Complete Guide to the COVID-19 Impact on Disneyland and Disney World

For the most current information on Disneyland see our guide to what Disneyland is like right now!

Our guide to the COVID-19 outbreak and how it’s impacting the Disney Parks will cover everything from refund policies, anticipated re-opening dates, how to reschedule your trip, and safety precautions.

Theme Park Closures and Reopening Dates

This is where we will keep you updated with the most recent closures and anticipated re-opening dates for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and other popular theme parks guests often visit on a Disney vacation.

The parks will manage attendance with a new reservation system. All guests, including Disneyland Annual Passholders, will be required to obtain a park reservation guaranteeing entry. These reservations will be subject to availability. We don’t have any further details on this yet, but we will share them with our newsletter email list when they are released. Follow our Disneyland reservation guide for all the details we have so far!

Some experiences will return later like parades and nighttime spectaculars but it’s safe to assume we shouldn’t expect them to return for awhile. Disney shared that while character meet and greets will not immediately return, “characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests.”

The situation with COVID-19 is constantly changing and the theme park industry will do what’s best for the safety of their guest and Cast Members and are following guidance from their prospective state governments.

You can follow these official websites for more information on how Disney is responding to the coronavirus:

Continue reading our article to review our tips for safe traveling, how to book refundable Disneyland tickets, refund policies, and frequently asked questions.

Walt Disney World and Disney Springs Opening Details

Walt Disney World is now currently open with advance reservations open. While the policies enacted at Walt Disney World may look different for Disneyland, it’s helpful to look at what they’re doing to get an idea of what we might expect at Disneyland. The announced policy changes fall in life closely with the recommendations by medical experts and travel partners Disney described above.

Walt Disney World will follow similar safety measures that we’ve seen in place for Disney Springs and other Florida theme parks. These also include:

  • Certain Experiences Temporarily Suspended: Experiences that draw large group gatherings– such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable. Characters will be in the parks, at a distance, to still greet guests.
  • Reduced capacity: Walt Disney World will have a reduced guest capacity and an advanced reservation system in place to manage attendance. All guests will be required to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon.
  • Screening and prevention support: Guests 2 years of age and older and cast members will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels.
  • At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandannas are not acceptable face coverings nor face coverings containing vales, mesh, or holes of any kind. All guests and cast members will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park.
  • Cleanliness and sanitization: Increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes used. Cashless transactions are recommended.
  • Physical distancing: Managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort.
  • New Signage: Disney also revealed a list of new signs to remind guests of hand washing, touchless payment, distancing measures, etc.
  • Mask Relief Areas: There are designed ‘guest relaxation’ areas for guests to safely remove their masks and get a break from wearing them throughout the park.
  • Reduced Operating Hours: As of now Disney World’s operating hours will be much shorter with an average time of operation from 9AM-7PM. Over time, along with capacity, Disney World will begin extending operating hours based on the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

We will keep things updated as we learn more about these new policies and Disney’s commitment to safety.

Disney Springs began is also open with these preventative measures in place:

  • Limited parking and reduced entrances
  • Temperature screenings prior to entry
  • Face coverings required for everyone
    • All Guests ages 2 and older, Cast Members and Operating Participant employees are required to wear an appropriate face covering. Guests must bring their own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining.
  • Physical distancing practices including physically-distanced queues and physical barriers
  • Temporary operation modifications, including reduced hours at select locations and no scheduled entertainment offerings or high-touch interactive areas
  • An increased focus on disinfecting and sanitation, including the addition of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers in key areas

You can read more about how Walt Disney World is handling their reopening in regards to dining, FastPass+ reservations, vacation packages, and preventative health measures in our guide.

Refund Policies on Disney Park Tickets and Vacation Packages

Here is everything you need to know about Disney Park ticket valid dates, extensions, vacation package refunds, and more.

Ticket Refunds and Expiration Dates

If you’ve already purchased tickets, all you have to do at this point is just hang onto them. Disney is not issuing refunds for park tickets at this time. The only exception to this is if you’ve booked your tickets with our travel partner Get Away Today which has long been the only travel company to offer the option of refundability to their park ticket purchases. Contact 855-GET-AWAY for more information on processing any ticket refunds.

Walt Disney World is automatically extending multi-day tickets with unused days that were dated between March 12th through March 31st. You now have until December 15th, 2020 to use those park tickets. If you cannot visit by then, you can apply the cost of the ticket to a future visit. Florida Resident Discover Tickets can be used by September 30, 2020.

For Disneyland, see the below information from Disney regarding all different ticket types and promotions:

Any special ticketed events that would have taken place during the closure such as Disney’s After Hours will all be automatically refunded if they are not rescheduled. All dining reservations, FastPass, special ticketed events will also be cancelled and refunded automatically during the closure period.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Disney park tickets never lose their value, you can always apply an expired ticket to the price of a new one and pay the difference in price.

Hotel Refunds

For Disneyland, the only way to be refunded at this point is to call The Walt Disney Travel Company at (714)-520-5050. As you can imagine, their phones have been ringing off the hook as people scramble to reschedule travel and ask for refunds.

If you had plans to stay at an off-site hotel in the Disneyland area then this experience will vary depending on your hotel. I’d recommend calling them as soon as possible and/or looking on their website for details. So far from what we’ve seen many of the neighboring hotels nearby have been gracious about offering refunds and allowing guests to rebook without penalty.

If you have a stay booked at Walt Disney World during this time and wish to cancel your hotel reservation, you can do so in the My Experience App or by calling (407)-934-7639.

Vacation Packages

If you’ve booked your vacation package directly through Disney and your travel takes place during the closure, you can request a full refund or rebook your stay. You call (714)-520-5050 to request your refund. If you can’t get through before your check in date, you won’t be charged any fees.

Annual Passholder Information 

Originally, Disney stated that passholders would just have their expiration dates extended by the numbers of days the parks would be closed. Now since it’s become apparent that the parks could remain closed for longer than originally anticipated, Disney has updated their policy to be more accommodating to their annual passholders.

If you are an annual pass holder on a payment plan:

  • Disney has automatically stopped and waived all upcoming monthly payments while the theme parks are closed.
  • Disney will also refund payments made between March 14th-April 4th.
  • Payments will resume when the park reopens and most pass holders will see their annual passholder expiration dates extended to accommodate the dates of the closure.

If you have paid in full for your annual pass you can opt for a partial refund for the park closure period or you can choose to have your pass expiration date extended by the number of days the parks are closed.

Disneyland Flex Annual Passholders will automatically have any Flex Day reservations cancelled with no penalty.

Third Party Refunds for Vacation PackagesMickey and Minnie blowing kisses in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle

If you’ve booked through a travel agency or a program through Costco/Sam’s Club/etc. your best bet is to contact that individual agency to find out how to proceed with acquiring your refunds or rebooking your travel. The good news is that most travel agencies and third parties will take their cue from Disney when it comes to waiving change fees, processing refunds, etc.

If you’ve booked through Get Away Today know that their wonderful representatives are working around the clock to make sure that every customer is being taken care of right now. You can read the following statement on their policy during this unprecedented situation here,

If you currently have a Disneyland vacation booked during that time frame, we encourage you to reschedule for a later date. We are waiving all reschedule fees. You can call our agents at 855-GET-AWAY or send us a direct message on Facebook. We are responding to messages and help people reschedule as quickly as possible.

We are trying to help guests who have a vacation scheduled for travel within 72 hours first.

If you feel as though you need to completely cancel your reservation, you may do so without any fees if you purchased our Peace of Mind Plan. If you did not purchase Peace of Mind, you may cancel for just $75 – which is half of our regular cancellation fee. Remember, you can reschedule your entire vacation in full with NO fees at all.

You can read more about how they’re helping their customers navigate this stressful time on their official statement page.

Airline Refund Policies

This is a bit more tricky since this part will vary depending on which airline you selected and if you opted to pay for any refundable options at the time of booking.

Here is what I could find on the most common airlines and what options they’re offering customers at this time.

  • Southwest Airlines
    • Southwest Airlines never charges Customers a fee to change or cancel their flight. If a Customer’s plans change, or they decide they no longer want to travel, the funds used to pay for their flight can be applied to future travel – as long as they cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.
    • The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket.
    • Read more about how to change your flight here.
  • United Airlines
    • United is waiving change fees for most tickets issued. Watch for emails for other flight change and credit offers past this duration, they’ve been sent out frequently.
    • Read more about how to change your flight here.
  • Frontier Airlines
    • Frontier is offering customers the choice to may make a one-time change to their itinerary without a change/cancel fee.
    • Read more about how to change your flight here. 
  • Delta Airlines
    • You have the option to change your ticket, one time, and the change fee will be waived. Please note, if your new flight is more expensive, the fare difference will apply.
    • Read more about how to change your flight here.
  • American Airlines
    • You’re allowed to make a change to your trip once, and the change fee will be waived.
    • You can cancel your trip online, including Basic Economy tickets, and use the value of your unused ticket toward future travel on American.
    • Read more about how to change your flight here.

We’re here to help you plan how to reschedule your vacation and offer tips for rescheduling your trip- read our guide here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’re covering the most frequently asked questions in response to the Disney Parks closure amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will special events that took place during the closure be extended when Disneyland opens?

It’s hard to say what the park schedule will look like when it re-opens. Based on what we’ve seen with Disney World’s new policies on limited capacity, it’s safe to assume special events will be on pause when things reopen.

What about my prepaid dining and souvenir reservations? 

Any prepaid dining experiences or souvenir reservations (like Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop, etc.) will be automatically canceled and refunded.

Can I get a refund on my ticket?

Currently Disney is not offering refunds on park tickets but they’ve extended the expiration dates for many of the ticket options- including discount ticket options offered this spring.

Walt Disney World with partners statue- how to prepare for the coronavirus when traveling

Are the third party hotels (Good Neighbor Hotels, etc.) still open?

It depends, many of the hotels have announced temporary closures in lieu of Disney’s announcement. The good news is that many of the Disneyland area neighborhood hotels are opening in July.

Since the closure has no end date should I cancel my vacation?

I would just wait and see, if you want. Since this is such an extraordinary situation many hotels and airlines are offering rebooking options and refunds.

Will this delay upcoming projects and park refurbishments or will construction continue during the closure? 

It’s important to note that Disney values the safety of their employees and many state governments have implemented stay at home procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Construction was initially halted on all projects, however, there are reports that some construction has resumed at both theme parks which is great news.

Pixar Pier and Mickeys Fun Wheel during sunset sky

What if I’m nervous about booking a future vacation during this time?

Get Away Today offers refundable ticket options for an additional $25 per ticket purchase which allows you the option of refunding your park tickets! This is a great way to ease any hesitation about planning your Disney Parks vacation. Park tickets are also valid through 2020 and can be rescheduled. They are the only ticket reseller that offers the refundable ticket option.

If you book your hotel and tickets through Get Away Today, consider purchasing their Peace of Mind package which allows you full refundability on your hotel and any tickets in your vacation package. I always use this option regardless because you never know what might come up.

Many airlines also offer the option to purchase the ability to refund tickets for an additional cost. While this may get pricey, depending on the airline, this is yet another option to ease any concerns about paying off your travel in advance. And of course, if you have travel insurance that can be a help too. Just make sure you read the fine print and do your research when it comes to using travel insurance. Most major airlines are willing to work through travel concerns that are caused by international issues like the Coronavirus.

What preventive methods should I use once travel is recommended again?

First things first, make sure you are following credible sources on the coronavirus outbreak and steering clear of the myths that have taken over social media. False information travels fast anytime there’s a public safety crisis and this virus has been no exception. A good source of information is to follow the CDC and World Health Organization for health updates and tips on keeping yourself safe.

If you are traveling, they recommend you follow routine precautions such as:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
      • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
    • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For more information about the coronavirus including frequently asked questions, prevention tips, and following updates on the virus- read the guide on the CDC website here.

The tips outlined above are all standard cleanliness practices that I hope you are already utilizing when visiting theme parks or traveling through large cities for that matter. The Coronavirus is spread in a similar way to the flu, so you should just make sure you are taking similar precautions here. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Have questions or thoughts? Please comment them below.

We had a great thread of encouraging responses on our Facebook page on the post embedded below. Check out the comments:

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  1. Best Times to Visit Disneyland
  2. Disneyland Restaurant Reviews and Tips
  3. How to Save Money on Disney Gift Cards
  4. Walt Disney World Discount Tickets
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Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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18 comments add your comment

  1. I am still planning our family’s Disneyland trip. We booked everything in January when COVID-19 was still a possible media rumor, so I did not get refundable anything. My plan is to carry a small travel bottle of the alcohol sanitizer in my pocket and using it right away after getting off a ride.

  2. I am planning on going to Disneyland Paris on July and I know it’s completely different the situation from California or Orlando to Europe, is it still safe to go? I am just worried that my vacation will get canceled from the Airlines or Disneyland Paris it’s self, what should I do?

    • You will have to play your vacation by ear. Currently, Disneyland Paris is still fully operational. We hope that the virus is much more under control by July.

  3. We booked our April trip to Disney World last July. We are still planning to go and participate in the Run Disney races. I can’t live my life in fear of getting sick.

  4. If you aren’t 60 or over you don’t need to cancel. But if this had happened in Jan. my family would have gone without me. I’m 78 and survived lung cancer. I doubt my grandchildren would like to add my death to all our Happy Disney stories.

  5. Coming from Australia in April for 2 weeks. If the park is still closed do you think they will offer us a refund as we cant just pick a different month to go??

    • Kirsty, Disney will do everything that they can to make the situation right for you. If the parks are still closed, they will absolutely offer a refund. Did you book your travel directly through Disney?

  6. What about those of us who have the annual pass and now can not use them during this time?

  7. We are traveling from Australia plan to be in Anhiem and visit Disney mid April lets hope the park is open then.Not planning to cancel our trip just be extra cautious with washing hands and not touching surfaces then our face.

  8. We just got back from a cruise on Disney Dream. The attention ALL of the crew gave to sanitation and the guests’ welfare was impeccable. Better yet they made everyone at ease with the extra step up on sanitizing! Way to go Disney! You’re doing what’s best for all!!! Thank you!

  9. Hi. We are actually in Orlando right now for the UCA National Cheer competition. We have visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot already, however.. my husband who is back home says that we should return and are at great risk if we continue our trip and visit other parks before the temporary closure tomorrow evening. I am very torn as what to do. Am I putting my family at risk if we do decide to stay and visit other parks?

    • That’s really a personal decision at this point, you have to make the choice that’s best for your family.

  10. I’m curious if Disney is able to take this closure time to work on refurbishments and maintenance (while safely socially distancing of course). Seems like an opportune time to work on the Parks!

    • Hard to say! Based on the government recommendations it may be hard for construction to continue at the rate it was likely happening before the closure but we can hope.

  11. I purchased tickets in March 2020 before park closed for COVID. How long are my tickets good for.

  12. We purchased Disneyland tickets back in March when covid hit and we still have not been able to go to Dusney and my tuckets are expiring 12/30/2021. Will there be an extension into 2022? We paid alot of money.

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