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How Disney World planning has changed

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How Disney World planning has changed

If this is your first time planning a trip back to Disney World in a couple of years, you may be surprised to hear that there are a few things that work (and look!) a bit differently now.

Here’s a recap to get you caught up…

Park Passes are required

To enter the parks, you must have a park pass each day. 

They’re almost always easy to get and available way ahead of time, so be sure to snag those as soon as you know which park you want to visit each day of your trip.

(Want to park hop? No park pass needed for that, but you won’t be able to until 2:00.)

Dining Reservations at 60 days

Instead of 180 days out, you can now make dining reservations 60 days ahead. 

Although many ADRs have always been hard to get, it seems like it may be even harder now. Services like MouseDining and MouseWatcher have become popular to snag hard-to-get reservations.

FastPass is now Genie+

This will definitely be the trickiest part to learn, but FastPasses are now called Lightning Lanes and are part of the new Disney Genie+ system. Oh, and it costs money to book them.

Extra Park Time for Onsite Guests

Extra Magic Hours are gone and replaced by 2 new things – Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

Early Theme Park Entry is available daily for all onsite guests and allows them into the parks 30 minutes before offsite people.

Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are only available to Deluxe and Deluxe Villa guests. They are offered a couple of times per week (check the schedule before your trip).

Mobile Dining

Get used to using the My Disney Experience app for dining because there are way more mobile dining Quick Service options available now.

In addition, most Table Service restaurants have mobile check-in. You can do this 15 minutes before your reservation, but you do need to be relatively close to the restaurant to check in. This process allows you to specify allergies, and you can even add an additional guest to the reservation if you need to.

MagicBand changes

So MagicBands are still around, but they aren’t free for onsite guests anymore.

You do have MagicBand alternatives now, including using MagicMobile functionality in the My Disney Experience app to do things like open hotel doors, scan park tickets, and use Genie+ selections at the attractions.

MagicBand+ will be coming sometime in 2022. It’s the next evolution of MagicBands that will have even more functionality, but we can cross that bridge later.

Masks rules

Although many safety measures were in place in 2020 and part of 2021 (socially distanced lines, masks required everywhere), the only measure that’s really still in effect is masks being required indoors.

Character sightings

The characters are returning little by little, but they aren’t called “meets” anymore – they’re now “sightings.” That’s because you have to maintain some distance for safety reasons. That’s how character meals work as well.

Entertainment changes

Happily Ever After and IllumiNations are gone. Now we have Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at Epcot. 

Oh, and don’t miss Spaceship Earth because that whole area is a nighttime delight.


Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

Is it best to use a credit card for all food purchases, or is using cash still acceptable?