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Photo: "Walt Disney World Cast and Community" FB Page

Big Changes Since Your Last Disney World Vacation

We love that Walt Disney World is constantly changing and adjusting to make our experience the best and most magical, but this also means that it can be difficult to plan.  Since reopening in summer of 2020, Walt Disney World has made some big adjustments when it comes to guests’ experience.  We have some of the biggest changes Walt Disney World has seen so you can be prepared for your next vacation.

My Disney Experience  (MDE)

My Disney Experience (MDE)  is the vacation planning app for Walt Disney World.  Although this app has been around for a while, the use of the app has drastically changed over the years and has become essential to a vacation in Walt Disney World.  MDE holds all your vacation plans from resort room to dining reservations.  While in the parks, you will use the app for entrance into the park (if you choose), placing mobile orders for meal times, see wait times, bathroom locations and so much more.  Even though you might have used MDE on your last vacation, what it is currently used for and how much it is used during a vacation has drastically changed.  We highly recommend downloading the app and using it prior to heading down to Disney World.  This makes it a much smoother process when you arrive.

Virtual Queues

Another major change that has come to Walt Disney World is the use of virtual queues.  Currently Rise of the Resistance is the only ride in Walt Disney World using the virtual queue; however, once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (officially on October 1st) opens we will have two rides that use this system.  In order to ride Rise of the Resistance, guests need to sign onto MDE and be prepared at 7 am to request a boarding group.  If they receive one, they will be given an estimated wait time.  During this wait time, guests can choose how to spend their time.  Enjoy the resort, have a meal, head to Hollywood Studios.  Guests are waiting in line “virtually” instead of actually in the queue.  Once their boarding group is called they can enter the actual queue 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.

Mobile Ordering

Mobile ordering was slowly becoming popular prior to Walt Disney World closing in 2020.  This system was 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.  Since reopening, Disney World now is basically requiring guests to use mobile ordering while in the theme parks as well as as Disney resorts.   In the app, guests choose a pick up window time which helps control crowds during busy mealtimes in the parks and resorts.  Although there are exceptions (allergies, dietary needs or technology issues) that can allow guests to order from a cast member, the use of mobile ordering is now the norm in the parks.

Skyliner

Disney’s newest mode of transportation is something you will need to try when you visit Disney World next.  The skyliner takes guests to and from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with stops at Disney’s Caribbean Resort, Disney’s Riviera, Pop Century and Art of Animation.  Even if you aren’t staying at one of the skyliner resorts, you can easily take a ride when visiting Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Consider taking it for a lunch break over to Disney’s Riviera or Disney’s Caribbean Beach for a fun meal at Primo Piatto or Banana Cabana.   A quick and fun way to travel throughout the resort property, the skyliner is a must experience during your next vacation.

No Fastpass+

Since reopening in July of 2020 Disney has moved away from the fastpass+ system previously in place.  Guests no longer are given the option to preselect three experiences instead all guests use the stand-by line.  This is a big change if you haven’t been to Disney lately, but with some planning ahead you can still experience as much as you did before.  

Park Pass Reservations

One of the biggest changes that we have seen from Walt Disney World since reopening is the implementation of the Park Pass Reservation system.  Guests are now required to have park pass reservations prior to entering one of Disney’s four theme parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, 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 pass reservations.  Since there is limited capacity at all four parks, we highly recommend making these park passes as soon as you can.  Although we haven’t seen parks blocked out recently, those busy times like the 50th Anniversary, Christmas and Thanksgiving are sure to be blocked out.   Park passes are a big change, but something that is helping keep crowds manageable during this transition time at Walt Disney World.

We do greatly appreciate that the Walt Disney World Company is constantly looking at ways to change, adjust and get better.  With that change though comes adjustments by guests as we learn how to use the new system, understand the updated requirements and figure out how to best experience Walt Disney World with our families.  We hope learning about these more recent changes will help you be better prepared the next time you visit Walt Disney World.  If you are looking for more information about Disney during covid, check out our post here.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.