Walt Disney World has announced that 2020 theme park ticket sales and resort hotel bookings will both resume on July 9, 2020. In this post, we’ll share details of the announcement, offer resort recommendations, need-to-know info, and commentary about the booking process.
To quickly recap, Walt Disney World temporarily paused 2020 ticket sales and resort hotel bookings upon the announcement of the theme parks reopening. This was done in order to focus on helping existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders plan their visits with the new Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system.
Additionally, Walt Disney World cancelled all existing dining & FastPass+ reservations. This also included the Disney Dining Plan and Free Dining—we mention this because none of these things are returning for the remainder of 2020. Tomorrow you cannot buy the Disney Dining Plan (let alone get it for “free”) nor can you make FastPass+ reservations. If those things return at all, that won’t be until sometime in 2021…
Even those just scratch the surface. (We plan on releasing a brand new modified vacation planning guide next week.)
In the interim, here are a few quick recommendations.
For Value Resorts, our recommendation is Pop Century. For Moderate Resorts, Caribbean Beach. For Deluxe Resorts, anything in the Crescent Lake or Magic Kingdom-area is compelling for its own reasons. We’d personally avoid anything that isn’t within walking distance of at least one park, or connected via non-bus transportation (monorail, Skyliner, or boats). If you’d like more elaboration on any of this, leave a comment.
It’s important to note that Walt Disney World tickets and resort hotel bookings may be released at different times throughout the day tomorrow per Disney. In addition, virtual waiting rooms will be used as needed to manage the high volume of guests looking to plan their visits. This could mean everything drops quietly at ~5 am or there’s delay and nothing is up until 11:47 am. It’s Disney’s way of saying expect the unexpected!
All guests with valid admission are required to make a reservation in advance for each park entry, so be sure to check the real-time Disney Park Pass reservation availability calendar before purchasing any new tickets; once you’ve made your purchase, make Disney Park Pass reservations to lock-in your dates. Reservations are limited and subject to availability.
We know there are “many” of you who have been chomping at the bit to make new hotel reservations or purchase tickets for the remainder of 2020. As you might recall from our recent posts about Advance Dining Reservations, we encouraged patience, and repeatedly stressed the realities of (low) demand despite what you might read in the ‘bubble’ of Disney fan sites (hence the air quotes around many).
You might think that this is different, as Disney Park Pass “reservations are limited and subject to availability.” That’s certainly true. Per Walt Disney World, park capacity has been reduced to 20-30% of normal levels, so there is undoubtedly less “supply” than normal.
However, there’s also a lot less demand. We don’t want to beat a dead horse with this, but for on-site resort guests every single park is available for every single day for the rest of2020 right now. This is even after the chaos and frustrations of the Disney Park Pass ‘drop day.’
That’s right. Even with those lengthy virtual queues and system errors on the initial morning, you could log-on right now and make the exact same Disney Park Pass reservations as someone who (hopefully only figuratively) pulled their hair out in frustration or waited hours on hold that first day.
The point here is that, save for limited circumstances, you can almost certainly exercise patience in booking your hotel or purchasing tickets.
Such “limited circumstances” would include a trip planned for July 2020 or early August 2020 (since a lot is already gone for those weeks), and maybe the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve (since those are popular times that, against all odds, might be closer to filling up).
Even those travel dates are unlikely to fill up on the Disney Park Pass resort guest calendar; it’s fairly clear by now that Walt Disney World is heavily prioritizing on-site guests (which makes complete sense).
With all other dates–whether that be late August 2020 or early December 2020–you are almost certainly fine whether you book your Disney Park Pass reservations tomorrow or two weeks from now.
Our advice would be to log on to DisneyWorld.com tomorrow morning at 6 am if you get up that early. Maybe even set an alarm for 5 am to see what happens. If the system is working, awesome. Book your tickets or hotel. (Surprise early morning drops always make for the easiest access, since most people don’t get up at the crack of dawn.)
If it’s not working, check back an hour later. Repeat that process again every hour thereafter until 9 am. If it’s still not up…wait. Do nothing. We would not encourage calling to book over the phone. If past precedent is any indication, that’ll be a multi-hour wait.
Not being part of the opening morning ‘call center tidal wave’ (and inevitably treading water on hold for hours) does present some risk. If you hold off, there’s always the possibility you won’t get what you want.
However, we think that’s highly unlikely. If you’ve already spent an inordinate amount of time waiting on Walt Disney World’s phone lines, sitting this one out might be better for your sanity.
As for resorts booking up, that’s even more unlikely–even without every hotel being available.
Walt Disney World has given no indication that they are limiting capacity at the resorts, which is probably because they are not. (We can’t think of any reason they would.) What we’ve observed thus far is resorts operating at a fraction of their normal capacity due to a lack of demand, and we’d anticipate that trend will continue. There has been a veritable tidal wave of cancellations over the course of the last several months.
We feel like a broken record at this point, but organic demand is going to be low at Walt Disney World for the next couple years. This is the case for the parks, resorts, and restaurants. We would not expect the parks or restaurants to hit their reduced capacity on most days for the remainder of the year. Nor would we anticipate any non-Disney Vacation Club resort (DVC is a totally different beast) filling up, period.
Our prediction that overall demand will plummet is predicated upon a variety of factors, including but not limited to health & safety concerns, Florida’s growing case numbers, various state quarantine rules (read this before booking), mandatory mask opposition, unemployment levels, economic uncertainty, high heat & humidity, general travel trepidation, and Annual Pass cancellations. On top of that, many guests feel that the value proposition simply isn’t there with shorter park hours, reduced entertainment, and more.
Hopefully, tomorrow will be better than when Disney Park Pass went live. Walt Disney World reportedly scaled up its servers, and they undoubtedly learned from that fiasco. To Disney’s credit, both of the Advance Dining Reservation release days have gone incredibly smoothly. So tomorrow could likewise be painless.
However, Disney IT is still Disney IT. Drop day fiascos seem to be their specialty.
Ultimately, that’s our prediction and it could very well be wrong, but at least we’ve “shown our work” and offered a basis for it. On top of that, take a look at what has happened thus far at every other Florida theme park. After busy AP previews or opening days, all of those have been ghost towns during the week and moderately busier on weekends, but none have hit capacity. Walt Disney World could be the “rising tide that lifts all boats” attendance-wise by drawing tourists to Florida—or it could further dilute the local audience across more theme parks.
While we’re currently seeing a lot of fans stressing out about the reopening process and getting their various reservations, just think about the comments section on this blog and elsewhere in the last month or so from diehard Walt Disney World vacation planners and Annual Passholders.
Have you seen more “I’m out—we’re cancelling” comments or more enthusiastic “I can’t wait to book a trip” feedback? From the feedback we’ve observed, the cancellation comments outnumber the excited to go back ones by about 20 to 1. That’s among diehard Disney fans—the demographic most likely to visit, even if in the presence of obstacles—now imagine sentiment among the general public.
Ultimately, we shall see what happens, but our salient point with all of this is that you shouldn’t worry too much about scoring the reservations you’re after–whether that be booking tickets, securing a resort, or the Disney Park Pass. It likely won’t be nearly as bad/difficult/stressful as many of you are anticipating. If past precedent is any indication–and it absolutely should be since this same scenario has replayed itself in various forms many times over–accessing the various reservations systems tomorrow morning will be a Herculean task that pushes your sanity to the brink…but you could accomplish the exact same end results with zero frustrations by simply sitting back and waiting a few hours or a day.
Will you be booking Walt Disney World tickets or hotel reservations tomorrow? Will you wait if there are issues, or do you plan on calling ASAP if the site isn’t working? Expect it to be a disaster, or do you think Disney IT has learned from the Park Pass drop day fiasco? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or have you cancelled? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!