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 & Fall 2022 trips were 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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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 for a time, 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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