By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Walt Disney World in 2020



By Dave Shute

DISNEY WORLD IN 2020

Usually on pages like this on this site I focus just on choices within a year. But—barring a recession—for those making plans, it’s important to note how Disney World in 2020 will stack up versus both 2019 and later years.

What we have coming up is the completion of the re-imagination of Hollywood Studios and its 30th anniversary in 2019, another ride opening at the Studios and the first major fruits of the re-imagining of Epcot in 2020, Disney World’s 50th anniversary likely kicking off in 2021 and extending into early 2023, and Epcot’s 40th anniversary being celebrated in 2022.

As a result, I expect

  • In 2019, Disney’s Hollywood Studios to be slammed late in the year, after two new major attractions (“E”-Tickets) open
  • In 2020, something on the order of 4 million extra guests from the attractions at the Studios and, perhaps, new attractions at Epcot
  • In 2021 and especially 2022, something on the order of 10 million extra guests from Star Wars, the anniversaries and additional new attractions, including four new E-ticket rises that will open at the Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom in 2020, 2021, and/or 2022

So 2020 at Disney World, while it will be rough, will be better than the next two years, for which I am forecasting eventually something like 30,000 more guests a day than we saw in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a whole new park’s worth of guests…without a whole new park having opened.

Let me explain a bit how I get there, and then return to 2020 at Disney World.

WHAT’S NEW AT DISNEY WORLD IN 2019

  • Late in the year and the new land Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, with two “E”-ticket rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, completing the transformation it began in 2018 with Toy Story Land. Based on other recent openings, I expect this to add something like the equivalent of 4 million new guests a year. The new E-ticket ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been delayed to 2020.
  • IllumiNations at Epcot will end in the early fall, and be replaced with a temporary show while construction happens in World Showcase and the World Showcase Lagoon to support an all-new permanent show. Epcot will also see some other minor additions and upgrades.
  • The Disney Skyliner, principally a transportation system, but also a bit of an attraction and a kinetic addition, will open in the second half of the year. It will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the hotels Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, Art of Animation, and the new Disney Riviera Resort.
  • The equivalent in capacity of about 1,000 new hotel rooms will open, in a new tower at Coronado Springs and at Riviera. Some rooms will be closed for refurb at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the All-Stars, Port Orleans Riverside, and Old Key West. Other room refurbs—especially at the Magic Kingdom resorts—are possible.

WHAT’S NEW AT DISNEY WORLD IN 2020

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the spring of 2020. Epcot will see a new permanent nighttime show, and its new E-ticket Ratatouille attraction, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, may open as early as spring 2020. Epcot’s other new E-ticket attraction, based on Guardians of the Galaxy, may open as early as late 2020, although the first half of 2021 may be more likely. Further major changes to Epcot to complete its transformation—especially to the park entrance and inner core of Future World—are being discussed, but specifics have not been announced and there’s no good rumors on timing.
  • A new Star Wars-themed hotel may open outside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as early as 2020, as may a third hotel in the Swan/Dolphin complex, the Cove. 2021 may be more likely for these.
  • The value resorts should complete their room refurb wave. I’d expect the Magic Kingdom resorts to do so as well, so that they are all re-done (and thus available to sell) before the 50th anniversary celebration. Saratoga Springs will begin a refurb.

WHAT’S NEW AT DISNEY WORLD IN 2021

  • Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration will begin later in the year.
  • A new E-ticket ride at Magic Kingdom, TRON Lightyear Power Run, will most likely open in the first half of 2021, although late 2020 is still not impossible. I would also not be surprised to see a new evening parade at Magic Kingdom in 2021, although this is just a guess, or more properly a hope.
  • We may also see a re-launch of the Animal Kingdoms’ Rivers of Light in 2021.

WHAT’S NEW AT DISNEY WORLD IN 2022

  • Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration will continue all year. Based on what happened to attendance during its 25th anniversary, I expect this to add 15-20% to attendance compared to 2020, or another 6 to 8 million people. Adding this and the Hollywood Studios effects together, and picking a nice round number, I get about ten million more folk than in 2018.
  • Epcot’s 40th anniversary may kick off in late 2021 or early 2022.
  • The transformation of Epcot may continue with changes to its entrance and Future World. A new hotel may emerge at Epcot, as well as a new country in World Showcase.
  • The new resort “Reflections,” between the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, will likely open in 2022. Disney is being vague—perhaps purposely cagey—on the theming of this resort, and the early imagery is nondescript, but I am kinda thinking that Prairie School theming would be an interesting concept here…

DISNEY WORLD TICKET PRICING IN 2020

Expect higher than average ticket price increases in 2020 as Disney World extracts value from its Pandora, Toy Story, Star Wars and other investments.

Disney World also has a new-in-2018 ticket pricing model where you pay higher ticket prices for more attractive dates. These prices have already gone up once, and the  range of lowest to highest prices in 2019 is high enough over the Christmas holiday to drive people to different dates. In 2020, this range likely will be wider, giving folks a stronger incentive to avoid dates that are typically easier to visit because of kids’ vacation schedules, and shift to traditionally slower dates instead.

DISNEY WORLD RESORT PRICING AND DEALS IN 2020

Disney World uses a combination of complicated and changing room pricing, and, on top of that, deals, to keep its resort hotel occupancy very high. Typically, rooms are more expensive—sometimes much more—during the more attractive times to go to Disney World. While deals have been technically available for most times of the year (you’ll find current Disney World deals here), the number and types of rooms available has gotten more and more restrictive over the past few years. I expect this trend of less-available deals to be even more true in 2020 because of the appeal of Galaxy’s Edge.

Deals often emerge after the best time to book your Disney World vacation. The simplest way to handle getting your deals is to make your initial booking through a travel agent, who will then–if a deal comes out for your dates–move heaven and earth to try to get you in to it.

I recommend Kelly B., who has been the travel agent partner of this site for years. To book your vacation through her, contact her using the form at the end of this page.

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS IN 2020

The major question for 2020 crowds at Disney World is the continuing impact of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on the parks after its late 2019 opening. Based on what Universal saw with Harry Potter, I expect the new land to be just slammed with crowds, with some spill-over effect into the rest of the Studios.  However, based on what happened at Universal I don’t necessarily see a broad increase in crowds in all the other parks from the Star Wars fans. I have more on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds here.

Early January 2020 will be slammed through the 4th, but better after then, with the Martin Luther King weekend being the worst later dates in the month,

Presidents Day, February 17 in 2020, is in the middle of its possible range. The week that includes Presidents Day will be bad as usual. (Tons of kids in the northeast have the whole week off.) Crowds for this week actually begin the Thursday before.

Mardi Gras in 2020 is February 25.  A few southern school districts have it off as a single or multi-day holiday. The impact of Mardi Gras-related visitors on Disney World is vastly overrated, so don’t worry about it. (People mix up the effects from it and the effects of President’s day breaks–five out of the last eight years have seen the week of Mardi Gras also influenced by crowds from President’s Day breaks.)

Easter in 2020 will be late in its possible range, on April 12. As a result, later March, while not good, will be better than in years with an earlier Easter, and there will be fewer good late April weeks.

Summer 2020 crowds are a bit up in the air.  They have been down the last few years, but I expect that the draw of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and possibly the new Ratatouille ride in Epcot (which may be open by then) to bring us back to pretty profound summer crowds.

Thanksgiving, November 26, is nearly as late as it can be in 2020, giving more good early November dates but fewer good late November ones.

Christmas is on a Friday in 2020.  That means almost all schools that take two weeks off for Christmas will begin their breaks on Saturday December 19, 2020, and be off through Sunday January 3, 2021. Schools with shorter breaks will largely be out Thursday December 24 through January 3. As a result, the period from Christmas through January 2, 2021 will be especially crazy.

See the links for more on 2020 at Walt Disney World:

Expect hotel rooms–and perhaps even tickets, in a new twist–to be harder to book in 2020 than they have been for years.  You can book a hotel up to 499 days before your planned check-in.

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book your vacation for you.  Contact her using the form below.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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35 comments

1 Brit { 01.01.19 at 10:53 am }

Thanks for the early information. We booked a late April/early May 2020 stay last week. And you are correct regarding rooms. While we were attempting to book an accessible room type it appeared that 2 Value hotels were already sold out of this category.

2 Dave { 01.02.19 at 5:27 am }

Thanks, Brit!

3 Ray { 01.01.19 at 2:14 pm }

Thanks for the site, we check it everytime we plan a Disney Vacation. We just became DVC members and are thinking of planning a 2020 vacation.

When will the “Crowd level” and “When to Visit” in 2020 be published? Seems like they are normally online over a year ahead, but so far cannot find any sites online with 2020 estimates. If we decide to go in January 2020 we need to plan now and book at the end of this month.
Thanks
Ray

4 Dave { 01.02.19 at 5:29 am }

Hi Ray, I hope to have mine out later this month. I can’t speak for others, but I have been waiting to see if 1. the new date-based ticket pricing system has any effect on crowd levels (little evidence that it does, so far) and 2. to see if DIsney would release 2020 ticket prcies (not yet).

That said, if you have some specific dates in mind I can certainly comment on them!

5 Jeff { 01.01.19 at 9:18 pm }

I love these future outlooks. I’m always planning a couple vacations ahead.
I’ve been leaning towards a December 2019 trip, followed by a year-off in 2020, and then a big Fall return in 2021 for the 50th.
Your article helped solidify that plan.

6 Dave { 01.02.19 at 5:31 am }

Great, Jeff!

7 Carla { 01.02.19 at 8:55 am }

Thanks for all the advice again Dave!

You mentioned above that you would comment on specific dates. What are your thoughts about Jan. 4-12 of 2020? I realize that week is usually not a popular pick on your crowd calendar, due to ride closures, but we are return visitors (DVC) and are mostly wondering about crowds. Our other week we are considering is a few weeks earlier,Dec 14-21 of 2019, which I’m guessing would be the better week, except that it happens to be the week you predict Star Wars land to open (am I correct about that?), so that might make that week have really crazy crowds. If you were picking between those two weeks, with crowds being the main consideration, which do you think would be better? I realize this is a hard question since we don’t know when Star Wars will open, but my 11 month DVC window opens soon. Any thoughts are appreciated! Thanks!

8 Dave { 01.03.19 at 6:58 am }

Hi Carla! I expect to see heavy crowds through January 4, 2020, but smooth sailing afterward–except at HS, of course. Between your weeks, I think that if you don’t care about the Xmas program, I’d pick January.

9 Sarah { 01.03.19 at 11:18 am }

Thanks for the awesome information! What are your thoughts on the week of April 18, 2020? I’d love to go the week after, but my kids are on vacation April 20-24 so I don’t think I could justify that.

10 Dave { 01.04.19 at 10:42 am }

Hi Sarah, I think the week beginning the 18th will be just fine!

11 Angela { 01.05.19 at 5:58 pm }

Any thoughts on middle of October 2020? We are planning on going for my birthday the 14th and haven’t decided if that would be the beginning of the trip or the end. We have some time before the in-laws DVC can be booked.

12 Dave { 01.06.19 at 4:12 pm }

Hi Angela, Disney World has gotten more and more busy in October, especially the weeks before and after Columbus Day (10/12 in 2020). I would avoid October 2020 until 10/18.

13 Amanda { 01.07.19 at 10:32 am }

Hi Dave. Looking at going the week after Thanksgiving 2020 (Nov. 28). Just wondering if you still think this week is a good time to go? This will be our second trip down. Thanks!

14 Dave { 01.09.19 at 7:35 am }

Hi Amanda! Yes, I think that will be a fine week.

15 Mandy Delacey { 01.09.19 at 9:52 am }

Hi Amanda
have booked to go to Disney May starting from the 8th may 2020 is this a good time to go thank you

16 Ron { 01.13.19 at 6:18 pm }

Hey Dave,
Love your site and it’s my go to when planning which week to take my family on a Disney Vacation. For 2020 with Halloween being on a Saturday I’m trying to figure out a way to experience both Holiday Party Events. If arriving on Friday the 30th of October With a 10 or 11 day trip we would be in Disney until Nov 8th or 9th and my Dream is to see both Halloween and Christmas events…. Do you think this is possible? Also I know extremely early but what do you think crowd wise with these dates? Thanks in advance!!!

17 Dave { 01.14.19 at 7:45 am }

Hi Ron, and thanks for the kind words!

On matters like this it’s best to see what Disney did in equivalent recent years. 2015 also saw a Saturday halloween, another showing of the Halloween party on Sunday 11/1, and that year the first Xmas party was the next Sunday, 11/8, with then more the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday following.

That first week of Nov will be Jersey Week in 2020, and I have it forecast as moderate crowds.

18 RonD { 01.17.19 at 1:30 pm }

Dave,
Thinking of going back to WDW for a resort vacation week of 22 AUG-30 AUG for my retirement my military celebration. Would you consider this a good week, and will most of the opening of new attractions be completed by than?

19 Dave { 01.17.19 at 1:43 pm }

RonD, a whole sequence of new attractions will open between 2019 and 2022. Some will be open by then, others not. That’s a good week for crowds and prices, but miserable on weather (as is all of June-September) and smack in the middle of the hurricane season.

PS Congrats on your upcoming retirement, and thank you for your service! And if you don’t know about it already, check out MilitaryDisneyTips.com where you will find info on military discount in 2020–if any are made available–and also on Shades of Green.

20 Patrick { 01.20.19 at 1:14 am }

Hello, I’m confused by your listing of 2020 as the start date of WDW 50. Since WDW opened in Fall of 1971, shouldn’t WDW 50 start around Fall 2021 and run through much of 2022? I remember WDW 45 (which was not really a big hoopla) began in Fall 2016 and ran through much of 2017.

Is WDW expanding the years of WDW 50 to begin the year before the actual anniversary?
This could change my plans!

21 Dave { 01.20.19 at 6:52 am }

Patrick, I pride myself on my analytical skills, and my accuracy.

That said at times I can be as big an idiot as my sweet puppy Abby.

You are mostly right–I am entirely wrong. The “mostly” is for the end, which based on the model of the 25th, should go into 2023.

I will sheepishly revise this page shortly–I’m traveling today so it won’t be this morning…

22 Patrick { 01.20.19 at 3:36 pm }

Ah we all make mistakes! Abby looks like an amazing puppy! ?

23 Dave { 01.21.19 at 7:29 am }

Abby is a doll, but very willful…

24 Kim { 02.28.19 at 3:51 pm }

Hi Dave,
Do you have any guess on if Disney will continue to offer free dining during those late summer months (ie Sept) in 2020? I’ve heard rumors that they might do away with it after Galaxy’s Edge opens. Thoughts?

25 Dave { 03.01.19 at 9:46 am }

Kim, the most likely outcome is Disney narrowing eligible dates, resorts in the deal, and the number of available rooms at those resorts, rather than abandoning it. That said, I always suggest planning as though there will be no deal, then being happy if one emerges.

26 Ronnie { 03.10.19 at 1:38 pm }

Do you think there will be much difference in price of a 4 or 5 day pass for tickets in June 2019 vs June 2020. Was planning going June 2020 but didn’t know if price be a lot higher or just a few $$$ per ticket. Thanks.

27 Dave { 03.10.19 at 3:25 pm }

Ronnie, next June will be the first summer after the new Star Wars land opens. Because of that, it is quite possible that tickets will be substantially higher then. 15% to 20% more would not shock me.

28 Sarah Hilliard { 03.25.19 at 4:02 pm }

Do you think the room rates will go up a lot at Pop Century for 2020 due to the Skyline completion? We are going to return in March of 2020 and I was thinking of doing Pop, but would have to weigh how much it is worth.

29 Dave { 03.26.19 at 7:09 am }

Sarah, it’s widely predicted but I am skeptical.

We’ve seen over the years what at least I view as some pretty big changes in the resorts–e.g. the change from full beds to queen beds at the noerates, and from fulls to queens at Pop–without notable price changes beyond what has been typical (5-10%) following them.

I would plan on a ten percent change. The good thing is that 2020 prices should be out by summer.

30 Belinda G Saylor { 04.10.19 at 7:48 am }

We are planning on a vacation March 1st for.about 8 days. Would that be a good time to go ..also was curious when Disney is supposed to let us know the new ticket pricing .not many sites have ticket pricing and we are just looking at getting base tickets ..any guidance would be helpful thanks

31 Dave { 04.10.19 at 5:12 pm }

Hi Belinda, my thoughts (so far) on all the options in 2020 are here. We are only about 7 months into Disney’s new date based ticketing model, so there is no experience yet as to when it will release ticket prices for the next tranche of dates. My guess is that ticket prices for March 2020 will come out sometime in May or June of this year.

32 Shauna { 04.13.19 at 9:16 am }

Hi! We’re trying to plan our 1st Disney vacation (boys will be 4 and 7), and I’m trying to avoid the crowds, but of course we’re limited on the dates we can go because of work and school. How crowded do you think it would be January 2-5? I’m also not sure what to expect of Florida weather in January too. We would be going to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios!

33 Dave { 04.13.19 at 11:10 am }

Shauna, if you are constrained by school calendars–which I’m not sure matter much at those ages–then almost all dates will be crowded, because it is school calendars that drive crowds. The first few days of 2020 will be among the most crowded of the year.

January can be chilly–see this.

For how to think about the tradeoffs on when to go to Disney World, see this.

34 Julie May { 05.10.19 at 3:13 pm }

Hello! This site has been so informative! My last trip to Disney World with my family was first week of June 2018. I was able to manage the crowds with extensive preplanning! I am planning on taking my boys (age 7 and 11) during their fall break Oct 1-6, 2020. If I can handle June crowds, will the October crowds be a cinch do you think? Thanks for your input.

35 Dave { 05.11.19 at 8:16 am }

Hi Julie, a good plan and willingness to get up early in the morning should make it work!!!

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