Disney World Officially Closed Indefinitely
Walt Disney World has announced an extension to the current closure of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios plus its Florida hotels past spring break and through at least mid-April 2020 due to the current public health crisis.
The current plan is for Walt Disney World to remain closed “until further notice.” Disney also has specifically indicated that it will continue to pay parks and resorts hourly Cast Members through April 18, 2020. This does not mean that the parks will reopen after that date, but we’re assuming they will remain closed until at least then. That means Easter and what’s left of remaining spring breaks are off the table, which is probably for the best in terms of containment.
We cover pretty much everything you need to know in our Walt Disney World Closure FAQ, including why you might not want to call Disney right now, and more. Here, we’ll offer some additional insight and thoughts on reopening, including why this extension should not come as any surprise for a number of reasons…
It’s unclear what this means in terms of cancellations, modifying reservations, and rebooking. DisneyWorld.com’s notice has been modified in several spots, and now reads: “If no action is taken by you before your check-in date for arrivals during the closure period, Disney will automatically cancel your reservation within 7 days of the original check-in date and process any refund due to the original form of payment.”
However, since the “closure period” is now presently undefined, this presumably means that auto-cancellations will simply occur on a rolling basis a week before check-in. Several readers have reported issues with Walt Disney World issuing refunds during this process, so we’d recommend being proactive about it.
Unfortunately, the phone lines are jammed and the website has slowed to a crawl, so you might want to give it a few days (if possible) before doing anything. Walt Disney World’s updated notice also indicates that they will “soon…share additional options for booking and modifying vacations.” (We’d love to hear firsthand feedback in the comments regarding phone hold times and success/failure in canceling, modifying, and rebooking!)
This comes after frustrated fans and Cast Members complained that Walt Disney World had been dragging its feet on extending the closure. It was a foregone conclusion that this was going to occur several days ago due to stay at home orders being issued at the county level. Despite this, Disney held off on extending, due to rumored strifes with local unions.
Prior to this, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a stay-at-home order took effect on March 26 and lasts through at least April 9, 2020. This will require the county’s 1.3 million residents to only leave home for essential business, plus grocery store, takeout food, or pharmacy trips. People are allowed to exercise outside, but are discouraged from doing so in groups.
Officials for Osceola County likewise issued a similar order. These two counties are home to Walt Disney World, effectively forcing the parks and resorts–as non-essential businesses–to stay closed until at least that time. Both counties have indicated that the stay at home order is at least through April 9, 2020 and will be reevaluated thereafter.
After considerable criticism last weekend (including a scathing editorial in the Miami Herald), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis requested the federal government issue a Major Disaster Declaration in Florida to free up additional resources for fighting the outbreak. However, Governor DeSantis has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order like those imposed in California, New York, Illinois, and other states.
The number of cases in Florida has exploded, which follows media coverage showing crowded beaches and cringe-worthy interviews during the state’s lucrative spring break season. It’s too soon to say whether the state government is starting to treat this seriously, but at least it’s starting to occur on a local level.
At present, Florida now has 2,900 cases, including 34 deaths. There are 156 cases in Orange County, which has recorded three deaths. These numbers have roughly quadrupled since last weekend. Additionally, a fifth TSA worker at Orlando International Airport has tested positive.
However, it should be noted that the actual number of infections is undoubtedly higher as Florida is still in the process of ramping up testing and there are still over 1,000 pending tests.
Florida’s population is more vulnerable than most of the United States, especially considering that over 20% of the state’s 21.5 million residents are over 65 and have a heightened risk of dying.
Between that and its status as a hub for global tourism, it would thus stand to reason that Florida and Walt Disney World would be particularly diligent in battling the outbreak, and err on the side of caution. (For our part, we are certainly not eager for Walt Disney World to reopen any time soon. As much as we might love the place, we value health and safety more.)
Prior to Disney’s announcement, Universal Orlando extended their closure through April 19, 2020. This includes Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and CityWalk. The Universal Orlando Resort hotels have also temporarily suspended operations.
“For now, we must make the health and safety of our guests and team members our top priority and we will continue to take guidance from health agencies and government officials,” a statement from Universal reads.
These extended closures also follow an announcement from runDisney that the 2020 Star Wars Rival Run Weekend that was scheduled for April 16-19, 2020 at Walt Disney World has been cancelled out of an abundance of caution. RunDisney indicated that because the races use local medical professionals and first responders to monitor and treat runners, this will free up those resources for more critical needs during this time.
All participants for the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend who purchased their registrations will receive a refund for their race registration, commemorative merchandise, ChEAR Squad, and processing fee. RunDisney reports that on-sale dates for future races will be adjusted, and more information will be shared soon. (The Disneyland Paris Princess Run scheduled for May 8-10, 2020 has also been cancelled.)
These closure extensions come after Walt Disney World closed all resorts in Florida at the end of last week. In addition to WDW hotels, two standalone Disney Vacation Club properties, Vero Beach Resort and Hilton Head Island Resort, are also now closed.
Walt Disney World has also Disney Springs and virtually all other facilities around Florida. To our knowledge, the only venues that remain open are Disney’s Palm, Magnolia, Oak Trail, and Lake Buena Vista Golf Courses plus FootGolf. (So, you can still get your “Disney fix” if you like to golf!)
This news also comes after it was revealed that all construction has stopped at Walt Disney World. With these projects halted, plus all hotels and Disney Springs shuttered, it’s no surprise that the parks are remaining closed for a longer period.
By way of recap, Shanghai Disney Resort closed two months ago, followed shortly thereafter by Hong Kong Disneyland. Tokyo Disney Resort was the next two close–initially for two weeks, with an indefinite extension and delay of Beauty and the Beast land’s grand opening following that. On the heels of that extension, the closures of Disneyland Paris, Disneyland in California, and Walt Disney World were all announced.
Shanghai Disneyland is in the process of resuming operations, but the parks have not yet reopened.
We should reiterate that the extension of the closure does not establish a reopening date. Do not expect the parks to magically reopen on April 19, 2020. That’s simply the earliest foreseeable date that the parks and resorts could reopen in light of this news. We’re anticipating the closer lasting longer than that, and hesitate to estimate as to an end date. Cases in the United States (and Florida in particular) have yet to peak.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland are both taking an incremental approach to these closures, announcing something near-term with the intention of reevaluating the situation in a couple of weeks and making a determination about reopening then.
That approach is easier to manage, as it prevents a slew of cancellations all at once that could have the potential to overwhelm Disney’s websites and call centers. It also projects optimism to the public, who may be otherwise wary about planning trips for later this year.
In short, there are a number of reasons to be conservative with Disney issuing closure dates right now, even though internally, there’s a sense that the actual closure duration will extend what’s publicly been confirmed. As a corollary to this, do not expect call center Cast Members to have any insight as to when the parks will actually reopen. They are not privy to any insider information. They receive these updates at the same time they’re released to the general public.
Ultimately, that’s all we have right now. I really wish we had a credible reopening date we could point towards as being definitive, or even a timeframe that’s likely. As we’ve said before, this is an incredibly fluid and dynamic situation, with things evolving by the hour, and the extent of closures and shutdowns continuing to worsen rather than improve.
We remain hopeful that Walt Disney World will reopen by sometime in May 2020, but we’re no longer optimistic of that actually happening. Again, we would much rather that Disney take the cautious and conservative approach, resuming operations once this is under control. Prioritizing health and safety should be the goal here, especially given the nature of theme parks.
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!
Are you surprised that Walt Disney World is extending its closure? Will this impact your upcoming spring or summer vacation plans? Did you cancel your WDW trip prior to this announcement, or were you in ‘wait and see’ mode? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? 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!
Got some money or DVC points you’d like to bet and lose on that idea? Of COURSE Disney will reopen the parks.
What are others doing about payments if you have a vacation booked and your payment deadline is approaching? June vacations will all be due sometime in April. Do you think they will be canceling reservations that haven’t been paid in the 60 day time period? I don’t want to cancel but I don’t want to pay and lose money. The logical me is thinking no way they will be opening in June or July. I know if we pay and they don’t open then I will be refunded. But I’m nervous that they could possibly open right around the time period we are scheduled… and I may be nervous still about going. I don’t know if I want to pay so much for my dream vacation and it be the first week back open… and be the guinea pigs.
We have a vacation booked 6/23-6/30, we have until May 24th to decide whether or not we cancel and receive a full refund. Our Travel agent is telling us to stay booked and there will be more info to go on by the 24th as to whether or not we rebook. My husband said he’d prefer to go, on the chances that if the park reopens in June, most likely a lot of people would refrain from going and we won’t have to wait in long lines I’m not sure that will happen but I’ll hope along with him. 🙂
I tried to call tonight 3/29 to change my reservation at the Florida parks from April to November. It took close to 2 hours to get through (nearly gave up) and then it took another 40 minutes to make the change. I couldn’t get the same hotel, but it did work out, so be patient if you need to talk to someone.
I heard Disney is offering the Free Dining Plan to those that were cancelled after Disney closed the park. That’s a nice perk for those that had to reschedule!
What about season ticket holders? I spent 5700 dollars on tickets for my family..
Disney has addressed this….. Pass expiration dates will be extended to equal the amount of time the parks were closed.
Personally speaking Annual Passholders should be given the option of canceling their membership if so desired. There are too many people out of work and need the money for essential things, not paying Disney on a monthly basis.
A travel agent told me that they were told to cancel or modify all reservations for April and. Not to rebook for May or June yet. Does anyone know if this is true?
I was looking at rooms for a trip in September and the DS area hotels aren’t taking any reservations yet. I think the site said through April 30.
I noticed on the MDE app when you click on “temporary closures at Walt Disney World ” and read through the information under “need to adjust your travel plans”, it mentions if you need to modify existing dates or make a new reservation, reservations are available for travel dates June 1 and later. It was the June 1 date that caught my attention.
As well if you try to purchase tickets you can’t for April and May. It’s greyed out.
Maybe it’s just me but I read “indefinitely” here (and there are other articles using that word) and saw that Disney’s site said “until further notice” and thought they both meant or alluded to the same thing: that the exact reopening date is unknown? I thought Tom was just offering his insight on when he thought they’d reopen as he always has, which we can take how we want as the reader? I mean this is a blog and not a newspaper. I even looked it up to be sure and both phrases are indeed semantically related: https://thesaurus.plus/related/indefinitely/until_further_notice
I guess I’m just confused as to why people are upset about the word he used.
Same here…. If I were writing a bunch of articles about different properties all staying closed, I probably would try to switch up the wording to keep things interesting. It all means the same thing.
To all AP members,
I’m wondering if there has been any talk or disputes on current AP contracts to adjust for these payments due to unforeseen closures. I know it’s unfair both ways for the consumer and the business, however the Walt Disney company should he able to adjust for all this with the inability for members to use their passes during this unforeseen pandemic. Please advise. Thank you and be well all.
They have already addressed this…. AP expiration dates will be extended the amount of time that the parks are closed.
Yeah. What sucks for me is that I was planning a trip for 3/18-3/21, with my AP expiring 3/22. So, while they say they will extend my AP to expire 6 days after they reopen (based on the parks closure 6 days before my AP expired), there’s no real way I can feasibly schedule a vacation on that short notice, not to mention get the same FastPasses and ADRs I had for my March trip. Oh well, not much I can do about it!
Indefinitely means closed for good which it is not. Dont put clickbait headlines.
Agreed. I was curious…it caught my attention. In no way does this headline reflect truthfully on its body!
Indefinitely doesn’t mean “for good.” Indefinitely means unspecified.
Out of all the Disney blogs I read regularly, Tom is probably the LEAST likely to try to click bait. There are some who do it, but his headlines are more straightforward or humorous.
That’s not what indefinitely means, not at all. Indefinite means undefined, I’m this case a period of time that has no defined end date. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indefinitely… use a dictionary, please!
It really sounds to me like it is closed for good. If it were not closed for good they would have a date for reopening not just until further notice. It doundscto me like Disney is clisingvforever.
No one, including Disney, knows how long their Parks are going to be closed due to the pandemic. Any reopening date they might specify is very likely to be wrong. And perhaps it’s not even Disney’s decision- federal, state and county governments will determine the earliest re-opening date, so how can Disney know in advance what these governments will do when the governments themselves don’t know?
“Until further notice” – the language Disney used….”Indefinitely” – the language this article uses…. technically they mean the same, but they have very different connotations. For that alone, this is an inflammatory article.
If the worst thing you have to worry about today is a so-called “inflammatory” article about Disney World then you are lucky. No one knows when Disney will open back up and Tom said as much regardless of whether you liked his wording or not. In this time when we should be our best and kindest selves I don’t see why it’s necessary to be so negative on the internet. If you don’t like the article just move on.
What is wrong with you people picking on Tom? “This is an inflamatory article”…seriously? Everyone who has jumped on Tom should apologize and thank him for all the great info he gives us!
Tom, I am very sorry about all the complaining! I appreciate all the great info. You take time out of your life to send us. Thank you! Please stay safe!
Agreed. None of this is Tom’s doing. He’s merely reporting things to try and help us out.
And for those of you who don’t think this is getting ridiculous, i just read that Rhode Island is having its State Troopers stop and / or track people with NY license plates to begin enforcing a 14 day mandatory isolation while FLorida has supposedly set up checkpoints to intercept people with Louisiana plates and either turn them back or enforce a quarantine while the Feds are now considering isolating NY, NJ and Conn. Still think this B.S. hasn’t gone too far? People have been yelling “Dictatorship” for several years, well congratulations! You’ve now got about 10 egotistical, self-important little tin-pot despots and counting and all of them not only with your permission, but with your enthusiastic welcome! Disgusting!
There is a legal standing for the stay at home orders.
During the smallpox epidemic in 1905, a pastor argued that a mandatory vaccination violated his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court sided with the State.
The court stated in its ruling, “the liberty secured by the Fourteenth Amendment… consists, in part, in the right of a person ‘to live and work where he will.” But added: “in every well-ordered society…the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.”
The courts would examine if the stay at home orders, which prevent assembly, pass the strict scrutiny test, which requires that a law be “narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest.”
The government can override basic rights such as freedom of speech, assembly, and religion if it meets the demands of strict scrutiny.
Good luck arguing that preventing/mitigating a pandemic is not a compelling government interest.
I suggest you both read this:
Tom, a question about one of your beautiful photos, the second one, with the palm tree fanned out like sun rays over an archway with guests walking through . . . where is that archway, and what is that hanging over the guests’ heads? Does it move along that track with the light fixtures? Gorgeous capture of the palm tree. Always enjoy your photography, you have skillz!
This is the entrance to Rockin Rollercoaster
As you enter thru the arch you will see a giant guitar. The arm of the guitar is actually mimicking a “track”. In the picture you see the head of the guitar with a car underneath
Click bait if every I read it….closed indefinitely…then says mid April
Technically, the title is correct, “indefinitely” is defined as “an unspecified amount of time.” But I agree with you, this author knew what he was doing.
This isn’t click bait. Disney’s official announcement says, “Disney World will remained closed until further notice…”
Disney states they are paying their Cast Members until mid April, not opening in April.
I respect WDW for taking responsibility in protecting those who visit their parks, but also those who are residents of the community and have no say who is visiting their area. We need to all be considerate and not selfish to care for everyone. Vacations can come later!
Totally agree with you I live in the UK where lives are more important than the Economy. Watching the USA story unfold is like a horror story. This morning you are now our headline news. Good luck to you all I’m praying for you.
Stop watching the fearmongering idiots at CNN. Seriously. We have over 200 people dying every day due to hospital-acquired infections. And yes, I do work n healthcare…
I called Disney just last night to ask about refunds for Hoop Dee Doo tickets and Villains After Hours tickets. Trip was scheduled for late April into May. I called about 8:45pm and got right through. Granted, this was before they announced the extended closures. Both CMs I spoke to were very nice and very helpful. They’re doing the best they can, just like everyone else. Haven’t rescheduled yet but I’m hoping for September or October. Of course I hope they open before that, but going in the fall is better for me personally. It’s a tough situation. I keep saying, canceled vacations are the least of our problems, but it’s still disappointing, especially when you’re stuck in the house, dreaming of Disney!
Agreed, it’s still sad to lose a vacation and one should be able to say that without people reminding them that there is a pandemic going on. Everyone is well aware. The whole situation is sad all around! I just realized we haven’t brought our daughter outside for some fresh air all week because the new remote learning schooling came out and we’ve just been chained to the house! Between that and just the general hesitation about going outside is a lot. Seeing the markings on the ground if you do decide to go grocery shopping showing where you should stand in a line is anxiety-invoking. Praying for the world.
Very fluid situation. I have a trip planned for beginning of June. I booked my June reservation with a bounce back offer with free dining. If I am needing to reschedule, what are the odds Disney will honor my free dining on my new reservation?
Thank you for your feedback.
I did the same, and I’d like to know as well!
Right now they are offering FREE Dining to those that have to rebook due to cancellation in March, however they would have to reserve between 6/1-9/30 to get the offer. So chances are if Disney is still closed June 1st then maybe you’re in luck