2021 was a really big year for Walt Disney World Resort!
With reopening offerings, health and safety policies, and new attractions and restaurants, there have been some major changes to the theme parks and resorts in the past 12 months. But how will those changes impact your 2022 vacation? We’ve got the answers!
Back in October, Disney World introduced the brand new Disney Genie system in the theme parks. The system comes in two parts: the free Genie planning tool and the Genie+ add-on, which is a paid replacement for FastPass+ that costs $15 per ticket, per day. If you buy Genie+, you’ll be able to use the Lightning Lanes for many of the attractions in the park, skipping the standby queue. (You’ll have to pay extra to use the Lightning Lane for more popular rides.)
So how does this affect your trip in 2021? Well, it completely changes the way that waiting in line works. Now you’ll have to choose whether you prefer to save money and wait in standby lines or spend extra and navigate the somewhat complicated waters of Disney Genie+. With Genie+ you can only schedule one selection at a time (except in the case of the 120-minute rule) and you won’t be able to make your selections before your trip like you could with FastPasses. That means a lot more waking up at 7AM!
Disney’s Magical Express is a free airport shuttle that has been a really great benefit for guests staying at the Disney World resorts in the past. Unfortunately, the perk is disappearing at the end of 2021, and guests will have to figure out a new way to get to property when they arrive at MCO.
There are a few options to choose from, like the Mears Connect service or rideshare, but they’ll all cost you money. It’s not only something you’ll have to add to your budget but something that you’ll have to plan extra for before you arrive. Just make sure to keep that in mind!
In 2021, there were quite a few big changes to nighttime entertainment in Disney World! First of all, fireworks shows returned in July, with Happily Ever After and EPCOT Forever coming back to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. However, it was short-lived because both of those shows were retired in September to be replaced by new options.
Both Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT premiered shortly after their predecessors ended. Travelers visiting in 2022 will definitely want to fit these shows into their schedules – they’re more technologically advanced than anything Disney World has done before!
New Annual Pass System
Earlier this year, Annual Pass sales resumed at Disney World after being paused since March 2020, and guests were elated. However, Disney has completely changed up the pass tiers, renaming them and increasing prices significantly.
If you’re not a frequent visitor but you usually buy an annual pass because it’s a good deal, you may need to reevaluate your calculations this year. With the higher cost and perks like Memory Maker and water park visits only available as add-ons, you may find that it’s simply cheaper and more beneficial to buy theme park tickets instead. Also, as of right now, most Annual Pass sales have been paused once again. So we will wait for its full-fledged return.
New Restaurants Opening
Toward the end of 2021, we had not one, not two, but THREE brand-new restaurants open up in Disney World. Some of which we’d been waiting on for a very long time!
Space 220 has FINALLY made its way to EPCOT, and La Crêperie de Paris and Steakhouse 71 opened up for the 50th Anniversary. With all these new options to choose from, you may have to change your list of tried-and-true dining reservations. There’s so much good food out there these days!
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser News
One BIG announcement that will affect 2022 Disney World guests is the opening of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, aka the Star Wars hotel. It has been highly anticipated and it’s set to welcome the first public guests in March. (Although you’ll have to pay a pretty hefty price to visit!)
Many people were waiting specifically for this resort, but have been faced with some tough decisions due to the price tag and the nature of the experience. It’s not your typical hotel – more like a cruise ship combined with a live-action role-playing element. We’re definitely interested to test it out for ourselves when it opens, but until then, you’ll be faced with the decision of whether or not you want to pay extra to stay here.
Health and Safety Changes
Throughout this year, there have been a wide variety of health and safety changes and updates. At the beginning of the year, masks were still required everywhere in the parks, temperature checks were at all the entrances, and social distancing was prevalent in queues and on rides.
Since then, things have changed quite a bit. Currently, masks are only required indoors, while the other measures have mostly disappeared.
New Rides in Disney World
On October 1st, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opened to the public in EPCOT, and it has been incredibly popular since, using the same boarding pass system that Rise of the Resistance used for so long. But that’s not the only ride that’s coming to “plus up” EPCOT!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind officially opens up in the Summer of 2022 and will add a much-needed thrill ride to the park, probably attracting thousands of guests. So now, the question is – do you wait to visit until after the ride opens? If you’re a Marvel or an EPCOT fan, it might be worth the wait!
Entertainment options have been slowly returning since the parks reopened, and next year, we’re getting even more fan favorites back. The Festival of Fantasy Parade, Fantasmic!, and a reimagined version of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire will all be back, and we can’t wait to watch them again!
These are definitely a big draw for families who can’t do all the thrill rides or those guests who really love classic Disney entertainment. When they do come back, you’ll may want to budget extra time into your day to enjoy them!
And finally, let’s talk about all the new technology coming in 2022! The new MagicBand+ comes to Disney World next year, as well as the Hey, Disney virtual assistant in the resort hotel rooms. On top of that, MagicMobile was introduced this past year, so it’ll be much harder to come to the parks and not use your phone.
All this new tech means that you’ll probably have to do some bonus research ahead of your trip and learn about the new systems. You’ll want to know how to get the most out of them and what the perks and disadvantages are. Just like Disney Genie – there will be a learning curve, but we will be here to help you along the way.
Those are the top 10 news stories from this year that will impact your 2022 Disney World trip! There are a lot of changes coming to the theme parks in the next few months, so stay tuned to DFB for the latest news and updates.
Are you going to Disney World in 2022? Tell us in the comments!