After becoming a DVC member in March 2019, the very first reservation I made myself was for a Standard View Studio at our home resort, the BoardWalk Villas, for March 24-30, 2020. My fiancé, Timothy, and I were looking forward to a weeklong vacation to enjoy the warm weather and visit one of our favorite festivals: the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival! I love trying dishes from the outdoor kitchens, and the flowers and elaborate topiaries make Epcot even more beautiful than it already is. After we got engaged in June 2019, the March 2020 trip also became an opportunity for us to have our wedding planning session and cake tasting at Franck’s Studio by the Grand Floridian. To top it all off, my family was also tagging along for the first time in forever, so there was so much that we were looking forward to since booking last year!
The weeks leading up to the trip were filled with excitement. As we received our Magical Express tags and magic bands, the trip began to feel real. However, by the end of February excitement turned into anxiety. I knew that COVID-19 was a threat, and that only became clearer as we approached 2 weeks out from our vacation. Being from NYC, a hotspot for COVID-19, I was aware that this pandemic was rapidly altering our everyday lives, and I had a sinking feeling that this trip was not meant to be. I didn’t even have the confidence to do my usual pre-vacation rituals, and my favorite pair of Minnie ears remained unpacked. All the while, I held out on cancelling and hoped for the best. Whether it was denial or optimism, I didn’t want to cancel unless it was necessary. On March 12, Disney made the decision for me; Walt Disney World would be closing its parks in an abundance of caution, and then by March 16, Disney announced that the resorts and parts of Disney Springs would follow suit. It is heartbreaking to acknowledge that even my happy place isn’t immune to the impact of this coronavirus, but there are clearly more important priorities.
As much as it hurts to cancel our trip, I completely understand that the closures are necessary. If there’s one thing that I learned from Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour, it’s that Disney prizes safety as one of its four key values. These measures will help keep guests and cast members alike safe, and hopefully we will all return to normalcy soon. On the bright side, being a DVC member takes the sting out of cancelling. As a DVC member, I know that I will return to Walt Disney World for years to come, so it will not be goodbye forever. The parks will still be there when this is all over. Thanks to Disney relaxing its cancellation policy, I was able to cancel the trip online without having any points go into holding. I then used those points to add a few more days to a split stay I had already planned for June. With these extra days, Timothy and I are now excited to try a couple of DVC resorts that are new to us like Copper Creek and Animal Kingdom Lodge.
I know that my experience is not unique, and there are many of us who had to reluctantly cancel our March trips. As we all hunker down and try to stay safe, I’m trying to keep the magic alive by watching Disney movies and vlogs, listening to Disney soundtracks, eating Mickey bars, and connecting with my fellow DVC Fans on Facebook. Until Walt Disney World reopens, I’ll continue planning for the next visit and looking forward to hearing those familiar words, “Welcome home!”