These are Unprecedented Times! We are in Uncharted Waters!
We are so early into starting this Walt Disney World comeback. So many things are still unknown and unsaid.
UPDATED 22 June 2020 – More resorts scheduled reopenings
I have received so many questions since Disney has announced their Florida Resort comeback that I’ve decided to post some information, thoughts and guesses here for you to look over.
This isn’t really formatted like your typical FAQ, which is just a list of questions and then the answers, but it does cover all of the questions that have been coming up and what I’ve been thinking about those questions plus things I’ve been thinking as well.
Some of what I say may sound pessimistic, but Disney sadly has been totally silent regarding Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets and I’m trying to lay out every possibility so that you can try to make informed decisions or to know that you might want to put off a decision for a bit. My thoughts will bridge the spectrum of what might happen.
What We Know
Disney has announced that its Florida Theme Parks at Walt Disney World will re-open in July 2020.
The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will re-open on 11 July and the other 2 parks, Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios will re-open on 15 July.
Theme Parks will innitially be open with very limited attendance caps. Disney has not stated what the attendance limits will be, but many have postulated that they will be around 20% to 30% of normal capacity.
The Theme Parks will enforce social distancing by cancelling “High Touch” experiences and mass events such as: parades, fireworks, meet & greets, makeovers, playgrounds or splash areas, etc. as well as spacing out wait spots in physical queues and seating on rides and attractions.
Florida requires reduced capacity for social distancing in all restaurants which Disney will comply with.
The Disney Vacation Club Resorts, both solely DVC and the DVC portions of most joint properties will re-open 22 June.
Disney World has stopped taking new resort reservations, selling theme park tickets, taking Advance Dining Reservations, allowing new fast passes, and taking experience reservations (tours, makeovers, fireworks cruises, etc.)
Military Resellers have also stopped selling tickets for Walt Disney World.
Masks are required unless you are seated in a restaurant or under 2 years of age.
Temperature checks are required for theme park and Disney Springs entry.
The Effects of the Above
Disney is having to make a huge amount of changes and modifications in order to meet the goals just above. These modifications are driven both by the current plan to restart and the fact that existing reservations for everything were made for the time period after they open as if Disney World was operating at full capacity.
Here is a look at what they are doing to make these changes.
First and foremost, let’s discuss the pause in resort reservations and ticket sales. The reason Disney has done this is because of the huge amount of work required in the background to institute these changes. They need to reconfigure software in their systems. They want to be able to rework current reservations and then take care of those with reservations to see exactly where they are at number of people wise, or to say it another way, to see just how many people still want to come under these circumstances with the restrictions they have imposed.
Once they are ready they will reopen for new reservations.
HOT NEWS – Disney Has Extended the Expiration Dates for the 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets.
To meet theme park attendance limits, Disney has instituted a theme park reservation system through your My Disney Experience account. Think of this as a FastPass but to get into a park instead of an attraction. You will get the chance to reserve a single park per day.
Some or all parks might or might not fill up on any particular day of your vacation before you get to make your Park Reservation. Also you might not be able to get into your desired park for a particular day and have to choose a different one.
Disney does not know (right now) the volume of people who will attend and if parks will max out or not.
If you have a resort reservation now (or once you have one after the restart) AND tickets, vouchers, or passes linked to your party in My Disney Experience your first action will be to make theme park reservations.
You will not be able to park hop!
Disney will need to come up with a way to handle the reduced value for those who have purchased tickets that have the hopping option. For the general public who have added tickets to their room it will be easy, Disney World can just refund the amount charged above a base ticket cost. But for those who have purchased tickets ahead of time as many military families have already done, another option will be needed. Most likely is a Disney gift card for the price difference (the gift card option is just my opinion, nothing official).
It is unknown if you leave your reserved park during the day, if you will be allowed to return to the same on later in the day.
All current FastPasses have been cancelled!
There will be no FastPasses for the time being! In fact, for as long a social distancing is required.
The reason there will be no FastPasses is that it is suspected the FastPass physical lines will be needed in order to meet social distancing requirements and be used as additional standby lines.
Being Turned Away
Disney has not made a statement about how they will compensate if at all, guests that they turn away from the theme parks for high temperatures. Will they refund ticket costs? What about resort room costs, or airfare? Some people save for many years to go to Disney, what if they fly there, pay for a hotel, and can’t get into the parks for several or all days of their trip, due perhaps to a common cold?
With the reduced number of people allowed in a restaurant at one time, the volume of Advance Dining Reservations that Disney World had on the books (based on full restaurant capacities) was simply not going to work!
All Advance Dining Reservations have been cancelled!
With this reduced availability to get dining reservation and the potentially less than the expected Disney quality dining experience, it’s thought that Disney did not feel right charging full price for the Disney Dining Plan.
Reservations with Disney Dining Plans are having the Dining Plan removed (and refunded) from the reservation for quite a ways out in the year (Not to my November reservation yet).
Your second action (after making park reservations) will be to make dining reservations. This will be allowed (timing wise) after making your theme park reservation, so that you’ll know what park you will be in each day.
Disney has only announced the opening the DVC Resorts on 22 June. It would not be cost effective to open all the resorts if some or all of them would be at very low guest levels! Disney has decided to open just the DVC resorts and see how it goes. This will allow them to see if and when they need to open more resorts.
Do you have a reservation at a regular Disney Resort this summer or into early fall, you might just be moved to a Deluxe DVC Resort for the price you were quoted for your original reservation even if it was a value or moderate. This is one of the things they’ll need to work out during the pause of new reservations.
Resorts opening 22 June:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
WDW Resorts opening later:
- July 10 – Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Aug. 12 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Aug. 24 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
- Sept. 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Oct. 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Oct. 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
These dates are subject to change and Guests’ reservations could still be modified to other resort hotels if needed.
Tours, makeovers, fireworks cruises, Jedi training, etc. will begin reservations if able with reduced capacity and smaller groups, to ensure social distancing.
What We Don’t Know
How long each of these particular measures will last and how quickly things will return to normal.
Whether this social distancing will be dropped all at once, or if Disney will go back to normal in several phases.
What the availability of parks and attractions will be.
If all or just some attractions will open.
When The regular Disney Resorts will re-open. This will be based on whether they fill the DVC Resorts or not. And they may open in phases as needed.
All of this depends on how long the requirement for social distancing is required and how long Disney sticks to it in order to prevent lawsuits (for not following the guidelines). AND whether people will want to go with these restrictions.
Florida went to Phase 2 a couple days ago. What if Florida gets to phase 3 before Disney even opens with all of these protective measures? Will all of this be for nothing or will the plow ahead with this plan?
HOT NEWS – Disney Has Extended the Expiration Dates for the 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets.
There are 2 groups wondering about military tickets, Those who pre-purchased Military Discounted Tickets for planned trips in 2020 and those who have not yet purchased any Military Discounted Tickets.
Those who Pre-Purchased – This group is the most effected and can be divided into 2 categories, Those who purchased 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets and those who purchased other types of Military Discounted Tickets (Regular Military Discounted Magic Your Way Tickets & Shades of Green Stars and Stripes Passes).
The Disney Armed Forces Salute (UPDATED 8 July 2020)
Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets have had their expiration date extended through 26 September 2021!
Disney has not yet allowed Base Ticket Offices or Shades of Green to begin selling tickets!
I’ve seen lots of people on Facebook posting information they received from Disney regarding refunds for 2020 Salute Tickets at the gate or of being allowed to use the 2020 Salute Tickets towards 2021 tickets at the gate. They report getting this info via phone calls with the call center, emails, or online chats. Or they share info that they have seem about general public tickets.
I advise everyone to take this information with skepticism. Disney cast members who communicate with the public receive little to no training on their company’s military discounts! They are often telling you what they think or heard, not official company policy. I have a whole collection of things the Disney Call Center has gotten wrong. It doesn’t matter what someone tells you long distance, what matters is what the person in the ticket booth is allowed to do when you arrive in person, even if you are holding a printed email or chat transcript.
As I said at the beginning, this is the pessimistic outlook…
This could be an official Disney Policy, but they have not published it and have in the case of Disneyland published just the opposite.
Having said this, Disney is in the business of “making magic’ and if you get to a ticket booth with old expired tickets with no retained value, they will eventually make things right, but it may come with lots of repeated requests by you to talk to supervisors and managers and refusing to take a no answer, before they give in and say, “We’ll do this just this once.”
Will Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets continued for 2020 and 2021?
We mentioned above that all ticket sales have been paused, this includes all forms of Military Tickets for Disney and they the Disney Armed Forces Salute is a self-contained temporary offer.
Disney offers discounts to attract extra bodies when they need to. That’s why there are various discounts of varying amounts offered to the general public throughout the year and different room and ticket prices throughout the year. And it’s why the aftermath of 9/11 Disney offered a Salute (this ended after 6 months) and then during the 2009 economic slowdown they started offering Salutes again (which continue almost continuously to today in yearlong installments). Bob Iger (Disney’s past CEO) is on record saying that Disney would like to do away with all discounts and just offer standard pricing. I have long wondered when they would end the current string of Salutes, I think they have run so long they couldn’t find a way to stop without causing a big fuss.
Every year after the summer, Disney holds what they call the Income Generation Board, where they look at the past and coming year in regard to profit. This is where and when they decide if they will offer a Military Salute for the coming year.
With the limited park attendance, there may very well be no reason to attract extra bodies! We just don’t know right now. It could be that sales of the Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets do not resume when general public tickets resume sales. They could resume later in the year or not at all for 2020.
Same goes for 2021, they could decline to offer a Salute if they don’t need it.
Again pessimism, everything might come back they way it was for sales, only time will tell!
Other Military Discounted Tickets
The other Disney Military tickets are an entirely different matter from the Salute tickets. They have always been around and will always be. These however are only slightly discounted!
Those holding any of these that they pre-purchased are just fine. These retrain value even after expiration, just like general public tickets.
When Ticket Sales Restart
Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets all have the Park Hopper option, if these are sold, will they be modified to a lower price, or will you need to get a refund upon arrival?
When Disney restarts ticket sales, the people who already had room reservations and linked tickets will already have made their Park Reservations and Advance Dining Reservations for the timeframe 11 July moving forward to an unspecified date. That could be through the end of the year or for the initial timeframe, say 60 to 90- days out. Most likely the shorter and they will take the rest of the year as it comes with 60 day Advance Dining Reservations and Park Reservations just prior to that.
Your goal will be to have your tickets in hand in time to link them to your Disney Resort reservation in time to make Park Reservations (however many days prior that winds up being).
Those wanting to go right away or very early will be in a bind. I’m sure it will take a day or so for ticket offices to get the message to start selling tickets again, if they are even open, and then you will have to deal with any time required for them to order and or ship your tickets.
Special Party Military Discounts
Disney hasn’t even decided if they’ll do the Halloween and Christmas parties yet, which means we do not know if there will be military discounts offered. We’re still too soon in the re-opening to have any real details.
Military Room Discounts
All military room discounts from Disney are part of the Disney Armed Forces Salute.
As a reminder discounts, in this case room ones, are offered to fill empty rooms.
Disney World will have to balance offering discounts, military or otherwise, with the cost of reopening one or more resorts to see if it is profitable.
Only time will tell.
Well that’s what I know and what I’m thinking.
Sorry to sound pessimistic, I’m just trying to lay out the facts as I know them. And it may be that things will work out just fine. I just wish Disney would have the kindness to publish the details for our community.
I probably missed something or maybe something I said might not be quite clear. Please ask questions in the comments section below!
Also please share Your Thoughts!