How Has Disney World Changed

Disney World has changed immensely over the last two years.

After not being at the parks from November 2019, our Spring 2022 was an eye-opener and we’d like to share thoughts and observations for those of you who (like us) hadn’t been down since pre-pandemic.

This may be a longer article, but my goal is to touch on everything that we noticed was different – and then give a quick thought on why it’s important.

No More FastPass

Lightning Lane at Expedition Everest
Lightning Lane at Expedition Everest (Image: Dustin Fuhs/ StepstoMagic)

With the introduction of Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane, the previously free attraction reservation system, FastPass+, was retired and changed out for a paid version.

What was free is now not.


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Cultural Representatives Aren’t Back

Canadian Pavilion in Spring 2022 with Non-International Cultural Representative Cast Members (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Walking through EPCOT’s World Showcase isn’t the same, as you’ll see more generic “flag” costumes – representing American cast members – in many positions around the park.

This is incredibly evident with stores like the Northwest Mercantile at the Canadian Pavilion, as the CMs are trying their best to make it through the days until the government will allow for Cultural Representatives into the country.

It’s very noticeable and sad.

Lack of Staffing

Citricos and Victoria & Alberts Closed in Spring 2022 due to Staffing (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

When Disney laid off thousands of Cast Members during the pandemic, it was never going to be easy to replace those roles when the world came back to a state of normalcy.

From the loss of the Cultural Representatives, to the College Program and even the long-term retired population that were seasonal cast during the year – it’s difficult to say this, but the parks just aren’t the same.


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Supply Chain for Merchandise

There is a distinct lack of merchandise and it’s actually funny to see. When you think about Disney, a multinational billion dollar corporation, not being able to fill the shelves with merchandise – it’s a real problem.

The funny part is seeing old merchandise being put on shelves as part of having something to sell – like when we found “Halloween in May” in the Magic Kingdom and stumbling on a popcorn bucket from Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party.

Ticketing (Annual Passes and Park Reservations)

Park Hopping Sign at EPCOT (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is a big one – the entire ticketing structure has changed.

When you put the lack of annual passes along with park ticket reservations and huge increases in prices…it’s not a good time to think about the budget.


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No Magical Express

Mears Connect at Orlando International Airport (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

So this wasn’t a huge loss for us personally, as we had jumped to UBER years ago for our reliable transportation from the Orlando International Airport to the Resorts/Theme Parks.

But as we discussed before – what was once included in your Disney Resort fee is now an extra charge with Mears Connect. Still not worth it.

Rapid Fire List

It’s a Wonderful Shop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Closed in May 2022 (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is getting long and this is more about “Expectations in Reality” than gripes with the Disney World “Brand”

  • No Streetmosphere or lack of classic “Disney” entertainment
  • Not Everything was Open (Muppet Store, Victoria & Alberts, etc)
  • Hotel Occupancy & Availability is minuscule (due to staffing)
  • More attraction issues (shutdowns, 101, and capacity)
  • Mobile Order changes daily (Aloha Isle wasn’t available on our trip)
  • Everything took longer
  • More discussion of revenues from on-stage cast members from management.
  • Lack of custodial – dirty washrooms.
  • Lack of buses (due to staffing)
  • Security (Bag Searches)
  • Bag checked at Disney Springs
  • Lack of Magic
  • Disney Feeling

The Main Thing Missing from Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom Park Reservations Sign (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The lack of the “Disney Feeling”, as everything is just more awkward and not as magical as it was pre-pandemic. The real world has definitely entered the place that so many of us called our “escape from reality”.

How Has Disney World Changed

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