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Imagine spending two years saving and planning to take your family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney World. Finally, your trip is only a week away. Your kids are excited! You are excited! And then the unthinkable happens: Disney World closes! Now what?!?! How do you tell your kids? Can you get your money back? Is it possible to reschedule your trip? Here is everything you need to know in the event you are affected by a Disney World closure.
How often does a Disney World closure happen?
Fortunately, Disney World doesn’t close often, but it does occasionally happen. Most of the time, it is because Disney World is directly impacted by a hurricane. But, it did close after 9/11 and in response to the coronavirus pandemic. So, you can rest assured, that the odds of your trip being impacted by a closure are very low. But, even if it is, all is not completely lost.
What are Disney World’s cancellation and refund policies?
According to Disney World’s normal policies, cancellations made 30 days or more prior to arrival are subject to a full refund. If you cancel within 2-29 days before arrival, you can get a refund minus a cancellation fee of $200. For cancellations 1 day or less prior to arrival, there are no refunds. Additionally, Disney World does not issue refunds for early departures or unused days on your park tickets. And under the normal policy, if you want to change any aspect of your Disney World trip, 30 days or less before arrival, you will be charged a change fee of $50. For changes made more than 30 days prior to arrival, you will not be charged a fee, but will have to pay any difference in price.
Because Disney World closures are so infrequent, they are pretty good about adjusting their cancellation and change policies when they do close. For instance, during the coronavirus pandemic, Disney World instituted the following changes to its normal policies:
- No change fees for modifying vacation plans.
- Hotel stays scheduled during the closure can be modified with no penalties or will be automatically refunded if no check in.
- Tickets for separately ticketed events (such as Disney After Hours) are automatically refunded.
- Unexpired tickets with unused days remaining on them can be used anytime before December 15, 2020,
- The value of wholly unused tickets can be applied to the purchase of future tickets.
- Prepaid dining is automatically refunded.
- No cancellation or no-show fees are charged for restaurant reservations during the closure.
So, in the event of a Disney World closure, contact Disney directly to see if the policies will be adjusted so you can get a full refund or change your plans without penalty. Reach them through their website or by calling 407-824-4321.
Do the resort hotels close when the parks close?
Generally, no. The resort hotels typically stay open even though the Disney parks close. If you are at Disney World and staying at an onsite hotel when the parks close, don’t worry. You will be able to stay in your hotel if you choose. If you are scheduled to arrive after a park closure, you can still check into the hotel if you want.
Not only do the resorts stay open, but, generally speaking, the resort restaurants remain open as well, weather permitting. If the weather is too bad to have the restaurants open, Disney arranges to have food available for purchase in the hotels. Sometimes, Disney Springs will also remain open. Please note that if the parks are closed due to a hurricane, there may be a curfew enforced requiring you to remain in your hotel room or at least on hotel grounds during certain hours.
What should I do if Disney World closes while I’m there?
Ultimately, what you should do if Disney World closes while you are there will come down to your personal judgment regarding what is best for your family. A lot will depend on the reason for the closure and your family’s situation. In many cases, it will be smart to hunker down at your hotel until the crisis passes. At other times, it may be best for you and your family to leave early and head home. Whatever you choose to do, you should remain calm and communicate with Disney cast members at your resort hotel. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or tell cast members about any concerns or needs you have. They are very good in situations like these to help in any way they can.
Disney World does a great job of not only keeping guests safe, but also entertaining them during closures. Cast members will usually play games, show movies, and find other ways to keep their guests, especially children, occupied at the hotels. Sometimes, characters make special appearances in hotel lobbies during these times.
What should I do if Disney World closes before I arrive?
If Disney announces a closure prior to your arrival, you will need to decide if you are going to cancel or move your trip. If so, call Disney directly to do this. And if you decide to continue with your trip, be patient and flexible. Know that you won’t have the trip you originally envisioned, but it is possible to still have an amazing time. You will just need to look for opportunities to make the most out of a bad situation. Call Disney World if you have any questions.
Disney World has only closed eight times in its 50 year history. But, even if the parks close, the hotels remain open to guests. If you find yourself in the midst of a Disney World closure, be patient, be flexible, and communicate with Disney World cast members directly for the most up-to-date information. I hope you never have a trip impacted by a closure, but if you do, I hope it turns out to be a blessing in disguise. For help planning your trip, see our step-by-step guide, the secret to a great Disney World trip and the best resources for planning. Happy travels!
P.S. Looking for more help with your Disney World plans? Get our FREE Disney Trip Planning Worksheet! You can find it in our Travel Resource Library. See the box below for details on how to get access!