If you’re paying big bucks for a Disney World vacation, then you’re probably going to want all the perks you can get!
Disney World is home to some great perks, whether you’re staying onsite or just visiting for the day. Today, we’re breaking down some of the perks that the resort is known for and discussing their status — are they still available right now?
Before the pandemic, FastPass+ was a free perk for guests of Disney World, where you could schedule time windows to skip the standby line on select attractions. The system didn’t return after the parks reopened but was instead recently replaced by Disney Genie+, a paid version for $15 per ticket, per day.
The Genie+ system does, however, come with a free Genie counterpart that helps you plan your day in the parks. All you do is log into your account in the My Disney Experience app, put in your interests, and it will help formulate a schedule for the day. Both new features aren’t quite as straightforward as FastPass+ was, so we highly recommend doing some research ahead of your trip and practicing with the My Disney Experience app ahead of time.
One of the questions we get asked daily is if the Disney dining plan is coming back soon. Sadly, we have to say that it’s not available for purchase right now. Disney confirmed in June 2021 that the Disney Dining Plan would return, but we STILL haven’t heard any specifics on when.
Right now, you’ll be paying for individual meals out of pocket, so make sure to add that to your travel budget! You may want to spend more time planning where and when you want to eat to stay in your budget, and our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining is a fantastic resource for that (use code WDW2022 for 25% off)!
Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours are no longer available in the way that they were pre-COVID, but a new perk has arrived in their place — Early Theme Park Entry. With this offering, Disney Resort guests can enter any theme park 30 minutes before offsite guests, every day of the week.
During that time, select attractions and offerings are open (make sure to check the list of rides available in each park) and you can get a head start on knocking out some of the most popular things in the park. As an added bonus for Deluxe Resort guests, Extended Evening Hours are offered on select nights at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and, occasionally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Usually, a free tram service runs from the entrance of the theme parks to the parking lot, but as of writing, those trams are only running in the Magic Kingdom parking lots. (And Parking Trams will return to Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 27, 2022!)
Right now, you’ll have to walk to your car when visiting EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom (don’t forget to take a picture of where you parked!). Or, if you’d like to shorten your number of steps, then you can pay extra to upgrade your parking. Disney says parking lot trams will be returning to operation at its other parks throughout 2022.
One of the perks that has come from the pandemic is the new character cavalcades around the Disney World parks! Since meet and greets have only returned in a modified fashion as “character sightings,” you can find some of your favorite Disney pals driving or floating around the parks.
These cavalcades (or flotillas or motorcades) will happen periodically throughout the day, weather permitting. Some of our favorites are at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, where you can spot some rare Disney friends like Pocahontas and Meeko or Disney Junior pals! Both cavalcades and parades are currently being offered in Magic Kingdom.
Park Hopping returned to Disney World on January 1st, 2021, but when it came back, it came with some restrictions. You must have a Park Hopper ticket to visit two parks in one day, and you’ll have to follow a specific set of guidelines.
Guests can only hop during Park Hopping hours, which begin at 2PM each day. You’ll also need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you plan to visit, and you’ll need to scan into that park before heading to your second.
In the past, guests of Disney World Resort hotels or those renewing an annual pass would receive their choice of complimentary solid-colored MagicBand, but that perk went away at the beginning of this year.
Now, if you’d like to use a MagicBand, you’ll have to recycle an old one or pay out of pocket for the style of your choice. (Resort guests and Annual Passholders will get a discount on select styles.) With the addition of Disney’s MagicMobile service it is now easier than ever to access your park ticket on your phone. Disney’s new MagicBand service, MagicBand+ will debut are coming to Disney World as well.
Disney’s Magical Express was a free transportation service that picked guests up from the Orlando International Airport and dropped them off at their resort. Sadly, this service has been discontinued.
Some alternative bus services have popped up. and you also have the option of a taxi or rideshare service. Another note for our wallets — it looks like we’ll be paying to get to our hotels!
Free Resort Transportation
But while Magical Express has gone away, other free transportation options at Disney World are here to stay! Any guest is welcome to use the Disney Skyliner, the buses, the monorail, the boats, or the walking paths around the resort.
The vast transportation network makes it SO much easier to get from place to place, and sometimes it’s just fun to travel around and see the sights! (The Disney Skyliner is great for that!)
There you have it — that’s the lowdown on all the perks currently available (and not available) at Walt Disney World Resort. Stay tuned to DFB for the latest reopening information and news so that you can stay up-to-date!
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What’s your favorite perk at Disney World? Tell us in the comments!