Is Disney Magic a Thing of the Past?

With price increases to Annual Passes, dining plans, resort parking, and even incidentals like reusable shopping bags, many people are starting to wonder whether Disney is still worth it.

Cinderella Castle

Or, even further, if Disney “Magic” is a thing of the past.

If you look strictly on the surface, it’s easy to see why some might think Disney has shifted its focus within the last few years.  It has acquired more non-Disney intellectual properties like Lucasfilms’ Star Wars and Marvel and it has streamlined its operation in a lot of ways. To some, the company really seems to be more focused on making money than making magic lately. It’s not just all of the price increases that people point to. The parks have removed beloved attractions like the Great Movie Ride while testing merchandise locations in classic locations like Main Street Cinema. It seems that more and more corporate decisions are driven by the bottom line.

Woody at Toy Story Land Entrance
Woody greets guests entering Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios


So, where has the Magic gone? Is it still there? Or has Disney become a company solely focused on the Almighty Dollar?

Well, of course, it’s easy to not be feeling the Disney Magic when you’re paying off those hefty Disney vacation bills. There’s simply no denying that Disney prices have been going up for years and will continue to do so.

But this doesn’t have to take away from the Disney Magic… if you don’t let it. Honestly, if you can look past the crowds, the heat, and the high prices, the Magic that has always been there, is easy to find.

One place I find Disney Magic is with the Cast Members. They are so knowledgable and truly do their best to give you the most wonderful Disney vacation. They work really hard, but still make each person feel like a VIP.

Germany Cast Members
International Cast Members

Another place dripping in Disney Magic is the entertainment offerings. Anyone can feel like a child again as they watch a parade go down Main Street U.S.A. or while they watch Mickey and Minnie perform together on stage.

This feeling of Magic also seeps into a few magical dining locations, like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Being able to eat in a castle or to dine in the same room that Belle and Beast danced in is one of the most magical experiences someone can have when visiting the parks… and that goes for the youngest Disney fan to the youngest-at-heart!

Be Our Guest

Disney is also bringing Magic to the parks in a new way by adding all those intellectual properties I mentioned earlier. Just think, for a Star Wars junkie, could there be anything more magical than being able to step into the world of the films you have been obsessed with since you were a child? Disney is literally bringing dreams to life with new lands like Pandora — The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Finally, is there anything more magical than seeing your child visit a Disney park? I mean, just watch their eyes light up as they see the castle for the very first time, or when they meet their favorite character, or when they’re watching the fireworks at the end of the night. Hearing the little ones oooh and aaahh with delight, their little hands squeezing yours tight… That’s Magic. That’s what makes Disney worth it in the end, despite whatever not-so-magical realities there might be.

Happily Ever After Fireworks

So, is the magic still there? I think so… and I think it always will be.

Do you think the magic is still there? Let us know in the comments below! 


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21 Replies to “Is Disney Magic a Thing of the Past?”

  1. Yes Disney I believe has lost the magic. They have gradually priced the middle class right out of being able to afford to go. We are planning one more trip but sadly it probably will be our last, and we are as huge a Disney fan as there is but it’s getting to be too much.

  2. Simply put, yes, Disney Magic is a thing of the past if you have been coming long enough to remember the Disney Magic. We have made about 46 trips since 1983 and are booked for 3 more this year. We have been complaining about the decline in Disney Magic for a number of years now but have seriously said that this could be our final year.

  3. Well, if I see this over a certain time period, Disney magic has definently disappeared in a nogostalic sense. Marvel to me will never be part of Disney, the Disney management seems to be wanting to take Disney in another direction, Walt’s vision of it “all started with a mouse”, seems to be totally lost with this current management group at Disney. I hate that no one is from the Disney family, to my knowledge, is even a large stakeholder at Disney,to facilitate business decisions with Walt’s vision,ts definitely lost its magic for me.

    1. Chris, you correctly surmise that one has to have a historical perspective going back to at least the late 90s to truly comprehend the massive decline of WDW on almost every level. Just reading about and watching videos of Disney past cant do it. The old timers know all to well it’s about so much more than the rides. I could write 5 pages on just the decline of customer service. Something someone with only 5 or 6 years of Disney under their belt can’t possible even know their missing. It will take a few more year of decline for the newbies to become disenchanted.

  4. What good is it to want to see your littles oooh and ahh if you cant afford to go. Disney magic is a nice idea whose time has come and gone. Unfortunately. I, too, was there well before Epcot even opened and have seen the prices go sky-high and quality plummet. Even the tee shirts are ridiculously thin. It is not the Disney I grew up with or even that my kids grew up with. Most of my grandkids haven’t even seen it and their parents have no interest in taking them. Sad. Disney has become the go-to vacation spot ofthe well-to-do. We are out. Too expensive and too crowded.

  5. the answer to the ? is YES. The magic of Disney IS a thing of the past from charging for parking at the resorts to castmembers not including guests in their conversations while guest wait for rides (used to be part of guest service that guests were first and foremost and to be included in fun converations wile waiting for attractions. Now this does happen occassionally.) Being present when the Magic Kingdom opened (yes I am that old), ALOT of the MAGIC HAS DISAPPEARED without thought for guest opinion. I have 3 more five years olds to bring for their birthdays (it still seems to magical for them) and no more “magic” for me. I used to tell folks that WDW was an experience not just a theme park, but alas that is no longer true. Disney is only a follower not a leader now a days.

  6. I’m old enough to have visited WDW prior to even Epcot. It was glorious and so within the price range of a young married couple. We then took our daughter to WDW the week before Epcot opened. We truly had the place to ourselves. There were speaking characters who would say ‘hi’ to our daughter by name when we saw them in the parade. Yes, that was magic. A few years later it was still possible to go during offseason and escape the heat and crowds. The prices continued to rise, more parks were added, not that they necessarily added a lot, and the crowds got so out of hand that the entire trip now revolves around fast pass times and meal reservations. I love watching my granddaughters enjoy the ‘magic’ but for one who experienced real magic it’s gone.

    1. I went in 1977. We were poor college students living on cheap beer and boxes of mac & cheese and we still could afford 2 days there without having to go hungry for a week. I am comfortably retired now and I would have to go hungry for a week to pay for a WDW trip today.

  7. For me the magic is still there. Walking into the park – coming from Australia – and being emersed in the place, and seeing the faces of those coming in. It is nice to just watch people sometimes.

    For someone of 51 years, it was always Walt, Sunday evening Wonderful world of Disney and the movies on TV. Mickey Mouse Factory. These were what drove the magic for my era. Disney+ may help drive some of that older magic, but today they want the newer stuff and the legacy may be fading, but the concepts of a forever changing park are always there.

    It will be magic until you want to stop going, and for me it will never stop being a place to visit. Even my wife, not Disney nut, wants to go back.

  8. I just returned home yesterday from my 16th visit to WDW, and it was every bit as magical as the first, maybe more so. Seeing my daughter’s college roommate tear up at the sight of her favorite princess made the price of the character breakfast worth every dime. At Disney you get what you pay for!

  9. I sometimes wonder about all the expansions. It used to have a small town feel but now it is big city. Don’t get me wrong I still love it there. It just seems to be minus a bit of pixie dust lately. And I never thought I would be saying this but I really do not like the new firework show in Magic Kingdom. Bring back Wishes.

  10. The author writes “Finally, is there anything more magical than seeing your child visit a Disney park? I mean, just watch their eyes light up as they see the castle for the very first time, or when they meet their favorite character, or when they’re watching the fireworks at the end of the night. Hearing the little ones oooh and aaahh with delight, their little hands squeezing yours tight… That’s Magic.”

    That’s the same description of when I gave my 4 year old the box my big screen came in to play with. They were as happy as could be for the Next 2 days, it didn’t cost me a fortune and I got a new tv out of it. Now that’s MAGIC!

  11. This whole premise is definitely a stretch. Of course if you can look past the fact that you’ve spent beyond your means, it’s easy to find great things about Disney. But who can do that? And after getting booted from my firework-watching spot of 20+ years by a cast member cordoning off that spot for VIPs, my love for cast members is tainted too. You really have to be fed the Disney Kool-Aid intravenously to see past the recent changes and find magic.

    1. Mike, where was “your” special spot? We had a quiet little side street off Main Street that we relaxed at for years until they blocked it off and made it a side exit for a shop.

  12. One of the most important things about Disney that you listed is cast members! Truly a different experience than any other amusement park. What amazes me is as much profit as Disney makes they could afford to pay them better. It is sad that almost every cast member will say you certainly don’t do it for the money!

    1. Well, if they don’t do it for the money then they must be doing it for some other intrinsic reward or they would just quit or not apply in the first place. People often work, and are very happy, at jobs that don’t pay well. In fact, it’s not a bad job screening practice, because you get employees who are there because they love the work and not just for the pay check. And study after study shows that paying someone more money usually doesn’t get better results.

      1. Disney magic left when they let somebody outside the family run the business. The imagineers dont come up with anything new; they use other people’s work anymore. Very few of their own ideas. I’ve been a Disney fan since I was born but this year will be my last to go to Disneyland or disneyworld. Too expensive and I’m not a star wars or marvel fan.

        1. Just like you said, I’m not a star wars fan or marvel fan…I am a Disney fan. Disney has been my love since I was a child and now I’m 43. Disney is losing the “DISNEY” and going in other directions. It is so disappointing to have watched this change.

          1. Well said. Star Wars and Marvel have no place in “the Happiest Place on Earth”.I used to enjoy going to the Disney Hollywood Studios park, but no more. What was once a pleasant recreation on a 1930s-1940s Hollywood has been gutted out and replaced with platoons of marching Star Wars ninjas. They build more and more hotels so the the parks are always glutted with people, and the lines for everything are unbearable.The quality of the merchandise has gone down even as the prices have increased. As Donald Duck used to say – “Phooey!”