Let’s face it a lot of people had plans to visit Walt Disney World in 2020 but their plans got cancelled. The parks are back open but should you visit in 2021 or wait another year? This can be a tough call.
As far as we know when I am writing this (Dec 2020), there has been no coronavirus outbreak linked to Walt Disney World. I went back in the end of August and Beginning of September (read about that here). We flew down from Philadelphia and landed in Orlando. Took the Magical Express and stayed at Disney’s POP Century Resort. We didn’t get sick and had no major issues.
With a vaccine coming to us all in the near future, should you visit Walt Disney World in 2021. Well, it all depends on what you want to experience. Park Hopping, although a little different is coming back in 2021. However, we haven’t gotten word on the Dining Plans coming back anytime soon. Hopefully they do come back.
A lot of things are different at WDW right now and we are not sure when it will return back to the way we all know and love. That is, if it does. It’s still too early to know if it will or not. Time will tell.
Why you should visit in 2021
Let’s start of first by giving you the reasons for why you should visit. Chances are if you are reading this you are leaning more towards going in 2021 and not in 2022. Just keep in mind that things could always change. Either for the better or worse.
Park hopping is back. That’s right park hopping is returning starting January 2021. However, it is a little bit different right now. Instead of being able to visit all four parks in one day. You will now only be able to visit two. You still have to have a park reservation for the first park. However, the second park, the one you “hop” to, you will not need a reservation but that park will still need to have available spaces left.
The other thing that is changing with the park hopper is when you can use it. When it first starts. You will only be able to go to the second park AFTER 2pm. That is subjected to change but when it first becomes available, the park hopping option can not be used until after 2pm.
Now this should go without say but you will need to have a valid park ticket with the park hopper option or an annual pass to park hop. A one park a day ticket will not allow you to park hop.
Another thing to keep in mind is if you really want to do something. You should do that park first. Don’t plan on going to Magic Kingdom in the morning, if you only to want to ride Tower of Terror in the afternoon.
Hollywood Studios should be the park you make your reservation for. Just like if you really want to ride Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom. Don’t plan on hopping over to Animal Kingdom. Do that park first.
One more important thing I should mention. If you want to try for a chance to ride Rise of the Resistance. You have to make a reservation for Hollywood Studios. It has to be the first park you visit. If you hop over to Hollywood Studios you will NOT be able to join a virtual queue to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Trust me you want to try for a chance to ride this amazing ride. It will blow your mind in ways you didn’t think were possible. Rise of the Resistance is one of those rides you will never forget and that brings me to my second point on why you should visit Walt Disney World in 2021.
Rides, Attractions, and Restaurants
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios is another reason for you to visit in 2021. The land will suck you in with the level of detail. Now I’ll be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to Galaxy’s Edge. While I don’t mind the new movies. I hate that Disney is trying to ram the new age Star Wars down our throats.
However, even though there is plenty of the new Star Wars throughout Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. It’s not so in your face. Which I find to be a good thing. The only thing I wish that Disney would have done different was make two different “lands”. I wish Disney World and Disneyland didn’t have the same Galaxy’s Edge.
Just for the simple fact that both California and Florida have different climates. To me it would just make each version seem out of place and makes me wonder which one is the real one. I don’t know, its just how I feel.
Now the rides at Galaxy’s Edge are amazing. Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance are amazing rides. Getting a chance to ride both of them is almost reason enough to visit WDW in 2021. Of course, we can’t forget about Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (I almost did) that opened right before the parks closed in March.
A new restaurant may also open in Hollywood Studios in 2021. Roundup Rodeo BBQ may open up in 2021 and from the sounds of it, this table service restaurant will be popular with both kids and adults.
But there are also a couple of other new things coming in 2021.
Over at EPCOT in the France Pavilion there will be a new ride. It was previously scheduled for May of 2020 but that didn’t happen. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and an expansion of the France Pavilion will both be arrive in 2021. Space 220, the new restaurant in EPCOT is also expected to be opened in 2021.
Another new ride at EPCOT Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind may or may not be opening in 2021. Originally, Disney planned on having this new roller coaster open before the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom. However, with all the delays I wouldn’t expect this one to open in 2021. So if this was something you were really looking forward to I would wait until summer of 2022.
In the American Pavilion there was a new restaurant that opened called Regal Eagle Smokehouse. While I don’t think it is better than Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom. Regal Eagle is definitely worth a stop in 2021.
Over in Magic Kingdom there will be a few new things coming in 2021. Of course, you have Magic Kingdom’s birthday on October 1, 2021 when it turns 50. The castle has a new paint job that doesn’t take away from the over all look like it did when it turned 25.
If you are a fan of the old theme at Splash Mountain you should visit soon. While many Disney experts don’t expect Splash Mountain to change it’s theming over to Princess and the Frog till at least 2022. You just never know. A visit in 2021 is a must if you want to see Br’er Rabbit and his friends for the last time.
Hall of Presidents will also be closed and reopened (most likely) in 2021 with the addition of Joe Biden to it. Every four years (if a new President is elected) Hall of Presidents goes down for a refurbishment to add the new President.
The first half of 2021 should still have some pretty low crowds. While it is getting much more crowded than it was back in the summer. The crowds seem to be much lower than they normally would be.
You still have a great chance on doing all the rides at Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and even Hollywood Studios (minus Rise) in one day with low waits. Magic Kingdom would still probably take you two days just because of the sheer amount of rides that are available to you. With the low crowds in early 2021, you should expect low wait times.
The low wait times in August of 2020 is what made me decide to come down for a visit. Was it worth it? It really all depends. For the amount of rides we got to enjoy it was very much worth it.
Why you shouldn’t visit in 2021
Now I think we listed some pretty good reasons for why you should visit in 2021. However, we are going to now go over the reasons why you might want to skip a visit to the most magical place on earth.
HINT: It’s not as magical right now.
Limited Hotels and Price
Not all of the Disney World hotels are open just yet. Sure by the end of 2021 they should all be open but we just don’t know yet. The ones that are open cost a whole lot more than I remember them costing. Plus currently only three of the five value resort are open.
POP Century (my favorite resort) is currently open and a stay in April from the 11th to 17th will cost you $224 a night on average if you don’t get a deal. That price is mind blowing to me. All Star Movies for the same dates will run you $181 a night on average.
Grand Floridian is a mind blowing $810 a night. The prices to me just seem insane. For the dates I selected in April at POP Century with a 5 day park hopper ticket for an adult and child would cost me $2,421. And that’s with the 20% discount that they have going right now if you book by March 15th for stays up until April 17th.
I can’t even imagine paying that much. My last minute trip in August of 2020 with a 6 day base ticket and 7 days 6 nights at POP cost me under $2,000. Now they want at least $400 more.
We all know a vacation to Walt Disney World can be very expensive but is it really worth the money right now? Having limited hotels and high prices is one thing but there are a few more reasons you might want to skip this year.
No Dining Plan
Not being able to get a dining plan isn’t really a deal breaker for many. Even if you are a fan of the dining plans like I am it still isn’t completely a deal break. My last trip we didn’t have a meal plan and that sucked. Food and Wine was going on at EPCOT and having all those snack credits could have been very useful.
When I visit with the dining plan I never have to worry about price. If I want to eat something I just get it because I have the quick-service or table service credit to use. Without the dining plan I found myself skipping meals, getting something I didn’t really want, and sharing meals a lot more.
To me not having the dining plan is a major blow. Hopefully it returns later on in 2021 but as of right now there is no talks of when it will return.
No Character Meet and Greets
Sure you can still see the characters out and about the 4 different parks right now but it’s not the same. Now I don’t usually get my picture taken with many of the characters unless it is during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. My daughter on the other hand loves getting her picture with all the different Disney characters and princesses.
The little character cavalcade that they do are pretty interesting and unique. They are like mini parades that you don’t know are coming out. It’s a great way to see some of your favorite characters but it still isn’t the same as it would be getting your picture with them.
I know some people who only go to WDW to ride a couple of rides and get their picture taken with as many characters as they can. Right now is not the time for them to go. Unless they want to try out many of the rides they have never done before.
Another thing that is missing when it comes to characters is character meals. I know many of them are way over priced. Looking at you Cinderellas Royal Table. However, I am a fan of the character breakfast buffets with my two favorites being Tusker House at Animal Kingdom and Minnie’s Beach Bash at Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
Due to the pandemic all buffets have been suspended and due to social distancing guidelines no characters are at the ones who serve food family style. Chef Mickeys (check out our review) is currently open but not doing a buffet and just started (Dec 2020) having characters walk around the restaurant. Sorry you still can’t get your photo with them but you can at least get a photo of them.
Right now at all four Disney theme parks there are no FastPasses. While on the surface it does suck. It wasn’t too bad when we visited in Aug of 2020. However, the crowds were much lighter than they are now. Many of the rides were walk on or had a 15 minute wait. Even some of the most popular rides were sitting at 30 minutes.
Now the crowds are starting to return and the wait times are creeping up. Without FP+ you know you will be waiting in line for however long the stand by time is showing. For many people that might not matter. To me and many people I know we hate standing in lines.
Not being able to get a FastPass stinks. While it isn’t the only reason not to go. It is part of the many reasons not to go in 2021.
No Fireworks, Parades, or Shows
For at least the first half of 2021 you can expect that there will still be no fireworks, parades, or shows going on. The one thing I missed the most on my most recent visit was the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. I think many of you can agree that there is just something about seeing the fireworks soaring high above Cinderellas castle. Sure I could do without the crowds but the whole thing is amazing.
Not only are there no fireworks going off at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or EPCOT. The Tree of Life show at Animal Kingdom wasn’t going on either. Plus all the shows at the theme parks have been cancelled and not sure when they will be returning. If you didn’t realize it the shows can eat up a lot of the crowds at the different theme parks.
This is especially true at Hollywood Studios. I would say each ride has a 15 or 20 minute longer wait because of the lack of shows going on at Hollywood Studios.
Hours are still limited at the Walt Disney World theme parks. They have been increasing but they are still not at prepandemic levels. Plus for those staying on Disney property do not have access to Extra Magic Hours.
Being able to get in the parks an hour or two early can really make a difference. With the crowds slowing coming back and the limited park hours makes it harder for you to enjoy everything that is currently being offered.
Planning a Disney vacation for 2021 can be a little tough. We don’t know if or when things will get back to normal. We don’t know if meet and greets, buffets, FastPass+, park hours, dining plans, or resorts will be back to prepandemic levels. I don’t know if I will be going to WDW in 2021. I like to go every year in August but I just don’t know if I will be going this year.
I do know that if I go I will not be staying at a Disney Resort and will probably only go to one or two parks. So what are you going to do? Do you plan on visiting Walt Disney World in 2021 or are you going to wait till 2022 or later?
There are a few good reasons to visit in 2021. Magic Kingdom’s 50th birthday, lower crowds, and new attractions are reason to visit. However, the lack of a dining plan, FP, EMH, characters, resorts, and the returning crowds are reasons to skip a Disney Vacation in 2021. It’s not an easy call that’s for sure.
Hopefully this post helps you make up your mind if you were on the fence. Let us know in the comments below what you are planning on doing this year. Should you stay or do you go?
Looking for more Disney Related content? We have all kinds of guides to help make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Clueless on where to start? Follow us on Facebook (DisneyByKoz or KozmoPhotos) and check out our handy booking guide and don’t forget to follow us to stay up to date on our latest post. Sign up for our E-mail list and get your FREE WDW Booking Guide in a PDF. Click here to sign up today.