Among several frequently asked questions we’ve been receiving, many of our concerned readers have been asking us whether or not we think Disney World and Disneyland will re-open in April.
As of March 19th, we honestly don’t know. But we’ve been following the impact of COVID-19 on the Disney parks since the outbreak first began back in January, and we have some insight on what news we should all be preparing ourselves to hear.
To put it very bluntly, not even Disney knows if Disney World will re-open in April. Just like the rest of the world, they’re assessing the pandemic day-by-day and taking extreme precautionary measures one step at a time. Disney will not put guests’ or Cast Members’ safety at risk, so whether or not the parks will re-open on April 1st has more to do with what WILL happen than what HAS happened.
Why Everything is Closing Down
As a country, we’ve witnessed wide-scale, sweeping closures and cancellations of schools and businesses affecting millions. We’ve seen major sporting events discontinued including the NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, and NCAA series. Flying anywhere has become its own unique challenge as Coronavirus screening has increased and travel bans are becoming a more frequent occurrence. And now, the CDC is advising groups of over 50 people should postpone or call off their assemblies for the next 8 weeks.
If you’ve been following the news and have seen the reported numbers, you might think this is an overreaction. After all, as of today, there are just over 3,700 reported cases of Coronavirus in the United States resulting in at least 71 deaths according to CBS News. In a nation of over 331 million people, this number may seem small, but here in the U.S., we’re only in the initial stages of the outbreak.
Things are shutting down right now NOT because of how many people might be already infected with COVID-19, but in an effort to “flatten the curve.”
Flattening the Curve
From government officials to leaders of every organization and industry, decisions are being made to shut down as many public gatherings as possible in an attempt to help “flatten the curve.” What we’re actively seeing overseas right now in Italy and other parts of the world is what we are racing to prevent from happening here in the States.
COVID-19 has exploded and overwhelmed the hospitals forcing healthcare workers to make life-or-death decisions regarding patients due to limited resources. They just don’t have the means or space to take care of everyone who could become infected if the pandemic continues.
By “flattening the curve” we can help keep our hospitals from getting overcrowded and slow the infection down. Instead of everyone getting sick at once, by “social-distancing” ourselves (not going into crowded places and staying 6 feet away from each other) we can have a greater impact on the rate at which this highly-contagious disease is transmitted.
Take a look at the graph below. We are still in the initial outbreak phase and we’ve already begun to see our number of cases dramatically rise over the course of just a few weeks. If the infection continues to accelerate, we’ll see our healthcare system buckle under the overwhelming amount of pressure.
It’s Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better
Given the current trajectory and the limited resources that are available to test for COVID-19, we will likely see these numbers continue to rise in the short term. Disney World and Disneyland are not likely to re-open until we see these numbers decrease.
What Can WE Do To Ensure The Parks Re-Open As Soon As Possible?
If you’re eager to get back into the parks (so are we!), then now is the time to follow the directives laid out by the CDC. Stay home. Keep 6 feet away from people you don’t live with. Wash your hands. Don’t attend large gatherings.
Don’t think about not GETTING the virus — think about not SPREADING the virus. The more those numbers of infected Americans drop, the more likely it is that the parks will re-open soon.
What You Should Do About Your Upcoming Disney Trip
If you have a Disney vacation scheduled in April or May, we suggest that you keep the trip on the books for now. Should the parks extend their closure, accommodations will be made to allow for fee-free refunds and rescheduling as necessary (just like we’ve just seen for guests affected by March’s temporary closure dates).
It is likely airlines will also allow you to change or cancel your flights without incurring a penalty fee if or when the time comes to do so.
Our advice is to not make too many rash decisions — after all, the phone lines are still busy with people canceling their March trips. So wait and see. You’ll have plenty of time to cancel once we see what happens in the next two weeks.
If you’re worried about making a final payment on a vacation package for later in the year, go ahead and make it. Disney has modified its terms to allow fee-free cancellation up to June 30th, 2020, to accommodate any park closure extensions. So right now, keeping your reservation is pretty safe from a fee-sparing perspective.
Disney has also made some temporary adjustments to its final payment policy. For guests who have pre-existing reservations through Walt Disney Travel Company, final payment for resort packages booked at Walt Disney World or Disneyland will now be due 7 days prior to Guest arrival. Payment can be made online or by phone. For new package reservations made with arrival in less than 30 days, payments will be due in full.
FastPasses and Advance Dining Reservations
If you’re wondering if you should be making your FastPasses and advance dining reservations for later in the year, go for it! These are cost-free and can always be canceled if necessary. Hesitating now could cost you a ride on one of your favorite attractions or a meal at one of your favorite restaurants when the parks re-open.
Looking for more information on FastPasses and dining reservations? Check out our Coronaviruas FAQ here.
Overall — we need to take a day-by-day approach. And as always, we’ll be here sharing the latest news and details to help you best plan your trip…and reschedule it if necessary.
We will continue to provide you with advice in the next coming weeks, but for all the latest news including official statements released by Disney.