By now, everyone is aware of the situation going on in the world right now and how everyone is being affected by it. This has even reached the United States and in a historic event, Walt Disney World has closed over this outbreak, along with every single Disney theme park worldwide!
(Updated 4/3/20) – Disney has just made a policy change for Annual Passholders during the Disney World closure, which will allow them to put payments on hold or get a refund. Read on below for more details.
Disney has also recently announced that Disney World has just extended the closure dates and will now be closed indefinitely. Also, no reservations are being accepted before June 1, 2020. Read on for more.
In this post, we are going to explain what effects this situation is having on Disney World, as well as all the Disney international parks. We are going to keep you updated with the Disney World park closures and the very latest information you need to know.
Now that Walt Disney World and the other parks are closed, we are going to answer all your questions that you have regarding your vacation. We’ll explain how to get a refund, how to reschedule your trip to Disney World and if you should be afraid to travel to any of the Disney theme parks once they reopen.
We will also tell you how long Disney World is going to be closed for and when you can expect it to reopen. Our post where we talk about the question: “When is Disney World Reopening?” goes into more detail and how it could be a vastly different experience for a while.
Lastly, we are also going to be talking about the impact all of this is having on The Walt Disney Company as a whole and what kind of financial ramifications it is having on the Disney parks and Central Florida, including cutting budgets, attractions and canceling projects.
Read our guide to Disneyland Closure Guide if you are or were planning a trip to California this year. There we explain the refund process and any FAQs you have about those parks. We also have a guide to the Disneyland Paris closure if you are planning on taking a trip there soon.
If you are looking for information about cruises, then check out our guide to Disney Cruise Line Closure Guide. There we go in-depth on the latest news, cancellations and how to reschedule your booking.
What we aren’t going to do is give you medical advice on the virus itself. We are nowhere near qualified to do that and you should refer to a medical expert like your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information.
Some more helpful resources on this include:
- World Health Organization’s page – This has good advice and guidelines regarding the prevention and care of the disease.
- U.S. Department of State’s Alert Bulletin – This will let you know the current outbreak level and any travel advisories you need to be aware of.
We also are not going to tell you definitively whether or not you should travel to Disney World (when it reopens), the other Disney Parks or travel in general. Everyone will have to make up his/her own mind based on their family’s needs. We will, however, let you know what we personally think and our travel plans.
We are going to stick to how The Walt Disney Company is being affected, the parks around the world, and how this could affect them moving forward. We want to keep everyone as informed as possible so that they know what exactly is going on in all the parks and the impact this is having on traveling to them.
Keep in mind that Walt Disney World closing is a constantly evolving situation. With changes to the dates detailed information about it is scarce right now and as the next few days and weeks go by we will find out much more and be sharing that with you.
Also, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we will bring you the latest updates on the Disney World closure and any new info you need to know. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
Keep scrolling down for the latest updates and answers to all your questions about Disney World and how this closure affects you and your vacation. If we leave something out feel free to ask us in the comments section below. We will try our best to answer any questions you have about the Disney World closure.
Latest Disney World Closure News
We’ve been closely monitoring the situation and the Disney parks ever since it caused Shanghai Disneyland to close, and it’s something that changes on a daily basis. This is one of the fastest moving situations we’ve ever seen face the Disney theme parks and therefore requires close attention.
In a move unlike anything that has ever happened in the history of Disney theme parks, Walt Disney World and all the Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide are now closed over this outbreak. Here are the latest updates on how everything is progressing.
NEWS 04/3/20 – Disney World Makes Changes to Annual Passholder Policy During Closure
Some positive news for Disney World and Disneyland Annual Passholders has just come out which will provide guests more options during the park closure. These changes will allow Disney’s most loyal fanbase to either put their Annual Pass payments on hold or get a refund.
For guests who have already paid upfront for their Disney World annual pass, there are now two options:
- Get an extension added on to your annual pass for the number of days the parks are closed.
- Get a partial refund for the remaining days left on your pass. More information will be provided soon to how this works.
Before this change, Annual Passholders had their passes automatically extended based on how many days the parks were closed, like option 1. That meant that if the parks end up being closed for 60 days, you will automatically get 60 more days added on to your pass.
This change, however, gives people who are struggling in this economic downturn a chance to take some of that money tied up in their annual pass, and put it towards essentials like food and shelter.
For guests who are on an Annual Pass Monthly Payment Plan, there are also some modifications that might help.
- Starting April 5, 2020, all upcoming monthly payments for your annual pass will be automatically stopped. All monthly payments will be waived during the Disney World closure period.
- Disney is also retroactively refunding payments made from the time Walt Disney World closed on March 14 through April 4, 2020.
- All Annual Pass payments will automatically continue when Disney World reopens.
There is one important thing to note with this option. Annual passes will NOT be extended in this case, because you are now paying for fewer months than before and not a complete year.
If you do want your annual pass payments to be postponed and then picked up again once the parks open, in that case, your Annual Pass expiration date will be extended the number of days the parks are closed for.
Stay tuned for more information soon.
NEWS 04/2/20 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Issues 30-Day Order to Stay at Home
Following most of the other states, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now issued a statewide mandate for residents to stay at home for the next 30 days due to the current health crisis. The order goes into effect starting tonight at 12:01 am April 3, 2020.
“I’m issuing an executive order directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary and essential activities,” the governor said.
Florida was one of the last states to put these measures into effect and has come under criticism for the passive attitude taken towards closing the beaches, bars, etc. Now the only things guests can go outside for are the essentials like groceries, going to the pharmacy, bank, gas stations or doctor’s office.
Of course, this affects on Walt Disney World to a degree, and means that it will definitely be closed for the entire month of April and into the beginning of May. 30 days takes us to May 2, which would be the earliest that things could start opening back up in Florida.
That doesn’t mean that the order to stay at home will necessarily be over at that point, and even if it is, Disney World could still stay closed. The last we’ve heard from Disney is that Walt Disney World is not accepting reservations until June 1, and this new confirms that for sure they won’t be changing their minds and taking any in April. What May brings is yet to be seen.
Stay tuned for more as we keep you updated with the latest on the Walt Disney World closure…
NEWS 03/28/20 – No New Walt Disney World Reservations Before June 1
Yesterday we learned that Disney World is being closed “until further notice,” without any indication of possible reopening dates. With the latest update from Disney today, we may have a clearer picture of how long we have to wait.
When looking at the cancelation policy page on the Walt Disney World website. There it says “reservations are currently available for travel dates June 1 and later.“
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Disney World will definitely be closed until June 1. They also state: “As always, guests are able to modify these bookings if Walt Disney World Resort opens before or after that time.”
That leaves them some room in case Disney World isn’t closed for that long or closed even longer.
That’s a big statement as it means that Disney isn’t anticipating reopening Disney World before that date, otherwise, they would be accepting reservations. They know it’s difficult for guests to constantly have to rebook reservations, so this way, they are only accepting reservations for a time they think it’s possible to reopen again.
It doesn’t say that if you have a reservation for April or May, you absolutely have to reschedule at this point, but if they aren’t taking any new reservations before June 1, the handwriting is on the wall. You might as well modify your dates now and get a jump start over other people before too many of the good rooms book up.
If you are rebooking, make sure to take advantage of the new Disney Free Dining offer, which is available only for guests who had their Disney World vacations canceled because of the closure.
We’ll keep an eye on this if any more dates come up. Stay tuned…
Read how to modify your stay or get a refund in the instructions further down in this article.
NEWS 03/27/20 – Walt Disney World Extends Closure Indefinitely, Paying Cast Members Through April 18
We knew Disney would be making an announcement, but we didn’t know it would be like this. In an expected move, the Walt Disney World closure has been extended, but will now remain closed indefinitely. That means there is no reopening date at this time.
We all knew they would be extending the closure but perhaps didn’t see this coming. It would have been impossible for Disney World to reopen in only 2 weeks’ time as originally announced, and as the situation continues to get worse throughout the U.S. by the day, Disney World will remain closed for the time being.
Here is the official statement from Disney:
Also, they announced that the Disneyland Resort closure is also being extended indefinitley without a reopening date. Disneyland was supposed to be closed through the end of March like Disney World and instead will be closed indefinitely.
What this also tells us is that Disney is not expecting to open Disney World anytime soon. They said they are cooperating with the local and federal authorities surrounding the situation, and this has obviously lead them to understand we are in it for the long haul.
Thankfully after days of wondering, Disney also announced that they WILL be paying Disney World Cast Members, though only through April 18, 2020. This applies to hourly parks and resorts cast members. While this is positive news, it also implies that it’s possible Disney will stop paying Cast Members past that point, even if the parks remain closed. We’ll have to wait for more clarification on this one from Disney.
As far as what is closed, not much changes with the Disney World closure extension. It still involves all 4 Disney World theme parks, hotels, restaurants, Disney Springs and the same facilities throughout the property that were already closed.
This announcement from Disney comes on the heels of Orange County and Osceola County Florida issuing a “Stay at Home” order through April 9. The Orange County Mayor has announced that the “stay at home” order goes into effect starting Thursday, March 26 at 11:00 PM, and will last for 2 weeks through April 9.
It allows only people with essential jobs to continue going to work or for people to go grocery shopping or carry out other necessary duties.
Universal already got the jump on Disney and had already made an announcement that Universal Studios in Orlando and California will be closed through April 19, 2020, at which point the situation will be reevaluated. If Disney understands they will be closed much longer, we expect an updated statement from Universal too at some point.
Here is what Universal had to say:
“We are extending the closure of Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood through April 19 as we continue to respond to current conditions and make the health and safety of team members and guests our top priority. This includes our theme parks and Universal CityWalk at both destinations. The Universal Orlando Resort hotels have also temporarily suspended operations. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed, based on guidance from health agencies and government officials.”
Disney may have made their announcement second, but the writing was already on the wall. When Disney World first closed, the original announcement said that the Walt Disney World Resort would be closed through the end of March. Obviously, though, there was no way the parks can open up on April 1 if there is a “stay at home” mandate in effect in Orlando.
After the new state orders, mid-April would be the earliest Disney World could reopen at this point, but the way things are going right now, that will be impossible and anything less than a month from now would be way too ambitious.
We have updated instructions further down the page on how to get a refund or reschedule your Disney World vacation, plus any other questions you might have.
This is a developing story so stay tuned…
Walt Disney World Closure
(UPDATED 3/29/20): Walt Disney World is officially closed indefinitely.
As of 03/27/20, there have been more than 500,000 confirmed cases, and that number is growing every day. Because of this worldwide situation, Disney has been forced to temporarily shut down all of its theme parks worldwide for a time, including Walt Disney World.
The Disney World closure has recently been extended as the original closure was through March 31. Obviously, with the new stay at home orders from Orange County and Osceola County, and it not being safe to travel, Disney Would can not yet open up.
Just to say Disney World is closed is a crazy thought and something that has left us speechless after finding out this news.
Just before the closure, Disney had gone to lengths to add hand sanitizing and washing stations around the theme parks. Even just recently Disney World added those locations into My Disney Experience to give guests the most information possible for their safety.
Needless to say, we are all shocked by this news and we will be updating you over the coming days and weeks as we process any new information that comes in.
We know you are concerned about your vacation and what all this means for you and your family and we go into all that for you below. Again, more details will be coming soon, so for now, just relax and be patient as Disney sorts everything out. You will be taken care of for sure.
Now let’s see what we know so far about the closure of Walt Disney World…
What Is Closed in Disney World?
The closing of Walt Disney World didn’t happen all at once but in phases. But as of this writing, almost EVERYTHING in Disney World is now closed. Pretty much the only things that aren’t closed right now are the Let’s break it all down for you…
Official Statement from Disney
Here is the original official statement from Disney about the closure of Walt Disney World and the other parks:
We expect more statements in the coming days so stay tuned for those.
Starting on Sunday, March 15, all the Disney World theme parks were temporarily closed and will remain that way indefinitely. This includes:
- Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are also closed.
This seems logical as the virus spreads by being in close contact with people and theme parks do not exactly give you tons of personal space. Staying in lines for hours with people only inches away from you is not a good idea right now.
At least for a few days, the Walt Disney World Resort hotels stayed open and didn’t close immediately as the theme parks did. The Disney World Hotels closed on March 20, 2020, and will remain that way without a reopening date at this time.
They couldn’t shut down the hotels the same day as the parks because Disney knew that people couldn’t just up and leave with only 2 days’ notice. Time was needed to change travel plans and get back home and this at least gave them time to do that.
Why did they close the hotels? It doesn’t make sense to keep them open once the current group of tourists is gone seeing that no one else will be coming to Disney World until it opens back up. It also would cost way too much money to keep giant facilities like this running so closing is the only option.
Disney Springs, Restaurants & Other Facilities
Like the hotels, Restaurants throughout Disney World are all closing during this period. Disney Springs and the restaurants and shops there are also closing for the time being. It doesn’t make sense to keep these open if the guests have gone home. Plus with mandates to close bars in Florida and greater restrictions on restaurants make it unwise to keep them open.
Facilities like The Wide World of Sports are also going to be closed.
Basically, the only things that have remained open during this period are the golf courses. As of this writing, Disney’s Palm, Magnolia, Oak Trail, and Lake Buena Vista Golf Courses are all still operational as well as FootGolf. This might change though now with the new orders from Orange and Osceola counties. Stay tuned.
All forms of public transportation in Walt Disney World have now been temporarily suspended starting March 18, 2020, through the foreseeable future.
The following Disney World Transportation systems are closed as of 3/22/20:
Right now without guests in the parks, on-site transportation in Disney World will remain suspended until the resort reopens. Some forms of transportation were running through March 18, but the operations schedules have changed. Here is the current status of all forms of transportation until the final suspension:
- There are no buses in service at this time.
- Monorails are not running at this time.
Minnie Van Service –
- Minnie Vans are not running at this time.
Disney’s Magical Express –
After running until the last Walt Disney World guest went home on March 20, Disney’s Magical Express is now temporarily closed and is no longer going to Orlando International Airport until the resorts reopen.
Officially, all the transportation in Walt Disney World will be suspended indefinitely. Disney isn’t saying how long this Walt Disney World closure will last until. The reality is that the transportation will open up again when the parks do, and at this point, we have no idea when that will be. More on this later.
Refunds and Canceling Reservations
Thankfully, Disney World is being more than generous with their refund policy and allowing guests to cancel their vacations without any penalties or fees. This makes it easy for guests to either cancel or modify their vacation plans.
If you want to get a refund for your Disney World trip, you have two options:
- Cancel and get a refund
- Reschedule your trip
Below we are going to go into the options you have in greater detail. Before we start, keep in mind that during this closure period, the operators at Disney World are extremely busy with calls from other guests like you that are looking for more information.
If you do call, expect long wait times and just to be as patient as possible as this is a trying situation for everyone involved.
How You Can Cancel Disney World Reservations and Get a Refund:
- You can call Walt Disney World at (407) 939-5277 to cancel your booking or reschedule.
- You can cancel or modify your plans Online on the Disney World Website.
- Even better, if you booked your trip to Disneyland through a travel agent, then we recommend you contact them first, and they will take care of the necessary changes for you.
The best part is if you have a vacation scheduled during the closure period and you booked it through Disney, then no action is required on your part. Disney will automatically refund you your money to the form of payment that was used at the booking.
We’re happy Disney is making these adjustments for guests as many have been thinking about changing their travel dates to a later time. Disney is very good in situations like this as they have shown a willingness to work with travelers in the past.
Vacation Package Refunds
Guests who have a Walt Disney World vacation package already booked for stays during the closure period, and have not checked in, can either modify their original reservation and change it to another date, or cancel the reservation for a full refund.
- Right now Disney has lifted all fees and penalties for resort guests with stays from now through June 30, 2020.
If you booked your trip through Disney directly, this doesn’t even require action on your part. If no action is taken before your scheduled arrival date, Disney will automatically refund your money to the original form of payment within 7 days of the original check-in date.
Even though Disney should refund you automatically if you know you are canceling your trip, we find it’s better to call and get things taken care of right away and it gets the process moving quicker, which means you get your money back quicker too.
If you booked your vacation through a travel agent, contact them to make sure a refund or change is given. If you booked through another source (3rd party online), then you will need to contact them for a refund.
If airfare was booked separately, guests are responsible for any change or cancellation fees moving the dates might occur.
I Have a Vacation Planned In the Next Few Months. What Should I Do?
You don’t HAVE to do anything at the moment. Disney is refunding all vacation packages and hotel rooms through at least June 30, 2020. If you want to wait and see what happens in the meantime, you are welcome to do so.
If the Disney World reopening date gets pushed back and is closed when you have a reservation, Disney will extend the refund policy to accommodate the guests affected and you will get your money back. However, by the time your vacation comes around, Disney World may be open, in which case you can choose to continue on with your vacation if you like.
With Disney World currently not accepting any new reservations until June 1, we don’t think you are likely to take your vacation if you have one planned for April or May. If you already know your new vacation dates, then you can go ahead and reschedule them at your convenience. You might as well get a jump on other guests.
Disney is also giving a special incentive to guests who rebook their vacation from June 1 through September 20, 2020. This package includes hotel, park tickets and the Disney Free Dining plan.
We are waiting for more clarity on this story so stay tuned…
Theme Park Ticket Refunds
If you have a Disney theme park admission, you can also get a refund.
Multi-Day and Single Day Tickets – Any multi-day tickets with unused days on them or date-specific theme park tickets during the closure period (tickets dated from March 12, 2020, through the end of the closure), will be automatically extended to use on any date before December 15, 2020.
If you are unable to visit Disney World before December 15, you can transfer the value of the previously purchased tickets toward the purchase of a new ticket at a date in the future.
Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets – If you have purchased the Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets, they are still valid through July 31, 2020.
Hotel Room Only Refunds
Full refunds are given to guests who have a hotel room booked at Disney World during the closure period. Guests can cancel or reschedule for a future date with no penalty fees.
- If no action is taken, Disney will automatically refund your money to the original form of payment within seven days of the original check-in date.
Disney has also waived any fees and penalties for cancellations or rescheduling for hotel arrivals from now through June 30, 2020.
If you booked your vacation through a travel agent, contact them to make sure a refund or change is given. If you booked through a third-party, then you will need to contact them for a refund.
Dining Reservations & Other Experiences
Besides tickets and vacation packages, you are probably wondering about what will happen to other experiences you have booked like dining reservations, etc. Here is what we know so far…
Pre-Paid Dining Reservations – Any dining reservation with a date during the closure period that was pre-paid will be fully refunded. This will apply to future dates if Disney World doesn’t open by March 31.
Pre-Paid Experiences – All other pre-paid experiences in Disney World (fireworks cruises, special events, etc) during the closure period, will be fully refunded to guests. This will apply to future dates if Disney World doesn’t open by March 31.
Dining Reservations with Credit Card Required at the time of booking – Any reservation that required a credit card at the time of booking will not incur a no-show fee during the time Disney World is closed. Guests can also cancel dining reservations at any time with no fees.
All Disney World hard-ticketed events or other special events during the closure time have been canceled and therefore you get a refund. Disney will automatically refund your original form of payment.
This counts for all special events from March 16 through the end of the closure.
Hard-Ticket Events – If you have purchased tickets to a Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours or Disney Early Morning Magic event with a date during the closure period, your money will automatically be refunded to your original form of payment.
All FastPass+ reservations you have scheduled that fall during the Disney World closure period (March 16 through the end of the closure) will be automatically canceled for you. Unfortunately, there is no way to recover those FastPass+ selections for another date.
That means if you scored a hard-to-get FastPass+ selection like Flight of Passage, you’ll have to try for new FastPasses when you decide on dates for your next vacation.
Cirque du Soleil – Drawn to Life
The debut for the new Cirque du Soleil show “Drawn to Life” has been suspended until further notice as the popular theater production company has announced it is laying off 95% of its workforce.
“Drawn to Life” is a Cirque du Soleil with the story based on Disney animation and was supposed to open previews on March 20, with the grand opening April 17, 2020. The Montreal-based company is only keeping on 300 staffers who will help to organize future shows and ticket sales.
Guests who had tickets to Drawn to Life will be contacted by the point of sale for a refund or rescheduling.
There is also a refund available for Memory Maker. If you purchased Memory Maker as part of your vacation package, the money for it will be automatically refunded to your original form of payment.
If you purchased Memory Maker separately, you will not be given a refund, but an extension to use it at a future date.
The upcoming runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend scheduled for April 16-19 has now been canceled. Read our post on the runDisney events for more details about cancellations and refunds.
Airfare and Flights
If you didn’t book your airfare through The Walt Disney Company (directly with the airline or third-party) you will need to contact them directly about their guidelines and any fees.
Southwest is one of our favorite airlines because they allow you to modify your travel plans without a fee. There are some other airlines like this so make sure to ask.
If you booked your airfare through a travel agent you should contact them to help you cancel or change your flight. This should help you save a lot of time and effort having to call Disney yourself.
If you have rented a car, stroller, ECV or any other third-party rental, you will need to contact them and find out what can be done to modify or cancel your reservation and if refunds are given.
If you have a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, you now have some options available to you about extensions, holding payment or even getting a partial refund.
Annual Passes Already Paid in Full –
For guests who have already paid for their Disney World annual pass, there are 2 options available to you.
- The default option is that your expiration date will be extended out by the number of days Disney World ends up being closed for. For example, if Disney World is closed for 60 days total, your annual pass will get an additional 60 days added on to it.
- If you don’t want to have your annual pass extended, you can get a partial refund based on the number of days you have remaining on it until expiration.
Before the latest update, annual passholders didn’t have a choice and had their passes automatically extended, as in option 1.
Annual Pass Monthly Payment Plans –
This is another change because at first monthly payments for annual passes continued on like normal. Instead, starting April 5, all monthly payments will be stopped and will not continue until the theme parks reopen.
Disney is also refunding all prior payments made during the time that Walt Disney World was closed from March 14 through April 4, 2020.
- There is one important thing to note with this option. Annual passes will NOT be extended in this case, because you are now paying for fewer months than before and not a complete year. If guests do want their annual pass expiration to be extended once the parks open again, they can choose this option. In this case, payments will continue once the parks open until the full 12 months are paid.
These changes give people who are struggling in this economic downturn a chance to take some of that money tied up in their annual pass, and put it towards essentials like food and shelter. Good move by Disney.
Guests can contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at 407-939-7277.
Renewals – If your Annual Pass renewal date falls during the closure period, you will also get an extension for time to renew.
As Disney gets a chance to update everything, all these changes will be reflected in your account online or in My Disney Experience.
Tables in Wonderland
Just like with the Annual Passes, your Tables in Wonderland membership will be extended by the number of days the parks are closed. If they are closed for 30 days, your Tables membership will also be extended by that amount.
Disney Vacation Club Points (DVC)
DVC members are also affected by the closures to the Disney parks and hotels. Almost all Disney Vacation Club properties will be closed by March 24, 2020, including:
- Disney’s Vero Beach
- Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
- All DVC properties in Walt Disney World and Disneyland
The only Disney Vacation Club property that will remain open at this time is Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. They are in close contact with the authorities and monitoring the situation and will close if deemed necessary.
What about your DVC Points?
If you are booked at a Disney Vacation Club Resort in Walt Disney World or a Disney Beach Resort during the closure period, you can get your DVC points back.
Guests are given the option to modify or cancel their Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation.
If no action is taken and the reservation falls during the closure period, the DVC points will be automatically credited back into their account within 7 days of their original arrival date.
Disney also recently shared this statement:
“As we have shared, Disney Vacation Club has lifted the close-in reservation cancellation restrictions and will return any of your points back as vacation points or reservation points without placing them into holding.
In the meantime, all points banking rules remain in place. While we understand the banking policy might create some frustration, please realize that this is in place to ensure that the membership as a whole avoids future inventory constraints.”
Can I Cancel a DVC Reservation Past the Current Closure Dates and Still Get My Points Back?
Even if you have a DVC reservation past the current closure dates, you can still cancel your reservation and your points will not be placed into a holding account and they will be returned to the current year for use.
I Rented My Points from an Agency. What Now?
While most DVC-point agencies have strict no-refund policies, it’s been noted that many are trying to work with guests to either reschedule or get a complete refund for the points bought. You’ll have to contact them directly to see how they are handling this situation.
Canceling Disney World Vacation After the Parks Reopen
What if you have a Disney World vacation planned for dates months from now? Can you still cancel them and get a refund without penalty?
Right now Disney is allowing guests with a Walt Disney World vacation to get a full refund without penalty with check-in dates from now through June 30, 2020. They will then be able to choose another date in the future.
This applies to all guests who have booked directly through Disney or using a certified Disney Travel agent.
If you are still hoping to go on your vacation, you don’t HAVE to do anything at the moment. If you want to wait and see what happens, you are welcome to do so.
If the Disney World reopening date gets pushed back past June 1, Disney will extend the refund policy to accommodate the guests affected and you will get your money back. Disney World may be open, in which case you can choose to continue on with your vacation if you like.
However, if you already know your new vacation dates, then you can go ahead and reschedule them at your convenience.
Rescheduling Your Trip
Just as with cancellations, you can also change the date of your Walt Disney World vacation without paying the normal $50 fee if you have a vacation booked from now to June 30, 2020.
This once again applies to guests who have booked their package through Disney. Keep in mind, of course, you will have to pay the difference in price if the package costs more on the date you choose.
More Tips For Rescheduling
We usually don’t purchase travel insurance as it tends to be a waste of money. In this time, however, we would recommend it to whoever is planning a trip to Disney World or anywhere else for that matter. (Some of our readers have pointed out it’s difficult to find at this point, so this depends on if you can find it available to you).
Make sure you get the right policy that lets you cancel at any time. That way you can get your money back even if Disney hasn’t closed the parks.
Right now we don’t recommend booking any deals that don’t offer you a guaranteed 100% money-back refund. It’s just too risky right now not knowing what is going to happen in the coming weeks.
Also, we highly recommend using a Disney travel agent when booking your trip. They can help you to deal with any room cancellations for you and will make your life a whole lot easier.
One of the best pieces of news about this whole Disney World closure is the fact that Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time away from work.
The latest information from Disney is that they will be paying Disney World Parks and Resorts Cast Members who are hourly through April 18, 2020. It seems like at that point they will stop paying Cast Members who are hourly, even if the parks remain closed after that.
As for Cast Members who are on salary, Disney has not announced how they will be handling them at this time. We’ll have to wait for more clarification on both of these from Disney.
We know it’s not easy for Cast Members nor for Disney at this time and we give a big applause to Disney up to this point for not sending them home without their pay. People are struggling as it is to survive economically in this situation, and Disney saved a lot of families by doing the right thing here!
Disney College Program
The College Program for Walt Disney has also been closed down at this time. Cast Members were required to leave their housing complexes by March 18 and they also had their internship terminated.
If you aren’t familiar with Disney World’s College Program, it essentially allows Disney to offer semester-long internships to students where they live and work in Walt Disney World as Cast Members. The students take classes while fulfilling their duties around the resort, gaining valuable work experience as well as a great addition to their resumes.
A sizeable number of the Disney World Cast Members are made up of students in the College Program and it’s estimated at being somewhere from 10-20% of all Cast Members on property.
This no doubt comes as a major disappointment to all the students that were sent home as for many this was a lifetime dream come true. Unfortunately, this situation was out of Disney’s hands and it didn’t make sense to continue having them on property with everything shut down indefinitely.
These impacted participants are being paid through the end of March, and will also be given a successful completion program which will help in their future career pursuits. It’s possible that Disney could eventually invite some of these students back to participate again in the future.
The next round of participants in the college program are supposed to arrive in May. Whether that actually happens will depend on when Disney World opens back up by May. Also with students in the college program making up such a big workforce in Disney World and them not being there in April, this is a pretty good sign Disney isn’t intending on opening up before May.
We’ll keep you updated on this story and especially for the next group scheduled to partake in the program.
Disney World Donating Food
What is Disney going to do with all that food they have now that there won’t be any guests to eat it? Disney World has announced that they will be donating their food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
Distribution Services team that oversees collection and delivery of donations to help the community and share surplus food inventory like fresh salads, greens and expertly cooked hot items with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
This food includes excess fruit, vegetables, packaged goods, dairy and banquet meals. This is a cause that Disneyland is already familiar with having donated over 20,000 meals to Second Harvest last year alone.
Disney World Construction & Maintenance During the Closure
While we were hoping that one positive thing from closing the Disney World theme parks would be that it might give Disney a chance at some well-needed maintenance on the various attractions, it doesn’t look like that will be the case.
Right now all Walt Disney World Construction projects have been suspended until further notice. That means that projects like the TRON coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure have all come to a stop at this time.
It would have been nice to see these projects continue, but now since they are suspended, it will no doubt push back expected opening dates for these attractions. How long depends on the amount of time Disney World is closed for.
Disney hasn’t commented on maintenance teams and if they will continue running during the closure. If they are it would give them a chance to prioritize some of the bigger E-Ticket attractions (Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, etc) to be worked on now while the parks are closed and then concentrate on the less popular rides once the parks reopen where there would be fewer complaints from visitors.
It’s a little different than the construction because the construction teams usually come from outside companies whereas maintenance is usually Disney staff. However, we are assuming that the maintenance crews also are not able to work on the attractions at this time unless we hear otherwise from Disney.
Read our detailed post about the construction projects in Disney World to see all the projects that have been temporarily stopped.
Stay tuned for more info soon.
Other Orlando Theme Park Closures
As of this writing, pretty much all other theme parks in Orlando are also closing due to the recent situation. Other Orlando theme park closures include:
- Universal Studios and
- Universal Islands of Adventure
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Discovery Cove
- Legoland Florida
- Fun Spot America
Most of these are closed through at least the end of March and into April, but that could easily get pushed out further as the days go on.
When is Disney World Reopening?
The big question on everyone’s mind is “When is Walt Disney World Reopening, and How long is it staying closed?”
This is the million-dollar question, but unfortunately at this time, it’s impossible to answer with any accuracy.
Right now Disney World is officially closed indefinitely. That means they don’t have a reopening date set at this time. The reality is that no one actually knows how long Dinsey World will be closed for. “Indefinitely” is an ambiguous expression and leaves much up to the imagination. We are looking at a long closure, probably months.
We’ve already had the reopening date for Walt Disney World pushed back once as originally they said it would be closed through “the end of March.” Then with their latest update, Disney has said that there will be no new reservations before June 1. We hope that’s as far as the closure lasts, but since we are nowhere near the end of the situation, it could also happen again.
This has also happened with other Disney parks around the world. The Tokyo Disneyland closure has already been extended for example, and we expect the same thing to happen again with Walt Disney World. The truth is that no one knows when the situation will be under control and until that happens, Disney World will remain closed.
This is a problem for you if you have a Walt Disney World vacation coming up in the coming weeks or even months. Right now if you had a vacation planned for April or May, you need to make other plans. We suspect anyone with a vacation in June is not yet totally safe yet either as Disney World could still be closed by then and maybe beyond.
Even though Disney is giving you plenty of options to reschedule your vacation, it’s impossible to know at this point what a “safe” date would be. I would hope by the Summer things are definitely back up and running as normal, but Shanghai Disneyland has now been closed since January 25 and is still not open.
Now with no reservations available for WDW or Disneyland until June 1, this tells me we are in it for the long-haul in the domestic parks too.
While you technically could book a trip in June, that would still make me pretty nervous right now. I would look for something further into the Summer or Fall to be safe.
Make sure to read our post on where we talk about the question “When is Disney World Reopening?” and we even explain how it might be a completely different guest experience when it does reopen.
We’ll let you know as soon as we have more info about when Disney World is reopening.
Is it Safe? Should You Go When it Reopens?
When you should go to Disney World again is somewhat out of your control until it reopens. We personally always feel safe when we are in Disney and the company has proved time and time again that they have the best interests of guests at heart when it comes to health and safety.
Once Disney World reopens though should you go right away? That is a decision that you will have to make on your own. We aren’t going to tell you what do do and ultimately you have to do what you feel comfortable doing with yourself and your family.
Our own personal opinion though is that if Disney World reopens, it will be because the state of Florida has deemed the situation under control and there would be no longer and likely risk of infection. Until that happens, they will remain closed and you have nothing to decide.
Once Disney World reopens though, we have no reason to think that you or your family’s safety or health would be at risk.
Disney is one of the most well-respected companies in the industry, and until they close one of their resorts, you have to think it is a relatively safe environment to be in. Just like during our experience with Hurricane Irma in Disney World, we have always felt safe when visiting the parks and feel Disney puts the safety and well-being of its guests in the first place.
Even before the closure, Disney World showed the utmost interest in guest safety by even adding Hand Sanitizing locations to My Disney Experience so you can easily find them wherever you are in Walt Disney World.
Interestingly enough, it seems like Disney could be implementing an entirely different way of experiencing the parks when Disney World reopens. In order to limit guest contact, they would lower the limit of guests in each park, lower ride capacity not reopen certain rides and shows. Dining and characters would also be affected by this change. You can read about how the guest experience might change when Disney World reopens here.
In my opinion, for the best overall guest experience, you should wait a little while and not go right when Disney World opens back up. There may be way too many new protocols and procedures, making holding off a bit before returning the better option. If all the shows and attractions are not running, that’s a big negative and would make me want to put off my vacation.
Whether or not you decide to continue with your previously booked Disney trips or book new ones in 2020 is completely up to you and your family. The safety of one’s family should always be of the highest concern, and of course, the quality of what you are getting for the price is also a big factor.
You can learn more about Disney health and safety measures and also contact Disney on the official website. Also, follow the Florida Department of Public Health website for up-to-date information on the situation in the state of Florida.
Deals & Possible Travel Advantages
Even before Disney World was closed, they were already starting to get some cancelations and resort bookings have slowed way down in the last few weeks due to the public health situation. This trend will likely continue in the short term even when Disney World decides to reopen.
With fewer people going to Disney World or Disneyland at that time, this could present a wonderful opportunity for guests who are willing to still go.
There are many benefits from traveling to places like Disney World when many are choosing to stay at home instead of traveling. For example, when there are hurricanes at Walt Disney World, the days just before and just after are some of the least crowded days you will ever find in a Disney theme park. You can walk on to just about any ride and it feels like you have the whole park to yourself.
When Disney has a hard time filling the parks or hotel rooms, you can often get some amazing deals which will save you a ton of money. Disney will almost assuredly drop their hotel and vacation package prices at some point in 2020, especially if attendance numbers start to suffer.
This year might be an especially good time to make use of the Disney World Free Dining Offer. Disney released its first round of Free Dining dates for 2020, and we just got word of a special Free Dining package for anyone affected by the closure and who has to reschedule. With this special plan, plus the possibility of more dates being released later on in the year, 2020 might be the best year for Disney Free Dining we’ve seen in a long time.
This all means opportunity for you as the consumer and depending on how low attendance goes, we might see the best deals on hotel rooms in Disney World that we’ve seen in years. With the prices going higher and higher each year, this could be a good time to take advantage of any price drops.
This is also another reason to use a Disney-certified Travel Agent as they will be on the lookout for you if there are any discounts that can be applied to your vacation package. This can be invaluable and save you hundreds of dollars.
Lower airfares After 9/11, many airlines and hotels and resorts including Disney were offering insanely lower prices in order to entice weary travelers to come and visit again. This could be very advantageous if they are offered.
As new deals on Disney World vacations start to come out, we will be sure to let you know and how you can save money.
Future Impact on Rides & Economy
The bottom line is Disney is already losing hundreds of millions of dollars because of Disney World and the other parks being closed. A company as big as Disney can afford to take some losses, but if it continues for an extended period of time they will have a much bigger problem on their hands.
In fact, we’ve come up a list of upcoming Disney projects that could be cut or delayed due to this closure and loss of revenue.
The volatility on Wall Street is already starting to be reflected with The Walt Disney Company dropping over the last few days and is down around 15% so far this year. The Disney stock price fell down to a low of $85 per share during this period and even though it’s rebounded some, most experts are expecting it to continue to slide lower in the near-term. Some of this is due to Bob Iger stepping down and being replaced by Bob Chapek, but it’s also all the uncertainly created by the uncertainty of the markets and Disney’s bottom line right now.
Right now they are looking at losing hundreds of millions of dollars this quarter between Shanghai, Hong Kong and now Tokyo, and those numbers are going up every day. Not to mention how much money they are now going lose with Disney World and Disneyland being forced to close down for at least a couple of months.
Things are getting so bad right now that The Walt Disney Company was forced to announce a $6 billion debt offering. This basically means they have taken on more debt to pay part of their current debt, which sits at $38 billion. This new debt probably won’t have a huge impact on the company’s long-term future, but it shows that they are dealing with a very difficult time at the moment.
Right now the travel industry in the United States and around the world has almost come to a complete stand-still and it will be like that for some time. There is no telling what the breaking point is, but if it continues much longer, the Disney parks and the theme park industry, in general, would be greatly affected.
In response to their latest announcement, if they really don’t open up before June 1, that is going to leave a big dent in the Disney piggy bank. That would mean Disney World and Disneyland being closed for at least half of March, all April and all May! We are talking about billions of dollars in revenue!
The problem is not just the effect that’s happening to Disney’s 2020 2nd Quarter, but even if the virus is wrapped up and contained tomorrow, there will still be an impact on their bottom-line for the rest of the year.
Planning a Disney vacation to Disney World or a Disney Cruise is something families do many months, if not a whole year or more in advance. So even if this thing gets under control, there are going to be families and individuals that will be wary of traveling anywhere for a while. The same thing happened after 9/11.
One bad consequence of losing money on the international parks and now at Disney World and Disneyland is that it will definitely lead to budget cuts even in the U.S. domestic parks. With all that lost money, Disney will be forced to make even more cuts in order to make up the difference in lost revenue.
Budget cuts in the parks have already been a sore subject with Disney fans for some time now, imagine what is going to happen when we see less maintenance in the parks or risk losing new attractions.
There are many new rides and attractions coming to Disney World in 2020-2022 and beyond, and it’s inevitable if things get worse that some of those projects could be delayed or outright canceled. I hope it doesn’t come to that because I have never been more excited than I am right now for all the new things coming to the Disney parks in the next few years.
That is how things went however in 2001 after the attacks on 9/11 when Disney’s plans for expansion and new attractions were either cut or greatly reduced compared to how they were supposed to be.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get that far, but we are pretty pessimistic right now about it. Disney is hemorrhaging too much money for some new attractions or projects to not get pushed out years into the future, if not totally canceled. That’s why Disney did well to close down the parks now instead of waiting until the situation gets any worse. The quicker they get things under control, the less of an impact it will have.
How to Avoid Using the Fingerprint Scanner at Park Touchpoints
One of the biggest questions we get from readers is if it’s possible to bypass the fingerprint scanner at the theme park entrances. Usually, when you enter the parks, you scan your MagicBand or park ticket at the touchpoint and then place your finger on the scanner. This is how Disney confirms your ID to make sure you aren’t letting someone else use your ticket.
However, due to cleanliness concerns (among other reasons), you might not want to place your finger on something that literally thousands of other guests have just touched. Germs can live on surfaces and can be easily spread to other people touching those same surfaces.
If those surfaces are disinfected, they should be free of germs and safe for people to touch. However, Disney can’t disinfect every single fingerprint scanner at every touchpoint after every single guest taps into the park. It’s just not feasible.
Luckily, there is a way around it and you don’t have to actually scan your fingerprint to enter the parks. Here are the simple instructions you need to bypass the system.
- Go to a Guest Relations location before entering the park. These can be found at one of the windows just before reaching the entrance. Tell a cast member there that you would like to opt-out of using the fingerprint scanner.
- You then need to show your park ticket or MagicBand and a photo ID. This is the only way Disney can verify that you are actually you and you are authorized to use that park ticket.
- Next, you fill out a form stating that you don’t want to participate in the biometric scanning. This form includes personal information such as name, address, phone number, etc.
- Once you finish, head towards the park entrance. Tell a cast member there that you have opted out of the fingerprint scanning. They will then scan your park ticket/MagicBand and look at your photo ID. Once they verify who you are, you are good to go.
REMEMBER – You need to have your Photo ID with you to gain entrance to the park if you aren’t using the fingerprint scanner. Without it, you either will not be allowed in or you will have to use your fingerprint.
This procedure will work for the life of your park admission. If you have a 5-Day pass, it will work for all 5 days. If you have an annual pass, it will work until your 1 year is up and the pass expires or you have to renew it.
If you decide to use the fingerprint scanners, you should still be ok. Disney has put hand sanitizing stations just past the entrances of the theme parks, so once you step inside the park, you can go over and disinfect your hands. This will keep you as germ-free as possible and help stop the spread of sicknesses.
The virus has now hit hard in the U.S. and Disneyland was the first domestic park affected. It was just announced that the Disneyland Resort is closing due to the outbreak. This includes Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure and the Disneyland Hotels.
Please read our Disneyland Closure Guide where we have the latest information about the closure and how it’s affecting those parks, getting a refund, rescheduling your vacation and all your FAQs.
Closures of Disney International Parks
Shanghai Disneyland has been closed since January 24, 2020, and has been suffering big financial losses since the outbreak in China. The fact that this time of year usually receives a boost in attendance due to the Chinese New Year celebration is not helping matters.
Both the theme park and the resorts on property have been closed according to Disney “as a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts.”
The website reads: “We are temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland park out of consideration for the health and safety of our guests and Cast Members. We are in close contact with health officials and the local government about the situation and will announce a reopening date once they determine it is advisable.”
If it stays closed another 30 days, total losses for Shanghai Disneyland are expected to be in the $135 million range alone, with more impact likely coming again next quarter until park attendance returns to normal.
Even nearby businesses that rely heavily on the foot traffic in and out of Shanghai Disneyland are suffering the consequences of this situation, and many fear that if it remains closed for much longer, they will be required to close up shop.
Shanghai Disneyland is also in the middle of a brand new Zootopia-themed land, which will most likely still be moving forward, but might end up being delayed because of the attendance drop. We’ll have to wait and see what develops and how long the park stays closed.
For information about getting a refund for Shanghai Disneyland park tickets or hotel stays, please contact the Shanghai Disneyland website.
Hong Kong Disneyland
As bad as things are for Shanghai Disneyland, they are even worse for the Disney park in Hong Kong. It was already suffering from lower attendance due to the continuous protesting in Hong Kong, now with the latest health situation, things have compounded.
Disney is estimating that Hong Kong Disneyland could lose up to $145 million this quarter alone.
“The current closure is taking place during the quarter in which we typically see strong attendance and occupancy levels due to the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday,” Disney’s finance chief Christine McCarthy said on an earnings call. “The precise magnitude of the financial impact is highly dependent on the duration of the closures and how quickly we can resume normal operations.”
Insiders are estimating that we should prepare for both Hong Kong and Shanghai being closed for up to another 30 days.
The Tokyo Disneyland Resort has been closed since February 29 and is still closed. In fact, Disney just recently announced that Tokyo Disneyland will remain closed at least through April 20, 2020.
Originally Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea were supposed to be closed only through March 15, 2020. However, the situation has now changed and Disney was forced to extend the closure.
This closure includes:
- Tokyo Disneyland
- Tokyo DisneySea
- All Tokyo Disneyland Hotels
- Ikspiari Shopping Mall
Read our Tokyo Disneyland Closure Guide for more info about refunds, rescheduling your vacation and the very latest updates on this situation.
(Updated) – The Disneyland Paris Resort is now closed due to this worldwide situation. It is currently scheduled to remain closed from now through an undisclosed time. This closure affects the Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, the Disneyland Hotels and the Disney Villiage shopping center.
Once Disney understands the timeframe from Disney and local authorities they will evaluate the situation to give a specific time. With the latest restrictions in France, that won’t be until at least April 15.
Read our guide to the Disneyland Paris closure for more info about everything happening at that resort including updates, refunds and FAQs.
Disney Cruise Line
Right now all Disney Cruise Line itineraries have been canceled because of the situation and perhaps even more so than the parks, things are very scary for the cruise market in general right now.
Read our recent post on the Disney Cruise Line Closure for more detailed information on itinerary cancellations, policy changes and how to get a refund for your booking.
Believe it or not, but this virus has also had a big impact on the film industry, of which Disney is the leading studio in the world. Movie theaters have been closed in almost every country around the world which means huge losses for the theaters and production companies alike.
China is one of the biggest markets for Disney in the world, and right now China has closed all of its 70,000+ theaters in the country. This has created a loss of $1Billion for the industry there, in only a few weeks.
Because of this news, Disney, Fox and other production companies are now pushing off their films to future release dates.
Here is a list of the upcoming Disney and Fox movies that will now
- The New Mutants
- The Personal History of David Copperfield
- Black Widow
- The Woman in the Window
None of these have new release dates yet but we will update you when they do.
All of this is very bad for Disney’s bottom line at the box office, in a year that was already going to be considered “down” after the record-breaking 2019 totals. This is yet another branch of the company that is getting beat up by not operating at this time.
Yes, right now Walt Disney World is closed Indefinitely
Right now the official word from Disney is that it will reopen at some point in the future without giving a specific date. “Until further notice” is the phrase Disney is using. June 1 seems to be the soonest Disney World could open at this point.
Yes, you absolutely can get a refund for your upcoming vacation or modify your dates to sometime in the future without a penalty or fees. This can be done to the dates affected by the closure and select dates beyond. Check the “Refunds” section for more details.
Right now, all Disney theme parks worldwide are currently closed. This includes Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.
Ultimately, right now we are witnessing an unparalleled moment in the history of Disney theme parks. Individually the Disney parks have closed in times of distress and crisis, but never before have ALL Disney theme parks worldwide been closed at the same time.
Like everyone else, we are in shock of the news to close Disney World and the other parks. We knew it was coming at some point, but we didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.
In the end, we think it was the right move by Disney and something other companies should take note of. Disney didn’t let things get to the point where it was out of control and decided to close the parks BEFORE guests and cast members started getting infected on property. That would have caused even more negative press and is the smart thing to do. It was something they didn’t have to do but ultimately was the right choice.
Hopefully, by being proactive, it means that Disney World and the other Disney parks will be able to open sooner than otherwise.
We will continue to keep you updated on the Disney World closure, refunds and any more info we get. Stay tuned!
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I want to know what you think about the impact of the Disney World closure…
- What are you doing about your upcoming Disney vacation?
- What financial impact do you think this situation will have on the company?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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