Are you considering a vacation to Disney World this year? There’s a lot going on in the Disney realm that may be different from your past vacations. We’re sharing some of the top things you need to know before you go!
- UPDATES AS OF 6/9/23
- → VACATION PLANNING
- → TRANSPORTATION
- → ACCOMMODATIONS
- → DINING
- → ADMISSION
- → PARK HOURS AND CROWDS
- → FESTIVALS
- → SPECIAL EVENTS
- → HOLIDAYS
- → ATTRACTIONS
- → FIREWORKS, SHOWS AND TOURS
- → SPECIAL SERVICES
- → MDE (My Disney Experience) AND GENIE
- → MISCELLANIOUS
- What You Need To Know About Visiting Disney World In 2022
- UPDATES AS OF 8/12/22
- 𝘍𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴
- 𝘕𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘴, 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘶𝘮 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘴
- 𝘓𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘌𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘛𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴
- 𝘏𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘭 𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘵𝘴
- 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴
- Updates As Of Feb. 2022 (BELOW)
- Mask Mandates Lifted (Sort-Of)
- Park Reservations Are REQUIRED
- Park Hopper Changes
- Disney Genie
- Disney Genie+
- OUR THOUGHTS ON GENIE+
- Individual Lightening Lanes
- Mobile Ordering
- Character Dining Is Modified (Or Closed)
- Character Meet & Greets Are Also Distanced — UPDATE: CHARACTERS ARE BACK!
- No More Magical Express
- Ignore Crowd Calendars
- Looking To Add Some Extra Magic To Your Trip? Check Out Ears For Each Other!
- Notes On Restaurants
- Also, if you’re thinking of heading to Disney this year or you have a kiddo who just LOVES to dress us, head on over to our Little Adventures Review AND Giveaway for a chance to win some dress ups!
UPDATES AS OF 6/9/23
→ VACATION PLANNING
‣ Admission tickets, vacation packages and room-only hotel reservations for 2024 have been available as of May 31, 2023. Starting with reservations for 2023, Disney no longer offers room-only hotel reservations 499 or 500 days prior, as they had previously for many years. Room-only reservations and admission tickets are now released alongside vacation packages for the same period of time. (In past years, military pricing was released in the fall; mostly in September, but in recent years in December and November.)
‣ The Skyliner is typically closed for regular annual maintenance in late January.
‣ Buses from theme parks to Disney Springs are not operating at this time. (There are never buses from Disney Springs to the theme parks.)
‣ Parking lot trams are operating at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
‣ In the most recent semi-annual report from the US Department of Transportation, in terms of Flight Cancellations, Hawaiian, Delta, Alaska, United and American had the least; Frontier, Spirit, Southwest, Allegiant, and JetBlue had the most. In terms of flight delays, Delta, Alaska, United, American and Hawaiian had the least; Southwest, Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue and Allegiant had the most.
‣ E-ZPass is now accepted at Florida highway toll booths, just like E-Pass and SunPass.
‣ Brightline will likely begin service between Miami and Orlando International Airport this fall. There are no firm plans for continuing the train from Orlando International Airport to Tampa.
‣ Mears Connect provides service from both Terminal A/B and Terminal C, and operates 24/7. Sunshine Flyer provides service from Terminal A/B only, and operates 4AM-11PM.
‣ CFX has announced that they will be phasing out cash-only lanes on central Florida tollways during 2023-2024, leaving behind only toll tags and the much more expensive toll-by-plate options.
‣ Parking lot guards still often stringently enforced restrictions limiting hotel parking lots to guests of the hotel and those with confirmed full-service dining reservations at the hotel.
‣ Very few regular Disney hotel rooms remain with mini-fridges (some at Riverside, some at Art of Animation), most now offering beverage coolers that promise a consistent 41°, cold enough for soft drinks but according to health authorities not cold enough to keep perishables like milk from spoiling. Suites, and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas generally offer mini-fridges or fridges.
‣ Pola Orbis, the makers of H2O+, retired the brand at the end of December 2022. Neither Disney nor several retailers have yet to run out of their supplies.
‣ The walking path between the Grand Floridian and the Magic Kingdom has reopened. The walking path between Ft. Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge remains closed. The walking path between Shades of Green and the Polynesian has closed permanently.
‣ The Grand Floridian spa reopened. No other Disney resort hotel spas have reopened or are currently scheduled to reopen.
‣ As per the Disney Policy change in January 2020: Scooterbug is the only rental company that is allowed to leave your rental with bell services at Disney resort hotels before you arrive and to pick up your rental from bell services after you leave. For all others you will need to meet them personally at the beginning and end of your trip.
‣ As of July 25, 2021, Disney will no longer transfer perishables between hotels, for guests with split stays. Also, split stays effectively split the 60+10 ADR Disney resort guest advantage.
‣ Since the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, and likely driven by a precedent for liability established by a court-ratified agreement related to it, hotels for which the name of the hotel would tend to draw more attention, including all Disney hotels, do a security check of each occupied room each day. Disney even removed all the “Do Not Disturb” door hangers and replaced them with “Room Occupied” door hangers to punctuate the point that they will enter each room once a day to perform this mandatory visual inspection. (This is pointed out to guests on hotel confirmations, as shown in the inset in the middle of the graphic below.)
‣ Guests of official Walt Disney World hotels are eligible for two Disney hotel guest benefits: Early Entry and hotel guest park reservations; the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista, Doubletree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando – Disney Springs Area, Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Shades of Green, Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista. Guests of Good Neighbor hotels are not eligible for these benefits.
‣ Guests of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve and Shades of Green are also eligible for the 60+10 ADR Disney resort guest advantage, Extended Evening Hours, and ILL purchase at 7AM. Guests of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, and Walt Disney World Swan Reserve are also eligible for free parking at the theme parks.
‣ DVC Moonlight Magic dates have been announced for 2023. (If this year is any indication, we can expect the announcement for 2024 in January.)
‣ A new DVC accommodations building is being constructed replacing the luau cove at the Polynesian Resort. The Cabins at Ft. Wilderness will be refurbished and converted into DVC resort.
‣ Feature pools at All-Star Movies, Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans French Quarter will be closed for extended refurbishment in early 2024.
‣ As of May 6, 2023, there are changes to the modifications and cancellation policies for a number of dining experiences: Guests are no longer allowed to modify reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, all the fireworks dessert parties and fireworks dining packages. (Presumably, this was to preclude modifications intended solely to avoid cancellation fees.) For some restaurants, there is now a specific cancellation fee for cancellations that take place too close to the reservation time. For Cinderella’s, cancellations are still allowed two hours prior, but the cancellation fee is now the full cost of the experience per person instead of $10 per person. The same is true for Hoop-Dee-Doo, but in order to avoid the cancellation fee, you need to cancel that at least 1 day prior. Sangria University is the same. La Cava Experience is similar, but with a $50 per person cancellation fee. The cancellation fee is also the full cost of the experience per person for the fireworks dessert parties and fireworks dining packages, with cancellation periods ranging from 1 day prior for Ferrytale Fireworks to 7 days prior for the pre- and post-parties at the Magic Kingdom. There is now a $100 per person cancellation fee for Takumi-Tei, Monsieur Paul, and Victoria & Alberts, if not canceled, 2 days, 3 days, and 5 days prior, respectively. Guests are well-advised to check the policies for each venue individually in case there are subsequent changes.
‣ Guests can generally make dining reservations at 6am, 60 days prior to the date of the reservation desired. Guests can generally make Enchanting Extras reservations at midnight, 60 days prior to the date of the reservation desired. Disney resort hotels can make reservations 60 days prior to the check-in date of each hotel reservation, for the first 10 days of that reservation. Keep in mind that 60 days prior, some Disney Resort hotel guests have already had more than a full week’s opportunity to book high demand reservations.
‣ All dining venues that were operating in early 2020 have reopened, with only three exceptions (1900 Park Fare, Marrakesh, and the afternoon tea at Garden View Lounge).
‣ Character dining experiences may be found at: Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Crystal Palace, Garden Grill, Hollywood & Vine, Tusker House; Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s ‘Ohana, Artist Point, Topolino’s Terrace (breakfast only), Ravelo (breakfast only; selected days). On May 14, 2023, Akershus resumed serving breakfast and lunch. On June 14, Garden Grill will resume serving breakfast.
‣ Several restaurants have resumed self-service buffets: Boma, Biergarten, Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace, Ale & Compass, Hollywood and Vine, Tusker House.
‣ A number of dining experiences at Walt Disney World are now fixed price dining experiences, including all character meals. Everyone is charged based on their age, regardless of what or how much they order or eat (plus extra charges for any extras). Fixed price restaurants at WDW include: Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Crystal Palace, Garden Grill, Hollywood and Vine, ‘Ohana breakfast, Topolino’s Terrace breakfast, Tusker House, Storybook Dining at Artist Point, Akershus, 1900 Park Fare (currently closed); Be Our Guest, Boma, Biergarten, Cape May Cafe dinner, Diamond Horseshoe, Liberty Tree Tavern, ‘Ohana dinner, Roundup Rodeo BBQ, Sebastian’s Bistro; all fireworks and concert dining packages (Rose & Crown, Spice Road Table) and dessert packages; California Grill, Space 220 (restaurant), Monsieur Paul, Takumi-Tei, Victoria & Alberts. In cases where there is a real concern that some members of the family won’t eat or won’t eat much, a different restaurant selection would be best.
‣ The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, a new table service restaurant and bakery, is expected to open on the BoardWalk in 2023.
‣ The Dining Plan returns January 9, 2024. Disney Dining Plan provides 1 table service meal credit, 1 quick service meal credit and 1 snack credit, per guest, per night; plus a refillable mug. $89 per adult/$28 per young child (3-9), per night, plus tax and tip*. Quick Service Dining Plan provides 2 quick service meal credits and 1 snack credit, per guest, per night; plus a refillable mug. $55 per adult/$23 per young child (3-9) per night, plus tax. Gratuities are not included in the dining plan.* The Dining Plan requires a vacation package at a Disney hotel. (Arrangements for DVC reservations are pending.) Changes from the past include: No deluxe dining plan; All signature restaurants, all dinner shows, in-room dining at GF, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus, Artist Point, and Be Our Guest “cost” two table-service credits per guest. Pizza pickup at value and moderate hotels “costs” two quick-service credits each; Space 220 and Chefs de France are apparently non-participating. As previously: Everyone registered in the hotel room must have the same admission and must be on the dining plan. Child credits must be used for child meals. Participating restaurants are subject to change.
‣ Two summer promotions have been announced:
4-Park Magic Ticket: 1 visit to each of the 4 theme parks, on 4 separate days over a 7 day period beginning on the day you first use the ticket. Not valid July 1-4. Not valid September 1-4. Any unused days expire after September 29. As a bonus, park reservations are not required. $396 plus tax.
Florida resident Summer Magic Ticket: 3-day ($209 plus tax) and 4-day tickets ($229 plus tax). Can be used at any of the 4 theme parks, as long as park reservations are secured. Not valid May 26-29. Not valid July 1-4. Not valid September 1-4. Any unused days expire after September 29. Add-on options for park hopping and water parks are available.
‣ Admission prices most recently increased on December 8, 2022. 1-day tickets became park-specific, varying in price based on which park; they bundle a park reservation for that park in the purchase. Annual passes and the park hopping options also increased in price. The minimum and maximum admission prices haven’t increased for 2024, per se, but there are many fewer “less expensive” days and many more “more expensive” days: There are just about as many days when pricing is in the lower range (up to the 33rd percentile), fewer days in the middle ranges (between the 33rd percentile to the 67th percentile), 40%-75% more days in the next range (up to the 83rd percentile) and three to five times as many days in the top range (depending on how you count them). This represents a roughly 4.7% increase (though it is worth noting that that is roughly 2% less than the broader rate of inflation).
‣ Annual pass prices, announced on November 15, 2022, effective on December 8, 2022: Incredi-Pass: $1399 plus tax is $1489.94 – Renewals: $1189.15 plus tax is $1266.44; Sorcerer Pass: $969 plus tax is $1031.99 – Renewals: $823.65 plus tax is $877.19 (DVC members and Florida residents only); Pirate Pass: $749 plus tax is $797.69 – Renewals: $636.65 plus tax is $678.03 (Florida residents only); Pixie Pass: $399 plus tax is $424.94 – Renewals: $339.15 plus tax is $361.19 (Florida residents only).
‣ Park hopping remains limited to after-2pm (even after January 9, 2024). Starting April 18, 2023, for Magic Kingdom on Mondays through Fridays, and for the other three parks seven days a week: annual passholders will be able to enter after 2pm without park reservations.
‣ Beginning January 9, 2024, park reservations will only be required for guests with undated tickets. (As long as your ticket is valid only over at most 18 days, or the length of your Disney hotel stay, I believe, then you won’t have park reservations next year.)
‣ Each guest needs some type of admission credential to get into the parks (and incidentally, also scan into Lightning Lanes). There are three ways to get through the turnstiles: MagicBands, admission card/hotel room key cards, and MagicMobile. MagicBand 2.0 remains available for purchase despite the introduction of MagicBand+, but as the lower-priced option, they often sell out quickly, especially the solid color bands.
→ PARK HOURS AND CROWDS
‣ Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park reopened March 19, 2023, as Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park closes for its annual refurbishment. There is not yet a reopening date for Blizzard Beach and there does not appear to be any indication that both water parks will be open at the same time this summer.
‣ The Magic Kingdom will close early on January 29, 2024, for the annual cast member appreciation event.
‣ EPCOT 2023 Flower & Garden Festival – March 1 through July 5
‣ EPCOT 2023 Food & Wine Festival – July 27 through November 18
‣ EPCOT 2023 Festival of the Holidays – Dates TBD (likely November 25 through December 30)
‣ Garden Rocks concert series is ongoing and the full schedule is published. Eat to the Beat concert series performers and dates TBD. (In 2022, the preliminary list for the Eat to the Beat concert series came out May 19 and the full list on June 30. Since the festival starts a week later this year, perhaps the announcements will be a week later.)
‣ There has been lots of progress on the construction of Communicore Hall over the course of this year. It is expected to open by the end of the year; perhaps even soon enough to be utilized for the Festival of the Holidays.
→ SPECIAL EVENTS
‣ Disney After Hours events for the summer have been announced and tickets are on sale. There is no news about Disney After Hours events for the fall. There weren’t any last year.
‣ Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party dates were announced during “Halfway to Halloween” and tickets are on sale. No dates are sold out yet. (Last year, the first party sold out on July 1.) Dates are August: 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29; September: 1, 4, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29; October: 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31; November 1. Please note that on nights when they have the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Magic Kingdom will be open for guests visiting during the day until 6pm. The cast members will then usher those without party tickets out of the park. No fireworks presentation will be offered to guests visiting during the day. No special considerations are offered to guests visiting during the day who choose to visit the park that day regardless, so guests are well-advised to switch to a different park that day if the early closing and lack of fireworks are of-concern.
‣ Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party date have not yet been announced. I’m expecting the announcement during “Halfway to Christmas” (third week of June).
‣ Journey of Water, inspired by Moana, in EPCOT, is supposed to open later this year.
‣ Disney Fab 50 Character Collection statues remain in place despite the end of the anniversary.
→ Rides, specifically
‣ Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, in the Magic Kingdom, is supposed to open later this year.
‣ TRON and Guardians of the Galaxy remain the only attractions without a walk-up standby line, requiring instead use of the virtual queue.
‣ Effective July 16, 2021, Rider Switch allows only the waiting guardian and one other to ride.
→ FIREWORKS, SHOWS AND TOURS
‣ At the Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After, featuring all-new projections down Main Street USA, is presented almost every night. (Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are only presented 3, 4, or 5 days a week, most weeks from August through December, and are also occasionally preempted by private parties.) The Ferrytale Fireworks Dessert Cruise will be closed for refurbishment from March 30 through July 5.
‣ Also at the Magic Kingdom, the Festival of Fantasy Parade is presented once or twice each afternoon, Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade is presented several times over the course of the day, and the Adventure Friends Cavalcade is presented late in the day. “Let the Magic Begin” is the park’s opening stage show. It is performed on the castle stage, five minutes before the official opening time of the park. “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” is now being presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, multiple times a day.
‣ At EPCOT, they’re in the process of dismantling the infrastructure from Harmonious and installing the infrastructure for the new show to debut in EPCOT later this year. In the interim, they’re presenting EPCOT Forever, a show that doesn’t require any extra infrastructure, as an alternative to having no fireworks while the dismantling and installation is going on. EPCOT Forever is presented almost every night. (It is very rare for the EPCOT fireworks to be preempted, but not unheard of. For example, it was not presented on June 5, 2022, due to a private party that closed the World Showcase at 6PM.)
‣ At Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic has returned after a major renovation, and is currently being presented at least once in the evening, almost every night. (It is very rare for Fantasmic to be preempted, but not unheard of. For example, it was not presented on May 1 and 2, 2023, due to some needed repairs.) Wonderful World of Animation (projection shows with some pyrotechnics) continue to be presented in Hollywood Studios most nights. Disney Movie Magic is presented during special events.
‣ At Animal Kingdom park, Tree of Life Awakenings is a projection show that operates seasonally (most consistently in the winter, when the park itself is open significantly beyond sundown), celebrating the eternal balance and harmony that exists in all living things.
‣ Also at Animal Kingdom park, a number of different characters cruise the Discovery River off and on all day.
‣ Live stage shows currently operating include: The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Festival of The Lion King (the Tumble Monkeys and the aerialist dancer have returned!), Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, and a reimagined Finding Nemo musical called “The Big Blue and Beyond”. Other live stage entertainment currently operating: Feathered Friends In Flight!, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Turtle Talk with Crush. Other continuing and returning live entertainment includes: Dapper Dans on Main Street USA; the piano in front of Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom; the JAMMinators and Alberta Bound on the Mill Stage in Canada; Voices of Liberty in the rotunda; Mariachi Cobre in Mexico; Sergio, the juggler in Italy; drummers in Japan in Epcot; DiVine, Tam Tam drummers, and other live music in Africa and Asia in Animal Kingdom park. Also: Yeehaw Bob (and Mickey Beignets) at Port Orleans; Jellyrolls; evening performers on the BoardWalk.
‣ Enchanted Extras Keys to the Kingdom, Caring for Giants, Wild Animal Trek, Up Close with Rhinos, Savor the Savanna, Starlight Safari, Behind the Seeds and Dolphins in Depth have returned.
→ SPECIAL SERVICES
‣ Package delivery, to the front of the park and to Disney hotels, has not yet returned.
‣ Security at Disney Springs in December 2022 confirmed that there’s no longer any luggage storage at Disney Springs.
→ MDE (My Disney Experience) AND GENIE
‣ Since June 8, 2022, Genie+ and ILL can only be purchased on the day that they’ll be used.
‣ Genie+ prices have varied between $15 and $35, and ILL prices have varied between $10 and $25. Disney has suspended sales of Genie+ at WDW. The first such day was February 19, 2023.
‣ Since March 20, 2023, guests purchasing Disney Genie+ service also receive digital downloads of their Disney PhotoPass attraction photos (free of the watermark), taken in the park on the day of their purchase, at no additional charge.
‣ Five rides remain in the ILL tier: Flight of Passage, Guardians of the Galaxy, Rise of the Resistance, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, TRON.
‣ Disney and its unions have come to an agreement, extending out to 2027. Tipped employees (including bell staff, bartenders, restaurant servers, Minnie Van drivers) receive $7.98 per hour with $1 increases each year. Non-tipped employees (including attraction staff, merchandise staff, custodial staff, BBB staff, housekeepers, parking attendants, bus drivers, monorail drivers and entry-level cooks) earn between $17.00 and $25.36 with scheduled increases each year as well.
What You Need To Know About Visiting Disney World In 2022
Disney has implemented quite a few changes since the initial lockdowns and consequent months. Be sure you’re in the know before you go so you won’t be caught off guard, or worse, without reservations!
UPDATES AS OF 8/12/22
★ Park pass reservations required in addition to admission, and park hopping begins at 2pm. Officially, both are permanent.
★ Sales of most annual passes are currently suspended. Renewals unaffected.
★ MagicBand+ launched.
𝘍𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴
★ The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival will run through November 19. The EPCOT Festival of the Holidays will begin November 25. Disney hasn’t provided further details about that festival or later festivals, but it is a good guess that the Festival of the Holidays will continue through December 30, and that the International Festival of the Arts will therefore probably begin on January 13.
★ Cast Members will be treated to exclusive After Hours events, with remaining dates as follows: EPCOT: August 10, 23, 30; HS: August 21. These events will begin immediately after the official park operating hours end. Day-guests are not being allowed to linger in the parks after official park closing time.
★ Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will take place August: 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30; September: 2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30; October: 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31. Guests without party wristbands will be escorted from the park starting at 6PM, when regular park hours end. Enchantment fireworks will not be presented. The party will run from 7PM to midnight. An extra surcharge special event, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party, will be offered at Tomorrowland Terrace.
★ Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will take place November: 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29; December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22. Guests without party wristbands will be escorted from the park starting at 6PM, when regular park hours end. Enchantment fireworks will not be presented. The party will run from 7PM to midnight.
★ The Magic Kingdom closes at 7PM on August 18. Enchantment fireworks will not be presented.
𝘕𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘴, 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘶𝘮 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘴
★ At the Magic Kingdom, the new permanent fireworks show is Disney’s Enchantment, which is presented almost every night. (Public) dessert parties and fireworks cruises have returned. Special fireworks dining packages and viewing parties are offered at California Grill.
★ The Festival of Fantasy Parade has returned to the Magic Kingdom and will be presented twice each day.
★ Mirabel joins Miguel from “Coco,” Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Max, Goof, and Moana in the “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade!”.
★ At EPCOT, the new permanent fireworks show is Harmonious, which is presented almost every night. 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 dessert parties and fireworks cruises have returned. Special fireworks dining packages are offered at Rose and Crown and Spice Road Table.
★ At Hollywood Studios, Disney Movie Magic and Wonderful World of Animation (projection shows with some pyrotechnics) are presented in Hollywood Studios most nights. It is not clear whether Star Wars Galactic Spectacular will return.
★ Fantasmic will return in 2022; the theater is currently undergoing major renovations. In late May, Disney refilled the moat again, and in August they have been testing the pyrotechnics.
★ At Animal Kingdom park, Tree of Life Awakenings is a projection show that operates seasonally (most consistently in the winter, when the park itself is open significantly beyond sundown), celebrating the eternal balance and harmony that exists in all living things.
𝘓𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘌𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘛𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴
★ Live stage shows currently operating include: The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Festival of The Lion King (the Tumble Monkeys and the aerialist dancer have returned!), Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, and a reimagined Finding Nemo musical called “The Big Blue and Beyond”. Other live stage entertainment currently operating: Feathered Friends In Flight!, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Turtle Talk with Crush.
★ There are no performances of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration scheduled from August 22 through September 9. The show will reopen September 10.
★ “Let the Magic Begin” on the castle stage in the Magic Kingdom continues as the opening stage show. “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” is now being presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, multiple times a day.
★ KiteTails is now being presented as shorter and more frequent performances, supplemented by character flotillas, rather than as individual, scheduled shows.
★ Other continuing and returning live entertainment includes: Dapper Dans on Main Street USA; the piano in front of Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom; the JAMMinators and Alberta Bound on the Mill Stage in Canada; Voices of Liberty in the rotunda; Mariachi Cobre in the American Gardens Theater; Sergio, the juggler in Italy; drummers in Japan in Epcot; DiVine, Tam Tam drummers, and other live music in Africa and Asia in Animal Kingdom park. Also: Yeehaw Bob (and Mickey Beignets) at Port Orleans; Jellyrolls; evening performers on the BoardWalk.
★ Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground has returned.
★ Disney announced that they plan to continue to reintroduce regular character greetings, “in phases throughout the spring and early summer.” Minnie Mouse recently joined Mickey at the Town Square Theater, and Peter Pan and Snow White returned. Later this year, we can expect to see Aladdin, Jasmine, Merida, Pooh, Tigger, and the Great Goofini at the MK; and Toy Story toys at HS. Donald’s Dino-Bash will return to AK.
★ Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney is now being presented. Drawn to Life will be dark the week of September 11.
★ Enchanted Extras Keys to the Kingdom, Caring for Giants, Wild Animal Trek, Up Close with Rhinos, Savor the Savanna, Starlight Safari have returned.
★ Disney officially announced through one of its official IGs that International exchange cast members have returned to WDW. They will now begin training. We can hope to see more country-specific entertainment and cultural interaction in EPCOT and Animal Kingdom park soon.
★ Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Jedi training have both been removed from the official WDW website, indicating a strong likelihood that neither will return.
· The average wait time for attractions with posted wait times, for the first 175 days of 𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟵 was 𝟰𝟮 minutes.
· The average wait time for attractions with posted wait times, for the first 175 days of 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮 was 𝟯𝟰 minutes.
★ Announced in summer 2019, Disney Genie service and its component front-of-line-access premium services began October 19, 2021. On November 23, 2021, Disney fixed the bug that was leveraged for the main Genie+ stacking hack. Since June 8, 2022, advance purchase of Genie+ is no longer offered. FastPass will not return.
★ Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Expedition Everest, Frozen Ever After, and Space Mountain will remain as Genie+ attractions going forward, instead of going back to being ILL attractions as originally indicated.
★ Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind roller coaster is officially open in EPCOT. Access to the attraction is by way of Individual Lightning Lane service (for the Lightning Lane) and virtual queue (for the standby line), only. There is no walk-up access to this attraction at this time.
★ Canada Far and Wide will not be operating from the end of June until mid November. As has been the case during the Food and Wine Festival, the venue is used as a festival venue instead.
★ Star Wars Launch Bay has reopened featuring Vader, Chewbacca and BB-8.
★ 2022 Pin Celebration – One Family will take place August 12-13, at EPCOT. Park reservations for the participants will be reserved by Disney, as they have done for various previews and special events in the past.
★ Construction on the new Journey of Water attraction, Dreamers Point and Festival Hall in World Celebration in EPCOT is well underway.
★ Construction on the Tron roller coaster continues, with no announced opening date or year.
★ The Magic Kingdom Railroad is currently not operating due to Tron construction. In the latest news, track is now beginning to be laid inside the tunnel under Tron’s loading area, and cast member training has begun.
★ Effective since Summer 2021, Rider Switch allows only the waiting guardian and one other to ride.
★ Typhoon Lagoon has reopened as Blizzard Beach went down for its annual refurbishment. It does not appear that both water parks will be operating at the same time this year. The water park open has not filled to capacity very much if at all.
★ Blizzard Beach will reopen eventually, though: We can see from aerial photography that there is massive refurbishment going on, including replacement of major portions of Teamboat Springs.
★ Disney has announced that the upcoming Princess and the Frog attraction replacing Splash Mountain will be called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and it will open in late 2024. Still no details on when the existing Splash Mountain attraction will close.
★ Takumi-Tei, Monsieur Paul, 1900 Park Fare, Akershus, Marrakesh, Garden View Lounge have not yet reopened. All other dining venues that were operating in early 2020 have reopened.
★ Narcoossee is closed for a refurbishment extending into next year, when an “enhanced” table service experience will be offered.
★ Teppan Edo appears to have suspended dinner service, showing hours for lunch but not for dinner going forward, as well as not offering dinner reservations. It could just be an oversight.
★ Beginning August 15, 2022, Kona Cafe will be closed for refurbishment. Mobile Order will be offered.
★ Character dining experiences may be found at Garden Grill (EPCOT; Chip, Dale, Mickey, Pluto), Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto), Topolino’s Terrace (Riviera Resort; breakfast only; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy), Hollywood and Vine (Hollywood Studios; breakfast: Roadster Goofy, Vampirina, Fancy Nancy or Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins; dinner: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy), Tusker House (Animal Kingdom park; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy), Storybook Dining at Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge Resort; Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and The Queen).
★ Winnie the Pooh and Friends return to lunch and dinner at the Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom) on September 20th. Lilo & Stitch return to breakfast at ‘Ohana (Polynesian Resort) on September 27th. Minnie Mouse and friends return to breakfast at the Cape May Cafe on October 4th.
★ At Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom), Cinderella greets guests as they arrive or depart, and at Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom), the Beast does an occasional greeting to the whole dining room.
★ Space 220 Lounge and La Crêperie de Paris are now offering reservations for full-service dining. Reservations are no longer offered for Spice Road Table at EPCOT.
★ Several restaurants have resumed self-service buffets: Boma, Biergarten, Cape May Cafe, Crystal Palace, Ale & Compass. Hollywood and Vine resumes self-service buffet on August 28th. The brunch at Olivia’s is scheduled to return September 1st, though some report it already has.
★ Connections Eatery has opened in World Celebration at EPCOT, across the breezeway from the new Creations Shop and Club Cool. The Starbucks at EPCOT has relocated to the Connections Cafe.
★ The dining plan will be offered again but Disney has said nothing else about that since June 2021.
★ Roundup Rodeo BBQ, a new full service restaurant in Toy Story Land, will open in 2022.
★ The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, a new table service restaurant and bakery, is expected to open on the BoardWalk in 2023. Simultaneous with this announcement, ESPN Club was removed from the WDW website.
★ The Tables in Wonderland website has been removed, a strong indication that the offer will not return.
𝘏𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘭 𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘵𝘴
★ Vacation packages for 2023 now on sale. Packages and hotel rooms can be reserved 499 days in advance. Admission tickets can be purchased with start dates through December 31, 2023.
★ There is currently a promotion available to Disney VISA cardholders providing hotel package discounts for certain rooms in certain hotels from August 28 through September 19, 2022.
★ All Disney resort hotels have reopened and are operating. Warnings about limited housekeeping service have been removed from the WDW website, indicating a gradual return to normal housekeeping service. During your stay, your room will receive a light cleaning service every other day. All Disney resort hotel club levels have reopened.
★ Regular hotel room safety checks, which began after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, continue. Compliance with the safety checks is not optional. If you don’t want staff members entering your hotel room while you are in the room then engage the safety bar. The room occupied sign on the doorknob is not sufficient.
★ All parks now open 30 minutes early for Disney resort guests. Not all Good Neighbor hotels are eligible.
★ Select parks on select nights will remain open for Deluxe Disney resort guests. (Of the Good Neighbor hotels, only Swan and Dolphin, and Shades of Green, are eligible.)
★ No bounce back offers are being offered at this time.
★ The Grand Floridian spa reopened. No other Disney resort hotel spas have reopened or are currently scheduled to reopen.
★ As of Summer 2021, Disney will no longer transfer perishables between hotels, for guests with split stays.
★ Souvenir Pick-Up (at the front of the park) and Resort Hotel Delivery for purchases of park merchandise are both currently unavailable. Home Delivery shipping service is available for a fee.
★ DVC has increased the borrowing limit to 100% of the annual allocation.
★ DVC pool hopping is suspended.
★ A new accommodations building is being constructed replacing the luau cove at the Polynesian Resort, evidently the next DVC property after the recent conversion of Big Pine Key at the Grand Floridian to DVC.
★ The Top Of The World lounge atop Bay Lake Tower reopened for DVC members with a villains theme, new eligibility requirements, and new capacity controls.
★ Feature pools at All-Star Movies, Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans French Quarter will be closed for extended refurbishment in early 2024.
★ All monorails, the Skyliner, MK ferryboats, MK resort-to-park boats, EPCOT and EPCOT resorts Friendship boats, and Disney Springs resort boats are operating. Buses are operating between Disney resort hotels and Disney theme parks, as applicable.
★ Parking lot trams are operating at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and will return to other parks later in 2022.★ Minnie Vans have officially returned.
★ According to Disney’s official website, buses 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢𝙚 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙨 to Disney Springs are not operating at all at this time. (Buses between Disney resort hotels to Disney Springs are operating.)
★ Mears Connect replaced Disney’s Magical Express: $16 for adults, $13.50 for children, one way. Sunshine Flyer competes with it: $17 for adults, $12.50 for children, one way.
★ The Brightline train has nothing to do with Magical Express. It is an Intercity train from Miami eventually to Orlando Airport. Phase 3 has been rerouted, as per an agreement between authorities and Brightline, and will no longer include a Walt Disney World station.
★ Harmony Barber Shop has reopened.
★ Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom will reopen August 25. The other two locations will reopen later.
★ The Disney Visa photo spot has reopened in Epcot.
Updates As Of Feb. 2022 (BELOW)
Mask Mandates Lifted (Sort-Of)
As of February 17th, Disney is no longer requiring masks for vaccinated guests with the exception of transportation. So masks are still needed for buses, monorail, skyliner, etc. but not for the parks, in lines, on rides, or anywhere else. (NOTE: Because this is asked often, I want to let you know that they do NOT ask for proof. While we saw a handful of guests wearing masks in the park, the majority are not.)
Park Reservations Are REQUIRED
No, I don’t mean you just need a park ticket – which you will also need! In addition to your typical park tickets, Disney has implemented a park reservation system where you book which park you’re wanting to visit on your day. Without reservations, you may be out of luck if you show up to a park and they are ‘sold out’ for the day. So what you need to do is:
1) check park availability
2) buy tickets
3) reserve park days
You can check park reservation availability before deciding on when you should go.
Park Hopper Changes
If the park you’re wanting to visit has no availability, all hope is not yet lost. You can upgrade your ticket to a park hopper. However, you will need to visit and ‘check in’ to the park you have reservations for at some point that day. Then, any time after 2pm, you can park hop to another park.
NOTE: Disney still reserves the right to close down entrance of hopper guests if the park is already at capacity. But with people leaving for meal reservations or to call it a day; more guests will be let in.
Not to be confused with the Genie+ (which we’ll talk about next), Disney Genie is free to everyone and is basically just a planning and information center on the Disney app. It shows you the tip board where you can view up-to-date wait times for every ride and attraction as well as keep track of ‘your day’ which will tell you what park you have reservations to as well as any meal reservations. It also tells when shows and even calvacades and parades are happening.
The old (and free) fast pass system is gone. In its place is what is now known as Disney Genie+. This reservation system allows you to utilize the Lightning Lane and bypass the Standby Lane at the ride(s) you have booked. NOTE: There are rules and limits on how often you can book a ride which you can learn more about here. In short, you can select one ride, starting at 7am, and then every 2 hours thereafter (starting two hours after the park opens). So, for example, you can book your first LL at 7 am and then if the park opens at 9, you’d be eligible to book your second LL at 11 am.
If you check into a ride before the two hour mark, you can then immediately book another ride, which forgoes the two hour limitation.
Genie+ costs $15 per person, per day. If you pre-book, you must add Genie+ to every single day of your vacation or else you can choose to purchase day by day for the park(s)s you deem it necessary.
Tips for using genie+ :-
- Have a list ready of your priority rides/what rides run out of times first, so you can have a basic plan of what to book each morning/throughout the day. That way once you’re in the parks, you won’t have to spend a bunch of time on your phone.
- Set your alarm for 6:57am every day (if you aren’t already getting up earlier), and use a seconds clock on another phone to track time. Keep refreshing so you catch it at 6:59 and 59 seconds.
- Look at and study the park maps ahead of time so you know what rides are near each other to avoid criss crossing across the parks all day, which wastes time, and is exhausting. This also helps with spending less time on your phone.
- Know what food places you wanna go to so you can plan rides around where/when you want to eat.
Many Disney fans and guests have been disappointed with the addition of the Genie+ as it now requires guests to pay for a service that used to be free. Adding Genie+ to your stay can become quite spendy on top of the already hefty ticket price tag if you’re visiting for multiple days or have a large family. From what I’ve read, those who love it and felt it was worth the investment to those who hate it and felt like it was a waste of money are split down the middle.
OUR THOUGHTS ON GENIE+
We just returned home from our trip and I have a few thoughts. Our days were: Monday (Magic Kingdom), Tuesday (Hollywood Studios), and Wednesday (Epcot). We did NOT have Genie+ for Monday and only got about 3 rides and attractions in before we left late afternoon for a break. When we returned in the evening, we skipped the fireworks and were able to hit 7 Dwarves Mine Train two times as well as Dumbo four times and Barn Stormer twice.
So Tuesday and Wednesday, we bought Genie+ and were able to get SO much more done. Both days, we also hopped back to Magic Kingdom for more lightning lanes.
NOTE: The app is glitchy and frustrating for sure. I’m hoping they will continue to update and fix things though. We were on right at 7am and REMY passes were ‘sold out’ within 30 seconds. So we grabbed Frozen and selected 9am. Once we got our confirmation though, it actually scheduled us for 7:50 PM! Thankfully, the wonderful worker at a blue umbrella stand was able to help us out with that one. My brother also had trouble getting his app to work for about 2 hours Tuesday morning so they weren’t able to start securing a lightning lane until later in the game.
Overall though, if you have a limited amount of time in the parks, you’re going to want to invest in Genie+. We were pretty disappointed on Monday but because we gave up the fireworks show, did manage to salvage the day.
Individual Lightening Lanes
At each of the four Disney Parks, there are two of the most popular rides that are NOT included with Genie+. Instead, if you want to reserve an Individual Lightening Lane for them, you must pay a separate fee (typically $8 – $15 per person, per ride.)
On site guests can start booking their ILL at 7am while off site guests need to wait till 9am.
If you prefer to avoid as many lines as possible, be sure to use the app and mobile order your food. Reports are saying that quick service places have long waits but you can avoid much of that by placing your order, selecting your pick-up time, and arriving to grab your food at the allotted time.
Character Dining Is Modified (Or Closed)
Many of your favorite character experiences will either be different from the past or not available. For the restaurants that still host characters, you will only meet them ‘at a distance’ and with a wave’. No more one-on-one interaction at the moment.
Character Meet & Greets Are Also Distanced — UPDATE: CHARACTERS ARE BACK! Another thing you will quickly notice is that character sightings are less and interactions are also distanced. All characters are kept at least six feet away from guests and behind a rope or barricade of some sort.
Character meet and greets are back!!! You can now see and hug your favorite characters!
No More Magical Express
Something that our family has used (and LOVED) in the past was the free Magical Express which provided transportation from the airport to our Disney resort. Then, on the day we flew home, it would shuttle us back to the airport again. Beginning January 1st, 2022; the Disney Magical Express is no more and guests now need to pay for a ride to their hotel.
Ignore Crowd Calendars
While Disney guests used to be able to count on the crowd calendars for accurate crowd levels, they are notoriously off so far in 2022. This is speculated to be because international travel is back open, vacations that have been cancelled for the past two years are now being scheduled, and mandates are being lifted.
Looking To Add Some Extra Magic To Your Trip? Check Out Ears For Each Other!
Many furloughed cast members have been out of a job for the past couple years but are still helping make magic through the Ears For Each Other Facebook group. There are workers providing fun gift baskets, meals, transportation, merchandise, services, and more who are happy to connect with guests through the group.
Notes On Restaurants
★ Victoria & Alberts, Takumi-Tei, Monsieur Paul, 1900 Park Fare, Akershus, Marrakesh, Garden View Lounge, Hoop-Dee-Doo, ESPN Club have not yet reopened.
★ California Grill, Narcoossee, Citricos, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Toledo, Flying Fish, Jiko and almost all other restaurants have reopened.
★ Adapted character dining experiences may be found at Garden Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Topolino’s Terrace (breakfast only), Hollywood and Vine, Tusker House, Storybook Dining at Artist Point. At Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest, a single character does an occasional greeting to the whole dining room.
★ Space 220 Lounge and La Crêperie de Paris are now offering reservations for full-service dining.
★ Several restaurants have resumed self-service buffets: Boma, Biergarten, Cape May Cafe, Crystal Palace, Ale & Compass.
★ The DVC lounge at Bay Lake Tower (Top of the World) has not yet reopened as of the date of this post.
★ Most Disney-run restaurants are operating under adapted protocols backstage, so we can expect smaller menus and simplified menu items to continue for a while longer.
★ The dining plan will be offered again but Disney has said nothing else about that for over six months. There does appear to be some system testing within MDE related to the Dining Plan.
★ There is no indication whether Tables in Wonderland will return.
★ Roundup Rodeo BBQ, a new full service restaurant in Toy Story Land, will open in 2022.
If you’ve been to Disney lately, be sure to leave a comment with your personal experiences as that is most helpful for those who are considering planning a trip.