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BIG Changes At Walt Disney World You Need to Know

Walt Disney World is magical and keeps us coming back each year because it is constantly changing. Although this makes our experiences magical, it can also make visiting difficult if you aren’t up to speed on everything new.

We will take you through some of the significant changes that have come to Walt Disney World over the last few years that you need to know about before your trip.

Be prepared for your next trip to Walt Disney World by knowing about these significant changes.

credit Disney

My Disney Experience (MDE)

One of the most significant changes in the last few years is how important My Disney Experience has become to a Walt Disney World vacation. Although this app has been around for longer, it wasn’t until these past few years that it became essential to a successful Disney vacation.

MDE holds all your vacation plans, from Disney Resort room information to dining reservations. While in the parks, you will use the app to enter Disney Park (if you choose), place mobile orders for meal times, see wait times and bathroom locations, and access Genie+.

Even though you might have used MDE on your last vacation, how much it is used during the break has drastically changed. We highly recommend downloading and using the app before heading down to Walt Disney World. This makes it a much smoother process when you arrive.

Credit: Disney

Disney Genie, Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes

If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World since October 2021, then you haven’t experienced the new Disney Genie feature that was added to My Disney Experience. Fastpass+ has been gone since the Disney Parks reopened in 2020, and we saw the new Disney Genie system take over.

We have a lot of information on Disney Genie, Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lanes at How to Disney, and we highly encourage you to read as much as possible about this system. The more you know, the easier it will be to navigate when you arrive.

Overall, Disney Genie is a free planning feature. Genie+ is a paid feature for $15/day that gives Guests access to the Lightning Lanes (solid lines) at over 30 attractions in the four Disney Parks. Finally, Individual Lightning Lanes are rides that aren’t included in Genie+ but can be purchased separately.

There are pros and cons to this new system but no matter what your thoughts are on it, make sure you take time to understand it before you head down.


Park Pass Reservations

One of the most significant changes we have seen from Walt Disney World is implementing the Park Pass Reservation system. Guests must have Park pass reservations before entering one of Disney’s four theme parks (EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios).

Once you have purchased tickets or made a downpayment on a package, you can head to My Disney Experience to select your Park to pass reservations. Since there is limited capacity at all four parks, we highly recommend making these Park passes as soon as possible.

Although we haven’t seen parks blocked out recently, those busy times like Christmas and Thanksgiving are sure to be blocked out.   Don’t forget about this new step when planning a Disney vacation. You won’t be allowed into a Disney Park without one.

Totchos Woody's Lunch Box
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Mobile Ordering

Mobile ordering has been how to get quick service meals at Walt Disney World. This system is a way for Guests, through the My Disney Experience app, to order and schedule their food without needing to stand in a line and wait for a Cast Member.

Mobile ordering is now available throughout most of the four Disney Parks and at most of the Disney Resorts.   In the app, Guests choose a pickup window time which helps control crowds during busy mealtimes in the parks and resorts.

We recommend mobile ordering in a Disney Park or at a Disney Resort. It cuts down on your wait time and allows you to spend more time enjoying the magic.

Credit: Disney

Virtual Queues

Another significant change that has come to Walt Disney World is the use of virtual queues. Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the only ride in Walt Disney World using the virtual line.

Guests can ride this new, highly anticipated coaster through the virtual queue system. At 7 am, Guests log into their My Disney Experience account and can request a boarding group. If they receive one, they are given an estimated wait time.

During this wait time, Guests can choose how to spend their time. Enjoy the Resort, have a meal, and head to EPCOT. Guests wait in line “virtually” instead of in the queue. Once their boarding group is called, they can enter the actual string for the ride. The virtual queue is a way for Disney to monitor wait times and allow Guests to enjoy other parts of the Park.

These are some of the significant changes that Walt Disney World has made since your last vacation. We love that the Disney company is constantly looking at ways to change, adjust, and be better, but we also know with that change comes some learning on our part as Guests.

Be aware of these changes to help prepare for a better Walt Disney World vacation.




Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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