Planning a (Retro) Walt Disney World Vacation in the COVID Era


Mask? Check.
Extra mask? Check. Wait! Disney World compliant mask? Check.
Hand sanitizer? Check.
Disinfecting wipes? Check.

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation in 2020 is a very different experience than the past 15-20 years.

And it might just be amazing! Gone is the necessity to cement your schedule six months from now and lock down which parks your family will visit on which days when park-hopping from one end of Disney World to the other. Gone is the alarm you used to set for Midnight (9p west coast) and in recent years could set for 7a (4a west coast) 180 days prior to your check-in. Gone, too, is the need to to set those same alarms 60 days in advance of check-in to confirm which attractions your group is committing to experience each hour of your vacation.

disney world vacation

In short, the COVID era has brought about a retro-visit to Walt Disney World and the Disney Park Nerds are excited about the experience.

With the short-term elimination of the Park Hopper, doing the “highlights” tour of Disney World every day and rushing from rope drop at one park to afternoon Fastpasses at another has been put on pause.

Now, visitors can decide which park to visit and firmly plan to stay there all day (or if you are staying nearby or on property, sneak back for a pool break or a nap even with the shortened operating hours).

Advanced Dining Reservations are available on fairly short notice at even some of the most popular restaurants and walk-ins are welcomed! Your time spent on the app will be limited to securing a spot in the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, selecting your “next” attraction after exiting your current one and, maybe, mobile ordering some food.

You can even relax a bit while waiting in line now that you don’t have to scan your Fastpass and immediately book your next attraction while your friends and family help you navigate the queue.

Essentially, COVID has created the most “present” Walt Disney World vacation in recent memory where the focus is friends and family and not your phone.

Disney World Vacation
Getting Ready for a Disney World Vacation

So the question becomes…how will a Disney World vacation today go?

Will it be better? Even the Nerds always thought a Walt Disney World vacation had become intense. For the uninitiated, the planning was daunting. There are countless web sites dedicated to successfully planning a trip – full of tips and “how to” – and the necessity to plan earlier and earlier has only intensified over the years.


So maybe, just maybe, hitting the reset button will be good for all of us. Disney World expanded their Fastpass program because their research showed that people who had participated in the Fastpass process had a better perception of their trip.

And yet, the advanced Fastpass program did not extend to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, Hong Kong Disneyland or Shanghai Disneyland. Perhaps, it is not necessary at Walt Disney World either?

It is going to be very interesting to see the permanent changes to Disney parks around the world as a result of COVID. Some measures and bandaids while others may become permanent fixtures. Surely we can expect the return of the Park Hopper to Disney World.

This ticket addition represents a large revenue stream for the parks.

In addition to the “up-charge”, the Disney World Park Hopper likely increases the average length of stay – this means more days of ticket sales, more food purchases and more nights in a hotel (and with a Disney World vacation now charging to park – that $15 per night in a Value Resort can represent an 8% increase in overall rooms revenue) which all add up to big bucks for the mouse.

When we look back on all of this, what will we see?




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