President Donald Trump has canceled a planned visit to Walt Disney World this Christmas season. He was scheduled to headline a Republican Party fundraiser that was planned for the Grand Floridian Resort. In this post, we’ll share dates, details, and how this could impact your vacation. (Updated November 20, 2019.)
The second part of that is our emphasis. It’s immaterial whether you love or hate President Trump; his visit to Walt Disney World would have the same impact on your trip regardless. This event, known as the Statesman’s Dinner, is the Florida Republican Party’s annual major fundraiser. The event draws a high profile crowd and, with it, heightened security and headaches.
The Statesman’s Dinner was originally scheduled for November 9, 2019 but was delayed in an unprecedented move because planners were having difficulty selling table sponsorships and the money that Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to raise for the event has yet to arrive. Event planners also couldn’t land a keynote speaker for the dinner, per Politico.
Originally, the Statesman’s Dinner was scheduled to be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in November, which makes sense as a convention venue, and also one with a minimally-intrusive location at the southern edge of Walt Disney World property.
Subsequent to that, the event was moved to Walt Disney World’s flagship resort, with President Trump scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event on December 7, 2019. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort also hosted the Statesman’s Dinner two years ago, when Vice President Mike Pence was the keynote speaker.
The latest update–as of November 20, 2019–is that the the Statesman’s Dinner has once again moved. This time, it’s moving to a yet to be announced venue in Miami, according to an invitation and email that was just sent to invited guests. Regardless of where it’s held, the December 7, 2019 dinner will be the second Florida appearance for the president in less than two weeks, and more Florida visits are likely.
Irrespective of your political leanings, the event being relocated is good news for anyone visiting Walt Disney World that weekend. As you might recall, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens only a couple of days before that, on December 5, 2019. That’s an increasingly popular time for Christmas trips, and would’ve presented logistical challenges.
The good news is that this is far from the first time this has happened, so we would’ve had a rough idea of what to expect. President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, and President Clinton all made stops at Walt Disney World during their presidencies. President Ronald Reagan actually made two visits to Epcot during his presidency. And of course, there’s President Nixon’s infamous speech at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!
(What follows is from the original post, prior to the dinner being moved to Miami. Since this has already bounced around a few times, we’re leaving it in case it relocates again.)
If past precedent is any indication, roads will be shut down for the motorcade and resort buses will go into delayed service in an attempt to avoid the times when President Trump is traveling through Walt Disney World. While President Trump is at Grand Floridian, resort transportation could cease entirely. Travel between the resort and the Orlando International airport could see delays as well, assuming he flies into MCO (which is not a given).
For those staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, expect a significantly increased security presence at your resort, and don’t be surprised if there are enhanced screening measures. If you’re staying at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, or Wilderness Lodge, expect longer transit times than normal.
If you’re staying at a different Walt Disney World resort, build some extra time into your schedule for transit to Magic Kingdom that day for potential traffic and delays. If you were thinking about doing our Free Self-Guided Yuletide Tour of Walt Disney World or dining at Grand Floridian, we’d recommend rescheduling. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to enter the Grand Floridian if you’re not staying there, and that’s the main monorail resort on the tour.
To be honest, we’d recommend rescheduling your Magic Kingdom day, period. December 7, 2019 is a Saturday, which is immediately one strike against it, as that means locals will show up in full force during the holiday season. It’s also after two consecutive Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and before another. All of that is a recipe for very heavy crowds. As we’ve noted before, you’re far better off doing Magic Kingdom on a day with shorter hours and park hopping elsewhere once MVMCP starts.
This will be President Trump’s third visit to Central Florida this year. He began his 2020 campaign at Downtown Orlando’s Amway Center in June, then held an October Medicare event in The Villages. Given that Florida is a state that will factor heavily into the 2020 election, it’s possible that this won’t be the last time President Trump makes an appearance at Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World has not made any announcements about the potential operational impacts due to the visit from President Trump. We actually don’t expect any explicit reference by Disney to President Trump. It’s unlikely he’ll appear for a public event or visit to the theme parks, so it doesn’t behoove Disney to draw public attention to a private event. What will likely be announced is some last minute road closures or delays for an unspecified reason.
It’s also worth noting here that Walt Disney World still hasn’t announced any extended hours that long weekend for the opening of the blockbuster Rise of the Resistance attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. From what we’ve heard, though there are concerns about reliability and uptime, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is on schedule to make its opening date.
As we’ve now stated several times, we do not expect Extra, Extra Magic Hours to be extended for November or December 2019. However, we also don’t expect the current hours for the opening (long) weekend of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to be the final hours. At the very least, Disney’s Hollywood Studios should see some earlier openings.
Depending upon Walt Disney World’s internal attendance and hotel occupancy projections, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see morning hours extended at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom being open earlier and/or later. This is especially true given the number of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties around those dates, which will cause many day guests to avoid Magic Kingdom on December 5, 6, and 8, 2019.
However, that’s only tangentially related to President Trump’s Walt Disney World visit on December 7, 2019. We’ll keep you posted on all of that as we know more. Suffice to say, it’s going to be a busy and chaotic weekend at Walt Disney World, so pack your patience or plan strategically to avoid the bulk of crowds. With a bit of savvy touring, there’s a good chance the crowds and delays won’t impact you significantly–or at all!