Navigating Disney World’s Operational Updates

Disney World in Florida is a place where the marketing team fills the official social media channels with magic, dreams and setting the expectations that you will 100% without hesitation get the best possible vacation on the planet.

Well, we’ve come to realize that you should be aware of some of the things that can be “evolving” on the scale of guest experiences and operational updates.

Early Store Closures

Boutiki at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

If you’re used to hanging out at Disney Springs for late night shopping, you should be aware that stores are closing earlier than ever before. In fact, the early closures have started to impact theme parks and resort shopping, which can be disappointing to many.

The rush to get into the World of Disney at the end of the day is real. Do your research before your trip, and talk to cast members the day of to see when their stores might be closing that day to make sure that you’re not going to be disappointed, because I’ve been there and it’s not fun.

Slimmed-down Menus

Shrinkflation, skimpflation and all the other ‘-flations’ have made their way to the Disney World Resort. Keep an eye out on menus, as “streamlined” menus are becoming the norm and items that you might have fallen in love with in the past might no longer be available.

To prepare for this, you should consider making ADR’s at restaurants that are diverse in their cuisine theming to make sure that you’re not eating burgers at every single meal. Check out menus in advance, and don’t rely on “we ate there once, it’ll be the same this time.”


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Restaurants Closing Early

Closed Restaurant Marrakesh in EPCOT (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Remember that early closures doesn’t just impact the stores, but we’ve started to see restaurants adjust their hours.

This isn’t as big of an impact for planning, as the most significant operational impacts are on the outside vending carts and snack locations.

That being said, we’ve also seen a number of restaurants close for larger-than-expected refurbishments while others haven’t re-opened since the pandemic. Always check online before assuming that something will be open.

Ongoing Store Closures

It’s a Wonderful Shop Closed in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Certain theme parks have been hit harder than others, but to not share would be a disservice. Additionally, some stores might only open when Disney predicts that they’re going to have a busy day in that specific park.

  • The Christmas store and the former Muppets stores are still closed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Big Top Souvenirs and Bonjour Gifts in the Magic Kingdom have seen better days, as these locations are currently a shell of what was created years ago.
  • What happened to all the Art of Disney stores? Outside of the permanent location at Disney Springs, the collection has moved to be a pop-up style in the theme parks.

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Shortage of Cast Members in Key Roles

Cinderella’s Royal Table Menu (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Disney is all about the cast members, but the shortages have been impacting guest experiences across the spectrum. The parks are looking tired and unkept, stores and restaurants are turning into cafeterias and discount offerings.

It’s not to put blame on the cast members on the ground – this can be put back to the pandemic, with the shuttering of the Disney College Program and the Disney International Programs for years. It’ll take time to get the standards back to where they were at before the world shut down.

Buses

The Disney bus transportation system may face occasional difficulties. To navigate this, consider using alternative transportation options, like rideshares, monorails, or the Skyliner, when necessary. Be patient and allow extra time for transportation to avoid any stress during your visit.

If you do UBER, keep an eye out on surge pricing. It’s getting worse and could be worth downloading both LYFT and UBER in case you need options at the end of the night.


Walt Disney World remains a place of magic and wonder, even with the recent operational changes. Change will always be a part of Disney World, and while we may not love some of the recent changes, we can prepare for them. Armed with these helpful tips, you can make the most of your visit and ensure a memorable experience. Embrace the magic, plan ahead, and you’ll continue to create cherished memories at Disney World.

Dustin Fuhshttp://www.stepstomagic.com
I’m Dustin Fuhs, a theme park fanatic that has created this platform to showcase my passion, tools and opinions to create a fun and interactive experience for everyone who visits. My goal is to help you and your family have the most magical experience at Walt Disney World. In reading my articles and ideas, I hope that you can find some fantastic ways to bring your dreams into reality!

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