For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)





Category — p. News and Changes

Disney World in the Summer of 2020

Co-author Josh of easyWDW.com has put together previews of how he expects things will go at the four theme parks once they re-open next week.

As he puts it, his previews include “everything that’s expected to be open, closed, and what I’m expecting from crowds, wait times, and potential touring strategies along with some nonsense.”

It’s best to start with Josh’s Animal Kingdom material, as that also covers some general concepts applicable to all four parts. (And before looking at Epcot, you may wish to ask children to leave the room.)

PREVIEWS OF DISNEY WORLD IN THE SUMMER OF 2020

Josh’s previews can be found at the links:

I have noted elsewhere that first-timers on a once in a lifetime visit to Walt Disney World ought to avoid going until the parks become more like they used to be.

But returning visitors might find a trip well worthwhile. Your best way of making that choice is to review Josh’s previews, and then return to easyWDW.com for updates after the parks open next weekend.

Note that you can’t enter the parks without both a ticket AND a reservation. 2020 Reservations can be made on the My Disney Experience website, but only if you already have a ticket or an annual pass. As of now, Disney is not selling new tickets for 2020.

Josh covers the reservation system here.

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

July 6, 2020   No Comments

yourfirstvisit.net to those on a once in a lifetime trip to Walt Disney World: Delay, for now

FIRST TIMERS WHO MAY NEVER RETURN SHOULD AVOID WALT DISNEY WORLD, FOR NOW

I built this site with a particular audience in mind: first time visitors to Walt Disney World, and in particular first time visitors to Walt Disney World who might never be able to return.

Disney World has announced a limited, staggered, partial and complicated re-opening to guests beginning in July. Given both the limitations and complexities that I see, I can’t recommend that first timers go to Walt Disney World for a once in a lifetime trip until the experience promises to be much better.

I don’t know when that will be.

Returning visitors who know what they are getting into, know what they will be missing, know how to navigate Disney World, are willing to comply with its requirements, and are willing to waive liability and otherwise accept the consequences of their choice to be in Disney World can, I think, still have fun.

DISNEY WORLD RE-OPENING PLANS

The Disney World theme parks will begin re-opening in July, the Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom on July 11 and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot on July 15. Right now, there is no opening date for the water parks.

The Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Fort Wilderness Resort will re-open on June 22. Right now, there is no re-opening date for the rest of the resort hotels. I suspect that Disney has plans regarding the other resort hotels, but does not yet know if it can staff to its plans.

Many have speculated that given capacity limits in the parks, some resorts will remain closed to lower total resort operating costs. I suspect that instead we will see many resorts partially open, as social distancing—especially in the pools, dining venues, lobby, bus stops etc.—will be easier in many partially-opened resorts than in fewer fully-opened resorts.

OPERATING HOURS

The parks as of now are scheduled with staggered openings and closes—presumably to lessen the demands on the transportation system

  • Animal Kingdom: 8a-6p
  • Magic Kingdom: 9a-7p
  • Hollywood Studios: 10a-8p
  • Epcot: 11a-9p

This of course also has the effect of greatly shortening operating hours—compared to mid-July last summer, each park is open 2-3 hours less per day—in effect removing an entire park out of capacity.

All Extra Magic Hours have been cancelled.

ATTRACTIONS THAT WILL BE AVAILABLE

The parks will re-open with no parades, no evening spectaculars, and no character meet and greets. Some of these possibly will return fairly soon, based on what we’ve seen in Shanghai.

It is unclear how many individual other attractions will be re-opening when the parks re-open. The balance among whether an attraction is open or not likely will be a factor of

  • How many cast members are willing to return to work (pre-existing conditions and/or age factors may make a return to a high-people-exposure environment unwise for some full and part time staff, and staffing from Disney’s College program is currently absent). This affects Disney’s overall ability to staff its property
  • The operating costs of an individual attraction, and
  • The extent to which an attraction draws people away from congregating elsewhere.

I am most concerned about the indoor theater-style shows, which a little math will tell you that with every other row closed, and six feet between parties in open rows, will be lucky to serve around 25% of capacity.

DINING

All restaurant reservations and FastPass+ reservations have been cancelled. FastPass+ is not expected to come back soon, as the capacity of its queues is likely to be used for social distancing.

Restaurant reservations will likely re-open once Disney has a better sense of when resort dining will re-open, how many people it will allow on property, and what each venue’s practical capacity after social distancing is. The window for reservations will then shift to 60 days from the current 180 days.

All dining plans have been cancelled, and will not be available for some time.

OTHER COMPLEXITIES TO THE REOPENING

All folks intending to enter a park must sign up separately for a reservation for that park. (This is in addition to whatever one’s tickets might say about dates; no further details are yet available.) It is unclear right now how many people will be allowed into the parks each day, either initially or as experience builds.

All entering a park two years old or older will be required to wear masks, and masks will be required in the resort hotels except when one is in one’s room (the normal exceptions for eating and drinking will be present—it is unclear if there will be exceptions for being in a pool).

Given Disney’s agreements with its unions re requiring masks of guests, its obligation to its staff to provide a safe environment for them, and the liability issues it can face on these matters, I expect it to be much firmer in enforcing the mask requirements on its guests than many other do. I don’t see the mask requirement going away until either the science on the efficacy of cloth face coverings in protecting others (in particular, protecting cast members) changes its balance of findings, or the infectious environment changes.

Disney World is currently accepting no new ticket or hotel bookings other than for DVC point holders in its DVC resorts. Once it has a firm view (e.g. from knowing how many cast members can return) of its starting capacity, and has seen a full wave of cancellations related to for example the mask requirements, shorter and staggered park hours, the known experiences that will not be available when the parks first re-open, it will know—at least in the short term—whether it needs to cancel existing reservations, or can instead re-open to new reservations.

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 31, 2020   3 Comments

Extended Room Rate Deal and New Free Dining Re-Booking Deal at Walt Disney World

AN EXTENDED ROOM RATE DEAL AND A NEW FREE DINING OFFER

Walt Disney World last week extended its spring and summer room rate offer. It now covers stays through August 31, rather than July 9, and needs to be booked by August 31, rather than July 9. Details of this offer are here.

For those who have had to cancel their upcoming stays (or have already canceled them) Disney is also offering a new Free Dining Deal to those who re-book. Disney’s exact language on this is as follows:

  • “Eligible Guests can take advantage of a vacation package offer that includes accommodations at a select Disney Resort hotel, park admission and a Disney dining plan – valid for arrivals most nights June 1 through September 30, 2020 when you book through May 31, 2020.
  • “This offer is valid only for Guests who booked a vacation package or room reservation to stay at a Disney Resort hotel from March 16 through May 31, 2020 (even if the park opens before then). Offer not valid for reservations cancelled before March 1, 2020.”

Some other details worth noting:

  • The usual free dining is in place—The Quick Service Plan for those who book a value or a moderate, the regular Dining Plan for those who book a deluxe or a DVC resort.
  • The requirements to get the deal seem to be much more relaxed than in recent (normal times…) Free Dining Offers. The minimum room stay seems to be just two nights, and the minimum ticket buy is a regular ticket, not a Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus.

Disney is at the moment taking reservations for stays beginning June 1. That does not mean the parks will re-open then–it could happen earlier, it could happen later, it’s still too early to say.

Those interested in getting the room rate deal might want to contact the long-standing travel agent partner of this site, Kelly. Frankly, given all the uncertainty out there, there’s never been a better time to have a great travel agent like her on your side.

Those wanting to re-book their canceled (or not-yet-canceled) reservations into the Free Dining deal can also work with Kelly, even if you used no travel agent for your first reservation.

As with the room rate deal, Kelly can help you navigate your options if future deals better for you come out, or if your dates become ineligible due to longer closures.

Contact Kelly using the form below.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

 

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 29, 2020   No Comments

Disney World Room Rate Deal for April to August 31 2020 Is Out

Note: in late March, the eligible dates and book-by date for this offer were both extended through August 31.

This morning Walt Disney World released a room rate deal that covers stays April 1 through August 31, 2020 July 9, 2020.  It needs to be booked by August 31, 2020 July 9, 2020.  Savings range from 10% to 25% off standard rates per night, varying by both hotel and time period.

Basically this simply an “book-by” extension of an previous deal–except with a narrowed time frame, as it goes only through August into July, rather than September. The previous deal’s “book by” date was February 26.

2020 ROOM RATE DEAL AT THE DISNEY WORLD VALUE RESORTS

At Disney’s value resorts all room types are in the deal–including Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, which until this year had been quite unusual. Savings are low, but better after late April.

Note that the same rates on the 4/26 through 7/9 right side now apply 4/26 through 8/31, and can by booked by 8/31.

2020 ROOM RATE DEAL AT THE DISNEY WORLD MODERATE RESORTS

At Disney’s moderate resorts all resorts are in the deal, but the Port Orleans options–especially French Quarter–see the lowest savings.

Note that the same rates on the 4/26 through 7/9 right side now apply 4/26 through 8/31, and can by booked by 8/31.

2020 ROOM RATE DEAL AT THE DISNEY WORLD DELUXE RESORTS

At Disney’s deluxe resorts, all are in the deal, but savings are quite varied.

Note that the same rates on the 4/26 through 7/9 right side now apply 4/26 through 8/31, and can by booked by 8/31.

 

2020 ROOM RATE DEAL AT THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS

At Disney’s DVC resorts all the options except the Villas at the Grand Floridian are in the deal, at substantially varying savings.

Note that the same rates on the 4/26 through 7/9 right side now apply 4/26 through 8/31, and can by booked by 8/31.

Kelly, the long term travel agent partner of this site, can book you into this or another 2020 deal after figuring out which is best for your circumstance.

Contact her using the form below!

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

 

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

February 27, 2020   No Comments

Photo Tour of the Master/King Bedroom Side of a One or Two Bedroom Villa at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

THE MASTER OR KING BEDROOM IN ONE AND TWO BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

The master bedroom, or king bed, side of both One and Two Bedroom Villas at Disney’s Rivera Resort is the same.

Taking layout cues from the Villas at the Grand Floridian, the king bed area at Disney’s Riviera Resort is accessed at one end from deep in the living room. The bath associated with the space is then divided, with a sink and soaker tub closer to the bedroom, then a full bath with a large shower that is also accessible from the villa’s entry.

PHOTO TOUR OF A MASTER OR KING BEDROOM IN ONE AND TWO BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Here’s the king bed side from near the entry from the living room.

The king bed side from closer to the bath.

As had been the case in all recently re-done Disney rooms, the bed is a single mattress on a platform…

…with room underneath for luggage storage–not that you’ll need it; these villas have more closets than pre-Stonewall New York.

Next to the bed are this bedside table with power behind, and an easy chair…

…and just outside is a balcony, also accessible directly from the living room.

On the other side of the bed is this large desk with power. Its size lets it also function as the bedside table for this side of the king bed.

The TV side of the room includes a dresser with a 54” TV above, and a closet.

The TV side from the bath end of the room.

The nine dresser drawers have plenty of storage.

From the outside, the closet looks oddly proportioned, but it actually grabs some space from the kitchen
wall on the other side and ends up with correct dimensions inside.

The first part of the bath, accessible from both the king bedroom and the second part of the bath,
includes a sink on one side…

…and a large soaker tub with spray jets in its base on the other.

The second part of the bath is a full bath that’s also accessible from the rest of the villa. It includes a sink…

…and a toilet and shower.

The shower is large and has both rainfall and regular heads…

…and includes a seat at the back—along with in-wall toiletry bottles.

The hall from the entry to this bath has some important stuff, too—the image is shot from the entry, with the door to the bath directly ahead. On the left is a closet, and on the right, behind a set of doors, is the washer dryer.

The closet serves as the coat closet for everyone in the space, and the clothing closet for people sleeping in the living area (dedicated Two Bedroom Villas have an additional smaller closet, near the entry to the two-queen area). Note the soft focus, adding to the romance of the closet… You’ll also find in this closet spare linens for the living space beds, a vacuum for anyone who misses cleaning,* and a safe.

The safe is quite large—my book is six inches by nine inches—but perhaps not large enough for the nine people a dedicated Two Bedroom Villa will sleep (lock-off Two Bedroom Villas have another safe on their studio side).

Finally on this side of the room is this washer-dryer.

There’s nothing positive I can say about the carpet design, and overall the space is  a bit austere–although not as bad as the second bedroom of dedicated Two Bedroom Villas. But the layout and amenities of this space at Disney’s Riviera Resort are top-notch, and it is as good a master bedroom/bath combo as you will find in a One or Two Bedroom Villa DVC offering at Disney World, with only the Villas at the Grand Floridian in its class.

*Actually, people staying in these rooms with DVC points rather than cash get housekeeping service only every four days—hence the cleaning supplies. Folks staying with cash get housekeeping every day. Don’t forget to tip your maid. I tip $5 per bay per night, unless we’ve made an unusual mess.

PHOTO TOUR OF THE SECOND BEDROOM OF A DEDICATED TWO BEDROOM VILLA AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

This review continues here.

 

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book you at Disney’s Riviera Resort or anywhere else at Disney World.  Contact her using the form below!

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

PAGES IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

February 26, 2020   No Comments

Analysis of Disney World’s 2020 Ticket Price Increase

Earlier in February, Walt Disney World increased its ticket prices for 2020. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time on ticket prices getting my Disney World Tickets page and my color-coded Disney World ticket price calendar right.

In this post, I will be commenting on the level of increases, and also how they flow in the year.

2020 prices were first released in June 2019, and I always expected at least one more increase in 2020 prices—for two reasons.

  • First, for years now, Disney World has increased prices for the current year in the late winter, typically February, and
  • Second, the 2020 prices released in June of last year went up on average only about 2% compared to 2019 prices. Given recent patterns in price increases, there’s no way Disney World would have left this stand

2020 DISNEY WORLD TICKET PRICE INCREASES BY TICKET LENGTH

Base Disney World tickets can be bought for between one and ten days in the theme parks. With the February 2020 price increase, prices for longer tickets in 2020 increased substantially more than prices for shorter tickets. Shorter tickets went up on average less than 2%, while tickets seven days and longer went up 8.4% to 10.6%.

It’s easy to over-interpret this. For example, you could say that people wandering in for a quick sample of the new offerings in Galaxy’s Edge aren’t much penalized, but folks on a longer vacation trying to see all of Disney World bear an extra burden. This is absolutely true, but that does not mean it was Disney’s intent.

It was widely reported after the February ticket price increase that both the least and most expensive one day tickets did not change.

This is simultaneously true, trivial, and simple-minded. Hardly anyone buys one day tickets. What these tickets represent is the price anchor of longer tickets, whose prices are calculated as a proportion of the sum of the one day tickets covered by the usage period of the longer tickets.

What Disney essentially did for longer tickets was change the proportions used to calculate their prices. That let it get some positive PR from the simple-minded for not increasing the lowest and highest one day tickets–at which point the analytic savvy of most observers stopped–while also extracting substantially more value from folks committed to longer visits.

Two things remain generally true: because you are not penalized for adding days to a ticket (so long as you add such days before your last day of use) it never pays to overbuy your tickets. Buy the minimum ticket you think you night need, and only add more to it after you are in the parks and know you need your extra days.

Second, it remains true that the per day cost of longer tickets is almost always lower than that for shorter ones. So one longer visit is still largely much less expensive than two shorter visits.

Now let’s turn to how these price increases vary over the remainder of 2020.

2020 DISNEY WORLD TICKET PRICE INCREASES BY TICKET LENGTH AND DATE

This section includes two charts. The first one shows price increases by first day of eligible use for every ticket length—so it plots more than 3,000 percentage changes:

For many of you, there’s too much data plotted on the chart to see much information.

I tried to make up for this in the second chart, above, by grouping the average price increases of three sets of ticket lengths—one to four day tickets, which all saw less than 2% average increases; seven through ten day tickets, which all saw average increases of over 8%, and five and six day tickets, about in the middle of the other two.

One thing that distinctively stands out is that there is less variability in price changes after mid-July.  Visually, this means that the ups and down of the price increases cover less of the vertical space of the chart. Analytically, the standard deviation of price increases, as a percentage of the mean, is twice as high before July 15 than it is after July 15.

There’s at least two possible explanation for why we see lower variance after July 15.  One is that Disney–in its judgement–got relative prices among the dates after 7/15 closer to correct.  The other is that Disney does not have enough information now to make fine grained adjustments later in 2020 the way it has done earlier in the year–you can see example of these finer grained adjustments in May, for example.

Since–despite the advice of folks like me–most Disney World trips are planned three months out or closer, my vote is for the second explanation.  Note that this increases the odds of a second price increase, affecting these dates, perhaps in the summer when 2021 ticket prices are announced.

Remember that Disney’s date based ticket price model has two purposes.

  • First, it intends to use prices to incent people towards dates less in demand, and away from dates higher in demand
  • Second, it seeks to extract the extra value from high demand dates that’s on the table from those who go during high-demand periods anyway

Unless fine-grained visitation patterns are highly stable, these purposes present a strong case for multiple price changes over the course of the year, not the one (or rarely two) that we are used to at Walt Disney World.

Note that once you have bought your tickets, so long as you don’t make any later changes, you are free from the consequences of future price increases that would otherwise affect your dates.

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can set up your Disney World vacation for you, locking down your prices, including those of your park tickets.  Contact her using the form below!

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

 

Analytic note. My percentage changes are based on comparing rounded per-day prices rather than complete-to-the-cents actual total prices—I do it this way because with more than 3,000 new prices to enter into my spreadsheet, it cuts data entry time by about 75%. This can add noise to the data at the level of 0.5% to 2% on any given data point, but the rounding errors it creates average out over the number of days I am looking at.

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

February 23, 2020   2 Comments