Should You Go to Walt Disney World This Year?
I’m asking a simple question today, one that would have had an obvious answer before 2020.
Should you go to Walt Disney World this year? Ordinarily, the answer is, “YES, PLEASE!!!”
Unfortunately, the current pandemic and its fallout change the calculus a bit.
Here are my thoughts on whether a Disney vacation makes sense this year.
Pro: Disney Vacations Are Amazing
I’ll start with the obvious statement. All things being equal, we all want to be at a Disney theme park right now.
That would be true at any point, too. Disney theme parks dominate the industry, and the ones at Walt Disney World are the most popular of all.
This pro doesn’t need a lot of selling. We all know that Disney vacations are amazing.
Con: Safety Concerns
During the pandemic, guests understandably worry about their health. Nearly seven million people have suffered from COVID-19.
Nobody wants to be next because the disease is deadly. Nearly 400,000 people have died from Coronavirus-related illnesses.
However, this concern is everywhere. Disney’s not any different from your corner market in terms of odds of infection.
So, safety concerns are merely a fact of living in 2020.
This one bothers me less than most. I know that Disney’s safety-focused more than any other company in the industry.
In fact, the company will wait longer than other theme parks to secure its parks and improve safety measures.
Pro: Smaller Crowds and Less Demand
Disney has enacted novel measures for the rest of 2020. To visit the parks, you must book a reservation and follow specific safety protocols.
Due to the pandemic and these unique regulations, park traffic will be historically low. In fact, that’s by design.
Park officials want to enforce social distancing as much as possible. So, Walt Disney World will run at a lower capacity this year.
Presuming that you do visit the parks, you’ll discover the benefit of this decision.
The waits for attractions will be lower than you’ve ever experienced before.
You can see and do everything that interests you, which isn’t often the case at Walt Disney World.
Plus, you won’t feel the stress of large crowds, a rarity at Disney these days.
The parks’ popularity spiked to the point that my January trip was more crowded than summer trips a few years ago.
The social distancing policies provide a hidden benefit to brave vacationers.
Con: Limited Amenities
However, there’s one significant drawback stemming from social distancing. Disney won’t operate some of its beloved attractions and amenities this year.
For starters, parades and fireworks presentations are off the table for now.
I should mention that Shanghai Disneyland claimed the same policy at first, only to bring back some of its shows the following week.
So, what Disney’s saying right now may not last as long as expected. Still, we must take the company at its word.
I think we’d all agree that parades and fireworks shows are fundamental parts of a Disney vacation.
Also, Disney reserves the right not to operate some of its other attractions. We haven’t received a list of what that may include, but it’s another factor at play.
Pro: Much Needed Stress Release
I was at Walt Disney World four months ago and seven months ago. I struggle to remember any specific details from several days of my trip.
That’s not to say that my vacations weren’t memorable.
In fact, the opposite is true. I wouldn’t shut up about them so much that loved ones hoped the subject wouldn’t come up at family dinners.
Then, the pandemic struck, and the days became a blur. I say that I can’t remember what happened during parts of my January vacation.
However, what I really can’t remember is anything that I did from mid-March to the end of May.
All I know for sure is that I’ve put on a few pounds, and my hair is ridiculously long.
So, time passed, but none of it made an impression on me. 2020 has had that effect on many people.
For this reason, many of us have desperately sought a release. We want any form of entertainment that we can get.
A few weeks ago, I drove up to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, tourist areas near me, just to look at something different for a few hours.
I suspect you’ve done similarly unusual activities to break up the monotony.
What would help to overcome the mundane? Yes, a trip to Walt Disney World qualifies. It’s the vacation we all need to forget about the real world for a while.
The Disney Bubble exists for a reason. People love muting the outside world for a while and celebrating our love of Disney.
I suspect that this statement applies to the second half of 2020 more than any other time during the 21st century.
Con: Strict Pandemic Policies
Which policy bothers you the most? Is it the reservations for park admission? Or maybe you don’t like the elimination of FastPasses.
Oh, who am I kidding? You hate the thought of face masks the most, right? You can’t imagine wearing them all day in the Florida sun.
Now, I live in the south, where the humidity can and does cause hot flashes or worse. And I’ve been wearing a face mask every time I’ve gone outside since this whole thing started.
I would argue that a face mask is no different than glasses. After a couple of minutes of adjustment, I forget I’m wearing it.
However, I accept that this isn’t the consensus opinion.
We all feel strongly about face masks, and we don’t like some of the other Coronavirus policies Disney has enacted to protect guests.
So, these temporary measures are definitely a strong reason not to visit.
How We’re Deciding
One of the reasons why I’m writing this article is because my family is having the same discussions as many of you.
We had scheduled a three-family Halloween vacation at Walt Disney World.
I’ve watched in agony this week as Disney has canceled all our Advanced Dining Reservations.
Going to Disney is important to me, but the idea of a Disney vacation matters more than ever.
For my sanity, I need to believe something good is on the horizon.
However, my wife and I both have asthma and wouldn’t do well with COVID-19. So, we must approach a vacation carefully.
We’re close enough to Walt Disney World to drive – it’s precisely nine hours from my house – but I haven’t done that kind of road trip in a while.
We’d rather fly, but…you know.
Then, there are the questionable aspects of a Walt Disney World trip in 2020. Would we get to go to the parks every/most days?
Would a split trip with a day or two at Universal Orlando Resort work better?
Is there enough to do at Disney to justify the trip?
We’re debating all these issues. Plus – and this one applies to us more than most – we have concerns about dining at our preferred places.
If I went to Walt Disney World but didn’t eat at Sci-Fi Dine-In or Kona Café, it wouldn’t feel the same.
Ultimately, we’re taking a wait-and-see approach. We’re more likely than not to go to Disney, but it’s not set in stone.
I suspect that’s true of most Disney fans. We all want to go, but…pandemic