lounges were temporarily suspended along with the Disney Dining Plan, FastPass+, nighttime spectaculars, entertainment, character meet & greets, etc., last June when the resorts began to reopen, and has not returned since. “When will Club Level return to Walt Disney World?” has become one of the most common reader questions in the last few months, so we’re glad to finally have an answer!
Note that this timeline only concerns Club Level lounges and rooms at Walt Disney World. For resorts as a whole, see our 2021 Walt Disney World Hotel Reopening Dates. In most cases, the Club Level lounges and rooms are returning long after their respective resorts…
Let’s start with the following phased reopening dates announced by Walt Disney World:
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Royal Palm Club) – September 16, 2021
- Disney’s BoardWalk Resort – September 23, 2021
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort – September 26, 2021
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – December 16, 2021
- Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – December 16, 2021
Reservations for Club Level rooms and suites at the above resorts will begin on June 4, 2021. Obviously, Club Level reservations can only be made for the reopening date or thereafter.
Bookings can be made online, or by calling the Disney Reservation Center.
The following resorts do not yet have reopening dates for their Club Level lounges:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Sugar Loaf Club)
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
According to Walt Disney World, “each Club Level Lounge will follow physical distancing measures and indoor covering requirements.”
“Our lounges will continue to provide a personalized experience for Guests, including exclusive food & beverage options throughout the day and special Disney touches for all ages.”
In terms of commentary, we’re first and foremost pleased and excited by this announcement. As longtime readers might know, our perspective on Club Level has “evolved” over the years. That’s been a gradual process, starting with a free upgrade at the Poly a few years back, and culminating in us paying to book several Club Level stays two years ago.
Club Level is now one of our favorite splurges at Walt Disney World. We’re still conflicted about the pricing, and think it’s difficult–if not impossible–to justify Club Level at Walt Disney World from an objective, value-for-money perspective. However, some of our best recent memories at Walt Disney World have been during Club Level “staycations,” so clearly we see a high level of subjective value in the experience.
Beyond that, we’re somewhat surprised it’s taking so long. As we’ve noted in countless other posts, Walt Disney World has a staffing shortage that is precluding many things from returning in line with demand. If there’s a “problem” in the parks right now, it’s more likely than not at least partially attributable to an insufficient number of Cast Members.
However, we’ve also stated on numerous occasions that we expect this problem to start being resolved by mid-July 2021 and fully work itself out by late September 2021. Given those estimates and how lucrative Club Level is for Walt Disney World–both via direct revenue and indirectly via the clientele it attracts–we’re somewhat surprised the company isn’t trying to bring back a Club Level lounge or two later this summer.
With that said, it’s entirely possible that these dates are being set conservatively. This would make sense, especially after last summer and fall when Walt Disney World ended up pushing back numerous hotel reopening dates.
It’s entirely possible that a couple of these dates could move forward if staffing allows for it and demand suggests that Walt Disney World could easily fill the rooms on short notice. While more far-fetched, maybe King Kamehameha Club at the Polynesian will be slotted in ahead–not behind–everything else, returning alongside its reimagined resort if staffing and construction allow for it.
One thing about the announcement that is probably going to catch a lot of attention from Walt Disney World fans is the announcement’s line that “each Club Level Lounge will follow physical distancing measures and indoor covering requirements.” We would strongly caution against inferring anything about future rules on the basis of this quote.
For those old enough to remember back when Disney After Hours Boo Bash was announced (last month), it also included mention of face mask rules. The very next week, masks were made optional outdoors. It should go without saying that the reservations team is not the one that sets health safety protocol.
Walt Disney World is a behemoth operation, and sometimes often one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. I wouldn’t book a trip two weeks from now with the expectation of physical distancing and indoor face mask rules, let alone in September or December 2021.
It’s unclear what other health safety protocol might be utilized in the Club Level lounges. It wouldn’t surprise us if everything is single-serving, but we really hope not. Unfortunately, buffets are still verboten at Walt Disney World, which is entirely about hygiene theater at this point.
Given that fomite or surface transmission is exceedingly rare and unlikely–which has been known since the middle of last year but is still commonly misunderstood–handling the serving utensils or being near communal food does not present any meaningfully degree of actual risk, although there’s undoubtedly still the perception it does.
When it comes to booking ‘drop dates’ or opening days, we usually caution against working yourself into a tizzy. The phone lines are often jammed and the online system slows to a crawl at peak times, with Stitch eating the occasional page here and there. Our advice usually is to wait until later in evening when things calm down a bit and book then.
That is not our advice when it comes to booking Club Level. Do it as soon as possible.
There are several reasons for this, the most notable of which is broken down in excruciating detail here: What’s Up With Sold Out Hotels at Walt Disney World? If you don’t want to read that multi-thousand word post, the title alone should give you an idea of its substance.
Another reason is that the supply of Club Level rooms is extremely limited, and these are opening at a time of year when demand is sky-high for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I probably don’t need to further elaborate on what that means for availability and how quickly it’s likely to go for those few months.
If you don’t want to hassle with it yourself, we’d recommend requesting a free/no obligation quote from an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and having them deal with the headaches so you don’t have to.
The other upsides to using fee-free travel agents is that they can assist with certain planning details and will monitor your reservation for future discounts, applying those as they’re released.
In this case, we would caution against expecting future discounts for Club Level rooms. Heck, we’d caution against expecting much in the way of discounts period for October through December 2021. It’s likely something will be released, but with meager savings, limited availability, and lots of blockout dates.
When it comes to booking Club Level at Walt Disney World in 2021, we’ll be putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak. Our plan is to book Old Faithful Club Level at Christmas, and I’ll be online at the crack of dawn tomorrow attempting to make an online reservation. (Failing that, Sarah will call tomorrow morning–as much as I love Wilderness Lodge, I don’t love it enough to pick up the phone and wait on hold any amount of time for it!)
If you’re on the fence one way or the other, wondering if a Club Level stay might be a good splurge for your family, check out our Guide to Club Level Lounges at Walt Disney World. That presents what we think is a pretty balanced assessment of the pros & cons. It also offers some ideas and ways to “hack” Club Level to make the high cost a bit more palatable.
While we’ve learned that Club Level is absolutely “for us,” it’s definitely not for everyone. If given the choice between a 1-night Chronos Club Level stay or doing Disney After Hours Boo Bash, I would pick Chronos Club in an instant and without hesitation. Others might choose that pricey hard ticket event or a couple dinners at Signature Restaurants. More practical planners might choose to extend their trip by a day. Then there are those who would go another direction entirely, doing an I-Drive escape room “crawl.” To each their own. Vacation planning, budgeting, and splurging is not one-size-fits-all. Club Level is great for some, and a total non-starter for others.
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!
Excited or indifferent to the return of Club Level Lounges and rooms at Walt Disney World? Surprised it’s taking so long? Will you be booking a Club Level stay in 2021 or 2022? If you’ve stayed Club Level at a Walt Disney World hotel, do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Do you think it is worth the money? Which Club Level Lounge is your favorite? Have you considered staying Club Level? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!