Photo Credit: Disney

Saying Good-bye To What We Lost in 2021

We are thrilled with everything that is coming in 2022 to Walt Disney World.  The excitement for new rides, shows, and dining options is high, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still miss some of the experiences that went away in 2021.

Here’s a quick look back at what went away in 2021 because we feel like we need to take a moment one last time to appreciate what once was in Walt Disney World.


When Walt Disney World reopened in July 2020, it was without Fastpass+.  With limited capacity and small crowds, this wasn’t an issue.

As 2020 turned into 2021 and crowds started to return to the magic, questions began to arise about when Fastpass+ would be returning.

Guests appreciated being able to preselect three rides at one of Walt Disney World’s four Theme Parks, and therefore had three rides they didn’t have to wait long to ride.

In October, Walt Disney World released Disney Genie.  This is a free planning tool, and for a price, you can add Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.  The paid options have replaced Fastpass+.

We quickly saw Fastpass+ signs removed and replaced with Lightning Lane signs, indicating that we would not see Fastpass+ in Walt Disney World again.

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After started bringing the magic to the nighttime skies in Magic Kingdom in 2017.  This nighttime show, which combined projection mapping, fireworks, and amazing music, quickly became a fan favorite.

Many fans predicted that a new nighttime celebration would come to Magic Kingdom for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, but we were not prepared for the announcement that Happily Ever After would be ending.

On September 29th, 2021, Happily Ever After took to the skies one last time, and then Disney Enchantment took over.

Happily Ever After was a fantastic show that brought the emotions, magic, and wonder to Magic Kingdom through outstanding music, projections and fireworks.

We are still sad that it is gone, but Disney Enchantment has a lot of magic to offer as well.

EPCOT Forever

On October 1st, 2019, EPCOT Forever opened, replacing the beloved IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth in EPCOT.

EPCOT Forever came back in 2021, entertaining Guests around the World Showcase with fireworks, lasers, and music.

On September 28th, EPCOT Forever showed one last time, and Harmonious made its debut the next evening.

EPCOT Forever wasn’t meant to be around forever, so we weren’t shocked when it ended in 2021.  It was a decent show that kept Guests entertained while visiting EPCOT in the evenings.

Credit: Paula K

Primeval Whirl

Primeval Whirl was a steel coaster that was located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and was part of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened back up in July 2020, it was without Primeval Whirl.  This wasn’t unusual, as sometimes this wild but fun coaster opened seasonally.

As the busy seasons picked up in 2021, Primeval Whirl remained closed, and eventually Walt Disney World announced that the coaster would remain closed permanently.

We aren’t sure what will replace this coaster, but we hope that it will be thrilling as well.

Finding Nemo: The Musical (The Original)

The original Finding Nemo: The Musical in Disney’s Animal Kingdom closed in 2020 when the Theme Parks shut down.

As the Parks reopened, it was without a lot of the entertainment Cast Members as they worked on how to adjust performances to keep everyone safe.

Rumors spread that Finding Nemo: The Musical, a beloved show, had been canceled.

Fans of the show were devastated.  The original music, puppets, and overall performance were things that many looked forward to each and every Walt Disney World vacation.

Disney quickly announced that Finding Nemo: The Musical will be rethemed, and an updated musical performance will be coming in 2022.

This new musical called Finding Nemo- Big Blue & Beyond will focus more on Dory, but some of our favorite songs will return.

Although we are sad to see the original musical leave, we are thrilled that Walt Disney World is bringing back a show to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Magical Express

In 2021 we will say goodbye to Disney’s Magical Express, which started in 2005.

Guests traveling from Orlando International Airport to a Walt Disney World Resort hotel could use the complimentary Disney’s Magical Express service to get to and from these destinations.

This service, although frustrating as of late, was a fantastic option for families that didn’t wish to rent a car or worry about car seats.

Prior to the shutdown, Guests could have Disney’s Magical Express transport their checked luggage to their Walt Disney World Resort hotel as well.

Again, this was a wonderful option for families with little ones as they could check their luggage at their home airport and not worry about it until it arrived at their Resort.

Disney’s Magical Express will stop all operations as of the end of the day on December 31st, 2021.  Guests will now have to determine how they will get to and from the Walt Disney World Resort property.

Although this service wasn’t always perfect, it was free, and we are sad to see the option leave.

The Wave

In summer 2021, there was a surprising announcement. We learned that The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort would be getting a complete makeover.

The Wave was a beloved dining option that was close to the Magic Kingdom. Guests could enjoy all meals here as well as the bar.

Many Guests were sad to hear this, but when Steakhouse 71 opened in its place, most Guests agreed it is a fantastic upgrade.

If you have a chance to see this newly remodeled area of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we highly recommend you stop by on your next vacation.

Although 2021 brought a lot of magical experiences, it was sad to see some of our favorites go.  We can’t wait to see what new magic is in store in 2022!  What are you sad to see go?  What are you excited to see come in 2022?

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.