7 Changes Disney World Guests HATE

Disney Fans are notorious for hating change of any kind in the parks. We totally get it – it’s never fun to see your favorite attraction or show disappear! Although we love to see the new things that Disney Imagineers dream up, we’re still mourning a few of our favorite bygone rides, attractions, and other Disney World features.

Change is HARD

Here are 7 changes that fans love to HATE in Disney World. Some of these changes are infamous for nostalgic reasons, and others are more recent and have just plain made a lot of people mad. Let’s dive in!

FastPass+ to Genie+

Genie+ is the new way to skip the line on many Disney World rides and attractions. If you choose to buy it, you can reserve your spot in Lightning Lanes (FastPass lanes) at attractions throughout the day. Guests can make their first Lightning Lane selections starting at 7AM on the day of their visit to each park.

Lightning Lane is the new FastPass+ lane

When Genie+ came out in October 2021, guests were not happy for one main reason: this new system costs money. The old FastPass+ system for skipping the line on certain rides in Disney World didn’t cost extra — a couple of passes were included in your park ticket.

Pirates of the Caribbean Lightning Lane

Since guests now have to fork over $15 per person per day if they want to skip lines on some popular rides in Disney World, many are mourning the loss of FastPass+.

Lightning Lane Entrance

In addition to the extra cost, Genie+ can be pretty tricky to use. Some guests really don’t like that you can’t reserve your spot to skip the line before you get to Disney World. You have to make selections on the day of your trip rather than months before (like you did with FastPass+).

Dumbo the Flying Elephant Lightning Lane

And certain rules about reserving times to skip the line are confusing, such as the 120-minute rule. Usually, you have to make Lightning Lane reservations one attraction at a time. Once you’ve entered the Lightning Lane at one attraction, you can make your next Genie+ selection (and continue doing that throughout the day). But the 120-minute rule says that you can make another Genie+ selection 2 hours after you make one reservation, even if you haven’t scanned into the first ride.

It’s Tough to be a Bug

We totally get that paying more and planning less can be frustrating to Disney World guests. But in some ways, Genie+ is actually pretty similar to the old FastPass system! No, we don’t mean FastPass+ — we mean BEFORE FastPass+. Does anyone else remember speed walking to roller coasters in order to get in line at the FastPass kiosks and receive a PAPER FastPass ticket?

Paper FastPasses!

Like Genie+, you couldn’t control what return times were available. And you couldn’t reserve these FastPasses in advance either. So is Genie+ really that big of a change? It’s almost exactly like this old system, except that it’s digital instead of paper now!

Paper FastPass Distribution Kiosks

The biggest difference is that Genie+ costs money — even the old FastPass system was free to use. And with Disney World already being such an expensive vacation, we understand the concern about cost increases.

See the history of FastPass in Disney World here.

Getting Rid of Magical Express

Speaking of free perks being replaced with paid ones, many guests aren’t happy about Disney discontinuing Magical Express. This was the bus system that used to take guests from the Orlando International Airport to their Disney World hotel, free of charge.

Disney’s Magical Express is officially retired

You could reserve your spot on the Magical Express bus, and then once you arrive at the Orlando airport you would go downstairs, scan your MagicBand, and board the bus! You could watch Mickey cartoons on the way, and it was like the Disney magic started just a little bit earlier than planned.

Disney’s Magical Express check-in area at MCO

Magical Express is now gone, and it’s been replaced with a few different options for getting from the airport to your Disney World hotel. Mears Connect is run by the same people who used to run Magical Express, so they know what they’re doing and have offered great service from what we’ve seen so far.

Mears Connect Bus

But this new service is not free. A round-trip ticket costs $32 per adult and $27 per child, and there are different rates for one-way tickets or the express service.

Mears Connect in action

Other options are not free either. Sunshine Flyer is a similar service with buses that look like old steam trains. Their prices are similar to Mears Connect.

©The Sunshine Flyer

You could choose to use a rideshare instead, which would likely be more expensive than the buses but could also get you to your hotel faster.

Rideshare signs in Disney World

In general, people don’t love that they have to pay for this service that used to be free. And even though we’ve heard that the service on Mears Connect is great, it’s not Disney-themed, which means you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer to really start your Disney vacation once you land.

Check out all the options for getting from the Orlando International Airport to Disney World.

Any Ride Changes

We’re willing to bet that you could take your pick of any major attraction re-theme and we can find someone who’s very upset about the change. Is that someone us? …For certain attractions, definitely yes. One of the most recent changes was the Great Movie Ride‘s transformation into Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This transformation (in Disney’s Hollywood Studios) was met with protests from many classic Disney World fans.

The Great Movie Ride

Although we think Runaway Railway is super cute, and we love the music and storyline of the attraction, we certainly miss the Great Movie Ride. The characters were very fun, it was great to see scenes from iconic films, and really that attraction fit better into the theme of “Hollywood Studios.” Sorry Mickey, but what does a runaway train have to do with Hollywood?

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Another attraction that was changed to fit in more Disney characters is Maelstrom in EPCOT’s Norway pavilion. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe you know it better as Frozen Ever After.

Maelstrom

The ride system here stayed essentially the same, but the old version was more about the legends and history of Norway. With the new storyline, you’ll follow Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and other Frozen characters on an adventure in Arendelle.

Anna and Kristoff in Frozen Ever After at EPCOT

This change was definitely a smart move by Disney — Frozen Ever After is much more popular than Maelstrom used to be. But some EPCOT fans miss the old version of the ride, and many certainly miss the shorter wait times before the Frozen transformation.

Frozen Ever After

And speaking of EPCOT, we’re sure that there are a few major Figment fans out there. Many of these fans miss the original Journey Into Imagination ride, which featured Figment and the Dreamfinder!

Journey Into Imagination with Figment

This attraction has been re-done a few times, with the most notable change being the removal of the Dreamfinder. Instead, you’ll go on an adventure with Dr. Nigel Channing. But don’t worry — Figment will still be along for the ride.

Figment is still here!

Although there are several more re-themes that we could mention here, we’ll just discuss one more: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride changing to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Even though this change was approved by Mr. Toad himself (you can see him handing over the deed to Owl in one scene of the ride), there are plenty of fans who weren’t ready for the update.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Luckily for these fans, you can still find Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Disneyland! And we have to admit that Winnie the Pooh is probably a better ride for little kids — the character is more recognizable to many, and it’s not quite as…strange…as the Wild Ride was.

Check out 6 Disney World ride changes that happen every year.

Park Transformations

If people aren’t ready for ride transformations, you can bet they’re not ready for major park transformations either. That’s a whole other level of change. One of the biggest park transformations we’ve seen in a while is actually taking place right now in EPCOT!

EPCOT

This park has changed the names of several sections (it’s World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery now instead of Future World), added some new restaurants and attractions, and is still working on several other additions and changes.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

All you have to do is walk into EPCOT, and you’ll immediately see that big changes are in progress. It’s practically a maze of construction walls in the front section! Luckily, World Showcase has remained fairly consistent throughout all of the most recent changes.

Construction walls

When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, many guests were unhappy with the new addition. Some were upset that the land focused on the new Star Wars movies instead of the original ones. And others were just sad to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights go away.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Going back further in this park’s history, there are still guests who insist on calling this park “MGM” instead of Hollywood Studios.

MGM Studios

The name change happened in 2008, but even 14 years later there are those who won’t let go of the original name.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

And there are plenty of other examples of big park changes, from Toon Town Fair’s closure in Magic Kingdom to the opening of Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are guests on either side of every change, and we know that both have strong opinions.

Learn more about EPCOT’s major transformation here!

Intellectual Property Makeovers

Intellectual property refers to the stories and characters that Disney owns. Lately, Disney has been remodeling several hotels to have more of a “Disney” theme. For example, Disney’s Contemporary Resort recently opened several Incredibles-themed rooms!

New rooms at the Contemporary

These rooms — which didn’t have a character or story theme before the remodel — have been met with mixed reviews. Many guests are happy to have a more “Disney” experience, especially when they’re paying so much to stay on property, close to Magic Kingdom. But others love the OG Contemporary and don’t want to see characters take it over.

Incredibles room closet

The same debate is happening over at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Over there, the new Moana-themed rooms are the controversial ones. While some love the theme, others prefer the classic design of Polynesian Village Resort rooms.

New Moana-Themed Rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Despite the mixed reactions, it seems that Disney is pretty committed to bringing themes to more hotels. The new DVC Resort Studios that are opening at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort this summer will have a Mary Poppins Returns theme.

Studio room

Although the theming is subtle in these rooms (with artwork inspired by the film and little details like birds on the chandelier), there are still some definite nods to the movie.

There are cute little birds on the chandelier

We could see intellectual property appear at more Disney World hotels. Some hotels that don’t have very “Disney” themes right now include Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney’s Coronado Springs. Could we see characters pop up at those resorts as well? Only time may tell!

Take a virtual tour of the new Incredibles rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Nighttime Show Changes

Oof. These changes might be the MOST controversial of them all. Did anyone else see Disney World fans in absolute rages when Happily Ever After was replaced with Enchantment in Magic Kingdom? Many people were very unhappy with the new show, and a lot of the complaints that we heard were simply that it wasn’t Happily Ever After.

Happily Ever After was a beloved show!

And the same can be said about the change from Horizons to Harmonious in EPCOT. Disney World’s 50th Anniversary brought both Harmonious and Enchantment to the parks, and maybe 2 changes at once was just too much for the fans.

Harmonious

Nighttime shows and fireworks are some of the most magical events in Disney World, so people get very emotionally attached to them. We 100% understand — we have shed many tears while watching Tinker Bell fly from the Cinderella Castle and listening to renditions of iconic Disney songs.

Enchantment

Because of those strong emotional attachments, guests can be very upset when the show they love goes away and is replaced with a new show. Even if that new show is super impressive and maybe even technically “better” (like Enchantment with bigger fireworks and projections all the way down Main Street, U.S.A.), nothing can beat their experience with that other nighttime show.

See the last showing of Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom here.

Painting Cinderella Castle Pink

We could have included this even under “Park Transformations,” but honestly it’s so big that it needed its own section. A pretty recent (and very major) change came to one of the most iconic structures in all of Disney World: the Cinderella Castle. This castle has had a blue and grey color scheme for a long time, but in 2020 a significant part of the castle was painted pink!

It’s pink now!

Some guests loved the brighter color, but others thought it took away from the uniqueness of Cinderella Castle. They thought that pink belonged on Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, not on Cinderella’s. Although the castle has undergone many temporary changes over the years, this was one of the only major changes that has lasted for a long time. That may be part of why so many fans are unwilling to embrace it.

How do you feel about the pink?

A few of the temporary changes were unpopular as well, such as the Birthday Cake Castle in 1996. For Disney World’s 25th Anniversary, they created a huge overlay for Cinderella Castle that made it look like a cartoon birthday cake. Some guests, who were expecting to see the iconic castle and not a giant pastry, were less than pleased with this change.

Stately Cinderella Castle was transformed into a bright pink and blue birthday cake for Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary. [The Walt Disney Company]
Others loved the slightly ridiculous makeover, though. In fact, Disney recently came out with a PhotoPass lens so that you can take a picture with the iconic makeover now! (Keep in mind that you’ll have to buy Genie+ to access this lens.)

You can turn Cinderella Castle into the 25th Anniversary birthday cake castle!

Or you can buy the Birthday Cake Cinderella Castle mug, which celebrates this controversial bit of Disney history.

Okay, this is seriously adorable.

When Stitch’s Great Escape opened in 2004, Disney World celebrated by having the little alien “vandalize” Cinderella Castle. It looked like Stitch had draped toilet paper from the castle’s many towers, and you could even see some “graffiti” on the lower parts of the castle.

Photo courtesy of imgur

Although this certainly wasn’t the prettiest that we’ve seen Cinderella Castle, we have to give points for creativity! TP-ing the castle definitely sounds like something Stitch would do if he escaped in Magic Kingdom.

Check out 18 things you didn’t know about Cinderella Castle in Disney World.

So there you have it! These are some Disney World changes that many fans love to hate.

Main Street, U.S.A.

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Which of these changes do you hate, and which do you actually love? Let us know in the comments!

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2 Replies to “7 Changes Disney World Guests HATE”

  1. I always love it when people are made to believe that perks are free. Those fast passes and the DME and the luggage service were not free. They were figured into the room and ticket prices. Then they were gone and did the prices go down because Disney wasn’t saddled with the expense of getting you and/or your luggage to the resort? No, the prices went up. On top of that they charged extra for stuff like parking at your resort and for Genie+. I get the raising of prices. But what Disney did was making the candy bar smaller and charging more for less product. Then promoting it as “Same great product, just in an upgraded package”. And that is what I hate. And then when guests say “Hey, wait a second”, Disney flat out ignores you. And then you get to watch the share price rise as profit soars. Laughing at you all the way to the bank.

  2. You forgot about park reservations and park hopping restricted to after 2.

    Those 2 things, and Genie Plus, means less visits and money spent there by us.