So, you are returning to the Disney parks in 2020 and everything feels a little different. Well, you’re not alone. In some ways, the parks have may have changed forever; in others, the temporary discomfort of missing FastPasses, dining reservations, and entertainment might be a hidden opportunity to rediscover the Disney parks from a simpler time long ago.
It’s safe to say that as a community of Disney-loving travelers, we are discouraged, especially those with canceled vacations during this time. It’s completely understandable, and as one of those with a trip-of-a-lifetime in ruins, I feel your pain. Even though your 2020 Disney vacation might not be what you had envisaged, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
This one goes out to those of you coping with the rollercoaster of emotions that came with the Disney cancellations, then the news of reopening only to be followed by the details of more changes, and restrictions. It might seem unfair in the grand scheme of things, however, we must remember to be grateful for the opportunity to visit at all and try and find the positives in the experience.
Quite frankly, Disney had two options in the current climate: plan for reopening under limited capacity with restrictions around every corner, or remain closed until this pandemic has passed in full, canceling more vacations and putting cast members out of work for a much longer period of time.
In the interest of being appreciative of the luxuries we do have at the moment, I want to take a look at a few of the aspects of Disney that it might be time to rediscover. You may be thinking that, without your dining reservations, parades, and fastpasses, there isn’t anything left to enjoy. But the very essence of classic Disney parks from a simpler time is lying beneath the surface, just waiting to be rediscovered and fill in the gaps of your 2020 experience.
Have you ever longed for the older days of Disney vacations past when you would enjoy shorter wait times, smaller crowds, and less planning in your days? Perhaps this introduction period back into the normality of park life could be viewed as a limited-time window into the days of Disney gone by. A time when we acknowledged the finer points and indulged in the individual sights, smells, and sounds rather than being bombarded with sensory overload at every turn.
We’ve been spoiled with the add-ons of activities and experiences, each that came with the opposite and equally negative result of masses of guests and a general attitude of heightened expectations. It is now, when Disney needs to scale back its offerings in order to reopen, that we can truly appreciate the advancements that we have taken for granted. It’s time to stop and smell the churros, savoring every cinnamon sugar bite, and time to admire the architecture of the buildings, taking in the beauty of their creation.
Do you remember the first time you heard that sound? That combination of classic Disney music and the cheering of nearby children tunneling through the walkways? Do you remember when your photos from those vacations were not jam-packed with more people than Times Square on New Year’s Eve? What about the first time you noticed the intricate detail in the artistic expressions everywhere you turn? If you’ve never enjoyed some of these things, this may be your only chance.
Now, I know that many of you are ready to bite back with a boldly stated remark about the cost of the parks and how you deserve more bang for your buck, and to be honest, in a normal world, you aren’t wrong. The problem is, we aren’t living in the usual circumstances at the moment. We are slowly emerging from perhaps the strangest, unforeseen few months that our generation will (hopefully) ever know, and, as much as a pixie dust-like fix would be appreciated, it’s going to take work to regain all of the freedoms we once enjoyed.
By lowering capacity within the parks, the opportunity will arise to enjoy shorter lines and wait times for your favorite attractions, and for the park events to which we have become accustomed to be reset back to a more evenly-tempered, pleasant experience. Maybe the very need for FastPass+ will have dissolved during this temporary exclusion period with a more manageable number of guests in the parks. Hopefully, you will be re-immersed in the worlds of your favorite characters and movies with greater intensity as you’re enveloped in the stories that made Disney exceptional in the first place, rather than being rushed from place to place with little regard for your surroundings.
Photo by Donovan Reeves on Unsplash
There is no denying that this outcome is disappointing for all those affected by the changes, but I feel it is important to keep everything in perspective, remembering that, with the right attitude, the magic of Disney is still there to be had, and the power to rebuild it lies with us.
While Disney has temporarily suspended new ticket sales while they attempt to accommodate the needs of registered guests, they are sure to work out the kinks and do their best to accommodate everyone as evenly as possible.
I hope that all of you returning to the parks during this time find that glimmer of something special; that sparkle that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed had the hustle and bustle all been the same. Turn to your family and remember that it is the connection with those you travel with that creates the memories you will treasure for years to come.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.