The Million Dollar Question- Do I Keep or Cancel My Disney Vacation?

Photo: Disney Parks

In order to provide you with some peace of mind, I want to take this opportunity to personally offer information and advice during this crazy time we’re experiencing in the wake of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. To help ensure that you, your family, and your friends have a safe and healthy traveling experience this Spring and Summer.

Before we go any further, please know that I will not tell you what to do in this situation. I will share with you my personal thoughts, based on the latest information provided by the CDC and other organizations. But ultimately, the choice is up to you and what works best for your particular situation. All we can do is look at the facts and make our decisions from an educated and rational standpoint.

Here’s the latest information, according to the CDC, WHO, and NIAID: 

  • Of the 70,000 cases WHO scientists looked at, only about 2% were in people younger than 19.
  • The odds of developing COVID-19 increase with age, starting at age 60 and if you have underlining health conditions. That being said, it’s been largely agreed on that the virus targets this age group and older with underlining health conditions.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said this at a White House Press Conference yesterday; “If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship.”
  • According to the CDC, the rate of serious illness of this disease across the board is less than 20% worldwide, and that number is even expected to go down once more people around the world are able to be tested.
  • The CDC also acknowledges that there have been ZERO reported deaths in children whose already-embattled immune systems are proving to be the best at combating the disease.

Should you cancel your vacation?

In short, no. The Walt Disney Company, its parks and the Disney Cruise Line all agree that clients should not cancel their vacations unless they have a compromised immune system or any other underlying health issues.

Disney Parks are increasing the safety requirements of all their guests. They remain fully operational and ready to greet you with magic as usual. The Disney Cruise Line has increased its cleaning policies and consistently receives among the highest public health inspection scores and has health and safety protocols in place.

Here’s what Disney is doing to ensure the safety of guests and Cast Members:

Disney Cruise Line– In addition to the extensive cleaning (let’s keep in mind that the Disney Cruise Line fleet were already the cleanest ships at sea), over-the-top disinfection on board, and health screenings of passengers and crew members, they have been denying boarding to guests who have traveled from, visited, or transited via high-risk areas.

The Disney Cruise Line has provided even more reassurance in its latest news updates and is offering 48 hour change and cancellation policies for panicked travelers. Putting their guests first, as always! You can read their full statement here.

Disney guests that have booked European cruises through July 25th, 2020 can change their reservation up until the day before the cruise is set to embark, and guests will receive 100% cruise credit that must be used within 15 months of the original sailing date. This credit is non-refundable and standard prevailing rates will apply. Additionally, guests booked on the European cruises of July 13th, 18th, and 25th, 2020 may delay their final payment to 30 days prior to the cruise’s departure. Please call 866-325-2112 for all cruise modifications.

Disney Parks– Walt Disney World and Disneyland California have increased their already thorough cleaning and disinfecting protocols within the theme parks. They are washing down and sanitizing everything from gate entrances (where you place your fingerprint to enter the park and where I always pull out my hand sanitizer anyway!) to dining locations, restrooms, and various other surfaces in the parks that the public could come into contact with.

Disney has been in contact with the CDC to better implement daily preventative actions. Disney has taken increased measures such as cast member training and ongoing reinforcement, refined cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas, easy access to hand washing facilities and hand sanitizer, quick responses to potential health hazards, end-of-day cleaning and sanitation procedures, and more frequent cleanings of outdoor areas like walkways and line queues.

Disney Resorts– As if Disney wasn’t clean enough, the efforts continue here. They’ve increased the detail of cleanings in guest rooms, dining locations, lobbies, and other applicable places throughout the resorts.

The Chief Health Official released a statement regarding the continued efforts at their parks and resorts. You can read her statement in its entirety, here.

Is this media hype?

As it is important for the media to keep the public aware of what is going on, much like all other reports that come out, headlines are meant to grab the attention of readers, and therefore can lead to heightened concerns. The truth is that coronavirus describes a particular type of virus that infects the respiratory system, which includes the flu and common cold. Would you travel during the flu season? Some of us do, but we are so used to the flu that we haven’t halted our day-to-day lives because of it.

The bottom line: 

“Now remember, gang. If you get stressed out, just call on your general knowledge, balance your body crew, and get your cranium under command. Use your head, don’t lose your head.” -Buzzy (the beloved audio-animatronic from Cranium Command)

Use your head and be logical- not emotional. Look at the facts and assess the situation, and take the health of others traveling in your party into consideration. The spread and infection rates of the flu are 10 times worse than this. With the great news about Disney’s flexible cancellation policy within 48 hours notice, you don’t have to cancel right away.

Health officials are saying most people that become infected with COVID-19 will experience it much like you would a common cold, but it is also just as important that the virus not be spread—hence the extra measures Disney is taking to clean and disinfect their properties. Over 96,000 people have been infected thus far, but over 45,000 have fully recovered already.

The best way to keep yourselves safe right now is by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Believe it or not, the common hygiene practices our children are taught in preschool is what will assist us in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Ultimately, no matter what you decide, only you can make the decision and only you know what’s best for your situation.

As for my family and our vacation? In just a few weeks, we are continuing with our plans to travel to Walt a Disney World for two days, then board the Disney Dream and set sail on a 4 night cruise. I will say this, holding my hand this entire time has been my travel agent. I always use Academy Travel when it comes to planning my family’s Disney vacations and I’m happy I do. In times like this, when there is so much going on and different things being reported, my agent has kept me in the loop and has been on top of everything. She is constantly sending me any updates or official statements Disney Parks or Disney Cruise Line put out. She’s also been the one to make calls to Disney on my behalf. This is great because as a busy mom of two little kids, I rarely have time to talk to friends and family, let alone be on the phone for up to 3 hours (that’s how long the wait was the other day to speak with a Disney Cruise Line person), wanting to ask a few questions. I always trust the professionals at Academy Travel when planning my vacations, and I’m especially happy to have them there for me during this time.

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Kristi is the Media and PR Director for The Kingdom Insider. She's a lifelong Disney fan and grew up spending her family vacations at the Happiest Place on Earth. She resides in Florida with her husband and two boys, ages 4 and 6.


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