Plans change – this is true now more than ever before. Sometimes your plans for a Walt Disney World vacation have to be canceled or adjusted, but there can be consequences. It’s a good idea to get to know Walt Disney World’s cancelation policy before you book, and there are a few other items to consider as well.
By Dani Dennison Meyering
Walt Disney World’s Cancelation Policy for Tickets
In short, all Walt Disney World tickets are non-refundable. There may be rare exceptions to the rule, but Disney’s official policy is that theme park tickets cannot be refunded. Even though tickets cannot be refunded, the good news is they do not expire if you haven’t used them. So, if you’ve purchased your tickets and need to cancel your trip, you can hang onto them for future use.
If you haven’t yet purchased your tickets, you’ll want to consider if your trip is on shaky ground or not. If it isn’t, and especially if you believe that even if you were to cancel you would most likely reschedule, then consider purchasing your tickets ahead of time. The pricing of tickets has been known to increase once or twice every year. It would be a shame to hold out on purchasing your tickets only for the price to go up.
However, if your trip is uncertain, and you aren’t sure you would reschedule if needed, then consider holding off on the tickets. It would be an even bigger shame to shell out the money for tickets, then cancel the trip, not reschedule, and not be able to get a refund since the tickets are non-refundable.
Once you use your tickets for the first time, they automatically expire after 14 days from first use. There is no longer a “no expiration” option that you can add to your ticket. Some special tickets, such as complimentary tickets, can have expiration dates even if they were never used for the first time, so be sure to double check your specific ticket.
Walt Disney World’s Cancelation Policy for Hotels
Currently, as an additional measure for COVID-19 safety, Disney has waived their normal cancelation policy. For arrivals through April 30, 2021, Disney has waived any regular change fees for cancelations up to the check-in date.
Normally, the cancelation fee is the deposit you paid when booking your reservation, which becomes non-refundable if you cancel shortly before your arrival date. It isn’t clear if this policy will be reinstated after April 30, 2021 or if a new policy will be put in place.
It’s important to note that Disney Vacation Club’s policy for member points is different. If a reservation is canceled 31 days or more in advance, the Vacation Points are returned in their Use Year. If the cancelation occurs 30 days or less in advance, then they are placed in a holding pattern. Review the Disney Vacation Club Cancelation Policy, and remember: if you are renting points, then you’ll need to check the cancelation policy of the individual company or person from whom your points are rented.
Walt Disney World’s Dining Cancelation Policy
Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all policy for canceling dining reservations at Walt Disney World. Most Disney owned-and-operated restaurants have a 24-hour policy. A small deposit is paid when booking the reservation, and if the reservation is not canceled at least 24 hours in advance, that deposit is forfeited.
Other restaurants at Disney World have different policies, so be sure to thoroughly review them before finalizing your reservation. If the restaurant is not owned and operated by Disney, like many of the restaurants at Disney Springs, a deposit is usually not required. Disney offers the phone number (407) 824-1391 for assistance with their restaurant cancelation policy.
An important exception to the cancelation policy for tickets and vacation packages pertains to hurricanes. If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or the area of your residence within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may be able to reschedule or cancel your ticket or vacation package. This policy is also applied to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, should a hurricane warning be issued for those areas or your area of residence. You’ll want to review Disney’s Hurricane Policy, but the key is to contact Disney well in advance to ask about receiving a refund.
Perhaps what is most important is to keep in mind that booking through a third party means you are subject to that company’s individual policies in addition to Disney’s. Some third party websites like Hotwire are non-refundable no matter when you cancel. Others, like Expedia and similar sites, have cancelation policies from 24-72 hours prior to check-in.
In addition, there can be different policies for hotel reservations versus airline reservations. Even if you book everything into one package with the same company, different policies can apply to different components of your package. It’s a smart move to thoroughly review each company’s policy.