The Parks

Walt Disney World Changes We Liked in 2021

Change can be difficult to take when you love something as much as we love Walt Disney World.  It is hard sometimes to adjust to changes such as new nighttime shows, Genie+ and rides being taken away like Primeval Whirl.

When we stop and look back at 2021, there are some changes that came to the Walt Disney World Resort that we liked.  Take a look at some of these changes and see if you too like the changes.

Animal Kingdom

Park Hopping

When the Disney Parks reopened in 2020, it was without Park Hopping.  Guests were asked to choose one Disney Park to stay at throughout the day.

At the beginning of 2021, Park Hopping was brought back with some modifications.  Guests could now Park Hop once again, but only after 2 pm.  Guests also need to visit the Theme Park where they made their Park Reservation before hopping to another Disney Park.

We are thrilled that we can now hop around to all four Theme Parks each day if we choose to do so.  Being able to park hop allows us to see and do more while in Walt Disney World when it comes to dining and entertainment.


Not everyone will feel the same, but we are glad to have buffets back at Walt Disney World.  Many restaurants that typically provided buffets when reopening changed to family-style meals to help with COVID protocols.

We have slowly seen buffets return at places such as Boma, Crystal Palace, and Biergarten.  We enjoy being able to try out new foods at these locations as well as enjoy more of what we like.

Buffets are also nice for little ones as they can load up on their favorites as well.

We appreciate that Disney has allowed buffets to come back while still making sure COVID protocols are in place to help keep Guests safe.

Updated Rooms

We are extremely excited about the new themed rooms at both Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Over at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, we love the Moana-themed rooms.  The new color scheme and touches from the movie are fantastic.

The Incredibles have found their way to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The renovation of the main rooms in the tower brought a sleek, new color theme and style featuring our favorite superheroes.

It is fun to have these new immersive rooms as options for our Walt Disney World vacation and we always love when rooms are updated.

Mickey Mouse Epcot
Photo Credit: Disney

Modified Meet and Greets

One of the experiences that helps make the magic in Walt Disney World is being able to meet our favorite characters.

Since reopening, character meet and greets were not happening in order to keep Guests and our beloved friends safe.

We were so happy that Walt Disney World kept thinking about how to get these magical moments back in the Theme Parks.

It started by providing distance meet and greets where Guests could wave to Mickey and friends from a distance.

Now, Guests can once again meet some of their favorite characters one-on-one even though it is modified. We are so thankful that Disney has brought this experience back.

Guests can now have a one-on-one meeting with characters where they can get selfies and talk.  They can’t do autographs or hugs and masks are required, but it is a great step forward.

Kid Krispie Treat


We were sad when the Main Street Confectionery in Magic Kingdom went under refurbishment, but the new and updated store is fantastic.

There is a larger grab ‘n go area giving Guests a lot of options to choose from when it comes to goodies.

There are two new sections that we are thrilled about and that is the M&M wall and the popcorn station.

We love that we can create our own popcorn snack filled with candies as well as load up on colorful M&Ms!

We think the updated store is wonderful.

credit: Tricia Kennedy

Creations Shop

Another new story that opened in 2021 that we have been extremely impressed with is the Creations Shop in EPCOT.

The Creations Shop replaced the beloved Mouse Gears and although we weren’t sure at first, we love this new store

We really enjoy the feel of the store as it is very open and has a lot of great merchandise to choose from.

We think that this was a great change brought about in 2021.

Club Cool

Also opening back up with an upgrade is Club Cool in EPCOT.  This shop is popular as Guests can try out drinks from around the world including the infamous Beverly.

We like the new layout of Club Cool as it gives Guests more room and space while still providing the fun of the drinks.

Although there were some changes when it came to the drinks, the new store is bright and welcoming with more merchandise which we think is great.

credit: Paula Kennedy

Steakhouse 71

It was announced in September 2021 that The Wave in Disney’s Contemporary Resort would be closing and in its place would be a new restaurant called Steakhouse 71.

Since opening in October, this new restaurant has become extremely popular with the return of some favorites from The Wave and the addition of some delicious new options.

The new look is modern and sleek and we are so happy that they did this renovation.

credit: Zach Riddley

Beacons of Magic

Another small but amazing experience that was brought about in 2021 was the Beacons of Magic at each of the four Theme Parks.

Each night, the Tree of Life, Tower of Terror, Spaceship Earth as well as the Cinderella Castle is brought to life with an EARidescent makeover that is truly spectacular.

These light shows don’t last long, but we find them so magical and well worth sticking around to see.

Main Street, U.S.A. Projections

We also love that the nighttime show Disney Enchantment added projections to Main Street, U.S.A. to add additional magic to the experience.

The show is now even more immersive than ever before as the colors and scenes are all around Guests.

We like the addition and hope that Disney continues to use this technology in the future as well.

These are just some of the changes that were made in 2021 in Walt Disney World that we liked.  Change is hard, but we feel like these changes were steps in a positive direction.

What are your thoughts on these changes that came to Disney World Parks?  Do you like them?

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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