How You Need To Do Disney World Differently In 2021
The Walt Disney World Resort is now on the eve of its 50th anniversary celebration, launching October 1, 2021. While an anniversary always brings new offerings and major changes, its fair to say that the resort has undergone an even larger transformation than in any normal anniversary year.
The last two years have brought significant change to Walt Disney World particularly when it comes to logistics and planning. The parks were closed entirely from March to July of 2020. When Disney World reopened in summer 2020, everything was highly modified. Slowly but surely, Disney made incremental adjustments that nudged the parks back to something more closely resembling normal operations. But in that same time, Disney also hit some big reset buttons on several features of a Walt Disney World vacation many guests took as a given.
Even as the 50th anniversary celebration begins, the situation at Walt Disney World remains fluid with many more changes possible. Its a lot to keep track of if youre planning a trip for the big event. Your strategies will need to evolve with the evolving conditions at Disney World if you want to get the most out of your vacation.
So weve compiled a cheat sheet of what you need to know before you visit Walt Disney World in 2021 and 2022 to help you have the most magical trip possible. Lets dive in to what trips during the 50th anniversary celebration will look like.
Best Way To Book A Disney World Vacation
If you want to visit Walt Disney World on your next family vacation, but arent sure where to begin planning we highly suggest working with a certified Travel Agent! Our friends over at Academy Travel are experienced, knowledgeable, and will be with you every step of the way when planning your magical Walt Disney World vacation.
Founded in 1996, Academy Travel is celebrating over 20 years in business and as the original Disney Exclusive travel agency. Academy Travel has earned the highest designation that Disney can bestow upon a travel agency, EarMarked Diamond!
Academy Travel is an and has been designated as a Diamond EarMarked Travel Agency specializing in Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
If you are planning to visit a public place, such as Walt Disney World Resort, during this pandemic, please remember to practice safety and health protocols in order to keep yourself and others safe during this time. Keep your distance from other Guests, wear your appropriate face coverings at all required times, wash your hands often, try to use paperless payment methods, and cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.
Plan Your Disneyland Vacation
Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for Disneyland vacation! Be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:
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Staying In A Disney Resort
Unfortunately, changes Disney made in 2020 and 2021 have reduced the advantages for on-site guests, but there are still some.
- Accommodation is more expensive , but you can save on transport and tickets .
- Free shuttle buses between resorts and parks so you dont need to rent a car or pay for parking. From 2022 you will need to pay for transport from the airport.
- Resort guests can enter all parks 30 minutes early every day. This is especially useful for popular rides like Avatar at Animal Kingdom and the Star Wars rides at Hollywood Studios.
- In addition, guests at Deluxe Resorts will be able to stay late at some parks on select days.
- You can book Individual Lightning Lanes at 7am .
- You can make restaurant reservations 60 days before you check-in plus up to 10 days of your trip . This is useful if you want to eat in a popular restaurant like Cinderellas Royal Table.
- Packages purchased in park stores can be delivered to your resort.
If you do decide to stay in a Disney resort, the cheapest options are Disney Value Resorts including the various All Star Resorts and Pop Century.
Pop Century is generally considered slightly better, but the cheapest one available when we booked was All Star Music, which has a standard rate of $161 plus tax per night. In low season there are discounted rates.
Our room at All Star Music was similar to the basic motel rooms we usually book off-site with two double beds, an ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, free wifi, TV, and a mini-fridge .
Book A Disney World Vacation Package
Not sure which route to go when it comes to booking your vacation this year? Well I have one big money saver for you! If there is an inkling in your mind that you may have to cancel, which really isnt on all of ours?
What if you get sick, or a family member? What if work restrictions change and you have to quarantine and cant take the loss of pay? What if case numbers get too high and you dont feel comfortable? What if policies changes or your must-dos end up closed at the parks?
There are a lot of what-ifs these days and having flexibility I find is essential in 2021. If you go the route of booking a vacation package you can easily get all your money back in the event you need to cancel. When tickets are purchase separately, they cannot be canceled or returned.
While purchasing rooms and tickets separately often works out to be a cheaper deal you should factor in this cancellation loophole that could effectively save you on the need to buy travel insurance.
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Final Thoughts On Your Disney World Tips
These are just a few Walt Disney World tips you should know when planning your vacation to the parks.
The little hacks are also things I love to remember when it comes to doing Disney the right way.
Please let me know what Walt Disney World tips and tricks you think are the best in the comments section below.
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Services For Guests With Disabilities
As part of our unwavering commitment to accessibility, there are a variety of services and facilities to accommodate Guests with mobility, hearing, visual and cognitive disabilities.
A few examples of these services include wheelchair access vehicles, the Disability Access Service card and Handheld Captioning.
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Explore The World Of Avatar
Pandora The World of Avatar will engulf you in magic and wonder as soon as you walk through the entryway.
The majesty, the beauty, and the harmonious sounds of nature will transport you into another place.
Youll want tovisit Pandora in the early morning or late in the evening to take advantage of the lower crowd level.
When Should I Go To Disney In 2021
Just like any year, it depends on what is most important to you. Are you looking to take advantage of lower crowds? Youll probably have better luck in January or February, which are normally slower times and will probably still have a lot of restrictions in place which may keep others away. If you like the idea of a big celebration , late September/early October should be a lot of fun for the 50th anniversary. If you want things to be as much back to normal as they possibly can be, I would wait until August or later.
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Make Theme Park Reservations
- All guests must have a Theme Park Reservation in addition to a theme park ticket. To make a park reservation, youll need a My Disney Experience account and a valid theme park ticket linked to that account.
- Make your park reservations on the Disney World website. Availability may be slightly different for guests staying at WDW hotels, annual pass holders, and day guests.
Disney World Planning Tips You Havent Thought Of Yet
During 2020, we saw lots of changes made at Walt Disney World that could totally alter the way you plan for your trip.
2021 has brought its own changes as well. If youre planning to visit Walt Disney World in 2021, there are quite a few things you should keep in mind that you might not be thinking about at all!
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Think About Where You Want To Eat Before You Go
Disney offers many exceptional restaurants, including character experiences and dinner shows. Fitting a few into your first time at Disney World is definitely part of the magic, but dont expect to walk up and get a seat. You will need to book a spot in the restaurant in advance by placing an Advanced Dining Reservations .
ADRs are a bit of a misnomer, as a table will not be held for your arrival. Instead, you will book a time slot, check-in 10 minutes before, and then be placed in a queue for the next available table fitting your party size.
If it sounds pointless to make a reservation to wait for a table, consider the alternative. Many restaurants, particularly those offering character experiences, fill up with ADRs. When this happens, you will be turned away at the podium without ever having the chance to enter the restaurant.
Quick-service dining, on the other hand, requires no reservations and can be accessed any time during open hours.
Choosing Your Disney Hotel In 2022
The Disney hotels are broken into three groups: value, moderate, and deluxe. We have an entire Disney World hotels guide. That guide links to reviews of individual hotels and provides some basic information about each. We also have:
Ranking of the Best Disney World Hotels our subjective ranking of all the Disney hotels
Value resorts are the lowest-priced hotels, with rooms occasionally priced on third-party sites at under $100, and often available through Disney directly at around $125 per night. These resorts have the smallest rooms, food courts instead of restaurants, and bus access to all the parks.
A value room at Walt Disney World
Moderate resorts are priced in the middle of value and deluxe. They have slightly better rooms and theming than the value resorts. They have a mix of dining options, and bus access to all the parks.
Deluxe resorts are Disneys finest resorts . They have better theming and more of a luxurious feel to them. They have some of Disneys best table-service restaurants . They have excellent pools, and generally better location than the other resorts, typically including monorail, boat, or walking access to at least one park.
Deluxe resort guests have a new exclusive perkextended evening hours at select parks on select nights. Weve visited both Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom and Extended Evening Hours at Epcot. Is this a good perk? Definitely. Is it worth the cost of upgrading to a deluxe hotel? Not really.
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Decide How Long You Want To Stay
This will ultimately depend on three factors:
- How much you want to see and do Are you planning on visiting all four theme parks? Are there any other parks, water parks, or sites you want to see in Florida? Do you want to have a built-in rest day from the parks?
- How long you can get away from work/school Obviously, some of us will find it easier to get away than others. For example, we home school our daughters, so time away from school isnt as much of a factor as it would be for others.
- How much you want to spend Needless to say, the longer your vacation is, the more it will cost. Your budget may be a huge contributing factor to the length of your vacation.
Resorts And No Parks Days
If you have some free time, or if youre planning a meal at one of Disneys hotels, you may want to set aside some time to explore their resorts. This is particularly a good idea if youre planning a future visit and want to scope out the hotel.
You can easily visit the monorail hotels by riding the monorail between them. You can easily visit the Boardwalk hotels by walking between them, particularly while walking between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
And if you want a full day of relaxation , you may want to set aside time for a no parks day. This is a day where you dont go to the parks, instead focusing on the other activities your resort and Walt Disney World have to offer.
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High Priority Genie+ And Lightning Selections
FastPass+ has been retired and Disney has shifted to its paid replacement Genie+. However, not all Genie+ or Lightning Lane reservations are equal, and there are some attractions where its much more advantageous to use them.
After all, you are limited to one Genie+ reservation at a time for the most part, so you need to choose wisely.
You should use Genie+ selections on higher-profile attractions that always draw long wait times like Peter Pans Flight or Test Track. Using a Genie+ on Alien Swirling Saucers at Hollywood Studios for example would be a waste.
Here is our list of High-Priority Genie+ attractions:
- Peter Pans Flight
- Splash Mountain
- Soarin Around the World
- Navi River Journey
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway
- Rock n Roller Coaster
- Tower of Terror
Not all the Individual Lightning Lane selections are worth the money either as some dont usually have long enough wait times.
Here is our list of rides we would spend an Individual Lightning Lane selection on if the circumstances were right:
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Avatar: Flight of Passage
- Remys Ratatouille Adventure (EPCOT
Park Hopper Begins At 2 Pm
If you were a fan of the Park Hopper ticket, that flexibility of the Park Hopper is on pause. Mainly so Disney can keep an eye on attendance and manage park capacity. Weve talked before about how you dont really need the Park Hopper ticket if youre doing the planning ahead of time. So, this is a little loss now that you can only book one park per day on the Disney Park Reservation system. But, since youll have to be doing the planning anyway, just think of it as a way to save money. If you are a die-hard park hopper, however, then review the Walt Disney World Park Hopper details for 2021. You dont need a park reservation for your second park of the day, but since you can only hop after 2 pm, youre spending quite a bit of cold hard cash for a half-day perk.
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Hotel Reservations Are Hard To Get
Some hotels havent reopened , so there are fewer rooms than usual open at Disney World. When we checked for hotels available in the next few days , there were only three options: Disneys Art of Animation Resort, Disneys Pop Century Resort, and Disneys Yacht Club Resort.
The rest of the 32 hotels at Disney World were either full, not yet open, or not available for reservations. Since some Disney hotels can get pretty pricey , this means your options are very limited if youre not booking pretty far in advance.
We also checked for the beginning of October to see what hotel availability looks like for the start of Disney Worlds 50th Anniversary Celebration! From what we saw, theres not a whole lot available for that time right now.
There was one moderate resort available at this time: Disneys Coronado Springs Resort, but it was still $367 per night. A few Deluxe Resorts Disneys most expensive hotels were also available, including Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disneys BoardWalk Inn, Disneys Wilderness Lodge, and Disneys Yacht Club Resort.
There were NO value resorts available for late September through early October.
Spend A Day At A Water Park
Its the perfect way for you to cool off from the unforgiving sun and enjoy the Sunshine State.
If youre familiar with the Disney water parks, then you know theyre open for most of the year. However, the party kicks into high gear during the summer months.
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When Will Additional Restaurants Open
At this time, Disney World has not announced that any additional restaurants would reopen, however, as we continue to see the Florida resort slowly start to bring back some character dining experiences at select locations, we suspect them to also reopen other dining locations, including quick-service and table-service restaurants.
Inside the Magic will continue to update you on Disney Worlds open restaurant locations as we get information.
If You Want To Spend A Bit Less
The budget figure given above $3,927 involves a stay at one of Disneys All-Star hotels, few-to-no table service meals , and a discounted ticket option. Its a relatively low target if youre booking a traditional Disney World stay.
To go below that, youll need to start thinking out of the boxbooking around only the best Disney deals booking non-Disney hotels or Airbnb waiting for deep deals on Priceline cutting a day off your tickets buying groceries and bringing your own food. We cover much of these in the rest of this guide in the appropriate sections.
Beyond the rest of this post, we also have a separate post of 50+ Ways to Save On Your Disney Vacation.
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