Walt Disney World Resort is ringing in its 50th anniversary Friday, as families vacation to the park and think ahead to holiday travel plans.
"I'm very excited for the 50th," said Doris Stanley.
Stanley is a self-proclaimed Disney enthusiast. She and her son are regulars at the park. Now the local family planned to visit for the celebration once more.
"I have a 7-year-old son and it's really wonderful to watch him experience it. So you kind of get to experience it again through the eyes of a child," Stanley said. "We love going and it feels like we're home."
From home to destinations, travel experts say thinking ahead is a must.
"We're expecting it to be incredibly busy. We're expecting about two to two and a half times as many travelers as went through TSA checkpoints in 2020," said Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper.
Hopper's Holiday Travel Guide report says the number of people screened through TSA increased to about 80% of 2019 levels this summer and has tapered off at about 77%. It recommends booking holiday flights before Halloween.
"So definitely beach destinations seem quite popular, but if you look at the ones that have trended up the most since 2019 in search popularity, it seems like ski resorts might also be very popular here," said Damodaran.
The report finds the most-booked destination for Thanksgiving and Christmas is Orlando.
"Will the theme parks continue their sort of destination dominance this holiday season? It's likely, but we just don't know yet," said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross.
"We can't say with any certainty how many are going to be traveling, but we can assume folks will be traveling, and probably the vast majority of those folks will be traveling by car," said Gross.
A survey by AAA found more than half of Americans are planning a vacation before the end of next year, with around one-third of travelers saying they're more likely to buy travel insurance for trips between now and the end of 2022. AAA recommends looking for policies that have a "cancel at any time" option for more flexibility. The curveball is still COVID.
"Prepare and pack your patience, No.1," Gross said."Go to the websites and see what kinds of restrictions are in place, see if there are opportunities to go at those off hours when they might be a little less crowded."
The rules vary from place to place with cleaning and other measures.
SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort encourage face coverings indoors, Walt Disney World Resort and California's Disneyland require them inside, while Universal Studios Hollywood mandates them outside, too. We're just cautious. We socially distance, we wear our mask and we just try to do our part," said Rachelle Murphy. Murphy planned to travel from Alabama to Disney World with her son and family.
"I'm really excited to experience that with him. So I'm most excited to do that with him and to always have those memories to be able to talk to him about it," said Murphy.
Memories to hold on to for people near and far.