All the Drastic Ways Disney Has Changed in the Last 5 Years

The Walt Disney Company has changed a lot in the last five years.

Magic Kingdom

From new technologies to new creative pursuits, there have been some drastic switch-ups. Disney certainly doesn’t look like it did half a decade ago!

Here are 9 drastic ways Disney has changed in the last five years!

Disney Genie

First of all, we have to address Disney Genie. This is the newest of Disney’s major changes and has marked a change in the way guests access data and the way guests skip the line.


Of course, for the first time in Disney World, Disney guests now pay to skip the line with Genie+ instead of the previously free Fastpass+ system. That’s a pretty big change and one that has been met with differing opinions.


But Genie has also provided some game-changing free offerings. The personalized itineraries and predictive wait time could mark a major shift in how guests use their phones in the parks!

Responding to the Global Health Crisis

Not all of the major changes over the last five years have been expected. For instance, the Walt Disney Company was forced to change in response to the Global Health Crisis.

Magic Kingdom

This was perhaps most apparent in the changes to staffing with the discontinuation of programs like the Disney College Program, widespread furloughs, and tens of thousands of lay-offs for Cast Members across the country.


The internal business models had to change as well, with Disney losing a lot of money while the international theme parks remained closed.

Tower of Terror

And we’ve seen these changes in the park. Social distancing and masks remain a big piece of a Disney trip and we still can’t see characters like we used to. Plus, much of the entertainment hasn’t returned either. These changes may not be permanent but that doesn’t make them any less drastic.

Security Changes

A pretty major change occurred in the parks in the last few years with changes to security when entering. Previously, guests would go through metal detectors and those with bags would have to wait in a line for bag check.

Disney Springs Security Screening

Now, all guests walk through newer detectors, and only those who trigger the machines need to go to the physical bag check. Otherwise, you can carry your bag right through. This has certainly sped up the security process.

Disney World Skyliner

The addition of the Skyliner in Disney World massively changed the way transportation works across the resort. Previously, the only options were the monorail, buses, and boats.


Now, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach are all connected via the Skyliner. It’s a lot easier to get around these areas!

Mobile Ordering

The last five years has also brought us a massive expansion in Mobile Ordering in both Disney World and Disneyland. Pretty much gone are the days of ordering with a Cast Member at the cash register. Many quick-service locations now offer Mobile Order and heavily encourage its use.

Cosmic Ray’s Mobile Order Wait

Especially with the global health crisis, Disney parks ramped up Mobile Order to reduce touchpoints. Now, many locations primarily use Mobile Order and keep just one register open for non-mobile orders.

Virtual Queues

Rise of the Resistance introduced the Virtual Queue model to both Disney World and Disneyland and it has continued to expand since then. We’ve seen it used on WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure in Disneyland and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Disney World.


Plus, Virtual Queues have even gone into use on busier days (like the 50th) for merchandise stores and for more high-demand snack locations like Gideon’s Bakehouse.

Disney Park Pass Reservations

This next one came as a result of the global health crisis but does not have any sort of specified end date at this time. Disney Park Passes have marked a major change to how Disney manages capacity in the parks and how you need to plan your trip.

Park Pass Reservation availability for guests with Theme Park Tickets for December 31st as of November 17th, 2021 © Disney

Now, all Disney World and Disneyland guests need valid park admission and a Disney Park Pass theme park reservation to be admitted into the theme parks. This helps Disney manage capacity, but it also means that guests aren’t guaranteed admission if park passes are all booked up.

Immersive Experiences

Disney has made a move over the last five years to go past interactive experiences and into immersive ones. This is a new sector of theme park offerings and has been received with a lot of positivity and some criticism.

Galaxy’s Edge

Think about the immersion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, not to mention Rise of the Resistance. These immersive experiences are new and will continue to be a big part of Disney parks in the coming years.


The Walt Disney Company made a major priority shift in business operations to focus on direct-to-consumer offerings such as Disney+. This marks a major restructure for the company.

Disney+ Day Hat!

The biggest example of this is the launch of Disney+ and the massive amount of content that has been created for the offering. This major restructure is a staple of Bob Chapek’s term as CEO so far and certainly marks one of the most drastic changes of the last five years.

What do you think of these changes? Tell us in the comments! 

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