9 BIG Changes That Have Stuck Around at Disney World (And Could Be Here for GOOD)

A lot of things have changed at Disney World since it reopened after shutting down due to the global pandemic.

Animal Kingdom Face Mask Signage

While some things were temporary, like social distancing and temperature checks, there have been other big changes that don’t seem to be going away any time soon. 

These are the big changes that have stuck around in Disney World — and could be here for good.

Disney Park Pass Reservations

Remember when you didn’t have to let Disney know which park you were going to that day? You could just show up to the park and scan right in (as long as it wasn’t at capacity). Welp, those days are long gone.

Animal Kingdom

Now, you have to have a Park Pass Reservation if you want to visit any of the four Disney World theme parks. In addition to your theme park ticket, you have to make a reservation for the park you want to go to for the same date as your ticket.

Park Pass Reservation availability on New Year’s Eve for guests with Theme Park Tickets as of November 18th ©Disney

The park reservations can run out, especially for busy days like Halloween and Christmas. So you could be limited in your options. You also have to visit the park you made a reservation for before hopping to another one if you have a Park Hopper. Which brings us to our next point.

Park Hopping After 2PM

Since reopening, you can’t park hop to another park until 2PM each day. And, like we stated before, you have to visit the park you made a reservation for first, even if it’s after 2PM.

Park Hopping Information

But you don’t have to make a reservation for the park you’re hopping to, so you can bounce from park to park all you want after 2PM (depending on capacity).

Family Style vs. Buffet

When the parks reopened in July of 2020, buffets were no longer available. Restaurants with buffets were either closed or they switched over to serving family style with an all you care to enjoy option.

Closed Biergarten Buffet

Some restaurants who did this include, but are not limited to, Trail’s End, Chef Mickey’s, Hollywood & Vine, and Tusker House. You still get a lot of the same food options as you did with the buffet, it’s just brought to your table instead for only your group to enjoy.

Family-Style Dinner selection at Chef Mickey’s

Some buffets have returned in Disney World, like at Boma and Crystal Palace, so it will be interesting to see if the restaurants we mentioned switch back over or stick to serving family style.

Mobile Order

Speaking of food, there are now more restaurants with the option to Mobile Order! This is convenient for some people, but it can also be an issue if all of the order windows have been taken up for the location you want to eat at.

Mobile Order Sign

Mobile Order was actually the only option at some spots around the parks, meaning you had to use it if you wanted to eat there. This has remained at some places, like Ronto Roasters and the Milk Stand in Galaxy’s Edge, while others have gone back to allowing you to order in person as well.

Ronto Roasters

And you can now Mobile Order more than just food in Disney World! We recently saw Magic Kingdom using the system for merchandise. The 50th anniversary Minnie Mouse sipper was a very popular item when it was first released, so for the restock, you could only buy the sipper using Mobile Order, while supplies lasted.

Minnie Mouse Sipper

You just picked an arrival window and hit “I’m here, prepare my order” when it was time, then you could pick up your sipper, just like you would do with food!

Merchandise Limits

This is one of our favorite changes, and a more recent one. All merchandise in Disney World is limited to 2 of the same item per person.

The limit applies to all items now

So those people who grab up all the new Minnie ears as soon as they come out in the parks and then resell them on eBay for hundreds of dollars are out of luck.

Holiday ears

We really hope this sticks around for good, because everyone should have a shot at getting cool new merchandise without having to buy it on eBay.

Early Morning Entry and Extended Evening Hours

Extra Magic Hours did not return once Disney World reopened. Instead, it’s been replaced by Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours. ALL Disney World hotel guests have access to Early Theme Park Entry. This just means they can get into all 4 parks 30 minutes before it officially opens.

Early Theme Park Entry Sign

As for Extended Evening Hours, that perk is only available for guests at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Disney World Hotels. This is very different from Extra Magic Hours, which were available to all Disney hotel guests.

Rose and Crown was open throughout EPCOT’s extended evening hours.

Extended Evening Hours only happen on select nights, and so far, we’ve only seen them at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Guests who qualify get to stay in the parks for an extra 2 hours after they’re closed to regular guests.

Mobile Checkout

This is a new feature in some Disney World stores that is super cool! Instead of waiting in line to check out (which can sometimes be very long), you can scan the item using My Disney Experience on your phone and pay for it in the app.

World of Disney Mobile Checkout Sign

There are bags set up at these mobile checkout stands so you can bag your items, then you just have to find a Cast Member to show proof that you bought the item. They will also remove any security tags that are on your items.

Virtual Queues

For a while, Rise of the Resistance was the only ride in Disney World that used a virtual queue. Now, it’s switched over to only a standby line. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is currently the only ride to use a virtual queue. So instead of waiting in long lines for the popular ride, you get a boarding group (like you did with Rise of the Resistance) to come back later and ride.

Remy’s Ratatouille Entrance

If you can’t get a boarding group, you can pay for a Lightning Lane for Remy’s using Disney Genie, but these can sell out.


We’ve also seen virtual queues being used for popular merchandise releases. Sort of like for rides, you can reserve a designated time to come and shop the new release. This happens sometimes for super popular releases, like the 1-day only merchandise from Disney World’s 50th anniversary.

Limited Housekeeping at Hotels

It used to be standard practice that housekeeping would clean your hotel room every day unless you said otherwise. Now, housekeeping only comes to clean your room every other day and will only do light cleaning. Your room will be thoroughly cleaned before you arrive, though!

Saratoga Springs

Those are all of the changes that have stuck around at Disney World! Stay tuned to All Ears for more Disney news, tips, and info.

Click here to see why you need to change how you plan for Disney World 

Which change in Disney World are you happy about? Let us know in the comments!

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One Reply to “9 BIG Changes That Have Stuck Around at Disney World (And Could Be Here for GOOD)”

  1. I’m not crazy about any of these changes but I really, really hate the park reservations. My choice used to be based on weather, hai we all felt, etc.