Is Disney Trying To Change The Way You Travel?

My Disney Experience. FastPass+. Minnie Vans. With all the changes over the past several years, it begs a big question — is Disney trying to change the way you travel?

Minnie Van

We’re going to dive a little deeper into each of these Disney programs to see if we can come up with an answer.

My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience combines your PhotoPass photos, park tickets, room key, FastPasses, dining reservations, and even your payment information on one easy-to-use app. It’s linked to your ticket or MagicBand, which is then read all over the parks and resorts throughout your day.

When done properly, and when the system is functioning at 100 percent, it’s pretty incredible and convenient. Walking into the Magic Kingdom? Tap your Magic Band at the turnstiles and come on in. Snap a photo with Mickey? The PhotoPass Cast Member simply taps your band with their device and voila! — your photos are available in the My Disney Experience App in minutes. Need a Dole Whip? Just tap your band on the reader at Aloha Isle and presto! You’ve paid. Back at the resort after a long day? Yep — tap again and your room door is open. All of these things and more can be done with the simple tap of a band. Sounds magical right?

While the on-property experience can be wonderful, it does require a lot of pre-planning. The days of just showing up to Disney are practically gone. You’ve been able to book Disney dining reservations 180 days in advance for quite some time, but now more than ever it feels like a requirement to get a table at the most in-demand spots. A credit card needs to be hooked up to your account so you can pay with your MagicBand. And speaking of MagicBands — you have to make sure to select your color and personalize it on time so you can link it to your account. And not just to your account — to the correct person’s profile.

The roll-out of My Disney Experience and all of its components require vacationers to think (pretty far) ahead, and take several steps on their own before they even set foot onto Disney property. It can seem daunting, but Disney provides a lot of resources — and we have an extensive planning guide to assist.

My Disney Experience isn’t a bad thing. Like I said, when you do it correctly, it can make for a pretty hassle-free and smooth vacation. But it has certainly changed the way you travel — at least to Disney World.



FastPass+ Return at Voyage of the Little Mermaid

A key component to My Disney Experience is FastPass+, Disney World’s second version of FastPass. It allows you to book three FastPasses per day, up to 60 days in advance.

It seems crazy at first that you are literally scheduling your day, down to which ride you’ll be on when, two months in advance. FastPass+ can really take the spontaneity out of vacation.

As with My Disney Experience, FastPass+ requires a lot of pre-planning. From deciding which attractions you’d like to reserve to making sure you’re ready to book quickly two months out. If there’s one component of My Disney Experience that is changing the way you travel to Disney World, my vote would be for FastPass+.

Minnie Vans

Minnie Van

Minnie Vans are super cute polka-dotted cars, powered by Lyft. They can be summoned using the Lyft app, and will take you anywhere on Disney property, as well as Port Canaveral and the Orlando International Airport. One of the biggest transportation complaints prior to Minnie Vans was getting from resort to resort (for a dining reservation, for example) as no Disney bus runs these routes.

Minnie Vans confirm one suspicion many visitors to the vacation kingdom have had — Disney does not want you to bring a car. Why? Well, my guess is that if you have a car, it’s easier to leave. With a car, you may be more tempted to jump in it and spend a day or two at Orlando’s other theme parks. Especially considering the somewhat expensive taxi or rideshare app bill to get there otherwise.

Also, if you can now use a Minnie Van to get you anywhere on Disney property that a bus or boat couldn’t before, why bring a car at all? Especially now that you have to pay to park at the resorts.

Minnie Vans aren’t revolutionary — like I said, it’s literally a Lyft, but cuter — but they are a smart addition by Disney. If you no longer bring or rent a car when you’re at Disney World, Minnie Vans just might be changing how you travel.

So there you have it. Is Disney trying to change the way you travel? In general, maybe not. But is Disney trying to change the way you travel to Walt Disney World? You betcha.

What do you think? Have Disney’s recent additions changed the way you’re traveling? Let us know in the comments!

Remember! When you’re in Disney tag @allearsnet in your photos!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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11 Replies to “Is Disney Trying To Change The Way You Travel?”

  1. “Also, if you can now use a Minnie Van to get you anywhere on Disney property that a bus or boat couldn’t before, why bring a car at all? Especially now that you have to pay to park at the resorts.”

    Some people are adverse to flying (like my husband). We park our car and use the bus for our entire stay. Now I feel penalized for driving to Florida. Off-property resorts offer free parking which has me rethinking where I will stay in the future.

  2. The real hook is to get you to stay on property, the rest is just add ons. A “captive audience” has always been the goal. And the “Minnie” vans are cute, but why pay for an expensive “Lyft” when Uber and Lyft are already available and cheaper? On the other hand, I can remember having to “smuggle” in snacks for the kids because they frowned on outside food and drink. Like anything else, each person has to weight the value proposition to see if WDW (or any vacation ) makes sense. It’s not like we didn’t know that WDW “on the cheap” just ain’t happening anymore!

  3. I love these posts that open up conversations. I for one hate hate hate that Disney has lost sight of the TWO major things that Walt intended for Disneyland/world. The whole point was to build a place where the outside world was never to trickle into your vacation and you were supposed to be completely transported to a magical place. And 2, you were supposed to be able to bring your entire family on vacation and leave with money in your pocket. I never EVER bring my phone into the parks because I’m ON VACATION! I’m simply not going to be talking on the phone or texting etc while I’m spending the price of a kidney transplant to be there. They’re making it impossible to BE on vacation. Why would they encourage you to have your nose in your phone and completely MISS all of the attention to detail that they spend millions on for your immersive experience??? It is so counter productive IMO. More than likely they WANT you to miss it so that you have to spend another fortune to come back and do it again. All of the uber planning has sucked the fun out of going for sure.

    1. I’m afraid even Walt would not have been able to stop technology. Although he might have been able to put it to use in WDW in a way that made a much more enjoyable experience. I guessing that Walt would have already tired of, and moved way beyond, the theme park experience.

  4. Weather or not the attractions are tied into a movie, I just think that the amusement park genre of entertainment is getting old and stale. It been pretty much the same for 60 years now. Even the great Disney imagineers are struggling to come up with anything that’s new and fresh. Disney does it better than anyone else, but its like watching a silent movie now. Been there done that. At some point amusement parks will go the way of the circus.

  5. I agree, they’re trying to get all your dollars. I understand why, but it makes the experience much worse. Those of us who can remember when they built attractions not tied into a movie, had an experience that no one else at any other vacation spot had. Additionally, the locations on Main Street weren’t all just trying to grab all your money. The 1 cent movie theatre, the magic shop, while they would take money from you, that wasn’t their primary purpose. Some things were there merely for your enjoyment. MDE helps some things, but after you’ve spent a lot of money and time to get there, it focuses you too much to your phone.
    I’ll give them credit, they have changed the way we vacation. We simply haven’t been there for more than a day for at least 6 years. The pricing is ridiculous.

    1. Actually, there was never a time in Disney park history when they focused solely on building attractions with no ties to movies. From day one of Disneyland’s opening in 1955, the now-iconic castle was partly intended to promote the upcoming release of “Sleeping Beauty” in 1959, plus you had Mr. Toad, the teacups from Alice in Wonderland, etc. Yes, they did eventually include attractions that had no specific movie tie-ins – like Space Mountain, for example – but you can also say the same about more recent attractions like Expedition Everest, even if such attractions are becoming fewer and farther between. The main point is, shrewd marketing was always a factor in their attraction planning, even if it didn’t always feel like it in the old days.

      1. Bob, you kind of contradict yourself here saying they never focused on building rides with no movie tie ins then go on to name a bunch of the rides that they DID just that. I’m confused as to what you’re trying to say. Disneyland built Pirates first and many years later came the movies, and none of the Epcot rides has ever had tie ins until the past few years.

        1. Actually, I didn’t say they “never focused” on it. I said it was never their sole focus. Sorry if I didn’t word it clearly.

  6. More precisely, Disney is trying to change the way you spend. Everything is designed to get 100% of your vacation dollars. If they could build a wall around WDW and lock everyone in, they would.

    In Disney’s defense, that’s what every business does: try to capture the entire market. Nothing wrong with this.