Disney World Only Accepting Reservations for June 1 or Later
Following Walt Disney World’s announcement that Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom theme parks will remain closed indefinitely, hotel and dining reservations were suspended for the months of April and May 2020.
While we don’t yet have any official word as to when the parks or resorts will reopen, but yet another update to DisneyWorld.com’s operational update/travel advisory (the pop-up alert that appears at the top of the site) offers some insight into Walt Disney World’s tentative plans.
In this post, we’ll share the full text of the changes to the information about booking future trips, plus our speculation about what this means in terms of a reopening date, as well as the likelihood of discounts in light of Walt Disney World’s Summer Free Dining Recovery Deal that also went live over the weekend…
In pertinent part, here’s what the updated travel advisory on DisneyWorld.com states:
“For Guests who are interested in modifying their existing travel dates or making a new reservation for a future vacation, reservations are currently available for travel dates June 1 and later. As always, Guests are able to modify these bookings if Walt Disney World Resort opens before or after that time.”
This means that you cannot presently book hotel or dining reservations for travel dates this month, next month, or even in May 2020.
We spot checked dates in each of those months–right up to Memorial Day weekend, and there was nothing. Every room at every resort showed up as “unavailable for the dates selected.”
Ultimately, people are going to read into Walt Disney World’s updated travel advisory what they want to believe. It’s like a Rorschach test, but everything is Mickey ears.
Optimists will point to the last sentence, which leaves the door open for Walt Disney World to open at some indefinite date well before June. It could very well still be sometime in early May and still comport with that travel advisory.
Pessimists (we prefer the term realists) could point out that Walt Disney World has previously continued to accept reservations and modifications for dates that ended up being encompassed in the closure extension.
For example, just last Friday morning I could’ve made a hotel or dining reservation for April 1. This was even after Osceola and Orange County issued stay at home orders that effectively extended the closures that rendered the parks and resorts being open on that date impossible.
Though many people don’t view Walt Disney World this way, the resort complex is a colossal hotel business with theme parks being almost ancillary to that. After a decade of nonstop construction, Walt Disney World has dozens of resorts on property and tens of thousands of hotel rooms in its inventory.
Walt Disney World needs to accept hotel reservations now in order to meet minimum occupancy thresholds that are a necessary prerequisite. Without a certain number of bookings, opening those resorts is not practicable. (That doesn’t foreclose the possibility of reopening the parks, but it certainly makes it less lucrative for Disney if relying almost exclusively on the local Central Florida population.)
Typically, people plan Walt Disney World vacations over 5 months in advance. For many, less time is not practical from a budgeting or planning perspective.
In other words, in order to get even some of the resorts up and running by June 1, 2020, Walt Disney World needs to accept reservations now. From our perspective, the updated date is not a signifier that the resorts will definitely reopen on June 1, 2020. Rather, it’s evidence that they almost certainly will not reopen before then.
A few weeks’ notice is not realistic. There’s no way Walt Disney World can announce on May 1 that the resorts will reopen on May 14, 2020. The vast majority of tourists cannot book airfare, hotel reservations, and make other plans in that short of a timeframe.
Again, the turnaround time for locals is obviously significantly shorter, but they are not Walt Disney World’s core/coveted demographic. (One of several reasons why this is all so much easier for Disneyland.) This is why Walt Disney World needs to accept reservations now even for dates that might end up being cancelled or modified later.
We’ve already heard from many readers who are now concerned that June and July will be slammed with “wall to wall people now.” If you’ve read online comments from people rebooking trips, you’d have ample basis for this belief.
We highly doubt that will be the case. It’s important to remember that there’s a huge amount of selection bias on sites like this one and Walt Disney World social media circles. People commenting in these places are in no way representative of the general public. We’re much more likely to be diehard fans who move heaven and earth to make a trip happen.
It should go without saying, but the general public is not so Disney-obsessed. While a vocal minority (extreme emphasis on both words) will be back at Walt Disney World as soon as possible, that’s unlikely to be the case for most park-goers, especially those who are not so enamored with Disney. Many will be reticent to get on airplanes or go into crowded places.
There are also the practical realities. Even assuming more people will be eager to get out of the house and go somewhere (probably a safe bet), we’d anticipate the biggest beneficiaries of this desire will be regional attractions like state parks or local amusement parks. Fewer people will be able to book long and lavish vacations due to a combination of financial circumstances, employment uncertainty, or simply needing to get things back to normal in other facets of life.
For all of these reasons and more, we expect a flurry of discounts–something discussed in great depth in our Will Walt Disney World Offer Huge Discounts After Reopening? post.
In all likelihood, many of these deals will come once there’s more certainty about both an actual reopening date and the circumstances. (E.g. will all parks be open? Which resorts will resume operations at first? Which sister properties will be consolidated? What entertainment and attractions will go ‘seasonal’?)
Our expectation is that the biggest discounts will come via targeted offers. Think PIN/Unique Offer Codes and Priceline Express Deals for Walt Disney World Hotels. These are good ways of filling hotel inventory that are already somewhat ‘last minute’ in nature, and aren’t as public facing.
That last part is critical because it allows Walt Disney World to dump rooms for massive discounts without bringing it to the attention of the general public, and thus increasing expectations of future deals of that nature.
We’d also expect some of the best deals in a decade for Annual Passholders and Florida residents. Generally speaking, these are also guests better situated to book closer to travel dates, and these also are available to a more limited audience.
Expect to likewise see more general public deals. The first and easiest ones will likely come in the form of extensions (something we’ve already seen with the Sun & Fun Room-Only Discount) and reissued past deals. It would surprise us if the Summer Free Dining Deal (which is currently being offered only in “recovery” form) is not re-released for the general public in a few weeks. Following that, a second wave of new Free Dining dates seems all but inevitable.
Ultimately, no one knows when the parks and resorts will reopen–not even leadership at Walt Disney World. There are obviously internal projections and tentative timelines, but those necessarily make assumptions about containment and other variables that are very much unknowns at this point.
We’ve stated many times that we’re hopeful for May 2020, but view June as more realistic. That’s not even an educated guess–it’s just a guess based upon what we think are relevant considerations. There have been a lot of definitive proclamations about when everything will or will not reopen. The reality is that we do not know–and neither do you.
Many people are eager to plan upcoming trips, both as a matter of practicality and as a mental escape from what’s going on in the real world right now. That’s perfectly understandable and frankly healthy. However, we’d stress patience and flexibility. (And if you’re going to comment here, a dash of humility and empathy for other readers who may feel differently than you.)
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!
When will you return to Walt Disney World after the parks reopen? Will you be back in the first week, first month, a specific month, sometime within 2020, sometime within 2021, or does it remain to be seen depending upon your personal circumstances, discounts, etc? 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!
Appreciated that your article was very neutral. We have are supposed to be getting married at Disney World in June 2020. While they said they can’t guarantee they’ll be opened they are hopeful. Soooo we haven’t canceled anything yet. It’s a small wedding anyway so keeping our fingers crossed.
My husband and I have a trip planned for the middle of September staying at Old Key West. We are eager to get there so we hope everything is open and getting back to normal. We have no intentions of canceling or changing our plans unless they are not open.
My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this coming November, which also marks 25 years since we last visited WDW on our honeymoon. We had been planning to go back with our kids to celebrate this year (they’ve never been) and had been going back and forth on whether it was doable in the post-COVID era (assuming there will be such a thing). In this case, postponing would make it a little less special for us, so there was that to consider as well. I finally decided last week that I needed something to look forward to, and since airline tickets were super cheap (and can be changed with no fee) I went ahead and booked the flights and made a deposit with a travel agent.
For what it’s worth, a lot of the hotels and room levels we’d been initially been looking at were sold out for that week (the second week in November). For example, the Pop Century, Art of Animation, and All-Star Movies had no availability for our dates. I don’t know if this is a sign of high demand or what it means for crowd levels or if things will change by then (no one knows, really), but that was my experience trying to make reservations. We ended up booking a Royal room at PNO Riverside and are hoping for an offer to be released between now and then.
Hi Tom so glad I found you and your informative blog. I also saved a long time for my family of 7 2 adults 5 kids to have our first real Disney experience. By that I mean staying on property at Disney’s Riviera, getting the dining plan etc. Originally we were booked to go May 30 thru June 5th.When I realized that I couldn’t book fastpass etc. I called and modified that were now scheduled to go June1st through June 7th. Its It’s so upsetting to just not no….at least IF I knew I could prepare the children and were coming from Massachusetts. So at this point its April 9th, what are your honest thoughts on the parks being open by June1st. Thank you very much
I have tickets for July 4 at Disney in Florida should I make plans to reschedule them or will they be opened by than ?
We changed our vacation from June this yr to Feb 2021. We changed it twice and waiting until 2021 would be better.
I was thinking that will get the kinks worked out from reopening.
When in 2021 did you change to?
We have June 23rd – 3rd July planned to go and to stay in a villa in Kissimmee. We’re all just hoping that the trip we have been waiting a decade for won’t have to be cancelled.
I agree with everyone your blog is the most informative Disney blog I have used it so often the help plan my Disney vacations. We are so bummed at our house we had a may3rd-6th vacation planned 4 nights at Disney then to the gulf coast. We went two years Ago with our three kids and surprised them! We were thankful we surprised them because our trip actually got postponed 4 days bc of hurricane Irma! This time around the kids were involved in all the planning… all three said they wish they were getting surprised again:-( that way they wouldn’t have known about. We are calling it the Chitwood Disney curse:-( 2 different trips two different delays.
I also had a trip booked when Irma hit that had to be canceled and have a trip booked the first week in May. Both times it would have been our first time renting dvc points and our first time at Boardwalk. For Irma, we just ate the dvc costs. I’m not not sure what will happen this time. I know people have much worse things going on right now, but it is disappointing, and it does feel like we’re cursed renting dvc points.
I have tickets for July 4 at Disney in Florida should I make plans to reschedule them or will they be opened by than ?l
it needs to be remembered that there are some people who started booking their vacations YEARS in advance, and some who even booked a room 11 months out. It is possible that though YOU think Disney needs to book up for June, that June has been booked for a while now? I state this concept because in August 2019 I book my June 2020 trip to WDW. is there a chance that this will be virus clear at the time, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have a June Reservation, and I didn’t book it this morning.
True although now there wold be equally a number of people cancelling their trips from all over the world for June and July. There is zero chance the virus will be clear for this June based on what is happening unless the entire country takes the necessary measures that other countries have. Therefore, start planning for mid 2021 and beyond.
I think it is optimistic to think the parks and hotels will be open by June.
Hmmm…. more like it is optimistic they will be open in 2020. We were not prepared as our federal government thought it was just going to go away. Fast forward and the body bags are piling up.
I wanted to say I read your blog everyday. It is the most informative online! I booked last June for this September. My husband and I go every year middle to end of September for two weeks and we love the FREE Disney Dining Plan. I am keeping my fingers crossed it will be offered.
Thank you for all the insights
Thank you for the insightful input. I trust Disney to make carefully thought out decisions regarding the park openings. My next WDW isn’t until 2022 and by then, there will probably be a vaccine available. You keep your readers well-informed with the latest breakthrough news!
It’s funny but the current situation makes me more excited but also more hesitant to start planning our next DW trip. The boredom and stress has me super excited and almost desperate to get back to Disney World with some escape from all of this but the huge crowds and disease spreading capabilities of DW has me more hesitant. Well waiting for a safe and effective vaccine and then we will definitely be back to DW! 🙂
The good news is there are going to be some amazing discounts at WDW when they finally re-open. The bad news is none of us will have the money to go. Kind of like the stock market. You’re always supposed to buy when the economy is tanked and it’s really low, but you never have the money to do it.
We have two trips planned – one for May 3rd through the 6th. And then another trip planned June 21 through the 27th.
We were going to stay at a riviera tower studio in May, so I’m a little bummed we won’t be able to experience that.
I’m somewhat doubtful our June trip will even happen. That being said, I’d rather the parks stay closed to keep everyone safe. Than say, open too soon and have to shut down again.
Prayers for everyone out there.
Did you read Tom’s review of the tower studios? You can find rooms that are much, MUCH better for notably less money/DVC points.
We have (had?) a trip planned for May 23-31. Obviously, we’re banking on that not happening at that same timeframe (will obviously be stoked if I’m wrong), and hoping we can go in June or July instead. However, that’s our last available window for a year, so lots of sad faces in this house if that’s not a go. We didn’t book a Disney hotel, so I know why we didn’t get the recovery email, but I am still a little shocked we didn’t get an email about our tickets? The app just has a pop up window stating Disney is closed indefinitely. I know we’ll most likely be able to rebook the dates in June or July, or apply the prepaid value towards rebooking later, but I will day for ticket-holders only, it’s a little less clear what happens to us.
I did not get an email from them either and I am booked in the March16-May31 time frame on-site with more than 2 tickets. I am not so sure they sent them out/what was sent out!
if you already re-booked why offer you a better deal? I am in the same boat and a little miffed that they didn’t alert me to the new free dining offer. I rebooked for the end of May as soon as my mid-March arrival was not happening.
Seeing as we have almost certainly plunged our economy into a recession at this point (if not a depression) what are your thoughts on December trips this year? I would think it would be much less crowded than previous years due to the economic circumstances, but was curious on your take.
December 2021 maybe.
I suspect a number of of folks will consider rescheduling for the fall holidays or Christmas and then think..”Hey, if we just wait a few more months we can go in 2021 and there will be many more things/attractions that will be open by then (assuming construction actually starts back up). Not to mention the celebrations in 2021″. This will give both them and Disney time to recover from the impact of this “hunker in the bunker” time.
I notice many people are making a common assumption – that at some precise date in the future there will be an “all clear” and we can go back to living exactly as we did before. I sure would like that to be true.
What I suspect is that until there’s a reliable vaccine or at least an easy way to tell who is infected, restrictions are going to be lifted in stages, with, at best, the timing of those stages being very uncertain. (At worst we might have to go back to a previous stage.) How Disney copes when their Parks are organized on the basis of “cram as many people in as possible” I have no idea. Their portable hand-washing stations certainly won’t do it. But for now my focus has to be avoiding becoming a C19 statistic.
Even with a vaccine, you can still get it. And a reliable vaccine is 12-18 months away. So smart planning would be mid to end 2021 and into 2022. Cruise lines are pretty much done so don’t even waste your time with those.
Yep I had to cancel my mid may holiday and I’m not going to rebook until late 2021 to 2022 as this mess will last a lot longer than people think ,especially as some chose to still ignore pleas to stay indoors,
We’re in Virginia and we just got a Stay at Home Order that goes through June 10th. We have a Disneyland trip planned in June and I am doubtful we’ll be able to go.
I’m also in VA & the stay at home order states it is through June 10th UNLESS amended by executive order sooner. I’m not being overly optimistic that will change, but I’m trying to remain hopeful.
if you look at the projections that federal officials are trusting it shows when areas can expect a peak. Florida is behind the overall US. it suggest a later than earlier reopening. That from someone hoping that the June 1 reservation I am holding comes true. https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections
Thanks for the website. I’m a physician in Colorado, and that is much needed (but scary for our state) information.
Cancelled my easter trip we were to leave tomorrow april 9th we rebooked june 27 to july 7 this is first Easter home but will be 3rd 4th july there hope we will make this trip