Can Staying at Disney World Still Be Magical after Covid-19
The Covid 19 Pandemic in 2020-2021 has changed how we do everything in our lives. It ultimately changed the way that we even vacationed. While some people are staying away from the parks until the world is back to normal (whatever that means), there are several people that just cannot stay away from the Mouse. I do not blame them, as I’d love to be able to forget what is going on in the world (Pandemic and Politics included), and just have fun at Disney World. So, is it Worth Staying on Property at Disney World Right Now
Disney World Changes Since Re-Opening in March Covid-19 Closure
Disney has changed dramatically since before Covid-19 shut them down in March. Of course, they re-opened Disney World in July 2020 with capacity restrictions, a reservation system, germ shields, social distancing, mask mandates, temperature scans, and enhanced cleaning, but even now, several things are changing again.
First, we will only be discussing Disney World, because Disneyland has not re-opened since the shut down in March, and there is no telling when the state of California will let them.
Disney World Slowly Taking Away Magical Extras
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has changed some things that were once considered an extreme perk for staying “on property” as a WDW guest.
No More Magical Express
Effective 2022, the Magical Express, the complimentary shuttle system from Orlando International Airport to WDW will stop operations. If you are landing at the airport up until 12/31/2021, you can take the complimentary voyage, but on 1/1/2022, you will need to find alternate transportation. Disney is doing this as a cost-saving measure of course. I am sure they have done their research on where they can cut some expenses that do not yield additional revenue for them, and the Magical Express was one of them. There are so many ride-sharing services – Uber, Lyft, Taxi, etc- that there is plenty of opportunities to find a ride between the airport and your hotel. Eventually, there will is a high-speed train that is currently being built from the airport to Disney Springs, but that seems inconvenient if you have all your luggage with you. Disney will still offer the Skyliner and the internal Disney Bus system from hotel to park, but the Magical Express is gone. (Learn more about Getting Around at Walt Disney World here)
No More Fast Passes or Dining Plans – For Now
What previously disappeared with the re-opening in July, was the discontinuing of the Fast Pass system. This is to be determined if it is coming back or not, but if you were staying at a Disney World Resort or Good Neighbor Hotel, a benefit was being able to book your fast passes at least 60 days in advance, when regular day ticket holders could only book 30 days in advance. The Dining Plan has also been discontinued with the re-opening, which was offered again to WDW guests & Good Neighbor Hotel guests.
No More Extra Magic Hours
Disney has also let us know that they are doing away with Extra Magic Hours. The way that they worded it on the Disney World Website:
Please note: The Extra Magic Hours benefit was suspended when Walt Disney World Resort reopened last summer, and as we continue to manage attendance with health and safety top of mind, Extra Magic Hours will not return. Learn more about our new early theme park entry benefit coming later this year as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.
So, as you can see, they do have plans to allow for guests to have Early Park Entry, but will it still be magical? Here is what they have to say about the new Early Park Entry:
Early Theme Park Entry: We know how much guests enjoy extra park time, so coming later this year as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will be able to enjoy more fun with 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park, EVERY day. It’ll be a great way to get a jump start on your Disney day, no matter the day! As a reminder, the Extra Magic Hours benefit was suspended when Walt Disney World Resort reopened last summer, and as we continue to manage attendance with health and safety top of mind, Extra Magic Hours will not return. The new early theme park entry benefit helps us better spread visitation across all four theme parks, while providing added flexibility by giving guests extra early park time on each day of their vacation and in the park of their choosing. Please note that guests need valid admission and a park reservation made via the Disney Park Pass system to enter a theme park.
Can You Still Find Magic Staying On Property?
So, no Magical Express, no fast passes, no dining plan…. Is there a benefit to staying on property versus off property? Well, you could be closer to the parks for sure if you stay on property, such as walking distance from Yacht and Beach Club, or Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot, or you could take the Skyliner from Pop Century over to Hollywood Studios or Epcot. The other perk is constantly being in the Disney bubble – immersed in a hotel that has everything Disney about it. With several restaurants not re-opened inside hotels, and limited events going on, is it even worth it?
Is it Worth Staying on Property at Disney World Right Now?
Right now, my honest opinion would be- stay off property and be able to save some money to do something else with it. There are several good quality options within the Orlando / WDW area, and if you bring your own vehicle, or even utilize an Uber/Lyft, you are sure to save some money over a WDW resort price. If WDW brings back some of the options like early Fast Pass reservations and the Dining Plan, it would be worthwhile to entertain a Walt Disney World hotel again.
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