by JollyFrogger Diva
So you’ve spent months (if not years) planning the perfect trip. You were up and at your computer screen at 6 am on the 180-day mark to make your dining reservations and 7am at the 60 (or 30) day mark to make your FastPass+ reservations. You’ve tweaked and perfected your plans and everything is set just how you want it- and then something you didn’t plan for happens. In my case, we were 3 days away from leaving for our trip when I received a call that my Dad was having a heart attack. Maybe in your case, it’s not a medical emergency but instead an expensive and unplanned for repair. Regardless of what it is, all of a sudden, you find yourself facing the fact that you’re going to have to reschedule your vacation. It’s definitely not something anyone wants to do, but there are some things you can do before you find yourself in this situation that will prove helpful if something causes you to reschedule.
Consider Trip Insurance
Whether you plan your vacation yourself or use a travel agent, trip insurance is always a good idea. Disney offers it for those who book directly on their website and it can be added any time before your final payment is made. If you used a travel agent to plan (we recommend Patricia at All for Dreams Travel), they can add it for you. If you find yourself having to cancel your trip after the final payment is due, travel insurance will allow you to reschedule your trip without losing any of the money you’ve already paid. In our case, we actually received a little refund because our rescheduled dates were a bit cheaper than our original dates. If you booked your airfare as part of your Disney vacation, your trip insurance should cover it as well. There are lots of travel insurance companies out there, so even if you don’t buy directly from Disney, it’s a good idea to do some research and see if you can find a policy that fits into your budget.
Know Your Airline’s Rules
If you booked your airfare through Disney and purchased trip insurance, all your change and cancellation fees should be taken care of. If you’re like me and booked your airfare separately, it’s important to know your airline’s rules before you book. In our case, we chose Southwest Airlines and they allow no-fee cancellations and changes. When we found out 3 days before our trip that we would need to reschedule, all we had to do was go on Southwest’s website and cancel our flights. They refunded us in the form a credit good for one year. Once we picked new travel dates and were ready to book our new flights, we applied that credit to the reservation and all we had to pay was the difference in price from the old flights to the new one (if it had been less, we would have been able to use that remaining credit any time over the next year). Other airlines have different rules for cancellations and rescheduling, so be sure to know the airline’s policies before you book.
Keep a List of Reservations
If you’re like me and have to cancel at the last minute, it’s sometimes hard to remember everything you need to cancel. This is where my planning side really helped me out. I like to keep a master schedule with all of our reservations including our Kingdom Strollers rental information, airplane harness rental information, mail hold confirmation number, and confirmation numbers for all dining reservations. Having all this information in one place made it much easier for me to know who I had to contact to cancel reservations and I had all the confirmation in front of me for easy access. For me, the saddest part was definitely having to cancel each hard planned dining (check out my guide for preparing to make dining reservations) and FastPass+ reservation (check out my guide to planning for FastPass+) one at a time but I knew I’d be making new ones soon. It also served me later to have my confirmation numbers written down because I had 2 dining reservations that showed as canceled on the My Disney Experience app but were still showing in Disney’s reservation system. I had to call them after receiving reminder emails so that I wouldn’t be charged for not showing up and it was nice to still be able to see the reservations number so Disney could search for them.
Beware of Non-Refundable Tickets
If you have tickets to a special event such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (if you’re planning to visit MNSSHP, check out Soarin Diva’s tips for navigating it) or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party (check out Pixie Dusted Diva’s tips if you plan to attend MVMCP), then this is where you may lose some money. In our case, we had purchased tickets for both events. Disney does bill these special event tickets as non-refundable, so I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to get any money back. However, after a call to Disney, I was blessed with Pixie Dust and was issued a refund for both sets of tickets. Beware that you may or may not have a similar experience if you have to cancel your trip, but it never hurts to call and ask nicely.
Find a Reason to Get Excited
Once we canceled our original trip, we had a few decisions to make before rescheduling. We had originally planned to visit in that sweet spot where you can get the end of Halloween season and the beginning of the Christmas season in one trip. We knew that putting off our trip just a few weeks wouldn’t be realistic- my Dad is facing a long recovery and it will be at least a few months before we’re comfortable leaving him. So our choices were to put the trip off for a whole year and try to duplicate the trip we had just canceled, or pick a new time to visit that we’re less familiar with. It was pretty unanimous that we wanted to reschedule for as soon as we felt comfortable doing so. Since our girls are young and we don’t have to worry about them missing school, we chose a time in mid-January. I’ve actually never visited in January before, so this will be a new experience. While we’re there, Epcot’s Festival of the Arts will start (Disney Magic Diva and Passholder Diva both gave it glowing reviews), so that’s something new to be excited about. We later found out that Disney will also be offering Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom during our trip. Since we tend to visit when Magic Kingdom is hosting special holiday events, we’ve never had the chance to check out an after-hours event before. After reading Soarin Diva’s review of Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom, we decided to purchase tickets to that as well. Having two new experiences to look forward to has helped to take some of the sting out of having to push our trip out 3 months. Even if you have to delay your trip much longer than we did, try to find something about your new dates to get excited about- it will help you start to look forward instead of looking back.
Although nobody wants to have to reschedule your vacation, it always helps to be prepared if you find it necessary to do so. I hope my experience having to reschedule our trip will prove useful should you find yourself in a similar situation. This is definitely not a tip I thought I’d ever share, but at least we have a new trip to look forward to in a few months.