Six Reasons Why I Like Disney Vacations More This Summer
Truth in advertising: I know that everyone has spent the past six weeks talking smack about the Mouse.
Some feel (strongly) that Walt Disney World shouldn’t operate during the pandemic.
Then, there’s the anti-mask crowd who never has a problem wearing a shirt and pants but feels like facial apparel is a bridge too far.
None of these people will visit the parks this summer, and they’ll never know what they’re missing.
Here’s my hot take for the week. I think some aspects of park visits are better right now!
Here are six reasons why I like Disney vacations more this summer.
Let’s start with the obvious one. Disney theme park attendance hasn’t matched what management had projected.
Based on CEO Bob Chapek’s earning call comments, I’m not even sure Disney’s in the ballpark for attendance expectations.
The company caught a terrible break when Florida suffered an outbreak in late-June.
By that point, Disney had already committed to reopening. Still, the sharp uptick in reported COVID-19 cases caused many guests to cancel.
So, this turn of events is terrible for Disney. Remember, though. The Mouse has recovered from much worse.
This economic inconvenience is a temporary setback to a corporation. It’s much worse for those afflicted with the disease or suffering financial setbacks due to the shutdown.
Disney’s loss is my gain. When I go to the parks this summer, I know that I won’t fight the crowds the way that I did back in January.
At the start of 2020, Walt Disney World was on pace to shatter attendance records. That feels like forever ago now, but the experience lingers in my memory.
In the wake of Coronavirus, Disney parks have thrown out FastPasses because there’s no need.
Standby lines are short enough that everything is basically a FastPass.
People are riding everything at Magic Kingdom in six hours or less!
If you’ve ever dreamt of visiting Disney on a less crowded day, this summer presents a dream scenario.
I know that things will return to normal, and it’ll be a good thing for society (and Disney). It’ll show that the Coronavirus pandemic has ended.
I’m gonna miss those super-short lines, though.
More Hotel Time
Here’s another positive stemming from the lack of crowds at the parks.
Disney has reduced operating hours at all its parks, which may sound like a negative. It’s not, though.
You will experience virtually everything that you want at the parks this summer.
I can’t promise that you’ll ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and you must wait a while at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Other than that, you’ll have the run of the place during your visit.
So, you’ll have more time to unwind after your park day ends. This unusual amount of leisure time will allow you to do a couple of other things.
I’m always stressing the genius of Disney resort and suggesting to people that they should spend more time there.
However, many people ignore this advice since they’re so park focused.
With the parks closing earlier than usual, you’ll go back to the hotel sooner. You’ll finally have non-park time to spend roaming the grounds!
In doing so, you’ll discover all the spectacular shops and restaurants that I’ve discussed here for years now.
You should hang out on the 4th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort and walk around the hotel lobby of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Take the time to learn what all the fuss is about. Once you start spending free time at Disney’s immaculate resorts, you’ll get addicted.
More Disney Springs Time
Of course, some people aren’t homebodies by nature, especially on vacation.
Many Disney vacationers take a similar approach to their hotels. They book the cheapest place since they’ll only use the room for sleeping, dressing, and storing luggage.
Those folks don’t want to spend the night stuck in their hotel rooms. To those people, I say, “Don’t worry!”
Disney Springs remains open until 10 p.m. Once you’ve finished your park day, you can hop on a bus and head straight to the entertainment complex.
Then, you can shop, drink, and dine as much as you want. This summer, people have fallen in love with Disney Springs all over again.
Best of all, due to social distancing rules, you won’t feel claustrophobic while you shop.
Since MickeyBlog started in 2017, Disney has implemented several restaurant changes.
Mobile Ordering qualifies as the most significant one, but Disney has gradually changed several of its processes. The goal is maximum efficiency.
Well, the pandemic blew up the “gradual” part of the plan. Restaurant managers have had to expedite procedures to protect the health of guests.
Before you can enter the restaurant, you must pass a temperature test. And I like that idea so much I hope that it stays. I take comfort in knowing that nobody around me suffers from an infectious illness.
Of course, the most significant change this summer involves the check-in procedure. You don’t need to speak to a host/hostess anymore.
Instead, restaurant host stands feature QR codes. You pull up the code on your phone, and then you can signal Disney that you’re ready for a table.
I don’t know how many times a cast member has politely but firmly told me that they can’t check me in until the rest of the party arrives.
Often, my loved ones are only a few steps away, causing me to make that awkward signaling motion that I need everyone to huddle at the host stand.
That nonsense has ended this summer, hopefully for good. I certainly won’t miss it.
The emphasis on Mobile Ordering is also long overdue. Disney introduced this digital ordering option in late 2017.
Rather than add all restaurants simultaneously, the company gradually implemented a few eateries at a time.
Due to the pandemic, virtually all Quick Service restaurants now feature contactless orders and payment via the My Disney Experience app.
Guests control their time better on vacation because of it, which I love.
Request for Disney: PLEASE add Mobile Ordering for Table Service restaurants, too!
I’ve talked about the Cavalcades so much that you’re probably tired of hearing about them. Still, they merit mention here because they’re among the best things to happen at Walt Disney World in ages.
Admittedly, I’m a grizzled veteran of the Disney park wars. I’ve seen it all and done it all, which means that I’ve grown a bit jaded.
A couple of years ago, my party walked through the World Showcase after dinner, right as IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth began.
Our choices were to watch the show or call it a night. We picked the latter since we’d seen IllumiNations so many times already. Infrequent park guests would never do that, which reinforces that I’m an outlier here.
When the parades and nighttime presentations begin at theme parks, my first thought these days is an escape plan. I want to know how I can avoid the crowds.
The Cavalcades are a game-changer for me since they’re sporadic and random. I don’t know when they will happen, and neither does anyone else.
So, giant crowds don’t form to watch these character interactions.
Somehow, in the age of social distancing, the characters feel closer than ever since I’m not standing in the middle of a mob.
Also, the variants sprinkle a bit of mystery to the proceedings. When I hear the sound of a Cavalcade, I still don’t know who is coming.
Magic Kingdom alone features five or six different potential Cavalcades plus some other surprise character performances in other places.
Disney has added some romance to park visits this summer, and I love it.
Finally, here’s the way that you’re most likely to notice Disney is different this summer.
You won’t experience that same feeling of pressure as you had in recent years.
Look, I adore all things Disney, but I also know that planning a vacation has become somewhat stressful. Before the pandemic, I had to book Advanced Dining Reservations and FastPasses and a hotel room and buy a Disney Dining Plan, and…well, you get the point.
My main regret on several occasions was that I didn’t use a MickeyTravels agent. These travel experts could have saved me a LOT of aggravations.
Instead, I did this stuff on my own, effectively banging my head against a wall dozens of times.
Then, once I reached the parks, I felt like I was on a deadline. I’d spent so much time scheduling all the stuff that I didn’t want to miss it. So, every FastPass and restaurant reservation placed intense pressure on me.
Just sitting here typing this, I’m remembering times when we missed a FastPass or were 45 minutes late for a meal. I always felt like an idiot. This summer, Disney has absolved me of that stress.
Without crowds fighting for the same rides and restaurant tables, I can finally go at my own pace…and it’s glorious!
A Disney theme park visit this summer feels calmer, less chaotic. And some park guests are happier because of it.
Yes, Coronavirus has forced some changes, but don’t miss the forest for the trees! Disney vacations provide the stress release you need right now.
Feature Image Rights: Disney