Theme Park of the Day: Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Will 2021 Be Better Than 2020, or Worse?

December 31, 2020, 2:11 PM · How are you feeling about the new year?

Like many of you, for months I have been looking forward to putting 2020 in the rear-view mirror. But I also can't help thinking of the old warning, "be careful what you wish for." Because as bad as 2020 has been for many of us — and for the theme park industry worldwide — the beginning of 2021, at least, promises to be even worse.

Vaccines might offer the hope of an end to this pandemic, but if we want to lean on another cliche, "it's always darkest before the dawn." Infections and deaths are rising in many communities around the world, as millions of people learn the hard math of exponentiation. If life is to get back to anything like the pre-pandemic normal — including for theme parks — we need governments to do better in allocating vaccines and more people to be willing to take them.

The pandemic dominated our news coverage here on Theme Park Insider in 2020, especially while the Orlando-area parks were closed and readers around the world looked for any word as to when we might begin the long journey back to "normal." Here were five of our most-read stories of the year:

But Covid-19 was not the only story in 2020. This was a big year for us here on Theme Park Insider, as we celebrated our 20th birthday with a retrospective of 20 top stories from the past 20 years: 20 Great Reads for 20 Years of Theme Park Insider

One of those great reads was our look back at the opening day of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure on its 10th anniversary: Harry Potter and the Day That Changed Theme Parks Forever

And we reviewed several new attractions in 2020, despite the pandemic.

Other new attractions opening this year included:

Upcoming attractions in 2021 will include Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan (now in a soft opening), the new Universal Studios Beijing park, Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at Walt Disney World's Epcot. And when the parks reopen in California, we should get The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! at Universal Studios Hollywood, Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure, Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair at Knott's Berry Farm, The Lego Movie World at Legoland California, and Emperor, the new Bolliger & Mabillard dive coaster at SeaWorld San Diego — one of the delayed-from-2020 line-up of new coasters that will debut in 2021 at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks across the country.

So there's much to look forward to in the new year... provided we all can get there safely.

Stay tuned to Theme Park Insider for the announcement of our Theme Park Insider Awards on New Year's Day. Happy new year, everyone. Please stay safe.

Replies (10)

December 31, 2020 at 10:11 PM

If nothing else, we can at least hopefully look forward to fewer layoffs than this year saw.

January 1, 2021 at 2:15 AM

And fewer deaths

January 1, 2021 at 7:24 AM

Happy new year, Robert and readers. I just want to say thank you for being an escape during the year that we have had. Sure, the virus has necessarily been part of the narrative, but while being unable to visit any parks (I live closer to Disneyland than Walt Disney World, and I'm back at work and getting time off is hard right now), you've helped to keep me up to date on what is happening at my favorite places in the world.

I'm not too optimistic about 2021, personally (and I REALLY hope I'm wrong about that), but I know Theme Park Insider will be there to help keep me grounded. Thank you for all you do.

January 1, 2021 at 6:09 PM

I can only hope it can be better but will be a slow rise until vaccines can be rolled out in larger numbers and praying any new strain doesn't ruin that. Still, this idea things are "back to semi-normal by summer" is pretty hard to take given how rough things are but we can pray it can't be much worse than the terrible 2020.

January 1, 2021 at 7:39 PM

What if we just didn’t see the end of a bad year but instead saw the beginning of a bad decade?

January 2, 2021 at 2:08 AM

If 2020 is not better than 2021, then that means we have learned absolutely nothing. Many mistakes were made over the course of the past year, but we have a much better understanding of the situation now and have some idea of what actually works and what doesn't do much. With that knowledge and hopefully more competent leadership plus an effective vaccine, we should be on the right track going forward. That's not to say things will snap back to normal, but I'm optimistic that by summer we will have the virus controlled enough for all aspects of life to return under enhanced precautions and be on a path toward a full return to as normal in the first half of 2022. I personally believe that the current wave is the worst point of the pandemic and things will only improve from here, I just hope I'm not wrong.

January 2, 2021 at 11:25 AM

Initially worse, but eventually better.

January 2, 2021 at 4:21 PM


Happy 2021 to all… Best of Luck for good health and maybe hit a Theme park or two later in the year.

New leadership, hope for a cure by way of a vaccine… I am in.

Once clown boy leaves the WH, maybe we will get some semblance of normalcy. But here is the problem. At the current rate of vaccinations, it will take 10 years.

But still I have hope.

January 3, 2021 at 7:56 AM

A vaccine will be rolled out but the virus is mutating. Will the vaccine also help on the more aggressive mutation? Who can say...
I hope it will get better, maybe back to normal.

January 4, 2021 at 1:55 PM

AJ: "If 2020 is not better than 2021, then that means we have learned absolutely nothing."

Wonka: "Strike that ... Reverse it."

OT: "A vaccine will be rolled out but the virus is mutating."

Me: And there should be little doubt that OT will blame that mutation on Disney.

Also me: By the time Food & Wine rolls around and Harmonious debuts and HHN is back at UO all will be well again.

Happy WDW 50th everyone!

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