7 Ways Disney Is MUCH Better Than It Used To Be

As Walt Disney World nears its 50th anniversary, it’s fun to look back on how much has changed over the years. And while there is a lot of nostalgia and “remember when?” and maybe some things that were better years ago, there have also been some big improvements!

Magic Kingdom Ferry
Magic Kingdom

Here are seven ways Walt Disney World is MUCH better than it used to be!

1. The Food

Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow

If there is one way Walt Disney World has improved over the years, it’s the FOOD! Gone are the days of hockey-puck hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. Sure you can still get these items, but the quality has improved dramatically. And not only that, you can also get everything from a gourmet charcuterie board to sushi to grilled salmon in the parks — and that’s just at the quick service spots!

For dessert, you can of course still get a classic Mickey bar, but you can also grab a Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, gourmet homemade “Pop-tarts”, and blueberry cheesecake from the future. And again, this is just quick service!

Salad with champagne vinaigrette and quinoa at Be Our Guest

Not only has the food quality and variety improved, but Disney has moved ahead leaps and bounds in providing options for those with allergies and special dietary needs. For example, more and more options are popping up for vegetarian diets, as well as vegan diets — Magic Kingdom even recently released a Plant-Based Dining Guide. For more information on dining in Walt Disney World with special dietary needs, check out our extensive resource pages.

 

2. Disney Springs

Disney Springs Town Center

The area that is now Disney Springs has had several iterations, but this is the best one yet! While a lot of adults certainly miss Pleasure Island, it wasn’t a great fit for a family vacation destination.

Disney Springs is a perfect mix of dining, entertainment, shopping, and nightlife. Between bowling, the movies, and the world’s largest Disney store, your kids will certainly enjoy themselves. But there is also upscale shopping, incredible dining — including restaurants by SIX James Beard award-winning chefs — and late night entertainment for the adults.

To learn a little more about Disney Springs, check out this video!

3. Bus Wait Times

Bus Wait Times

This may not seem like a huge change, but it is SUCH an improvement! For years Disney has provided complimentary transportation to the parks and Disney Springs for resort guests. This perk is wonderful, and one of the many reasons people stay on property.

But the one complaint with the buses is only knowing they were scheduled to arrive approximately every 20 minutes. So you’d walk out to the bus stop and wonder, “Do I have two minutes to wait…  or 19?” Did the bus just leave, and I shouldn’t have spent so much time on my hair? Or do I still have a while, and therefore — should I have spent MORE time on my hair?

With the bus arrival times posted on the bus stop, and in the My Disney Experience app, it takes the guessing game out of waiting. It’s a simple improvement, but it can make for a much smoother morning when you’re rushing to get to the parks.

4. Interactive Queues

Dumbo Interactive Queue ©AllEars.net

One of the worst, and almost inevitable, parts of a Disney vacation is waiting in line. Even with FastPass+, you’re likely going to have to wait for at least one popular attraction. Disney knows waiting in a long line can be less than magical, so interactive queues have started popping up everywhere!

From a circus-themed playground at Dumbo to the games in the Darlings’ room at Peter Pan’s Flight, interactive queues are a super fun way to entertain yourself while waiting in otherwise long, boring lines. And we are so excited to see what happens at the Galaxy’s Edge queues!

Peter Pan Interactive Queue

 

5. Entertainment FastPasses 

Meeting Mickey and Minnie in Town Square Theater

With the re-imagining of FastPass into FastPass+, more and more options were available. One of the biggest updates is the ability to book character meet and greets, as well as seats for your favorite entertainment offerings.

Meeting your favorite character, from Princesses to Classic Friends, is an important part of a lot of visitors’ Disney experience. It’s great to be able to lock in a set time at a set location to ensure you get to hug your favorites!

Additionally, you previously had to spend a long time waiting for shows such as Fantasmic! — upwards of two hours on a busy night! Like with the characters, it’s a wonderful improvement to be able to reserve a seat in advance.

6. The Coffee

Disney Starbucks Coffee Cup

This again may seem small, but to us coffee drinkers — bad coffee is a big deal! In years past Disney partnered with Nestle for their coffee, and it was… fine. Well, maybe less than fine. There wasn’t anything particularly special about it, and it certainly wasn’t a great way to fuel your day of magic!

In recent years, Disney has partnered with Joffrey’s Coffee and Starbucks. There are Joffrey’s kiosks around the parks, selling everything from exclusive Disney blends to GIANT donuts. They have also converted a quick-service dining location in each park, as well as at Disney Springs, into a Starbucks where you can get your favorites in adorable branded Disney cups.

Being able to get a cappuccino or espresso at Disney is fun for some — and necessary for others! Either way, it is a great improvement!

7. Inner Property Transportation

Minnie Van

Picture it: you’re staying at Port Orleans – French Quarter and you’re really excited about your breakfast reservation at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. But you didn’t bring a car, because you flew to Orlando and took Disney’s Magical Express to the resort. Your only choices to get to your reservation are to get a cab, or to take a bus to a Disney Park or Disney Springs, and then wait for the Polynesian bus to take you to breakfast. This could literally take hours.

BUT NO MORE! Now thanks to RideShare, you can summon a car in minutes and have it drop you off wherever you need to go. And sure, Disney didn’t invent Uber or Lyft, but they did make their Lyfts the cutest ever with the Minnie Van.

Being able to scoot around from place to place so easily is MUCH better than an hour on a bus!

What are ways you think Disney is MUCH better than it used to be? Let us know in the comments!

 

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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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8 Replies to “7 Ways Disney Is MUCH Better Than It Used To Be”

  1. I mean, I grew up with Disney Village. No P.I., that whole area with the AMC kinda just grew up. Now I avoid the area like the plague. Where I used to be able to go there and chill, now I avoid the place like the plague. Especially, in the afternoon.

    With the invention of FP, I swear the amount of lines has gone up significantly. Peter Pan used to be a “hop” on ride. No line. Say what you will but you won’t see that in current history.

    Yes, the food has gotten better with a far better spread (food, coffee, all should have fallen under the same category). Otherwise, it’s too busy. The parks, anymore, are a trial of patience.

  2. Walt built the Disney parks for the Common Man. He wanted everyone to be able to come to his parks. Now I think Disney caters to those who can afford to spend a fortune on a vacation. While that’s fine, they have left out the little guy. I miss when EVERYONE was treated equally — not the people staying on property, not the ones who get “special experiences” that most people can’t afford. I know this is a business, and I was a stockholder for many years and did very well with my investment. I just think something has been lost. And I say all of this BEFORE the Star Wars attractions open. I hope that is not a nightmare for the “Disney people”. We’ll just have to wait and see. If you want to cater to Star Wars, put it in it’s own theme park. I fail to see the logic of the new Mickey Ride that is replacing The Great Movie Ride in the same park as the Star Wars.

    1. The last thing I want is for “everyone” to come to the parks. It too darn crowded now. The only thing keeping the place from becoming one big mob is the cost. I say keep raising prices until only the upper 1% can afford to go. Then I will book my trip.

    2. I agree that they don’t care about the average person anymore. Unfortunately, pricing doesn’t seem to be keeping many away. If Disney truly wanted less people to come to the parks, they’d stop advertising and doing events for vloggers and websites etc and give aways to those folks. The past few years as crowds have increased, I’ve seen tons of ads on TV alone. So, I don’t subscribe to the theory that price thins out the crowds. Look at sports. Ticket prices have been high for a long time, but crowds still come. In reality, Disney is trying to raise the prices, but just enough so that people will likely still justify going. They know exactly what they’re doing and don’t care if people are sardined in the place, as long as they keep coming.

  3. Have to say, I agree with Ken and Mike. While there is improvement in some food aspects, there are many things that have been homogenized across Disney’s own restaurants. Disney in too many ways follows the crowd now. I do like the Disney Springs restaurants, but I can go bowling or to the movies at home. The new World of Disney store looks generic and bland, much like the new Rivera resort. Disney used to be full of unique experiences that nobody else had.
    The interactive queues sadly are because of Disney’s deluge of advertising making the parks overcrowded. They had that kind of detail in the queue for Tower of Terror and Pirates if you choose to look for it. As far as coffee goes, yeah, branding wins out again. Too many people I actually heard wouldn’t even give the Nestle coffee a try or I’d hear them proclaim “I wish it was Starbucks” before even trying it.
    Disney had the best transportation in the monorail, but they’ve let it become tired old and dirty because they want to give Bob Iger more money rather than reinvesting profits in the monorails or heaven forbid, building more of them. Yes, you can ride monorails elsewhere now, but again, this is where Disney used to provide something that most wouldn’t have access to at home.

  4. Perhaps this article should have been written by someone who has actually experienced WDW “the way it used to be”. If so, it would have been re-titled, “187 Ways WDW Is Much, Much Worse Than It Used To Be.”

  5. Seriously? These are the top improvements at the most expensive and crowded place on Earth? Offering the same coffee available on every street corner on the planet? Offering queue entertainment so that (heaven forbid) we don’t have to interact with each other or the people around us? Finding a way to markup a service that that originated with Imagineers from – wait – Uber? Offering reserved seating left over after you’ve tried to sell every seat you can to the filthy rich? Improving food that is still overpriced and I only eat as a last resort? Telling us in advance that the bus service runs too slow so that we don’t have to wonder if it is just our imagination? I’m not feeling it.