A lot has changed at Disney World over the past two years and it’s more than just health and safety measures!
While some of the changes are ones that we can get behind, there are others that have guests less excited. And, many of them aren’t ending anytime soon (at least that we know of). So, here are the alarming Disney World trends that you’ll want to be mindful of when planning your 2022 vacation.
In 2021, we saw price increases on A LOT of different things in the parks and resorts. For example, the year started off with a $2 price increase on our beloved spring rolls in Magic Kingdom, and several restaurants have also received a bump in pricing as they have reopened throughout the year.
Plus, even merchandise has gotten a bit pricier, with spirit jerseys and MagicBands jumping up in price by $5 and the already expensive create-your-own lightsabers at Savi’s Workshop getting a price hike of $20 (!!). And, that’s just the shortlist.
And, while ticket prices haven’t outright increased for the upcoming year, Disney has defined additional dates as being in “higher demand,” meaning that they now cost more compared to previous years. So, for example, if you’re thinking about heading into the parks on Christmas Eve in 2022, you’ll actually end up paying more per ticket than you would in 2021 because that has been deemed a new date for peak pricing.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that price increases aren’t something that’s new to Disney World — we can almost always expect something to be on the rise. And, as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels in the U.S. and demand for the parks continues to rise, we will likely see this trend of price increases continue well into 2022.
Prix Fixe Menus
2021 also saw the opening and reopening of several restaurants across Disney World and there was a BIG surprise on some of the menus. In the past, most restaurants have offered up a full menu where guests can choose to purchase as much or as little food as they want. This certainly still exists around Disney World — though many menus are still limited. But, recently we’ve been seeing Disney trend towards creating prix fixe menus, limiting the number of choices that guests can make while they dine, while still demanding a high price tag.
Right now, you can find prix fixe menus at Space 220 in EPCOT, California Grill (as part of the 50th-anniversary dining experience), Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom, and Story Book Dining at Artist Point. Plus, both Chefs de France and La Crêperie de Paris have an optional prix fixe menu. Picking up on the pattern here?
For some, a prix fixe menu is preferable, as you can get a well-rounded taste of the restaurant. But, for others, this limits the menu options and guarantees that you’ll be paying more for your meal when you sit down to dine at Disney World.
Fewer Disney World Resort Guest Perks
The benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort hotel have evolved since the parks originally reopened in July of 2020 and you might find that you’re getting less out of your stay nowadays.
Disney World hotel guests no longer receive complimentary MagicBands as part of their stay (though they can get the MagicBands discounted before their trip) and Disney’s Magical Express is no longer offered as of 2022. So, now you’re paying for two services that used to be considered “free” when you chose to stay on Disney property.
Plus, many things that you could once expect to be part of your hotel experience have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. For example, housekeeping now comes every other day and room service isn’t offered at most hotels as of this writing.
Even the Disney Park benefits have changed for hotel guests. In 2021, Disney discontinued Extra Magic Hours and opted to replace it with a new perk — Early Theme Park Entry. This enables guests staying at any Disney World hotel to enter any park 30 minutes before it opens any day of the week. But, to truly get extra “hours” in the parks, guests must be staying at a Deluxe Resort or Villa to take advantage of Extended Evening Theme Parks Hours (which are only offered on select days of the week and at select parks). So basically if you wanna play (later in the evenings, that is), you gotta pay. Deluxe resorts are well outside of many guests’ budgets, making this more of an exclusive perk for those that can afford it.
And, with the retirement of FastPass+ in Disney World, guests now only benefit in “skipping the line” at popular attractions if opting to buy an Individual Attraction Selection, as the purchasing window opens up at 7AM for hotel guests and at park opening for all others. Previously, guests at a Disney resort could book their FastPass selections 60 days out — 30 days ahead of those not staying at a Disney hotel. Aside from that early chance to pay upwards of $15 per person, per ride (which, again, is a new added cost to work into your budget!) the old FastPass “perks” of being on-site are largely lost.
As with all of these changes, it’s important to remember that Disney World’s hotel perks are always evolving. There was in fact a time when Extra Magic hours weren’t offered and hotel guests didn’t always receive a longer window for FastPass+ and dining reservations. And, as Disney continues to move toward “normal” operations and capacity levels, we may see these change more.
Planning Your Vacation is More Complicated
There have always been a lot of boxes to check when planning your Disney World vacation, but right now there are even MORE things that you need to remember to do before you head to the most magical place on earth.
For example, you now need to secure both a park ticket and a Park Pass Reservation for each day that you plan to be in the parks and learn the ins and outs of Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection (Disney’s new paid way to “skip the lines” at several attractions) to decide if you’ll be purchasing it and, if you do, how to use it. Plus, park hopping still doesn’t begin until after 2PM, so you’ll need to be mindful of this when making dining reservations and planning how you’ll tackle the day.
So, while none of these are new to 2022, they still add an extra (complicated) layer to your vacation planning.
Less Bang For Your Buck
We may be over a year and a half past the day that Disney World reopened after closing temporarily for the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still many aspects of the parks (and even resorts) that haven’t returned to “normal.” But, even without operations back to pre-pandemic levels, the cost of going to Disney World certainly hasn’t gone down. Instead, guests are settling for getting a little less out of their vacation while still paying top dollar prices.
As of this writing, several restaurants remain closed (with others having limited hours), many entertainment options are still unavailable, parking trams are not operating (but are coming back soon!), meet and greets haven’t fully returned in their “normal” way, and park hopping doesn’t start until 2PM among other things. And, while Disney executives have promised the eventual return of fan-favorite shows and experiences, there is no official word on when exactly that will be.
Not to mention all of what we discussed earlier — less free perks, like MagicBands, Magical Express, FastPass, true Extra Magic Hours, and more. In ALL of those cases listed, an option to have the same thing or something similar exists — but you gotta pay for it. So, while you’re still paying the same price to visit the parks, you’ll be getting less bang for your buck until operations return to what they once were. As far as the perks we now have to pay for that we didn’t prior? Well, those seem to be sticking around, unfortunately.
Curious what other changes are on the horizon in Disney World? Check out our video below!
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Check out our video and then comment below: What Disney World trend are you most alarmed about?