Walt Disney World has announced that all resorts in Florida will close at 5 pm on Friday, March 20 due to the ongoing public health crisis. In addition to WDW hotels, this also means Vero Beach Resort will be closing. That leaves only Aulani Resort in Hawaii and Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina are the only Disney destinations in the world that are still operating (for now).
Additionally, Walt Disney World will be closing all of its own and operated locations at Disney Springs beginning March 17, which means spots like D-Luxe Burger, NBA Experience, World of Disney, and other stores will all close. Third party tenants will make their own decisions on whether to continue operating or adjust hours.
This follows the closure of the theme parks at Walt Disney World last night, which are tentatively scheduled to remain shuttered through the end of March 2020. Here, we’ll cover what else is closing, what’s staying open (at least as of right now), and other updates from Walt Disney World…
For starters, here’s the bulletin that was posted to the official Disney Parks News Twitter account shortly after midnight. It also discusses the impact on Disney Stores, in case you care:
While not reflected there, Walt Disney World has also updated the list of transportation options will be available to on-site guests in light of this latest operational update. All Walt Disney World transportation will be temporarily suspended starting the morning of Wednesday, March 18 through (at least) the end of the month.
Until then, transportation options include buses to Disney Springs as normal, plus resort-to-resort buses. Additionally, the resort loop of the monorail will be operating on a reduced schedule and without stops at the TTC or Magic Kingdom. The Skyliner, boats, and other monorail loops will not be running.
While the vast majority of businesses at Disney Springs are third party owned and operated, it’s hard to imagine that many of them will continue operating beyond this week. Even if they’re not causing due to public health concerns, there simply will be no business rationale for remaining open.
Locals do make up a good chunk of Disney Springs’ clientele, but many are practicing social distancing and not going out. More importantly, the resorts not operating means the bulk of customers these outlets would depend upon will not be there. By next week, the last business standing will probably be Lefty’s – The Left Handed Store or some other random (but essential!) kiosk.
Despite all of this, Cirque du Soleil is plowing ahead with the debut of ‘Drawn to Life’ this Friday at Disney Springs per their most recent tweets. This is even after cancelling all of its other shows around the United States, including its Las Vegas resident shows. This stance could change with Walt Disney World taking a harder line on closing resorts and its own Disney Springs storefronts.
We’ve received several reports from readers who are not being offered refunds on Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life tickets. If this is still the case going forward and you paid via credit card, we’d recommend initiating a chargeback. While we don’t condone liberal use of chargebacks for buyer’s remorse or in lieu of seeking a refund through traditional means, this is one good use of the consumer protection tool.
If you’ve read any of our other coverage, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been hammering home our belief that Walt Disney World’s current closure through the end of March 2020 is only tentative, the first wave of a rolling ‘assess and adjust’ plan. That approach is easier to manage, and projects optimism to the public.
Until now, that has been our prediction based upon past precedent at international Disney parks and patterns of containment measures taken in other countries. Last night, the Centers for Disease Control revised its recommendation about mass gatherings.
Now, the CDC is recommending that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
Quite simply, Walt Disney World is not going to go against the recommendation of the CDC. It’s certainly possible that something will change and the situation will dramatically improve, but we wouldn’t count on that. At this point, we think Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopening at some point in May 2020 is the optimistic scenario.
If you’ve followed the barrage of news, none of this probably comes as much of a surprise. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion before Walt Disney World officially announced it all. Unless there is some radical development, this is probably about it for our coverage (outside of updating our Walt Disney World Closure FAQ).
We spent the weekend practicing social distancing while mostly glued to the television. This morning has been more of the same, alternating between the regular news and the financial market news. We’d imagine many of you did the same. Obviously, it’s important to engage in best health practices and keep apprised of current events but…this can’t be healthy.
As such, we’ll be resuming regular, non-virus posts this week in an effort to establish some sense of normalcy. I’m trying to think up some upbeat topics (meaning no deep dives into the backstory of Dino-Rama!), which will probably include some top 10 lists, photo tours, random bizarre stuff, and more.
Fortunately, my procrastination powers have resulted in a backlog of tens of thousands of unedited photos along with roughly one-dozen incomplete restaurant reviews. Beyond that, I’m totally open to suggestions. If there’s a topic you’d like to see tackled, feel free to share in the comments below. I can’t make any promises about what will be covered, but I’ll try!
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!
What do you think of all this news? When do you anticipate that Walt Disney World will reopen? Any blog post content requests? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? 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!