Updated: Oct 30
“I’m going to Disney World” is more than just a phrase uttered by the winning quarterback of the Super Bowl. The phrase is spoken by millions of children and adults each year as the excitement for their upcoming trip boils over. Until 2020, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has been the most visited tourist destination globally. But over the last three months, the Disney parks we know have changed, and we’ve grown accustomed to the new COVID-19 normal. Travel in 2021 will still look different than what we’ve experienced in the past. Below I talk about the top reasons to plan a Disney trip in 2021 and why you should start planning now instead of waiting.
1. If you are starting to get cabin fever because you haven’t been able to travel this year, you’re not alone. In recent surveys, nearly half of adults who were asked if they will travel post-COVID answered not only yes, but they will travel as soon as lockdowns are lifted! That’s a lot of pent-up demand that will only worsen the longer we are cooping with COVID. International travel has slowly started to open to US citizens in the Caribbean. However, many other destinations are still denying non-essential travel from the US. This means that traveling to domestic destinations will be the go-to for US travelers in 2021.
2. Suppose you’ve been to Disney World in the past between October and April. In that case, you know the number of international tourists from the Southern Hemisphere is at its peak. I expect that because of flight restrictions into the US, the parks will be devoid of these groups for the first half of 2021. This makes visiting soon that much better! As an annual passholder, I can confirm that the parks are nowhere near as busy as possible during peak times.
3. Disney’s social distancing and face mask policies work. As of writing this, there have been no confirmed and reported outbreaks that have been linked back to trips to Disney. The heat during the summer months does make wearing a mask a bit uncomfortable. Still, we’ve all done uncomfortable things in the past. If you’re not a die-hard Disney fan, go during the cooler months from now through April, and again next October through the end of 2021.
4. There are small magical moments scattered around the parks. To help control crowds, Disney has paused large parades, firework shows, and special ticketed events. But the magic has stayed alive with characters making appearances to allow for social distanced interactions, mini parades (or cavalcades) have replaced the large ones with floats frequently appearing throughout the day, and cast members finding ways to weave in magic for their guests.
5. The Magic Kingdom’s 50th birthday at Walt Disney World is October 1, 2021! I expect from late September through at least the first week of October, the resorts will completely sell out. Booking now means you’ll have more resort and room options.
6. Lastly, the earlier you book, the earlier you get to make your park pass reservations. When Disney World first reopened in July, they introduced park reservations that are required to get into the parks. This helps limit capacity as everyone needs to plan ahead. But you must have tickets purchased to make a reservation, so making a resort reservation with tickets now means you can pick your dates into early 2022.
The linking factor between all of the listed reasons is the demand for Disney is expected to be high in 2021 for domestic travel. While we should still be concerned about ensuring the spread of COVID-19 is controlled, many have hit their social isolation limits. They need to get back out into the world to travel. Disney allows this to happen in a fun and safe way, meaning resort stays and park-goers will continue to increase as we get further into 2021.
I expect Disney to keep the status quo of COVID operations in place through at least the end of 2021. That said, Disney has the flexibility to add back in components of travel packages that were removed when they reopened, such as park-hopping and the dining plan. When booking a late 2021 travel package for clients, I’ve already noticed that I can add on park hopping to tickets, so I’m guessing they’re hoping to have that operational sooner rather than later.
What do you think about traveling to Disney in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.
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