One of the greatest business challenges to adjust to “the New Normal” in the entire nation is the problems that Walt Disney World and Universal Studios will have to transition toward opening the parks and resorts in July in various stages.   It is particularly painful to the folks at WDW for 2021 is the 50th Anniversary of the Mouse empire in Florida.

Already, the news of the changes, some temporary and some that may become permanent, are getting more than a little flack from some of the park’s regular and long-time customers.   People fear change.  Many people find it difficult to adjust, particularly if they involve serious family issues.

I understand this for in 2021 WDW may celebrate a 50th anniversary but my wife Barbara Ann and I will also be celebrating a 50th anniversary.  One of the first trips we took as a married couple was to Walt Disney World and to the Contemporary Resort.  Back then the California Grill was a Top of the World restaurant and nightclub. We payed $4.50 for admission and ride tickets and spent out “E” tickets on Haunted Mansion and the Jungle Cruise.

Crowd Events May Be Delayed For Months

Let’s look at some of the areas where the first rule changes are causing a crisis mode for some Florida travelers:

Booking restaurants and other matters will NO LONGER be done up to 180 days for park hotel guests. The new rule will be just 60 days.

This rule change doesn’t bother me probably because: (1) I live 60 minutes away from WDW; (2) Even semi-retired (sic), I can’t make 6-month reservation plans.

This policy change does level the playing field and will upset mainly those who have the money and ability to make long distance plans.  I have never been turned down from 90% of the top restaurants at WDW if I have 60 days.  WARNING: until WDW restaurants and hotels can operate at 100% capacity, there will be fierce competition for the most popular places. It should be noted that ”Very popular” does not necessarily mean the place is worthy of its status.

Social Distancing Will Be A Major Issue

The Disney Dining Plans are gone for 2020.  They may not come back.

People who had reservations with the Disney Dining Plans were offered package discounts of 35% but a lot of people are more than angry about that.

Most people on the Disney Dining Plans “lost money”, meaning the plan cost them more money than the food they actually purchased – about $27 per adult on a three-day counter service type plan and about $40 on a three day counter-table service plan.  Only the deluxe plan which was selling for $150+ per day saved money.

The only good reason for the Dining Plans is you arrive at WDW with most of your food expenses prepaid.   WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?  Start buying discounted Disney gift cards

At Sam’s, Target Red Card, BJ’s Wholesale etc.  Only accept places where you get a 4-5% discount on the price.  You can use Disney gift cards for food, gifts, and everything else. Use them to have a prepaid vacation.

San Angel Inn: Overcrowded Seating & Dark Rooms Will Change

INSIDER’S FACT: Just about everyone in the WDW food business hated the Disney Dining Plan including thousands of visitors who felt they had to select the most expensive items on the menu to get their money’s worth.  I know a family that forced their 10-year old kid (treated as an adult at WDW) to order a giant Surf and Turf plate at a two-credit restaurant.

INSIDER’S FACT:  Chefs at WDW owned restaurants are under budget and profit pressures. Popular but costly items have been eliminated from menus.  Lsss expensive vegetables have been added to dishes.   I have gone fishing a few times in my life and I have NEVER caught a “sustainable fish” – what do they look like?

Fastpass+ strategies will be drastically shaped by WDW rule changes and may gradually change in a new manner, but most visitors planning ahead will be in the dark until the last minute.

When will all of WDW’s 70.000 “family members” return?

FASTPASS+ do help some people plan their visit to the parks, but its main purpose was to spread people out quickly in the parks, get people eating food all over the park, and improve data collection about customer preferences and trends.  

Due to the virus such popular Fastpass+ attractions as meeting the characters will not open as the parks open.  This could be a killer to some families with small kids since most popular rides have height restrictions.   The problem with character meetings is clear: people stand in various lines and kids want to hug Ariel and Elsa.  At least Mickey and Donald have built-in masks.

How will WDW Deal With Young People From Around the Globe?

IF YOU THINK THESE ARE THE MAIN ISSUES … think of all the others.  The World or International section of Epcot is manned with young people from all-around the world, including the People’s Republic of China.  Will we have people “substituting” for the REAL thing?

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at
This entry was posted in florida history and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s