When Will You Take a Theme Park Vacation Again?

January 20, 2021, 3:12 PM · It's Inauguration Day in America. In theme park news, Disney's Hall of Presidents is now down for refurbishment. (A Joe Biden animatronic will be installed, a Disney rep said, but nothing has confirmed as to other potential changes.) And the federal government is gearing up to take charge of vaccine distribution across the country.

The parking lots at Disneyland and Six Flags Magic Mountain might be designated vaccination centers, but until there's enough supply to meet demand, those theme parks won't be able to transition back to their traditional roles for many months. Federal intervention offers hope that the pace of vaccination can accelerate so that maybe... just maybe... the theme park industry won't lose another summer, Halloween fans won't lose another season and Christmas 2021 can bring the joy that 2020 so often failed to deliver.

So how are you feeling on this quadrennial day of renewal in the United States? Specifically - to the point of this website - how are you feeling about potential theme park vacation travel plans this year?

Predicting the future has been a fool's errand in this pandemic. So let's give up any expectations here. Let's just imagine when you think you might be ready, willing and able to take a 2019-style theme park vacation, given the situation in your community at the moment.

Yes, things are changing all the time. We don't yet know how quickly the Biden administration can ramp up vaccine acquisition and distribution. We don't know far these new, more contagious variants of Covid-19 will spread. And we don't know when nations will begin to reopen borders and lift domestic travel restrictions.

So just go ahead and guess. There's no penalty for being wrong or reward for being right. I would just like to get a quick-glance view of what the theme park fan community is feeling right now. Are you ready to travel immediately? Or are you looking toward later this year or even beyond? Maybe sometime in between? Pick a month.

As we await a recovery in the theme park and travel businesses, I will continue to bring you news coverage, features, interviews and travel advice. Please check out our new theme park guides, as well as our hotel page and discussion forum. And stay tuned next week for the return of our Attraction of the Week feature.

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Replies (21)

January 20, 2021 at 3:19 PM

I'm hopeful, if not confident, that I'll be able to go to Halloween Horror Nights this year. That would rule. If it doesn't happen, well, we've all learned how much stuff we're able to get used to, but it would be a bummer — more because of what it would represent in terms of vaccine failure than anything else.

January 20, 2021 at 3:32 PM

Best case would be late fall, still up in the air but vaccines shipped faster can be a major aid.

January 20, 2021 at 3:44 PM

We had planned a major Orlando based vacation last September. Obviously that got cancelled.

Given that planning a vacation like this from the UK requires upwards of 12 months planning we are now looking at autumn 2023 before we are prepared to consider visiting again.

January 20, 2021 at 4:13 PM

I’m hopeful now that the US is finally on the right track to tackle this Pandemic - but we’re also about a year behind with so much damage and so much time squandered.

This Pandemic will most likely get worse before these new policies take hold - which may mean waiting a few months before we get to see the positive effects,

I’ll go ahead and vote October, just in time for WDW’s 50th anniversary - though I still see my family and I only going while wearing masks and with social distancing policies in place.

January 20, 2021 at 4:38 PM

I’d go now, but it’s too depressing with everyone in masks. I voted for September, simply cause I’m hoping for HHN this year.

January 20, 2021 at 5:02 PM

I actually did a fair amount of travel to parks last year, but it was very different than I've done in the past and focused on shorter return visits rather than exploring new parks, as well as staying in one location for several days rather than moving every day or two. I don't have any problem with the park part, and if California's parks were open I'd go as soon as the current wave passes. However, I'm not planning any long distance trips before June because there are still a lot of unknowns in what operations will be like this year. I don't expect the park experience to be completely back to normal by this summer, but I do think enough of the barriers to travel will be lifted that I'll be able to do a normal-ish trip rather than the heavily modified ones I did in 2020.

January 20, 2021 at 5:04 PM

I'm really hoping to be able to visit Carowinds just before they close the mid-week opening schedule. It's fine going to the parks here, but it's still got that weird and surreal feel about it.

With hopefully 3 passholder events to go to for the new coasters, it'll make it a little bit more bearable. I haven't been on a coaster for almost 12 months, but once I get past the 3 weeks after the 2nd covid shot, I think I may dip my toes on Mako .... :)

As an aside .... interesting to find out today from the information desk, that SeaWorld no longer requires reservations to get into the park. Seems like no one was getting them anyway, so they quietly discarded that requirement "a few weeks ago"

I've tried park hopping at Disney, and that works great. Just need the Epcot to MK monorail back up and running again now to get a little bit more back to normalcy.

January 20, 2021 at 6:55 PM

It's funny now that election over and Biden in WH that Cuomo is all in on opening up the state, in middle of winter! Things that make you go Hmmmmmmmmm
Let's at least give credit to what everybody said was impossible, vaccines produced in less than a year!

January 20, 2021 at 9:15 PM

Being from New York, if I want to go to Disney, or anyplace else, I’ll have to fly. Being a teacher, I received my first COVID vaccine dose last Thursday. I’ll be getting my second shot on February 4th, which will be 3 weeks from the first dose.

With that being said., even after being vaccinated, I still won’t feel comfortable returning to any theme parks until the end of the year. But...it will most likely be 2022. By then, more people will have been vaccinated, and we may not have to wear masks anymore. I’d rather go when I don’t have to wear a mask any longer. I want to have that real Disney feel again.

Disneyland is still closed. Who knows when it will reopen? It probably won’t be back to full operation, pre-Pandemic, until at least 2022. I want to see Avengers Campus, and that probably won’t be open until the end of the year, at the earliest. For me, I’d rather wait until I can visit Disney again without a mask.

January 20, 2021 at 9:27 PM

Keyed up for an Orlando trip the first week of December so that’s where my vote falls...To be perfectly honest, I don’t see thing resembling what “normal” used to be, even at that point...The vaccine is out there but there’s still a good chunk of the population that won’t be willing to take it...It’s not something I expect to change over night as it were...Spring 2022 is my guesstimate...

January 20, 2021 at 11:58 PM

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January 21, 2021 at 12:36 AM

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January 21, 2021 at 11:12 AM

Wow I can't believe so many people are just writing off an entire year (well really two at this point). A lot can happen in a year, and for the sake of the economy here in Orlando I certainly hope it doesn't take a whole nother year to get this situation sorted out, not just theme parks but the hospitality industry is totally decimated. The hotels here in Orlando look like North Korea right now. United Airlines reported yesterday that in this previous quarter they lost $33 million a DAY.

January 21, 2021 at 2:46 PM

I'm hoping by somewhere around December thru February. I just don't want to go if I have to wear masks the entire time I'm on property. I'm sure there will still be some residual precautions in place, but I think (hope) the most intrusive of them will be gone by the end of the year.

My other concern (outside of the vaccine not being as effective as we all hope) is that there will be a crush of people descending upon vacation destinations once everything opens back up. I know a lot of people who are hurting financially because of this situation, but for people's whose jobs and income weren't affected by Covid-19 (which I count myself VERY lucky to be amongst), there is a high possibility that they will have a whole lot of surplus income. I know I do. Not being able to go on vacation, the movies, out for dinner, drinks, the mall or anything else, has left me with rather plump bank accounts...for a change.

Once everything opens back up, will Disney become oppressively busy? I hope not. But if it does, I may well put off even longer, just to let things settle down.

January 21, 2021 at 3:00 PM

I think @B Goodwin brings up a good point. If we can travel safely next year, it might be worth hitting up some places off the beaten path to avoid the crushing crowds. Just imagine what Hawaii (for a non-theme park example) is going to look like once people can visit without quarantining. It's gonna me a mad-dash amongst people who have escaped the pandemic (relatively) unscathed.

January 21, 2021 at 4:17 PM

@the_man, I’m hoping everything comes back sooner, rather than later too. But I think we have to be realistic here. It’s not going to happen o ver night. It’s probably going to take until at least the end of the year, for people to get back to some reality. Most people have to be willing to take the vaccine, and it needs to be better distributed throughout the county, and world.

I understand that Orlando is hurting, as well as the airline industry, and tourist industry. It’s really a shame, and terrible. However, due to the Pandemic, people are more worried about where their next meal is coming from, as opposed to taking a vacation. They’re wondering when the government will help them. As opposed to worrying about how Disney World is doing financially. People are really struggling. People are sick. The previous administration failed us. The last thing people are thinking about is taking a trip to Disney, or anywhere else right now.

January 22, 2021 at 5:33 PM

We are going to Sea World mid-March. That being said, I come to this website to get away from daily life. Robert, why must you inject your liberal politics into everything. I am a proud Trump supporter and you make it difficult for me to even read you rantings. LEAVE POLITICS OUT!!! Talk as a theme park insider not a political hack.

January 23, 2021 at 1:22 AM

Trump is a textbook example of a sociopath. For years he stood on the worlds most important podium and consistently spewed totally outrageous nonsense, making a mockery of our country and our people. Here are just a few highlights:

-Obama was born in Kenya (ridiculous conspiracy theory with no merit)
-Climate change is a hoax (apparently science doesn't matter if its financially and/or politically inconvenient for you)
-Everything about the pandemic (meanwhile 400,000 Americans have died...292,000 Americans died in WW2)
-Democrats stole the election (apparently the entire court system of the USA is rigged against Donald Trump)
-Pardoned all of the people who were loyal to him politically (that's not shady at all), pardoned two murderers who were military contractors, pardoned Rod Blagojevich (who was on Celebrity Apprentice and was caught on a recorded line illegally selling his senate seat), etc etc
-Markets himself as a man of Christian values: meanwhile he was caught having sex with a prostitute and paying her to sign a nondisclosure agreement not to talk about it, has five kids with three different women, was recorded talking about how he likes to grab women in the vagina and kiss them unprovoked, made his living as a casino developer (the ultimate high ground of a moral and ethical way to earn a living), and when talking about North Korea he said he was going to "bomb the sh*t out of them" which would kill thousands of starving innocent people.

You shouldn't get mad at Robert just because he has been pointing out what is blatantly obvious.

January 23, 2021 at 6:20 AM

Mr. Griffin; You see, there is the problem. You are a Trump supporter. And there are in excess of seventy million Trump supporters still out there, across the United States. But Trump isn't about politics. He isn't about ideology, left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, or any of the traditional ways you wish to perceive taking sides in a political discussion. That might be one of the best misconceptions he was able to perpetuate.

What he is about is far, far, far more dangerous. And if you don't see that or understand why I believe that, I honestly don't have the words in my vocabulary nor loquacious skill to explain it. To me, and (thankfully) the majority of people, the reason why we see constantly negative and disparaging remarks towards Trump are fully on display, without any concealment, camouflage, or sense of shame.

So, as long as there remains people that don't understand why there is such negativity towards Trump, you will continue to see and read and hear people being viciously critical towards the Trump presidency for years to come. And it isn't about being liberal.

And I hope, one day, you will realize what it IS all about.

January 23, 2021 at 9:21 PM

@the_man, you are 100% right, Donald Trump is a textbook example of a sociopath. He’s someone who only cares about himself, and always puts his wants and needs first.

All of the things you mentioned about him, are all classic examples of someone who is mentally unstable. I’m going to add a few things to your list:
- claimed disinfectant wipes, along with a light, can “knock out the virus in a minute.” That is insane. People say he was joking, or being sarcastic. However, he said this during a Coronavirus task briefing. Why would you joke about a deadly virus that is affecting peoples lives? That’s not funny. He was supposed to be our president, and is making jokes about a pandemic. Shame on him.
- Takes Vladimir Putin’s word, over our own CIA and FBI.
- Called soldiers “suckers and losers.”
- said COVID would disappear like a “miracle.”
- Calls everything a “witch hunt.”
- Held super spreader events, which was advised against from his own Coronavirus task force, and the CDC.
- Turned his back on the Curds, fighting ISIS in the Middle East.
- Called the Ukrainian President, in order to gain dirt on Joe Biden.
- Pushed back peaceful protesters, in order to get a photo opportunity in front of a church.
- Pressured governors, state officials, and the DOJ to overturn the election results.
- Incited violence at the Capitol.

January 26, 2021 at 12:42 PM

I'll be able to travel again when I'm not being penalized with an obligatory 14 day quarantine.

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