When was your last trip to Disney World?
For many, that trip might’ve been way back in 2019 or earlier. And even if you went to Disney World a lot up to that point, you might find yourself a little confused if you go to the parks now because a LOT has changed.
So we’re here to get you up to speed so you won’t be so lost when you return to the resort. Here’s what you need to know about if you’re going to Disney World in 2023 and beyond.
Park Pass Reservations
Remember when you could just randomly pick a park on any day and just go? Well, you can’t do that anymore. Instead, now you have to plan before your trip where you want to be on each day and make a park pass reservation for it (don’t worry — we show you how to do that here).
If you’re planning on visiting on a holiday, spring break, or any other busy season, you’ll also need to make those ASAP — because park passes are limited. Yes, this can be a little inconvenient, especially if you’re used to switching your plans around at the last minute. But that’s how things are for now.
Everything You Need to Know About Park Pass Reservations
There’s another thing that might take some of the spontaneity out of your day at Disney World. Park hopping rules have changed — you can only park hop AFTER 2PM and that’s only after you’ve scanned into the park you had a park pass reservation for.
This is something that could put a wrench in your plans if you happen to have lunch reservations in a park you don’t have a park pass reservation for. You won’t be able to get into that park until 2PM. Disney did recently change the rules for Annual Passholders, and you can read more about that at the link below.
Confused? We explain how to park hop as efficiently as possible right here!
Remember FastPass+? Well, forget all about it because it’s gone now. Instead, you now have to pay extra to skip the lines in Disney World and access what is now called the Lightning Lane. This is through something called Genie+ and it costs anywhere from $15 to $29 per day depending on that day’s demand.
But wait, because buying Genie+ still doesn’t guarantee Lightning Lane access to all rides. There are also premium rides that require an additional fee (again, it’s dependent on demand) to skip the standby lines. So for some rides, you’ll need to buy the Individual Lightning Lane option to use the Lightning Lane.
Yes, we know Genie+ is very confusing, and we’ve done our best to explain it here.
Step-by-Step Guide to Using Genie+
Another thing you’ll now have to worry about is transportation from Orlando International Airport to Disney World. You used to be able to book Magical Express for FREE and it would take you to your resort. You didn’t even have to pick up your bags at the airport — the service would deliver them directly to your hotel.
Magical Express was discontinued in 2021, so you now have one of two paid options that are similar: Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer. You also now have to pick up your bags at the airport before you get on the bus that will take you to Disney World.
But, there is a NEW type of transportation in Disney World — the Skyliner! This gondola system can take you to multiple parks and hotels while being a ride in and of itself.
We even have a Skyliner crawl if you want to hop from spot to spot.
Everything You Need to Know About the Skyliner
Disney World has added several new attractions over the past few years with more on the way! At EPCOT, the France Pavilion has been expanded and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure has moved in. This is a cute trackless dark 3-D ride that takes you through Gusteau’s from Remy’s point of view.
If you’re looking for something with more thrills, though, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened in 2021 in EPCOT’s World Discovery (yes, EPCOT’s land names have also changed) — you’ll find it where Universe of Energy used to be. The ride is an omnicoaster that allows guests to face the story side of the ride, and yes, it stars the Guardians of the Galaxy. This one is NOT for the faint of heart (or those who easily get motion sickness).
In addition, MORE new attractions are coming to Disney World, including Journey of Water — Inspired by Moana in EPCOT and TRON / Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom. The latter has also changed the route the Walt Disney World Railroad takes around Magic Kingdom, so that’s new, too!
If you’re a fan of Splash Mountain and haven’t heard the news — it’s going away forever. It will reopen, but it’s being reimagined as a ride based on The Princess and the Frog called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
There are also new LANDS in Disney World! Toy Story Land is located in Hollywood Studios and features multiple restaurants and rides dedicated to Woody, Buzz, and the gang.
Plus, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened in Hollywood Studios and includes the hit attractions Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
Make sure you check these out on your next trip!
Extra Magic Hours
Something that’s also now missing from Disney World since early 2020 are Extra Magic Hours, and it looks like it’s gone for good. Instead, Disney World replaced it with something else.
For guests staying at ALL Disney World resorts, Early Entry allows them into the parks 30 minutes before the official opening time. Yep, just 30 minutes, and not an hour like Extra Magic Hours. However, unlike Extra Magic Hours, you’re not tied down to just one park — you can use Early Entry at any park on any day.
Guests staying at Disney World’s deluxe resorts also get Extended Evening Hours, which gives those guests a few more hours in the parks after they close. However, Extended Evening Hours are only available on specific dates for specific parks.
Okay, so MagicBands probably haven’t changed much since your last trip to Disney World, but they’re no longer free for guests with vacation packages. You can, though, get them at a discount. Also, you can now get a MagicBand+, which has additional features. The MagicBand+ can interact with various elements in the parks with lights and haptic feedback.
However, as you might suspect, the MagicBand+ is more expensive than its less technical counterpart, but you can also get several MagicBand+ designs at a discount if you book a vacation package. Need help setting your MagicBand+ up? We’ve got full instructions here.
So if you haven’t been to Disney World in a while, we hope this gets you up to speed on the many changes that have happened in just the past few years. Disney World is constantly changing, though, so be sure to keep reading AllEars so you are up to date on everything!
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What Disney World change has recently tripped you up? Let us know in the comments!