Earlier this summer, Walt Disney World released vacation packages beginning January 1, 2021 and with checkout dates before September 27, 2021. As of today, resort hotels and Disney Park Pass reservations are available to book through January 14, 2022. In this post, we’ll take a look at some details, price increase analysis, what to expect, and what’s not back…yet.
Before we get started, a couple of reminders about the status quo and changes coming in 2021. First, Walt Disney World will unveil a new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart phone, building on the app’s existing digital key feature.
With these new features on the way, Walt Disney World will be retiring complimentary MagicBand distribution to hotel guests for new reservations with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021. MagicBands will still be available to purchase at a discount, via the MagicBand Upgrade Program. That was announced back over the summer, but sort of got lost in the shuffle with a sea of other cancellations…
Also in that same sea was the temporary suspension of the Disney Dining Plan, FastPass+, Extra Magic Hours, Park Hopping, a range of experience bookings, and pretty much all entertainment.
We traded all of that for the Disney Park Pass reservation system. In hindsight, that was sort of like trading the Olympic Dream Team for a car with the strong smell body odor deeply embedded in its fabric. Sure, the car still works, but at what cost?!
We’ll circle back to the pressing questions about if/when the Disney Dining Plan, FastPass+, Park Hopping, and more will return.
Let’s start with resort hotels and vacation packages, which can now be booked for check-in dates through December 31, 2021–and checkout dates through January 2022. The following resorts are available to be booked:
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Jambo House
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (for July 2021 and beyond)
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
This means that the following resorts are not available for booking:
Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
Disney’s All Star Music Resort
Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — Jambo House
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Note that it might appear that Animal Kingdom Lodge — Jambo House appears on both lists. However, the first entry is the villas, whereas the second is the regular hotel rooms.
No huge revelations here, as this list simply mirrors what has previously been announced. That only encompasses the properties currently scheduled to open between now and Summer 2021. The remaining resorts will return as demand dictates.
While weekday occupancy has been low since the parks reopened, it’s starting to pick up and we expect that to further accelerate this Christmas season. After that, Spring Break and Easter 2021 will be the next big tests, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a couple more resorts returned then, again for summer, October 2021, and finally for Christmas 2021.
In short, we are not expecting that entire list of resorts to remain closed through January 2022. We wouldn’t be surprised if some of them remain closed until some point in 2022 (prime candidates are one of the All Stars and one or both Port Orleans Resorts). Rather, it’s likely that Walt Disney World simply isn’t offering reservations yet because their status remains uncertain.
One of the things we normally do on resort reservation drop day is some price analysis of rack rates. I’ve only had a chance to take a cursory look at this, but it looks like there are across the board increases.
Take a look at the rate chart at Disney’s Pop Century Resort for November & December 2021:
All of those $175 weekday nights in early November and that bookend Thanksgiving (which falls on November 25, 2021) in mid-November and early-December would be $172 per night this year. That’s a pretty insignificant increase as compared to normal years.
More noteworthy, peak holiday dates go from $306 per night this year to $290 per night next year. You’d still have to be crazy to pay $290 per night for a motel room–even at Pop Century–but it’s good to see a downward trend.
(Correction: when originally published, we erroneously compared standard pool view rooms for November/December 2021 to standard view rooms for November/December 2020, resulting in a larger year over year price increase. The above has been updated to reflect a standard to standard comparison.)
Above is the same thing for Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
We thought it would be worth looking at the standard rooms here since there is no “Skyliner premium” to take into account, which could mean less of an increase. That certainly appears to be the case, as those same November and early December dates went from $263 per night this year to $265 per night next year.
As a quick aside since it’s a common question, you can find the rate calendar by searching for availability on DisneyWorld.com, then clicking the “Rate Details” button on the resort/room combination that interests you. (See above.)
From there you’ll see a weekly breakdown. For the calendar view, click “View Rate Calendar.” (See below.) Hope that helps!
We’re hesitant to do a ton more pricing analysis, as a lot of this could end up being rendered meaningless. Very few of you will end up paying rack rate due to inevitable discounts, so the final prices are much more relevant. With so much uncertainty, it’s tough to say what those will end up being.
Accordingly, the true test is going to be in terms of what discounts end up being released. If bookings are down because of the lingering effects of a recession, travel fears, and who knows what else, these rack rates could end up being like Kohl’s sticker prices. That’s to say, totally meaningless, as discounts are so ubiquitous that no one is paying full price.
On the other hand, if Walt Disney World keeps supply low by shuttering resorts for the duration of 2021, pent-up demand leads to even more bookings, or the 50th Anniversary draws even more guests, those rack rates could end up being very meaningful. It’s truly too early to tell. Our guess is that 2021 is going to be a slow year for travel as a whole, but we’ve been wrong before.
Next, let’s quickly touch upon if/when certain ‘temporarily suspended’ offerings will return. Three of these things are inquired about more than anything else right now: Park Hopping, FastPass+, and the Disney Dining Plan.
Many (many) readers of this blog have already indicated that they won’t return to Walt Disney World until some or all of that trio is restored. If we’re hearing that, Disney is certainly hearing it. Some of that sentiment is undoubtedly bluster, but some is also genuine. Between guest demand and the reality that those offerings are profitable for Walt Disney World, we expect all of it to return ASAP–it’s just a question of when that is…
Walt Disney World has already stated that their aim is to restore Park Hopping as soon as possible, and you can purchase it on 2021 tickets. However, that does not mean it’ll return on January 1, 2021. It has sort of been Walt Disney World’s MO throughout this to err on the side of “selling stuff” and offering refunds as necessary.
Our expectation is that Walt Disney World will reintroduce Park Hopping as soon as it finds a way to integrate that into the Disney Park Pass reservation system–the January/February 2021 offseason seem like a solid time to roll this out, test & adjust, and fine tune it. As with all of this, that’s just a guess.
Next up, FastPass+ or virtual queues. Even before the parks reopened, we went on record with the prediction that FastPass+ won’t be back, and instead will be replaced by a different form of virtual queue–likely something like MaxPass that can be given to on-site guests as a perk, along with an upcharge component. This is covered in What Will Replace FastPass+ at Walt Disney World?
I’m less confident in that prediction than I was at the time it was made. Walt Disney World is trying to juggle a lot right now, and investing in new tech infrastructure seems increasingly unlikely. I’d give it a 50/50 shot at this point, with equal likelihood that Disney will just restore FastPass+ once health experts drop or relax physical distancing requirements. Our guess for that is Spring 2021 at the earliest.
Instead, we break down what needs to happen for it to come back, why Walt Disney World wants it back ASAP, and when that’ll probably occur. Our guess for that would also be around Spring 2021.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the thing guests would like to go away but Disney would like to keep around. Along with the new dates for booking resort hotels, Walt Disney World has also quietly extended the Disney Park Pass reservation calendar through January 14, 2022. (It previously ended September 26, 2021.)
That’s pretty much all of the commentary we have about Walt Disney World’s release of hotel reservations through January 2022. Normally, our advice is to book Walt Disney World vacation packages when they go on sale to lock-in ticket and component pricing as a safeguard against the inevitable price increases. That’s normally especially true if there’s a certain hotel or room type that’s a must-have for your trip.
If you’re planning on visiting for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary on or around October 1, 2021, that remains our advice. Everyone else can probably wait–unless you’re really excited and just want to lock-in a hotel now so you have something to look forward to. (We cannot blame you there!) As you can see from the previous several paragraphs, there are still a ton of unknowns, fluidity, etc. to the Walt Disney World experience in 2021. A ton is changing on a weekly basis, and it’s truly impossible to say today what things will look like in Fall 2021 and beyond.
Have you already booked a Fall or Winter 2021 Walt Disney World vacation package? Planning on visiting for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021? Notice anything interesting about hotel room or package prices? Anything surprise you? Thoughts on the restoration of the Disney Dining Plan, FastPass+, Park Hopping, or anything else? Will you be booking soon, or taking a wait and see approach? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments here? 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!