A New MousekeMoms Series is Born
“There’s always one naysayer in the group,” says Jen whenever I question some change in Disney policy or some piece of news. It’s true. Ever since I was a little kid I have looked at things through a different lens than the crowd, and I have never been shy about asking questions. “That’s my Juliana,” my dad would say laughing, “always thinking.”
Out of my trademark skepticism and my love of all things Disney was born a new series: What Would Juliana Do? Welcome to the first installment. In this series, I’ll look at Disney news and decisions and, true to MousekeMoms form, ask critical questions, provide honest feedback, and let you know how I plan to approach the situation moving forward.
Topic #1: Disney Park Hopping in 2021
As we have discussed on our podcast in the past, Disney World has been selling Park Hopper tickets for packages with check-in dates starting January 1, 2021. Not surprisingly, this MousekeMom was skeptical. Did the Bobs think the health and safety situation would magically improve as we bid good riddance to 2020? How will they know which parks people would hop to? How will they manage capacity? How can they implement Park Hopping in 2021? I didn’t see how it could work unless things were back to ‘normal,’ which I also don’t see happening anytime soon.
This week, Disney has answered (some of) my questions.
It was announced that as the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort continues, we will witness the return of the Park Hopping in 2021!
“Starting Jan. 1, 2021, guests who purchased a ticket or annual pass with Park Hopper benefits will be able to visit more than one park per day, with some new modifications as part of Disney’s ongoing focus on health and safety.
With the updated Park Hopper experience, guests must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit AND enter that first park prior to visiting another. At this time, a park reservation is not required after the first park, however, reservation requirements are subject to change.
Additionally, Disney will set specific Park Hopper hours during which this option will be available. Park Hopper hours will start at 2 p.m. each day and end at the park’s scheduled close time. Guests will be able to check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours. They could start earlier at a later date, depending on the day and park.”
According to Disney, these modifications are designed to help manage attendance in a way that fosters physical distancing. But, I still have questions.
- Let’s say the park to which I want to hop IS available for a Park Pass reservation for the first part of the day. When hopping becomes available at 2pm, I leave my first park, but by the time I get to park #2, park #2 ends up hitting capacity. Will I be turned away?
- If I do get turned away and decide to go back to park #1, but park #1 hits capacity by the time I get back there, what happens? Can I not get back into my original park for the day?
- If Disney is still operating under capacity restrictions at each park, but reservations are only required for your first park of the day, how can you avoid getting “locked out” of your top choices for the second part of the day, even if it was available to you when you left the first park?
- Are we all going to end up in some sort of mad dash to the exits as 2pm approaches? What will this look like for crowds on transportation? How much time will I have to allow to park hop when considering social distancing and potentially large numbers of people trying to access transportation?
- Let’s look at parks that are already at Park Pass Reservation capacity even before rope drop. We have seen Hollywood Studios, for example, sell out of reservations nearly every day. Does this mean we will never be able to hop to HS, since it is almost always already at capacity? And if people who start the day at HS decide to hop to another park, will HS potentially be LESS crowded in the afternoons? Will HS then open up for hopping to, even if it started the day at capacity?
- Following this logic, let’s say people leave HS (or any park) and head to another park, but people who started their day in that second park choose not to hop elsewhere. That second park will end up even MORE crowded in the afternoon? Will we have to start planning our days around high crowd afternoons? In short, What are crowd trends going to look like even for non-hoppers?
- What if I have a dinner reservation in my second choice park? Will I be guaranteed entry then? You know how I love to stay at a Boardwalk area hotel and have dinner at Epcot after a shorter day in another park. I know I’m not alone. Will Epcot end up too crowded in the evenings? Or will people who have in-park dinner reservations not be able to take the chance on Park Hopping.
These questions lead to another burning question: What Would Juliana Do?
WAIT. WAIT to see how all of this plays out, and in the meantime, plan to visit one park each day. Believe me, I have faith in all things Disney. I usually trust that they know what they are doing, and they probably do here as well. They constantly collect and analyze information to make our park experiences better. They’ve been doing it for decades.
But these are unprecedented times. And I don’t know about you, but I miss precedence. I miss certainty. I may not be getting paid the big bucks, but I see potential flaws in this plan. So if I were headed to WDW in January, I would hold off on the Park Hopping in 2021 for now. I would wait to see how well it works out. There is still plenty of Magic to be made visiting a single park per day, so I would stick with that plan. I am going to wait until any kinks are ironed out.
Do you have any questions I didn’t consider about how this system will work? Do you see potential pitfalls? Let us know in the comments. And stay tuned as we follow the latest developments as this new system is implemented. We will certainly let you know how it goes.