Wow- what craziness we’ve been living in, no? As a travel agent, I’ve been EXTREMELY busy… extremely busy cancelling reservations for cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. It’s disappointing to my clients, and it’s disappointing for me, but I just keep the thought of ‘We’re all in this together’ (I cannot even type that out without singing the song from Disney’s High School Musical).
|Disney's High School Musical|
Slowly though, the world is opening back up. Cruising is looking to be returning later this summer, the Caribbean is opening back up within the next months, and the Walt Disney World Resorts will begin to reopen later this month, while Disney Springs entertainment center and Universal Studios Orlando have already resumed welcoming back guests.
|Banner within Disney Springs|
|Disney Springs from the entrance of one of the parking garages|
What I would like to focus on in this post is taking a modified Walt Disney World vacation. I know that for a lot of you, this is not something you want to invest in, and I COMPLETELY understand. There will be no character meets, no parades, and no fireworks shows. This will NOT be the Walt Disney World we have come to know and love. But with a little imagination, it can still be an incredible vacation. Please come with me as I tell you what there WILL BE to look forward to if you are considering a summer 2020 Walt Disney World vacation.
|The pool at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort|
Admittedly, my husband and I did discuss cancelling our July 2020 Walt Disney World vacation. We had a dream trip planned out- a week at Disney’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, staying Club Level, pulling out all the stops- Signature Dining reservations, a poolside cabana rental at the resort, and some character dining opportunities for our two young children. This was a trip to celebrate my husband’s master’s degree graduation this summer, which he will graduate with top honors, as he was able to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA. He did this while working full-time and raising his family- I am incredibly proud of him and wanted to take him on his dream trip. However, our dining and cabana rental were cancelled by Disney, and while our resort reservation remains intact, we wanted to discuss other options, as it has already been announced that the Club Lounges will not be open upon resort reopening.
|Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa|
|Club Lounge offerings|
Unfortunately, as I am also a healthcare worker, we are not allowed to leave the country without self-quarantining for 14 days after our arrival back to the United States. This is understandable, as I would never want to jeopardize the health of my patients. After discussing other options, we decided that we would still be happiest at Walt Disney World, and so we are making other arrangements and do not plan to stay at the Grand Floridian this time around. We will still stay on property, though- that is an absolute must for us, as the Walt Disney World Resorts are truly a destination unto themselves!
|In our happy place|
What I would like to explain is that there are still a LOT of opportunities for fun at Walt Disney World this summer. We will be arriving a few days before the parks are back open, and so we will have a lot of time to soak up that hot Florida sun at the themed pool of whichever resort we stay at. Pool bars WILL be open for food and drinks (we LOVE eating lunch poolside!). We will not be staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, as their feature pool Stormalong Bay will not be open, and with that Hurricane Hanna’s, their pool bar, will remain closed, though guests staying here are welcome to visit the fun feature pool at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. All of the DVC Resorts and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (these are the resorts that will be reopening on June 22) have waterslides, and so no matter where we choose, my son can enjoy the waterslide as much as his heart desires. Poolside activities will be available, though I imagine they will be modified to account for social distancing and cleanliness. Here is what else will be available:
· Movies Under the Stars (a Disney feature film is played on a large outdoor screen in the evening)
· Fitness centers
· Sports courts
· Fishing excursions at Disney’s Beach Club Villas and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
· The Bike Barn, Trail Rides, and the Horse Barn at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
· Poolside cabana rentals at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian
|Poolside lunch at Disney's Contemporary Resort|
|The fun pool and waterslide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn|
|Enjoying that Florida sunshine with my oldest son|
While not all of the restaurants will be open during the initial reopening phase, many Disney favorites will be! The biggest disappointment to us (besides character dining remaining closed, but that makes total sense to me!) is that you will have to have a dining reservation in order to visit a resort. We LOVE popping in to our favorite quick service locations, most notably Geyser Point Bar & Grill at Wilderness Lodge, and Bar Riva at the Riviera Resort, but these will be unavailable to us unless we end up staying at one of these resorts. Same with the Polynesian- we’ve been known to pop in to Pineapple Lanai for a quick Dole Whip, and unless you are staying at this resort (or have Kona Café reservations), this location will be unavailable to you.
Here are the Table Service Restaurants that will be open:
The Wave… of American Flavors (Contemporary Resort)
Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge)
Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village)
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club)
Trattoria al Forno- no characters (Boardwalk)
Olivia’s Café (Old Key West)
Kona Café (Polynesian)
Topolino’s Terrace (Riviera Resort) **This is the only restaurant which suggests a modified character dining experience may still be available, but we know no further details
Grand Floridian Café (Grand Floridian)
|Enjoying dinner at Beaches & Cream|
|Yummy shrimp pasta at Grand Floridian Cafe|
My hope is to secure reservations at Sanaa, Kona Café, and the Grand Floridian Café, and possibly Topolino’s Terrace and Beaches & Cream (and maybe Olivia’s too for breakfast!). Resort restaurant reservations are not yet available, and we don’t know when these will open.
We do, however, have the option right now to make dining reservations at Disney Springs. There are so many wonderful choices here, it’s hard to choose, but we will certainly be visiting Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ for their famous fried chicken! We’ve also got some quick service favorites at Disney Springs, including Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy, Earl of Sandwich, and The Polite Pig BBQ. Most of the stores here are open at this time, including my favorite, Lilly Pullitzer, and my son’s favorite, The Lego Store. The World of Disney Store is now open as well.
|I LOVE Chicken Guy!|
At the end of the day, this is NOT the Disney we have come to expect. And again, I certainly would not recommend this vacation for those looking for a ‘true’ Disney experience. We will be taking MANY breaks, as we are required to wear masks anytime we are out of our room, excluding in the pool or eating/ drinking. But my take on this is that we can get away for some family time, enjoy the pool, eat at some of our favorite restaurants, and just take a really relaxed pace to our week. For me, Disney has always been about spending time with those that I love most, and that is what this summer will be about. We do hope to visit the Magic Kingdom, as we wait for further instructions on how to obtain theme park reservations. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open July 11, and Hollywood Studios and Epcot will open on July 15.
|Treat case at Disney's Contemporary Resort quick service location, Contempo Cafe|
|Steak dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe|
|One of our lunch favorites, Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs|
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thank you for reading, and stay well!