Let’s face it — we’ve seen a lot of change at Disney World since the resort reopened in 2020.
We saw the introduction of the park pass reservation system, we saw mobile checkout at some shops, we saw more use of mobile order at counter service restaurants, and we were there the first day Disney Genie arrived.
And there are still more changes to come. But as we all know, change is something Walt Disney himself embraced, especially when he said “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” And the same goes for Disney World.
So what changes can you expect at Disney World in 2022? The answer is quite a few! So here’s how Disney World will be different next year.
The End of Magical Express
As of January 1st, 2022, Disney’s Magical Express service, which transported Disney World resort guests for free to and from Orlando International Airport, will be a thing of the past. Guests are not without options for traveling from the airport, though — Mears Connect will be providing shuttle transportation for Disney World guests going to and from Orlando Airport for a fee.
Star Wars Hotel Opening
The highly-anticipated Star Wars hotel will begin taking passengers aboard the Galactic Starcruiser Halcyon on March 1st, 2022. But this isn’t really a hotel — it’s a two-night interactive experience that puts guests in their very own Star Wars story.
This fully-immersive experience will feature some of Star Wars‘ most beloved characters (as well as some new faces) and allow guests to live out their wildest Star Wars dreams, like taking lightsaber training, eating uniquely-themed foods, and more.
runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend
A brand new annual runDisney event will debut at Disney World in 2022 — the Springtime Surprise Weekend. The event will replace the former Star Wars Rival Run Weekend and take place from March 31st through April 3rd.
Each year’s Springtime Surprise Weekend will feature a different theme. Disney described it as “a completely different experience every year! You never know what to expect, except that it’s going to be fun and distinctively runDisney.”
New DVC Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
We’ve seen several Disney World resorts get makeovers in 2021, but the latest makeover is happening at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — the Disney Vacation Club member rooms are getting an update. The expansion will add 200 resort studios, a DVC Club room type unique to the Grand Floridian.
Existing rooms will also be “enhanced” with room accents that include Mickey and Minnie Victorian-themed silhouettes, as well as artwork featuring Dumbo and Mary Poppins. And the new rooms will be ready in 2022.
A brand new Interactive MagicBand will arrive at Disney World in 2022. MagicBand+ will take the existing functionality of MagicBands and turn it up a notch. When you enter a theme park, it will “come alive at various times with color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition.”
Some examples given were allowing guests to hunt for virtual bounties throughout Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, interact with the 50 golden sculptures installed for the 50th anniversary, complement nighttime shows, and more.
“Hey, Disney” in Disney World Hotel Rooms
Disney is teaming up with Amazon to offer a “Hey, Disney” service that guests will be able to use in their Disney World hotel rooms starting in 2022. It will bring Alexa services to rooms that will let guests check the weather forecast, set timers, set alarms, and more.
And it will even use voices of iconic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, C-3PO, Olaf, and more. The service comes with a Disney Magical Companion, a digital assistant that includes interactions like special greetings from Disney characters, asking trivia questions, offering up helpful information about Disney World, ordering room amenities, and more.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
One of the most anticipated new attractions at Disney World is EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and it is set to start transporting guests on an out-of-this-world adventure in 2022.
And it sounds like it’s going to be a wild ride — it uses a reverse launch to send guests whizzing on vehicles that can turn a full 360 degrees on their tracks.
Salt & Straw
A brand new ice cream shop is coming to Disney Springs — Salt & Straw, which currently has a location at Downtown Disney in Disneyland. The shop is known for its unique flavors that change seasonally, including some fan-favorites like Honey Lavender and Chocolate Gooey Brownie.
Guests will also get to see some Florida-specific flavors like The Salty Donut Guava & Cheese and Panther Coffee Chocolate Tres Leches.
Modified Finding Nemo: The Musical
One show that has not yet returned to Disney World is Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, the show is getting reimagined and modified. This new show will debut at Disney World in 2022.
The show will feature “new story material,” as well as fan favorite songs such as “In the Big Blue World” and “Go With the Flow.”
Disney Dining Plan
Okay, we’re now getting into changes we expect to see in 2022, although we don’t have official confirmation from Disney on the timing of these things. But we have learned that the Disney Dining Plan will return, although we don’t know when.
The Dining Plan was suspended after Disney World’s reopening, and the only details we have so far is that it will come back in some form or fashion, and we expect to see it back in 2022.
Return of Fantasmic!
One particularly exciting announcement from Destination D23 is that the beloved Fantasmic! will be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2022.
Not only will the nighttime spectacular return to the parks, but it will do so with new scenes, characters, and more!
Festival of Fantasy Returning
Along with news that Fantasmic! would return, Disney also shared at Destination D23 that the Festival of Fantasy parade will be returning in 2022.
While Disney has not shared an exact timeline or date, it’s expected this will be the first parade to return to Disney World outside of after hours events.
Moana: Journey of Water
Another project that is part of EPCOT’s ongoing transformation is the new Play! Pavilion. It will be located in the former Wonders of Live Pavilion, but Disney hasn’t released an official opening date for it yet.
This pavilion will put guests in the middle of an interactive city full of games and hands-on activities. Although we haven’t had an update on its progress recently, we expect to see the Play! Pavilion make its debut in 2022.
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort Reopening
We don’t have any specific reason why the resort will remain closed, although it’s likely that Disney is doing some refurbishment work on the resort. However, we think the reopening will happen in 2022. This makes All-Star Sports the last resort to reopen after Disney World’s historic closure and reopening in 2020.
So that’s a lot of change happening in one year, but Disney World will always be changing and evolving and that’s why we keep going back, right? So stay tuned and we’ll continue to keep you updated on all the changes happening at Disney World.
What’s the biggest change that you’ve seen at Disney World? Let us know in the comments.
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