DVC Parks and Resorts Update for June 2nd
Hello, my friends. I hope everyone is doing okay after what was a difficult weekend. The Walt Disney Company even released a thoughtful message regarding the events.
I’m going to stick to business today, though. The TL: DR here is that you should feel more grateful than ever that you are a Disney Vacation Club member. I’ll explain why in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts update.
About the Walt Disney World Reopening
When Disney announced the comeback of Disney Springs, we knew that the theme parks were right around the corner. Last Wednesday, Disney officials confirmed the news.
Disney presented its reopening plan to Orange County officials, and the state of Florida quickly approved. We now know when and how the Disney parks will return.
On July 11, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen to the public. On July 15, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will join the other two parks in operation.
The intrigue stems from how Disney will reopen its resorts. The company will start with Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the DVC properties at Walt Disney World.
Actually, that statement isn’t totally accurate. On June 15, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort will become the first Disney hotels in North America to return. The following week, the Walt Disney World DVC resorts will reopen.
Disney has yet to declare its intentions for Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas or The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. However, most of its resorts will be back by June 22, which is three weeks from now.
In fact, some of you may enjoy a DVC beach vacation in as little as two weeks. And that ties into the reason that you should appreciate your DVC membership. Disney has made some other announcements, too…
Walt Disney World Will Start from Scratch
Those people who don’t have DVC reservations will struggle to return to Walt Disney World this year. Currently, DVC owners are the only ones who can book hotel reservations.
Disney has revealed that they’re modifying several parts of the Walt Disney World vacation system. The company has used the pandemic park closures as a rare opportunity to change the underlying infrastructure in the reservation system.
The catch is that the new processes apparently can’t communicate with many of the old ones. So, Disney must start from scratch here. Almost all vacation plans will vanish from people’s My Disney Experience accounts.
Regular vacationers won’t possess the ability to book Walt Disney World hotel reservations again until July 1. DVC members can keep everything they have and continue to utilize the reservation system in place.
Other Important Changes That Could Impact Your Vacation
In other words, everyone is shut out except for DVC owners. These system updates will have other ripple effects, too. Any previous FastPass+ or Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) will get purged from the system.
I’ve monitored this quite a bit since Disney’s announcement. Thus far, I’ve lost seven out of eleven ADRs that I’d booked for my planned Halloween visit. It was too early for me to book FastPasses, so I can’t confirm that aspect.
However, Disney’s official statement is that FastPasses are on hold right now. I mean all of them. Here is the full quote:
“As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being as we plan to use additional queue space to manage capacity at our attractions and maintain physical distancing. We will automatically cancel existing FastPass+ selections and share any future updates on the service at a later date. Also, please note that upon reopening, Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.”
And yes, that’s the other significant news here. DVC members won’t get to rely on Extra Magic Hours when the parks reopen. Park officials will limit operations for the safety of cast members and guests alike. So, extra park hours don’t make any sense at the moment.
If you had ADRs or FastPasses that you lost in the purge, you will get to re-book. You must be within your 60-day window, though. Currently, Disney won’t allow any reservations beyond two months. It’s a failsafe in case COVID-19 cases pick up. The company wouldn’t need to cancel a year of bookings this way.
Park officials are understandably taking a wait-and-see approach with all bookings. So, the parks will reopen with many protective measures in place, both in daily operations and behind the scenes.
More about DVC Resorts and Walt Disney World
Some guests are loudly wondering why they should keep DVC reservations for late June, a time when Walt Disney World theme parks won’t be open. I understand this concern.
However, I would point out that Universal Orlando Resort has reopened for a trial run and will be open to the public by June 5. On June 11, SeaWorld Orlando will also return. And then there are all the other Florida parks and attractions that you may not visit on a regular Disney trip.
I would suggest that people utilize this opportunity to do all the Central Florida things that they ordinarily wouldn’t. Plus, you’ll have more solitude at the resorts than at any other time in history.
The drawback is that Disney hasn’t announced what will and won’t be open yet. This statement applies to transportation, too. This aspect could impact resort hopping, one of my favorite parts of a Disney vacation. So, you should carefully monitor Disney forums for updates, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated as well.
By the way, if you need a break from the drudgery of your daily pandemic routine, the DVC system shows substantial availability later this month. You could put together a quick trip if you feel safe traveling right now.
The DVC Impact
Then, there’s the other aspect. I posted DVC’s letter to guests the other day. Many members still have questions due to the wording employed. The important language is:
“(DVC is) further changing and extending our temporary policies regarding expiring points. April, June and now August, September and October 2019 Use Year points that are set to expire in 2020 and that were used for reservations during the closure period will be extended for one year from the current expiration date.
Additionally, April, June and now August, September and October 2018 Use Year points that were banked into 2019 Use Years and used for these reservations will now all expire November 30, 2020. This temporary policy only includes expiring points that were used to book a stay arriving between March 12 and the end of the closure period and that involve a reservation cancelled after February 29.”
I’ve emphasized the areas that confuse some members. I will not pretend to have all the answers here. Still, the wording undoubtedly applies solely to people impacted by Coronavirus shutdowns. If you didn’t hold one of those reservations, you’re not affected.
Even so, Disney’s remarkable customer service will always do what it can to satisfy all guests. If you want to argue your case, contact the guest services phone number (800-800-9800). Please understand that you may spend an hour or more on hold before speaking to an agent, though.
Also, this brings me to the final point. Due to restaurant capacity limits, Disney will also eliminate the Disney Dining Plan for now. People who already scheduled their plans still have them, but nobody can book new ones right now.
Disney has indicated that this change will apply for the rest of the year. So, I believe that all existing dining plans will get canceled. It’s at least somewhat open to interpretation, though. You can read the details on the official Disney site.
Changes to Disney Visits
Unfortunately, this brings me to the part that you’ll like the least. Disney has confirmed that park admission will involve a reservation system. So, you won’t be guaranteed to enter a theme park unless you schedule it in advance.
Park officials haven’t revealed the process yet. However, Disney did announce that annual passholders will have limitations. You cannot hold as many park reservations as you want. The company wants to ensure that admission is fair to everyone.
To achieve this goal, Disney must limit the number of annual passholder admissions, at least somewhat. Again, nobody knows how this new system will work. Disney’s not even allowing ticket purchases at the moment.
So, you’ll need to keep checking back here to learn more about the process. This announcement may stress you out some, but please remember this. As a DVC member, you can keep booking and modifying reservations. Regular Disney fans are entirely shut out of the process!
Finally, there’s this:
— Disney (@Disney) May 31, 2020
Amen. Please stay safe and thoughtful during these challenging times, everyone.