One travel dilemma that comes up often with families is the timing of a big trip to Disney World. Should we go now, or wait until upcoming new attractions are done? Are the kids at a good age now, or in a few years? Even if you use miles and points for airfare and hotel, a Disney World vacation is still expensive.
In fact, I was just discussing this subject with Leana, the founder of this blog. Even though Leana lives in Florida, her family doesn’t go to Disney World all the time. Her husband barely tolerates it, and Leana isn’t the biggest Disney fan herself.
But with all the exciting changes coming for Disney World’s 50thanniversary in 2021, it’s hard not to be tempted by the new rides and experiences.
Visiting Disney World in 2020
My family decided to visit Disney World in summer 2020 instead of waiting until the 50thanniversary in 2021. Why? There will be fewer crowds, and many “new-to-us” attractions will already be open.
While my family’s last long trip to Disney World was in 2010, we’ve visited the parks almost every year since then for a day or two before cruising. Even though we’ve been to all the parks over the past several years, there are still lots of new things for us to see next summer:
Magic Kingdom: While there are no new-to-us rides in Magic Kingdom, we’ve only been on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train once.
Epcot: The new Space 220 restaurant opens December 2019. I will definitely be making a reservation there as soon as my booking window opens. In January 2020, several new movies roll out in Epcot including Awesome Planet in The Land pavilion and a Beauty and the Beast sing-along in France. Canada and China are also debuting new Circle-Vision 360 movies. In France, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride in France is rumored to be opening April 2020. And even though it’s been open for 3 years now, my family has never been on the Frozen Ever After ride in Norway. HarmoniUS, the new nighttime fireworks show, is expected to open sometime in 2020 as well.
Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Land opened just over a year ago in Hollywood Studios, but my family has yet to see it. Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers are new rides. And of course, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened a few months ago with the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run ride. The flagship ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open in early December, 2019. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy opened earlier this year. In addition, Mickey and Mickey’s Runaway Railway is expected to open by May 2020.
Animal Kingdom: Aside from the new Pandora—World of Avatar section of animal kingdom, Disney hasn’t announced any new major attractions for this park. My husband wasn’t with us last year when we visited Animal Kingdom. The kids and I are excited to experience the new Avatar rides with him. Rivers of Light night show and Conservation Station both got refurbished this summer.
The downside to visiting during 2020 is that there will be constructions in the parks. Some rides, including Spaceship Earth and the train in Magic Kingdom, may also be closed due to construction.
Visiting Disney World in 2021 During 50th Anniversary
While a lot of new rides are opening in 2019-2020, there are also a host of new experiences that won’t open until 2021.
Magic Kingdom: The big attraction expected to open for the 50thAnniversary here is TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster in Tomorrowland. This ride is based on the same ride in Shanghai Disneyland.
Epcot: Future World’s transformation into three new neighborhoods will be complete.The Play Pavilion in the former Wonders of Life building will be open in early 2021. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind hybrid roller coaster is expected to open in summer of 2021. A new Moana section of Epcot was announced with no firm opening date. And finally, a new Mary Poppins attraction will open in United Kingdom, timing TBD.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom: While no new attractions have been announced for these two parks that won’t already be open in 2020, both parks will likely have some updated shows or experiences for the big 50thAnniversary. The new Star Wars immersive hotel should also be open.
I expect the 50thanniversary to be a big deal for Disney World. Disney will likely have merchandise and experiences that can only be found during this year. I predict the crowd levels will be very high from summer 2021 to summer 2022.
For people who visit Disney World every year or two, I imagine visiting during the 50thanniversary will be a non-negotiable done deal.
For my family, visiting Disney World in 2020 makes more sense. A significant number of new attractions will already be open, and we won’t have to deal with the higher crowds that the 50thanniversary is likely to bring in 2021-2022. We can always go back in a few years to see the newer rides. Disney is always adding new attractions.
I’m also not a big proponent of putting off a trip. You never know what the future holds. It’s easy to keep procrastinating and never take the trip. The timing may never be perfect.
Are you debating 2020 vs. 2021 for your next Disney World trip? How important is it for you to experience the 50thanniversary?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.