25 reasons having your Disney holiday in 2021 is a good thing
By Helen Wright
Coronavirus has caused worldwide lockdown, with planes grounded and tourism on hold. Naturally, this includes Orlando’s theme parks, which usually welcome over 100 million guests a year. Of course, we’re facing bigger issues during this pandemic, but it’s still okay to be disappointed if you’ve had to postpone your holiday. For many, visiting Walt Disney World is a holiday of a lifetime, with planning and saving for a Florida trip taking anything from six months to 10 years. You’re gutted and we would be too. So, what if we told you that having your Disney holiday in 2021, may not be such a bad thing…
(Cover image Jeremy Wong)
25 reasons to have your Disney holiday in 2021
With the travel industry taking a huge hit during the Coronavirus lockdown, companies are urging customers to postpone, rather than cancel their holidays. I couldn’t agree more, especially when you have a big trip to Orlando, Florida planned. While having your Disney dreams shattered for this summer seems like a huge blow, there are a lot of exciting things happening next year, and not just at Walt Disney World. With new attractions opening in Orlando, as well as at all the other epic theme parks, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Legoland, postponing your trip to 2021, or even 2022, means you can see and experience even more during your stay.
Here are 25 reasons why having your Disney holiday in 2021 is a good thing:
1. More time to save up
Of course, with many of us taking pay cuts or being placed on temporary furlough, we’re all tightening our belts a bit during the government lockdown. You may think this isn’t a great time to save, but you’ll be surprised how little you can spend when you’re not doing anything. Try not to develop an online shopping habit or order takeaways every night and you may be able to add some vital spending money to your holiday kitty. It might be tempting to dip into your holiday fund for some extra cash if you’re surviving on a reduced salary, but unless you absolutely have to, avoid it if you can. You’ll thank yourself this time next year when you get to the Magic Kingdom with a bigger budget and far less spending stress.
2. Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in Orlando, Florida
Disney in 2021 is going to be epic, with Walt Disney World celebrating its 50th anniversary. Preparations for the biggest party in theme park history have been in the works for a while and include a host of new and upgraded attractions, as well as an entire overhaul of Epcot – which is already looking very exciting. No official information has been released for the celebration, but Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971 and it’s thought that a year of festivities will be launched to celebrate the golden jubilee.
It’s likely that the 50 years of Walt Disney World celebrations will begin in late Summer 2021, so postponing your trip to September 2021 would be the ideal time to visit. Travelling in September means you might be able to get ahead of the die-hard Disney fans who will want to visit as close to the anniversary as possible. Even on a ‘normal’ year, this excellent shoulder-season month has less crowds, good weather and you can also take advantage of the extra Halloween events, such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.
For help and advice on theme park tickets and where to get the best deals, check out our expert guide to buying Orlando park tickets.
3. The new Ratatouille ride at Epcot
The France Pavilion at Epcot is getting a major overhaul and we can’t wait until the big reveal. The most anticipated attraction being added to the park is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which is already super popular at Disneyland Paris. This 4D trackless ride shrinks you down to the size of a rat for a thrilling chase around Gusteau’s kitchen. The scheduled opening was planned for summer 2020, but with construction on hold due to the Coronavirus lockdown, it may launch later in the year now, meaning a trip in 2021 will guarantee you a chance to ride.
4. Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
Also in the France Pavilion, fan favourite Beauty and the Beast is getting its own sing-along-attraction. Belle, Gaston, Mrs Potts, Lumiere – all your favourites are joined by LeFou who leads guests in a good old Disney sing-song. The film was produced by Disney veteran Don Hahn and encourages the whole family to warble away to songs from the classic story, as well as introducing a little twist. It’s not dissimilar to Frozen sing-a-long at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but with an extra appeal to the generation who grew up with the Disney Classic.
5. The Star Wars hotel – Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser opening
For a long while, it seemed like the much-rumoured Star Wars themed hotel was going to be a Disney Urban myth, but the resort has confirmed it will be opening – just not until 2021. The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, is a totally new and immersive theme park concept. If you want to travel into the Star Wars universe, you will be able to book a full two-day experience onboard the ‘Halcyon starcruiser’. The imagination behind the hotel is said to be similar to a cruise liner, where guests board for the duration and enjoy various Star Wars themed activities (such as lightsaber battles, themed bars, meals and entertainment, then sleep in a cabin with views of the galaxy). It sounds amazing but you better get saving as rumours are that a stay on the Starcruiser will start from $1000 per night for a family of four (which, as a comparison, is a little bit less than the price-point for the Disney Cruise Line). Of course, if you can’t get booked onto the Starcruiser (or can’t afford it), there is still the epic Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to enjoy.
6. Space 220 restaurant at Epcot
Thankfully, the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser isn’t the only place where guests can enjoy cosmic views in 2021. The Space 220 restaurant opening at Epcot is designed to replicate dinner in space. The dining room will feature simulated views of Earth by day and night, transporting guests 220 miles above the atmosphere. Restaurant details are yet to be released but Space 220 will have a trendy craft beer menu – very modern indeed! The restaurant is expected to open in winter 2020, so get your reservation in for 2021 as soon as you can.
7. All new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind rollercoaster
This exciting ride is expected to open at Epcot in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in October 2021 (see, we told you that a LOT was going on at Epcot!). The ride will not be the same as the one at Disneyland California (where Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout took over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction). This will be an indoor rollercoaster that has been described as a family-friendly ‘storytelling coaster’ and will feature vehicles that rotate 360 degrees and can do a reverse launch… eek.
8. The opening of TRON Lightcycle Power Run
Space Mountain, which originally opened in 1975, is getting some competition in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. When we were there in February, we got a glimpse at the huge building that has been erected to house Orlando’s TRON ride; the Florida version of TRON Lightcycle Power Run, an outrageously popular attraction from Shanghai Disneyland based around the 80s sci-fi adventure film. Better hold on to your Disney ears for this one, as Shanghai’s TRON is currently the fastest rollercoaster at any Disney park around the world and the Florida TRON ride will be the same, if not faster! We’re getting Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike adventure vibes too, as this coaster also has ‘bike’ style seating, for guests to zoom through the digital world of Tron. Exciting.
Worth noting that the iconic Space Mountain is rumoured to be closing for a two-year refurbishment once TRON opens. Insiders say the classic coaster isn’t closing until late 2022 or early 2023, so a rescheduled Disney trip in 2021 will mean you can still ride the neighbouring attractions back to back.
9. Cinderella castle refurbishment
Another reason not to go in 2020 is that the iconic centrepiece of Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle, is having a spruce up and may be under scaffolding from now until autumn 2020. This means, unless your photoshopping skills are top notch, that iconic ‘castle’ snapshot won’t be as picture perfect as you hoped. Avoid the scrum to get the best pics at Disney with our guide on the best places to take photos at Walt Disney World
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This week’s iconic backdrop is possibly one of the most famous in the world. 🏰☀️🌴So excited to bring Isobel on her first trip to #WaltDisneyWorld in #Orlando #Florida – my kids are very lucky, this is Finn’s second visit to Magic Kingdom. I had to wait until I was eight! We are here for a week on a video shoot with @attractionticketsdotcom and @waltdisneyworld so it’s going to be a wild ride. I also have lots of tips, tricks and advice for #disneyworld over on passportstamps.uk (including a breakdown of what tickets you need and how to best divide your time in Orlando with our suggested two-week itinerary). Will also put all the links in my stories to scroll up, plus share some behind the scenes snaps from our shoot. If you see us in the park, come say hi! #pstravels #addinghappiness #disneyfirsttimer #disneybaby #wdw #wdwpassholder #magickingdom #disney #disneylife @passportbaby @helenwrites #onassignment
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10. The new Jurassic Park coaster at Universal Orlando
Oh, hello. Will the new Jurassic Park (or, likely, Jurassic World) ride ever be announced at Universal Orlando? Theme park chat has been hot on the topic since early 2018 but no more details have been released on the new ‘velocicoaster’ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, other than its curious dinosaursauras name… We saw the construction for this ride back in February and it’s looking pretty huge. Modernising for the new era of fans, and to encapsulate all the movies, the whole of the Jurassic area is likely to get new Jurassic World branding in 2021 and this will include the existing Jurassic Park River Adventure (boat ride), Pteranodon Flyers (children’s flying coaster) and Raptor Encounter – an interactive meet and great with a ‘real’ dinosaur…
11. The Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Studios
Elsewhere at Universal Orlando, The Bourne Stuntacular will also be open in 2021 at Universal Studios, Florida. The live action stunt show, based on the Jason Bourne franchise, features skilled actors and was due to open in Spring 2020 but will likely be delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s okay though, because we’d wait forever for Matt Damon, so…
12. The opening of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn and Suites
The second phase to Universal’s Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn and Suites, also opens this summer and this is a really good thing for UK visitors because it provides a further 2000 budget-friendly rooms to the Universal Orlando Resort. The eighth hotel at Universal Orlando has rooms starting from £80 per night, and with all the benefits of staying on property at Universal, such as early park admission and free transportation between the parks and resorts. Read our round up to discover the best Universal Orlando resort hotel for your trip, including our reviews of all the Universal Orlando Resort hotels.
13. Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
Away from the theme parks, the other big Florida pastime for tourists is a bit of retail therapy. The already pretty excellent Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets is getting a huge facelift, to include a modern food hall, improved public areas and shops, and a play area. And, guess what – the project will be completed by the start of 2021. premiumoutlets.com
14. Could the dollar be weaker against the pound?
Obviously, in this uncertain climate, it is impossible to predict what will happen to the financial markets across the world. However, it is worth keeping an eye on the dollar-to-pound ratio, with some experts predicting a decline in the dollar over the next 12 months. It’s unlikely the dollar will drop to the glory days of £1 for every $2 (the bargains were soooo good!), but any drop in the strength of the U.S. dollar means money stretches further for UK visitors.
As well as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. general election is in November and this could also have a big impact on the dollar. Depressingly, if Trump gets a second term, the dollar could go up, not down. In the lead up to the election, keep an eye on the price of the dollar – if it drops really low, this could be a good time to take a punt and exchange some of your spending money ready to hit the shops during your rescheduled trip to Florida in 2021.
15. Better flight deals in 2021 – bargains, but will it be safe to travel again?
If you haven’t booked yet, postponing your plans could mean you’re able to take advantage of some great travel deals. There are some excellent value holiday packages and flights to Orlando popping up, as companies are keen to give business a boost with advance bookings. If social distancing measures are relaxed, but not eliminated, for the rest of 2020, hotels may open but with a reduced capacity. This means rooms will likely be more expensive to compensate for housing less guests.
Currently, advice from the foreign office is to avoid travel until further notice, so if you do decide to book, I recommend booking with caution. However, if you protect yourself and snap up a deal, you could save hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. A lot of travel companies are relaxing their booking policies in a bid to encourage customers to book or postpone (rather than cancel) during the coronavirus crisis. Just be careful to always use an ABTA-protected company and, where possible, go with a flexible ticket. With ABTA, even if the tour operator you choose goes bust, you will still be protected. Use a credit card to book for extra protection as credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
If you’re in the process of planning a trip and don’t know where to start – try our Orlando two-week sample itinerary
16. The all-new ICON Park
Icon Park is located on International Drive and already offers The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, which we recommend on our ‘away from the theme parks‘ post. The popularity of Icon Park has led to the announcement of two new thrill rides and a museum opening before 2021. The Museum of Illusions Orlando opens this year, and is being called the ‘selfie centre’ due to its optical, photographic, holographic and interactive illusions, that are perfect for fun photos. Also opening is The Orlando Slingshot and the Orlando Gyro Drop Tower. The slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the world’s tallest slingshot ride. The tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower with riders freefalling up to 75 miles per hour. iconparkorlando.com
Watch the video of us at ICON Park here
17. SkyPlex ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
Also on I-drive, a new entertainment complex called SKYPLEX, is due to open in 2021 and threatening to break world records by bringing the world’s tallest rollercoaster to Orlando… (a claim currently held by SeaWorld’s Mako coaster). The 570 foot tall structure will be the tallest in Central Florida, and feature the first ‘Polercoaster’, a vertical ride that weaves in and around the whole tower on coaster-length tracks. A second ride, Skyfall, is also planned and this will likely overtake ICON park as the world’s tallest drop ride once it opens, rising up to 460 feet and then dropping riders at 65 miles an hour. The SKYPLEX tower will also have stunning views from an observation deck, as well as an elegant restaurant and lounge at the top. Swish.
18. Drive-thru safari at Wild Florida
Wild Florida in Kissemmee is expanding by more than six times its size to add a drive-through safari, bringing visitors face to face with giraffe, wild boar and other exotic creatures. A total of 75 acres has just been added to the attraction’s 13 acre park for the new section, which is enormous! Visitors will have the unique opportunity to drive their own cars down a two-mile trail or use a buggy provided by the park. wildfloridairboats.com
19. Improvements at Orlando International Airport
Anyone that has been through Orlando International Airport over the last five years will tell you it isn’t much fun. The $4.2 billion renovation project, which has seemingly been going on forever, will see the South Terminal Complex completed in 2021. Added gates, improved rail systems, updated interiors, interactive digital media, indoor and outdoor green spaces, new shops, restaurants and lounge facilities will hopefully make your entry and exit to Orlando as wonderful as the destination itself.
20. SeaWorld’s new wing coaster?
This one isn’t confirmed, but the Orlando rumour mill is ablaze with speculation that SeaWorld are adding a wing coaster to their collection. A wing coaster is where riders sit on either side of the track, with nothing above or below them and move in a flying style motion. There are only five wing coasters in the USA and this would be the only one in Florida, which is a very ‘SeaWorld’ USP. This is exciting for SeaWorld as the brand moves away from being an animal-centric marine park and plays on its new strengths as the premium amusement hub for thrill rides. Find out more about what else is on offer at SeaWorld in our new video.
21. G’s Market food hall opens in December 2020
Food halls are one of the best ways to get a taste of any city, offering a variety of choices ranging from local homegrown foods, speciality vendors and samples from high end restaurants as well. We already love Orlando’s Plant Street Market and the city’s quietly growing hipster food scene. G’s Market, will be a 22,000-square-foot lakefront food hall, housing a hub of retail, food and drink, including craft burgers, pizza, a new twist on southern fried chicken, artisan coffee, tacos, barbecue, sushi and more from popular Central Florida brands, as well as new start-ups. A second floor bar and patio will look over Lake Hancock and have a view of the nightly theme park fireworks. visitorlando.com
22 Pirate Island hotel at Legoland
LEGOLAND Florida Resort were planning to open the new Pirate Island hotel on April 17, 2020 but with social distancing measures still in place, this will now happen later this year. The hotel will be connected to the existing LEGOLAND Hotel and next to Lake Eloise, at the main entrance of the theme park. The hotel will feature 150 rooms, an expansive pool and pool deck, hundreds of LEGO models and fun character experiences.
23 Cirque de Soleil Disney springs
Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering collaborated to create this first of a kind show, Drawn to Life. The family friendly performance was due to open at Disney Springs on April 17, 2020, but will likely be delayed due to the closures. However, tickets for 2021 are on sale now at cirquedusoleil.com
24 The Mary Poppins attraction
For obvious reasons, we’ve been excited for an expansion of the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot, so we were delighted to find out that the most English of all the Disney films was getting its own spot. Guests can now walk through the London streets of Mary Poppins. Skip down the cobbled streets of Cherry Tree Lane, peek into Admiral Boom’s house and then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where the experience will begin. Expected to open for your jolly holiday in early 2021.
25. A virtual journey through Canada
The Canada Pavilion also has a new film called ‘Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360’. The beautiful film is one of Epcot’s highlights and features a celebration of Canada’s nature, people and cities, narrated by Schitt’s Creek stars Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.
Postponing a holiday you have been looking forward to is hugely disappointing (a few hours before this post was published I had to cancel my wedding due to the coronavirus, so trust me, I know how you feel). But, with 2020 being written off as an anomaly, hopefully, 2021 is gearing up to be the most magical year ever in the happiest place on earth and that definitely is something to celebrate! There is only one thing left to do for now – stay home and plan!
JUST FOR FUN: How well can you do on our REALLY HARD DISNEY QUIZ?
Find more of our helpful Orlando posts below:
An insiders guide to Orlando, Florida
Orlando theme parks: easy ticket buying guide
How much does a trip to Walt Disney World REALLY cost?
A really useful guide on what to pack for your trip to Orlando
What is Orlando’s best kept secret?
What is the best beach close to Orlando?
The best non-theme park attractions in Orlando
What to do if you are a tourist in Orlando during a hurricane
Why you need a buggy for Walt Disney World, even if your child is walking at home.
Renting a car in the USA, what you need to know
Travelling with kids – parent travel tips for flying with a baby or toddler
Holiday shopping – the best Disney merch available in the UK
The walls of Walt Disney World explained.
Where to find the walls of Universal
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando explained.
VIDEO: Planning a family trip to Orlando
VIDEO: Disney in a day
VIDEO: Around the world trip – FLORIDA, USA
VIDEO: Our experience on the Disney Cruise Line