We’ve already shared with you all of the NEW things that are coming to Disney World in 2022, but what about your resort stay? How will that be different?
Well, a lot has changed about the Disney hotel experience since they reopened in the summer of 2020. And, while a lot is back to “normal” there are still some things that have been discontinued permanently, temporarily suspended, and newly introduced that you should know about!
MagicBands Aren’t Free Anymore
One of the first changes that you’ll notice if you haven’t stayed at a Disney World hotel in the past year and a half or so is that MagicBands are no longer complimentary. Disney discontinued this service in January 2021 and now resort guests must purchase their own MagicBand if they would like to use one. But, there is still some benefit to staying at a Disney hotel because guests can select a discounted MagicBand (saving roughly $15 on each) up to 10 days prior to their trip.
If you’d prefer not to pay for a MagicBand, you can still receive a complimentary Key To The World card or you can use the new MagicMobile feature in the My Disney Experience app that essentially turns your phone into your MagicBand. And, don’t forget that you can also reuse MagicBands from previous visits too — all you have to do is ensure that it’s linked to your My Disney Experience account and bring it with you!
Disney’s Magical Express Is Gone
Another perk that many guests have been used to receiving as part of their Disney World Resort stay is a complimentary ride on Disney’s Magical Express to get between the Orlando International Airport and their hotel. But, this is no longer offered as of January 1st, 2022. Instead, guests will need to find their own form of transportation to get between the two (and it likely won’t be free).
Mears Transportation (the company that Disney has partnered with for the Magical Express services) has its own shuttle service which offers a very similar experience but will come at an additional cost.
You can also look into The Sunshine Flyer service that was recently announced. We compared the two options so you can see if either of these services will suit your family’s needs. And, other options include rideshare services like Uber or Lyft or renting a car.
The Brightline high-speed train is also currently in the planning process for creating a route that will run from the Orlando airport directly to Disney Springs, but, again, this will likely be an extra cost and won’t be in operation for a long while.
And, if you’re wondering about those free luggage tags that Disney used to send to hotel guests before they flew off on their vacation, those are still offered, they just aren’t mailed to you prior to your vacation. Instead, you can pick one up at the front desk any time during your stay.
Amazon Alexa Will Be In Your Room
While some of the former complimentary guest perks (like MagicBands and Disney’s Magical Express) will no longer be available in 2022, there is something brand new coming that will help you navigate your stay! Disney announced that a new “Hey Disney!” device (which is basically Disney’s version of “Hey Alexa”) will be installed in all of Disney World’s resort hotel rooms sometime in 2022.
This will be an optional (but complimentary) “custom voice assistant” that uses “Alexa technology for supported Amazon Echo devices.” So, you’ll be able to talk to it and get answers to your Disney questions (like when the next bus will come or when the parks are open) or connect with special new character experiences while you’re in your room. Plus, you’ll even be able to request things like extra blankets or pillows through the device and a Cast Member will then bring them up to your room.
Health and Safety Changes
When Disney World reopened to guests after temporarily closing at the beginning of COVID-19, there were quite a few health and safety changes, and some of them are still around today.
Online Check-In has been available in the My Disney Experience app since 2017, but now this is the preferred method for checking in. This makes it so that you can completely bypass the front desk, as you’ll receive a text message when your room is ready and go directly there once you arrive. But, you can still check-in at the front desk if you’d prefer.
One of the most notable changes that you’ll likely notice during your stay is that housekeeping does not come every day as they had prior to the closures. At first, housekeeping was offered every other day for resort guests, but now it seems that things are slowly returning to normal — although it seems to vary greatly based on which hotel you’re in.
You can also decline this service at check-in if you’d prefer housekeeping not to enter your room at all.
And, as for amenities and experiences, Disney is currently not offering the following at resorts:
- Fun runs
- Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare
- Hula lessons
- Mermaid school
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Some Resorts Look VERY Different
Over the past year, Disney has been refurbishing quite a few different hotels, so depending on where you’re choosing to stay, you might find that the rooms (and even the entire resort) look VERY different from what you might remember. For example, the standard guest rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort were overhauled with a new Moana-theme…
More changes are coming to another Magic Kingdom monorail resort too! Soon Disney is expanding the Disney Vacation Club offerings at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa by converting the Big Pine Key building into villas for DVC guests. Construction began in Spring 2022, so even this resort will be a little different depending on when you’re visiting.
Resort Hopping is Still a No-No
When the hotels first reopened, Disney announced “resort hopping,” AKA when you visit other hotels you’re not staying at, was no longer allowed if a guest didn’t have a reservation to dine at one of the restaurants at the hotel they wished to visit.
At the time of writing, this one is still true. Mileage varies on this one — we’ve seen some security guards incredibly strict with the rules while others are more willing to let guests in (particularly those that placed a Mobile Order at the resort’s quick-service location). But, in general, don’t count on strolling into your favorite hotel (that you’re not staying at!) without a reservation to eat there.
New and Returning Disney Resort Hotel Guest Benefits
We’ve already covered a lot of the guest benefits that have changed or gone away, but what about all the new and returning ones? Well, there are a few of those too!
If you’ve stayed at a Disney World hotel before, you might remember Extra Magic Hours. This provided guests staying at Disney hotels with extra time at select parks (either in the morning or in the night) on select dates. And, while Extra Magic Hours were suspended when the parks reopened in 2020, there are now TWO new guest perks.
The first is Early Theme Park Entry, which allows guests staying at any Disney World hotel (and select off-site hotels) to enter any park 30 minutes prior to park opening any day of the week. And, the second is Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which gives guests staying at Disney World Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas extra time in select parks on select nights (so far we’ve seen it be about 2 extra hours at either Magic Kingdom or EPCOT).
And, though Disney eliminated FastPass+ in late 2021, hotel guests still get some perks related to “skipping the line” at popular attractions. If you’re hoping to ride eight of Disney World’s most popular attractions without a wait, guests staying at Disney hotels now can begin making their Individual Attraction Selection purchases beginning at 7AM. All other park guests must wait until park opening to select theirs so this can be a HUGE benefit for rides that are in high demand like Rise of the Resistance.
Well, that’s it for everything that you’ll want to know before you head to your Disney World hotel for your stay! And, if you’re having trouble deciding where to stay, check out our video below for a COMPLETE ranking of every Disney World hotel!
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Check out our latest video and then comment below: Are you staying at a Disney World hotel in 2022?