How You Plan for Disney World Needs to Change

Disney World is seeing huge changes coming soon, like the debut of Disney Genie and the 50th anniversary celebrations in the parks.

Cinderella Castle

But, how are those big updates going to change how you plan you upcoming Disney World vacation? Well, we’re breaking down some of the most important ways you’re going to need to alter your planning methods!

Everything You Can Do for FREE on Disney Genie

When Disney Genie rolls out this fall, ALL guests will be able to use the free version on their mobile devices. They will be able to input their reservations (or make new ones) through the service, as well as take advantage of the planning tools available for extra assistance. Ride and experience recommendations will also pop up in Disney Genie, if you aren’t sure where to go next and depending on the area you’re visiting.

©Disney

Plus, your plans will be easy to share with your party in order to let everyone get involved in the planning of your vacation! You can keep track of your dining reservations, and Mobile Order can be used through Disney Genie when dining in the park, so you can pick up your meals with ease too.

Here are the differences between Genie and Genie+

When Paying for Disney Genie+ Might Be Worth It

Although the free version of Disney Genie will be a great asset to your vacation, there will be the paid service of Disney Genie+ as well. Guests will be able to purchase it for $15 per day, per ticket (and guest) in Disney World, and will be able to use the feature in multiple parks with Park Hopper tickets.

©Disney

Disney Genie+ will give access to Lightning Lanes for select rides (AKA the new FastPasses), audio experiences, and PhotoPass Augmented Reality lenses (note that this is NOT the full PhotoPass service).

It’s magical to see you again!

Lightning Lane is basically just FastPass in its newly rebranded format, where guests can book their spots in a separate line that allows them to skip standby waits. Once they’ve scanned into that specific ride with their Lightning Lane pass, then they can book their next one. However, it’s important to note that only one Lightning Lane reservation can be held at a time!

FastPass+ is being replaced with new Lightning Lanes

Guests can book as many Lightning Lane passes as they’d like throughout the day, as long as there is availability. 40 attractions in Disney World will operate with Lightning Lane, including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Reservations can be made for Lightning Lanes using Disney Genie+ starting at 7AM for select attractions ahead of park opening.

Only 5 minutes?

Breaking down Disney Genie in the easiest way possible

How Does the Pay-Per-Ride System Work?

Not EVERY attraction will be available through Disney Genie+, though! Disney World will also be introducing Individual Attraction Selection, where the most popular rides will have individual costs for their Lightning Lanes. Guests will be able to purchase up to two selections for Individual Attraction Selections that will include E-ticket rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Rise of the Resistance, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Rise of the Resistance

Disney hasn’t provided the costs for the Individual Attraction Selection yet, but there could be surge pricing for popular rides depending on how busy they are or the time of the year. Additionally, it’s important to note that this is separate from Genie+, so you will NOT need to purchase Genie+ to be able to purchase Individual Attraction Selections.

Find out more details on paid attraction selection here!

Standby Lines Are STILL in Disney World!

Although we’ve given you all the details on the paid versions of the lines in Disney World, the standby queues are STILL there! You don’t have to pay for the Lightning Lanes, as they are just an additional feature.

Dinosaur

But, you may want to check the wait times when you’re visiting to decide whether or not the paid versions are worth it for you.

5 biggest features coming to Disney Genie

What Extra Perks Do You Have from Your Disney World Resort Stay?

Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, or the Shades of Green Resort will have the opportunity to purchase passes to Individual Attraction Selection rides prior to the park opens at 7AM.

Grand Floridian view

So, if you’re debating on whether you want to stay on or off property, this perk might make a Disney World resort a bigger benefit to your party!

We’re answering your biggest questions about Disney Genie!

The BIG Transportation Change You Need to Know About

While you used to be able to take the Magical Express from the airport to your hotel, Disney World will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express shuttle services beginning January 1st, 2022. Instead, Mears Connect will be replacing it with a new reservation system and shuttle service that is no longer free.

Mears Coach Bus

There are two options with the Standard or Express Service. The Standard is cheaper at $16 one-way or $32 round-trip for adults or $13.50 one-way or $27 round-trip for children. This service will include stops at multiple Disney World Resorts for drop-offs and pick-ups, so that may mean a longer wait at the airport after you check in. The Express is more expensive at $55 per passenger or $200 round-trip for a party of 4, but it will take guests directly to their hotel with no wait or additional stops.

©Mears

Still, there are plenty of other ways to get between the Orlando International Airport and your Disney World Resort that may be more budget-friendly for your vacation, as well!

Is Uber cheaper than the service replacing Disney’s Magical Express?

Arrive Early and Stay Late in the Parks

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, Disney World will also be incorporating both Early Theme Park Hours and Extended Evening Hours into the parks this fall. They will be slightly different from Extra Magic Hours for two big reasons.

Magic Kingdom in the Evening

Early Theme Park Entry will allow ALL Disney World Resort hotel guests to enter the parks 30 minutes early before official park opening to ride their favorite attractions with shorter lines.

Extended Evening Hours will ONLY be available for those staying at Disney World Deluxe Resort hotels. They will allow two extra hours at the end of the day on select dates at select parks.

Although change might be a little bit overwhelming sometimes, it does help move the parks forward into the future. And, there are PLENTY of exciting things in store for the parks that we can’t wait to experience! As more changes come to Disney World, we’ll be sure to share everything you need to know before you go! Stay tuned with AllEars for the latest Disney entertainment and news!

Why You Should Rent a Car in Disney World

How do you feel about the changes coming to Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rachel Franko has been going to Disney Parks since she was a baby, and her love of Disney has only grown into a SLIGHT obsession since! She's been writing for AllEars since 2019 and loves sharing the magic with all the readers. When she's not writing, you can catch her heading to Disney and Universal Studios with a heart full of dreams and a backpack full of themed ears!

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18 Replies to “How You Plan for Disney World Needs to Change”

  1. I recall a WDW advertisement telling us to “Return to your Senses” that encouraged people to have a fun, relaxing experience. Unfortunately those days are gone.

  2. I remember when Disney was the gold standard all other parks tried, and failed, to emulate. The reason, Disney treated each GUEST,not customer, as if they mattered. You were willing to pay top dollar because you got what you paid for. Rides were not rushed to opening, eliminating the constant shutdowns that plaqued other parks, service was exceptional and everything was top of the line. Slowly over the years, this philosophy has disappeared. You now are paying premium prices for run of the mill services. I feel bad for folks going now for the first time and have no idea what they missed. However, that seems to be exactly what Disney is aiming for, weed out those folks who expect and know what Disney once stood for, and reel in those folks who think they are getting the “Disney Experience” when they could get the same experience for much less closer to home.

  3. Why? Why? Why? I just don’t get it. Every posting on this site about the changes and the new ways of navigating a day at the parks are all being met with disdain. What bothers me the most is Disney doesn’t seem at all concerned about the number of people they seem to be making very angry. No “We are sorry, but…..” . No…”To make up for your inconvenience, we are offering instead…..”. Everything on the pros and cons has been shifted to the cons. The only pro seems to be “Yeah, but it’s Disney”. But I guess as long as the parks are packed and the share price continues to rise, we die-hards are expendable.

  4. We’ve gone to Disney World almost every year since 1992 and we have a Disney World trip planned in January 2022. For the first time, I don’t feel any excitement in going. All the pre-planning and the expense is getting too much. We went to Hawaii for 2 weeks and I had a more pleasant time planning that trip than I did with recent trips to DW (we also spent less). I have a feeling this next trip to DW might be our last, at least for a while. The magic is gone for us and my wife agrees.

  5. I know I’ve changed the way I plan for WDW! I no longer go. The amount of money
    I’m saving is HUGE! The way WDW continues to change is guaranteeing me years of savings!

  6. This new change is just another thing making Disney World trips even more expensive. The extended evening hours for deluxe resort guests is truly disappointing and unfair. All guests on property should be afforded this perk, not just the wealthy!

  7. Disney has definitely lost some magic in the last several years. Their price increases are ridiculous and I feel taken advantage of. Charging for the ME, Magic Bands, parking, and now FastPass, I just feel nickel and dimed. Add to that a growing departure from our family’s values in their messaging, and the whispers about child abuse and trafficking, and I’m out. No more spending with them. If they clean it up, and make pricing more egalitarian, I’ll jump back in. Come on, Disney.

  8. Disney is the place to never go to. So much has been changed. Wait times are very long and it is no fun to be forced to stand in lines all day. Rides are breaking down in all of the parks with no explanations as to why or for how long. The new park pass is a diaster. The cost of going to WDW has been increased by as much as 190%, and it is just not worth it. The Disney magic is gone.

  9. When will Disney join other amusement parks and remove mask mandate? If not for adults, at least for little ones under five like the WHO says should NOT be forced to wear a mask. WDW should be a happy placed for them. Not a place that terrorizes them by smothering them!!!!!!!!!

  10. How do I FEEL about this… I feel like the Wonderful World of Disney has just slashed my tires. Disney World was my favorite place on earth, and we could barely afford to go once every 3-5 years. Now? We can’t even afford to get the shuttle from the airport. But why would we want to? So we could wait in the standby lines with ten million other people – or pay for the privilege of what used to be free? What has happened to Disney World? If I wanted this treatment, I’d go … well, anywhere ELSE. I can be gouged and treated like crap everywhere. I had learned to love Disney for being the only place in the world who didn’t do that – and now? They’ve joined the ranks of the disgusting.

  11. Question, the mears coach states that it will make several stops from the airport to the resorts, this is fine going to Disney, but what about going back to the airport? If they’re making several stops how do we know we’ll make it to the airport in time for flights?

    1. You’ll have to add extra time for the trip to the airport. This is common with every shuttle service I’ve ever used. This is also why I always take direct transportation to the airport (taxi, ride share, hired towncar, etc.).

  12. I guess I’m in a very distinct minority. I think the Genie + will be far better for once in a lifetime goers than a FP+ system that required you to plan rides out 60 days in advance. I hope this new system also addresses the inequity where each FP rider exponentially added to the standby wait times.

    I’m glad this article started with the free Genie app which I’m excited about and feel like got totally overlooked. I wish the early magic hours stayed an hour, but I’m glad they didn’t tie it to one park per day as that defeated the purpose and led to that park being super crowded. At least this is going to lead to all new content here as we learn new strategies to make the most of our Disney park days!

    1. Brian, aside from an additional cost, I think the kinks will need to be determined. One, not everyone wants to be up before 7am every day of their vacation to book one ride. Also, FP at least ensured you were getting on 3 very popular rides. There has been no explanation yet as to how easy or difficult it will be to book the more popular rides across the course of a day using this new service. If it does simplify the process, and eliminates those instances where FP is totally booked/2 hour stand by lines, then it will be a success.

      1. I agree with Ed that not everyone wants to wake up at 7 am to plan their vaca. I have a trip booked for October and it will be my first time returning since I worked there 6 years ago. I’ve saved up to go and im very excited… however since I can’t go that often I want to do as much as I can and tbh it’s gonna suck to wake up so early to attempt to get into virtual ques and so forth… gah I hope I’m able to find time to rest! It feels like there’s so much to try and plan… this is a much more stressful trip than a normal vaca… we will see how it pans out.