Disney World fans are some of the most loyal and dedicated fans in the world.
And there are times when Disney World fans are so overwhelmed by news, events, and announcements that it — sometimes literally — breaks the Internet.
So we’re looking back at times that Disney made announcements that stunned us all and had us flocking to our devices to Google, call, text, or tweet to learn all we could or submit our thoughts.
Disney World Closing in 2020
The global health pandemic that shook the world in 2020 never felt more real in the U.S. until Disney Parks announced its closing. Disney World had never closed in the past for more than a day or two (with most closures due to hurricanes). But this time, it was to be closed for longer (with no reopening date announced until later). We were all stunned that the parks on both coasts closed in the U.S. and the other parks in Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong also closed. It was all very unsettling to imagine these parks usually buzzing with activity and energy, empty — indefinitely.
It was at this point, with the announcement that Disney World would close through March 2020 (which then got extended several months), that left Disney fans breaking the Internet with their chatter about the severity of the situation. The traffic on the internet and social media outlets ranged from guests trying to re-arrange travel plans to fans and local residents just trying to find out when they could expect the gates to re-open.
With so many businesses dependent on Disney World tourism traffic for their livelihood, it is understandable why so many people were frantic to learn as much as they could as quickly as possible. Coming at the height of Spring Break and the beginning of the traditional “busy season” for vacations, many were bracing to see what this would mean for their trips.
This was not isolated to just the internet, but the phone lines were busy, as well. Call centers were inundated with vacationers desperate to make arrangements to get home, and those with impending trips calling to learn what their options were, canceling, postponing, and rescheduling — all calling and waiting on hold for hours at a time.
Disney World Suspended the Disney College Program
At about the same time, Disney World also announced that it would indefinitely suspend the Disney College Program. Those involved in the program, along with those in other programs that were suspended (Disney Culinary Program, Disney Cultural Exchange Program, and Disney Academic Exchange Program), were told to evacuate their Disney housing and go home.
This took the Disney community by surprise since no one imagined that Disney World would be closed that long. Health and safety are a priority for Disney. Leaving Disney is hard, but what made it even harder was that these special program participants didn’t know when or if they’d be able to return to complete their program. When this announcement was made, it directly impacted not only those actively engaged in these programs but also applicants who had already been accepted to the programs for the next season.
As soon as the announcement was released, the internet was bogged down with traffic, not only from program participants and applicants but also their family, friends, and community, all wanting to know more and how to best support their loved one the cancelation impacted.
Disney World Reopening Date Announced
Disney World guests spent months waiting for Disney to announce a reopening date, and when they did, it was all anyone could talk about. It wasn’t just that Disney World was reopening, but there were concerns about new health and safety guidelines, including temperature checks, masks, limited capacity, and park pass reservations.
At the time, it became clear that, although Disney World would be open again, things would be a LOT different. And that chatter about these changes was all over social media and the Internet.
Again, the internet was filled with not just hopeful travelers but with all sorts of individuals yearning for good news, a symbol of a “return to normal,” and something positive to help relieve the anxiety, stress, and seemingly endless unknowns that the pandemic brought with it. No doubt, there was a lot of people just curious what all was different and how reopening would even work! In addition, other companies and industries were closely watching how Disney handled the health and safety protocols to see if those approaches could be adapted for their own organizations. All this culminated in a click-frenzy as the world seemed tuned in to Disney’s next move.
Splash Mountain Re-Theme Announcement
You want to get Disney World fans riled up? Announce that a classic ride is getting a complete re-theme (some fans are still mourning the loss of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Maelstrom, and the original Journey into Imagination in Disney World). In this case, it was the announcement that Splash Mountain would get a new theme with a story inspired by The Princess and the Frog. Needless to say, some fans were very vocal about their opinions on this.
This re-theming hits close to the hearts of many Disney fans. Splash Mountain holds a nostalgic place in their hearts for many, having been a beloved must-do for over 20 years (opening in 1989 in Disneyland and in 1992 at Walt Disney World). Many are excited to see a new inclusive experience with such a great story and strong leading characters. There is definitely some anticipation for knowing exactly when guests will have the last opportunity to visit their “Laughin’ Place” with Brer Rabbit and have their first chance at “going down the bayou” with Louis and Tiana.
The timing of this announcement also coincided with the re-opening of the Magic Kingdom after the COVID closure, so many guests flocked to the attraction and its merchandise shop creating lines for up to four hours to make sure they got one last ride and scooped up one last souvenir. Over a year later, we still don’t have a refurbishment timeline for the change, but trust us — many fans are still anxious to learn more about this re-theme announcement that broke the Internet. We imagine that once an official timeline is released, it will likely break the internet, AGAIN!
When Park Pass Reservations First Became Available
Disney World reopening was a big deal, so it’s no surprise that the Internet (well, Disney’s website) felt the stress of guests trying to make Park Pass Reservations when they first became available. The first round of reservations went to guests with existing resort reservations, so everyone after that scrambled to get park passes for the days they wanted them.
When the new Park Pass Reservation system went up, it came with A LOT of complications. Since it was so new it experienced the glitches and overloads that many new websites troubleshoot before all of the kinks have been worked out. This was compounded by the immediate and intense internet traffic it received with so many Disney fans and travelers all trying to access it at the same time. Getting beyond the pink castle “just a moment” page required a lot of patience and sometimes, we just had to start the process over. That was a nail-biter of a day for many Disney World fans (us included!).
Once we broke through, we found that some days booked up quickly. Although Disney later added more park passes to dates. Annual Passholders also found it hard to snatch up tickets for the first month of reopening because they went so quickly — we never even saw Magic Kingdom available for Passholders on reopening day when we got through. We definitely felt like Disney broke the internet during this process.
The First Skyliner Crash
It’s never fun to hear news of something not working properly at Disney World, and it’s downright scary to hear the word “crash” involving anything about our favorite place on Earth. Shortly after The Skyliner opened at Disney World, there was an accident involving several gondolas crashing into each other. This resulted in some guests being stuck on the Skyliner for hours.
In the hours that the Skyliner was stopped, social media stories poured out from the guests stuck in the gondolas documenting their experience. This created an explosion of shares, likes, and retweets as their stories were shared around the Disney community. On nearly every Disney social media platform, individuals could see posts and stories about the passengers who were trapped in their gondola — some for up to three hours!
As the time ticked by, guests were able to access emergency kits stashed in each gondola for, well, emergencies which provided passengers with few packets of drinking water, cool packs, a pencil and notepad, a whistle, a glow stick, and a few blue cups (called emesis bags). As you can imagine, the rescue process of this incident was just as intriguing as the situation itself. Guests were evacuated in cherry pickers and even firetrucks had to extend their ladders to get some passengers down from their gondola suspended between platforms.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only instance of Skyliner crashes, but thankfully the others have been minor. The Skyliner had a minor crash in April of 2021 followed by ANOTHER small crash in June. It didn’t seem to be as shocking the second (and third) time around (and thankfully, no one was injured in either incident).
When Disney Canceled the Dining Plan
Shortly after announcing the reopening of Disney World, Disney also announced that it would be discontinuing the Disney Dining Plan. To say this left Disney World guests shocked, angry, and confused is an understatement. The Disney Dining Plan is a method of pre-paying for meals at Walt Disney World. Many guests use this heavily in their Disney World budgets, and to have it so abruptly ended was cause for concern.
The cancelation of the Dining Plan was especially stressful for guests who had already planned and booked their trips to Disney World, especially as many depend on the dining plan to make eating at Disney World as stress-free as possible. Recently, Disney has FINALLY announced that the Disney Dining Plan will be returning. So, loyal Dining Plan participants can take a deep breath of relief knowing that it WILL return, now we just have to wait for WHEN it will return. We fully anticipate another internet-breaking day when that announcement is made!
Anytime Limited Edition Merchandise Goes On Sale
So we’ve all be there — wanting to snag a limited edition piece of merchandise on shopDisney the minute it goes on sale. And we’ve felt the sting of disappointment when our desired item sells out faster than the acceleration on Test Track. In 2020, Disney tried to provide a fix for this frustration by creating a Virtual Waiting Room, but that system also added to the frustration with guests waiting to get INTO the Virtual Waiting Room, then once in waiting even more to then find the merchandise sold out.
We love that Disney keeps innovating to improve guest experiences, but there are FAR too many glitches on the shopDisney site to handle this sort of change, so time will tell if they can get a reliable and efficient system to shoulder this influx of traffic. (So far…no.)We spent a LOT of time waiting in virtual waiting rooms (and occasionally getting booted out of them) to get our hands on Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction merchandise, along with the Stitch Crashes Disney stuff.
And don’t even get us started on how fast that Indiana Jones Replica Idol went — we were still waiting in a virtual room to access the site when it sold out! Sometimes we were lucky enough to have the item in our cart and when going through the check out process, learned that it was now out of stock. Hope dashed and dreams crushed. And we had NO luck getting our hands on the Loki Cereal either. Internet broken. Like our hearts.
When Tickets Went On Sale For Boo Bash
With the cancelation of the Halloween parties in 2020 at Disney World, we knew there would be a lot of interest when the announcement was released for Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash for 2021. We had no idea, though, the chaos that would ensue when we tried to snag tickets. When they were first made available, Boo Bash tickets could not be purchased online — you had to call to acquire them. But we, along with other guests, kept getting an error message that our call could not be completed.
You can imagine the frustrated tweets, Facebook messages, and Instagram posts we saw that day from guests trying to get Boo Bash tickets. We ended up calling as many Disney World numbers as we could, and eventually were put on hold — with a total wait time of 167 minutes!!! One member of our team reported being on hold for almost 11 hours after being disconnected several times and forced to call back in and be placed in the back of the hold queue. And our experience was one of many. Upset Disney fans were breaking the Internet with their complaints.
Grilled Cheese Donut
Sure, Disneyland had its Pickle Corn Dog, but before that, Disney World had the Grilled Cheese Donut from Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew at Disney Springs. And for some reason, that donut became quite the topic of controversy!
This snack became so embroiled in a controversy that a video of our famous cheese pull of it (because we KNOW how to do a good cheese pull) ended up on Late Night with Seth Meyers. That video also ended up on Yahoo, the Today Show, and Fox News, who also couldn’t get over the idea of all that cheese on a donut (don’t knock it until you try it, folks).
When Disney Announced It Would Discontinue Magical Express
So many Disney World guests depend on Magical Express to get to and from the Orlando International Airport and Disney World, so many were shocked — and upset — when Disney announced that the service would be going away in 2022. Guests took to the Internet in utter disbelief with concerns about how they might get from the airport to Disney World in the future.
The good news is that Mears Connect will be available — for an additional fee — to connect guests to Disney World from the airport and vice versa. Many guests mourn the loss of this traditional ride on the Magical Express for differing reasons. It could be the loss of tradition, the sentimental attachment to the fun videos that play during the trip, or the feeling of the true start (or conclusion) of a memorable vacation. But some guests are just frustrated that this service that was once free has been permanently suspended.
Take heart, though, a new Brightline train is set to connect the Orlando International Airport to Disney Springs within the next few years. Disney has already shared that “Brightline’s expansion from West Palm Beach to OIA is on track to be completed in 2022.” We are hopeful that this new option will be available to guests in 2023 and will become a new Disney vacation tradition.
The ‘Ohana Noodle Scandal
Okay, so here’s the thing — there are Disney fans who enjoy Disney snacks, and there there are Disney fans who LOVE Disney snacks. Some traditional favorites (Dole Whip, Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar, and Turkey Leg, to name a few) get some steady press and have their own PR marketing campaigns. Then there are the unsung heroes of the Disney snack world, who the fervent Disney snack fans are obsessed with, these are snacks like School Bread, Gourmet popcorn, and the renowned ‘Ohana Noodles.
Disney World guests REALLY love those lo mein noodles tossed in teriyaki sauce at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. So much so that in 2019, there was an absolute scandal when it appeared that these noodles had been taken off the menu and replaced with fried rice (the horror!). The noodles weren’t really replaced, but guests were not happy for the brief time they weren’t listed on the menu.
Well, we had another noodle scare in 2021! When ‘Ohana announced its reopening menu, the noodles were not listed on the menu. Fans took to their social media accounts and raised their noodle-loyal voices in unison to demand the reinstatement of the noodles! Disney was quick to update that the Noodles would return with ‘Ohana and we let out a collective victory cheer that the noodle nation mission was accomplished. All is right in the greater snackdom of Disney.
So these are times that Disney World guests took to the Internet by storm with frustrations, concerns, fears, etc. when it came to their Disney World trips. And we’re sure even more big announcements and news are on their way now that the parks are inching back to pre-closure normals, so be prepared to go through it all over again soon!
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What was the most shocking thing you remember Disney World doing that broke the Internet? Let us know in the comments!