As the saying goes, the only thing that’s constant at Disney World is change — and that has never rung more true than it has in the past year and a half!
If you’re planning a trip to Disney World soon or you’re preparing to visit the parks in the coming months, there’s a lot of changes going on that you should be aware of! From the 50th Anniversary Celebration festivities and EVERYTHING that’s a part of it to brand new hotels, restaurants, and the latest health mandates, let’s recap some of the biggest things you should know about if you’re heading to Disney World soon.
Know What’s Around for the 50th Anniversary Celebration
Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration officially kicked off on October 1st, 2021. A lot of fun treats and entertainment arrived at the parks and resorts for the eighteen-month-long celebration, and if you’re visiting any time between October of 2021 and April of 2023, there’s much in store!
New entertainment offerings started in fall 2021, with guests welcoming Disney Enchantment in Magic Kingdom…
…as well as the debut of the long-awaited Harmonious in EPCOT…
…and the new daytime show Disney KiteTails in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
For our fellow Disney World foodies, new dining locations recently opened in the parks, too. EPCOT remains the top park to visit for all things dining, with La Crêperie de Paris recently opening on October 1st, 2021…
New dining has arrived at the hotels too, with the opening of Steakhouse 71 in Disney’s Contemporary Resort (formerly known as The Wave).
Not to mention all of the specialty treats that arrived in the park and resorts to commemorate the 50th Anniversary!
New headliner attractions coming to the theme parks during the 50th Anniversary Celebration include Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT, which officially opened on October 1st…
…as well as the upcoming Tron Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom (currently scheduled to open sometime in 2022)…
…and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT (also with its sights set on opening in 2022)!
Disney World is setting out to make this eighteen-month-long celebration one to remember, and the new guest offerings are proof of that! Be sure to follow along for all of the new additions to the parks and resorts in the coming months.
Considering an Annual Pass? They’ve Returned!
The sale of new Annual Passes resumed prior to the start of the 50th Anniversary! With new passes being available once again, it may be worth considering whether or not an Annual Pass is worth it for your family.
The new Annual Passholder program has four new tiers of Passes, each with varying perks including the number of Park Pass Reservations you can hold at one time.
Keep in mind that only one member of your family needs to have an Annual Pass to take advantage of the discounts offered to Passholders, but if you visit the parks enough times in the year, it may be worth the investment to sign everyone up.
It’s Time to Get Familiar With Disney Genie & Disney Genie+
Perhaps the biggest news this year came when Disney announced that FastPass+, FASTPASS, and MaxPass would be retired at Disney World and Disneyland. Disney then introduced Disney Genie, a free, “virtual personal assistant” as part of My Disney Experience.
A secondary, paid service called Disney Genie+ was also introduced. This paid service has replaced FastPass at Disney World and MaxPass at the Disneyland Resort. It will allow guests to bypass standby lines at select attractions by paying a base price: $20 per day per ticket at Disneyland Resort and $15 per day per ticket at Disney World.
With Disney Genie+, guests are able to select return times (for 1 ride at a time) for as many of the included attractions as they’d like. This service can be used in all four parks with a park hopper ticket. (For those who used the old FastPass system or have experience with MaxPass in Disneyland, this will be familiar.) Attractions in the base-priced Disney Genie+ include attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Haunted Mansion.
Now, if you want to ride Disney’s most popular attractions without a wait, there is also a second paid upcharge (which is separate) that will allow guests to select return times for a maximum of two specific, more popular attractions per day, if they choose to pay. These include rides like Rise of the Resistance, Flight of Passage, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Right now, each park has two pay-to-ride attractions, but this could change down the road.
To reiterate: the attractions featured in these two paid options are NOT be the same. Many rides are included in the base price of Disney Genie+ (or you can wait in the standby line for free). Popular rides…ya gotta pay separately to ride (or stand in the standby line for “free”). The price for the popular ride a la carte option will vary depending on the date, attraction, and park — which means, the more in demand the ride…the more it’ll cost you to ride.
We’ve been able to experience Disney Genie AND Genie+ first-hand quite a bit since it launched, and we’ll continue to bring you the latest coverage when it comes to navigating these two systems like a pro on your next vacation. This is a HUGE change from what most guests are used to in Disney World, so you’ll really want to prime yourself before your trip so you know how to handle all things Genie.
Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
If you’re visiting after the spring of 2022, Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser will be an option as part of your vacation! This one-of-a-kind 2-night experience is set to open next year, and it sure looks like something we’ve never seen the likes of in Disney World!
Note that Galactic Starcruiser is NOT a traditional hotel. It is limited to a 2-night experience (with a jam-packed itinerary, we might add!), so you’ll have to add it on at the beginning, middle, or end of your trip as a “separate” 2-night experience. It’s also QUITE pricey — for two guests it’s about 5k for the set experience. Food, accommodations, and entertainment (including a trip to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to explore) is included. Think of it more like an all-inclusive cruise-type situation. Since, as far as Disney has shared, you won’t be able to come and go as you please, this is really catered to the mega Star Wars fans out there.
Stay In-the-Know on the Latest Health & Safety Guidelines
One of the biggest categories of important news to keep up with if you’re traveling to Disney World soon is the latest health and safety mandates. These rules have been updated to fit current CDC guidance in order to keep both guests and Cast Members safe.
As of this writing, all guests ages 2 and up must wear a face covering in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. Outdoors, including on outdoor rides, guests are free to remove their masks if they choose. The health and safety mandates at Disney World have changed several times over the last year, so when these guidelines are updated, we will be sure to let you know!
Know Which Locations Have Reopened and Which are Still Closed
More and more dining locations are coming back online at Disney World! Recently, we’ve checked out newly reopened restaurants such as Citricos, Casey’s Corner, ‘Ohana, and Columbia Harbour House, just to name a few! If you’re heading to Disney World soon, you’ll likely find that the vast majority of restaurants have reopened, though we are still waiting on a few more to come back!
More resort hotels have reopened as well, including Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. In fact, by the end of 2021, most of Disney World’s hotels will have reopened!
Be sure to check our updated list of open and closed restaurants around Disney World prior to booking those Dining Reservations. As more restaurants resume operation, we’ll make sure you’re in the know on when those locations will reopen!
Know Which Offerings Are Still Unavailable
Restaurants aren’t the only things we’re still waiting to hear news on. We are still awaiting an update on the Disney Dining Plan (note that Disney has said that they intend on bringing the Dining Plan BACK, so stay tuned for more info)…
…and Tables in Wonderland. Disney has not announced when they’ll resume the sale of this dining discount program as of this writing.
All of these offerings are important components of Disney World vacations for many guests, so we’re keeping a watchful eye on any new announcements coming forward regarding when these services may return!
Catch Up on What’s Happening for This Year’s Holiday Seasons
If you’re planning a trip for late 2021 or you’re about to visit the parks and you have plans on attending one of the seasonal after-hours events, it’ll be important to read up on how they’re a little different than the holiday parties of years past! Just recently, Disney World concluded its first-ever Disney After Hours BOO Bash…
Only time will tell if these modified after-hours parties are here to stay in 2022 and beyond!
Whether your Disney World vacation is next week or still a few months away, a lot of changes are taking place in the parks and resorts that you should know about! It seems like major announcements and updates are happening on a near-daily basis, so be sure to follow along as your vacation approaches so you can stay in the know on all of the latest happenings in Disney World!