Disney World has been open for 50 years now, and it’s been changing the whole dang time. Planning a trip right now looks very different than even just a few years ago! If you haven’t been in a while (or even in a few months), you need to know about a bunch of new changes. And we’re here to help with that!
With major changes like new rides and restaurants, park pass reservations, Genie+, and so much more, we understand that planning for a Disney World vacation right now is complicated! So we’ve compiled a list of 9 common planning mistakes that people are making right now and how you can avoid them in order to plan the BEST Disney World trip possible. Let’s dive in!
Most of these mistakes have to do with recent changes in Disney World, but some of them are issues that we see people run into all the time. We’ve included tips with each section so that you know how to NOT make the same mistake!
You’re not taking advantage of all possible discounts
In not-shocking news, Disney World is expensive. This is not really a recent change, but it definitely can impact your vacation planning in a BIG way. So make sure you’re aware of and taking advantage of all possible discounts while you plan!
Discounts on hotels, ticket packages, and other aspects of your vacation change all the time, and here at DFB, we’ll keep you updated on the latest deals so that you can save as much money as possible.
Often, taking advantage of vacation packages can help save some money, such as with the Magical Extras Package, which includes discounts on some activities (like mini-golf) as well as certain dining and shopping locations in Disney Springs.
And limited-time discounts can bring even better savings. For example, right now Disney+ subscribers can save up to 25% on Disney World hotel rooms that they book for this summer! The offer is good for most nights from July 8th through September 30th, 2022.
For example, Annual Passholders can save up to 20% on select dining, merchandise, and activities in Disney World. Check with Cast Members to see how much you can save during your trip!
Although it’s nice to find one big discount that you can apply to your whole vacation, keep in mind that you might save as much money by finding and taking advantage of smaller discounts. The little savings add up quickly! Our friends at Small World Vacations can help you track down some of the best discounts available (for free!).
You’re waiting to book reservations
If you booked your flight and Disney World park tickets and then thought “I’ll just grab the rest of those reservations later,” you need to stop reading this right now and go book those reservations ASAP. Besides being expensive, Disney World is also in VERY high demand, which means that reservations of all kinds run out quickly.
Hotel reservations can get hard to come by the closer you get to your vacation time. And the prices can go up if you wait longer as well!
Besides being cheaper to book now, the rooms will often run out of availability around peak times. If you’re hoping to save money by booking a Value Resort in Disney World, you don’t want to delay and then be stuck with only Moderate and Deluxe options when it gets closer to your trip! Save yourself a headache later — go ahead and book those hotel rooms as soon as you know where you’d like to stay and the dates of your vacation.
Right after you buy park tickets, you should go ahead and reserve park passes, as well. Disney World requires guests to have park pass reservations in addition to park tickets in order to enter any park (unless you have Park Hopper and you’re going to the 2nd park of the day — you’ll still need a Park Pass reservation for your first park of the day though).
These passes allow Disney to regulate capacity in the parks. They can (and do) run out in each park. You can get park passes for free as soon as you have tickets (click here to see the rules for Annual Passholders). With Park Hopper, you’ll need a pass only for the first park you’re planning to visit in the day. Once you’ve scanned into that park (and after the 2PM start time hits for Park Hopper), you can hop to any other park(s) without a pass.
Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are often the first parks to sell out of passes, especially during peak times of the year. You’ll also want to keep in mind events happening throughout the year. For example, it may be harder to get an EPCOT pass during the weekends while a festival is happening.
If there’s a major event coming up (like the opening of a new ride), a park can fill up months in advance. So be sure to get your reservations as soon as you have your tickets to ensure that you can visit the park of your choice on each day of your trip.
Finally, you’ll need to book your dining reservations 60 days in advance of your trip. If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel, you can book reservations for each day of your vacation 60 days before the first day of your trip. If you’re staying off-property, you can book reservations for each day 60 days prior.
Dining reservations can run out quickly for popular restaurants, especially character meals. If you want to dine with Mickey and the gang at Chef Mickey’s, be ready to grab reservations RIGHT when the 60-day window hits.
Other popular spots that tend to run out of dining reservations quickly include newer/really popular restaurants (like Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge or Space 220 in EPCOT), classic favorites (like ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort), and restaurants with small dining rooms (like Le Cellier in EPCOT).
You’re forgetting new things
Disney World is celebrating its 50th Anniversary right now, so there are plenty of new, exciting things at the parks. The celebration started in October 2021, and since then we’ve seen new rides, tons of tasty treats, a brand-new restaurant, and more.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a new attraction, and it’s located in the France pavilion of EPCOT. This ride is very popular, so you’ll want to get there first thing in the morning if you’re hoping to ride it with as short a wait time as possible! Another option is to use Genie+ to reserve a Lightning Lane pass (which we’ll discuss more later on in this post) to skip the line and hop straight onto the ride.
A bunch of new snacks can be found all over the parks, so keep an eye out for the 50th Anniversary marker on signs and on the Mobile Order menus.
There are also new SHOWS in Disney World for this occasion, including a daytime show called KiteTails in Animal Kingdom, which features elaborate kites that look like popular Disney characters.
Magic Kingdom has Enchantment, which is a nighttime fireworks show that also includes projections down Main Street, U.S.A.
And in EPCOT, you can watch Harmonious — the evening fireworks show that takes place on barges out on World Showcase Lagoon.
There are plenty of returning things as well, which have finally reopened after long closures due to the pandemic. Some restaurants have reopened in the last few months, like Jiko — The Cooking Place, Cape May Café, and others.
And now, all the hotels in Disney World have officially reopened. Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort was the last to return, and opened its doors on March 31st, 2022.
Also, some character meet-and-greets have returned to “normal” in the parks, and guests can hug characters and ask for autographs again! This is also true for some character dining around the parks. Previously, the characters would remain distanced and were not able to sign autographs, but now they’re coming around to guests’ tables to hug, take photos, and sign your autograph books.
You’ve probably already heard the buzz about Disney World’s new Star Wars-themed hotel as well. This experience is more like a cruise, with guests checking in and staying at the hotel almost the entire time (rather than visiting the parks). There are characters there, a lot of activities (and secret missions) to take part in, and a variety of interesting foods to try.
The experience is pretty expensive, but it might be worth it for big Star Wars fans!
You’re not considering all the new things coming soon
Besides the new things that have already arrived in Disney World, there are plenty of things that are still coming soon. If you’d like to experience any (or all!) of these things, make sure you plan your trip around their opening times. For some of the new offerings, we only have a broad opening season, which means you should plan your trip later on in the year for the best chance that the attraction or restaurant is open during your vacation.
For example, Disney has announced that the new Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant will open in Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios sometime this year. This restaurant will make guests feel like they’re toys in Woody’s Rodeo! You’ll be able to eat barbecue fare here while surrounded by playsets of old Western towns.
There are some new technologies coming to Disney World this year as well, such as MagicBand+ coming in summer 2022. This feature works like normal MagicBands, but with some special capabilities, like allowing guests to interact with the 50th Anniversary gold statues that can be found around Disney World parks.
And “Hey Disney” devices will be coming to Disney World and Disneyland hotel rooms soon, allowing guests to ask about park opening times and bus arrival times, request things like towels for the room, and ask Disney characters to tell them a joke!
Keep all of these upcoming things in mind, and if any of them are really important to you, you may want to plan your vacation dates around their opening timelines!
You’re using Genie+ wrong (or not at all)
In case you haven’t heard, Disney World has replaced FastPass+ with a new system called Genie+. With this system, guests will pay $15 per ticket, per day in order to reserve times to skip the line on many attractions in Disney World.
For certain rides (including the most popular ones in each park), you cannot skip the line using Genie+. Instead, you’d have to pay a separate fee for the individual ride in order to bypass the queue. Right now, this is the case for a handful of rides in each of the parks.
Both of these systems — Genie+ and pay-per-ride — are optional, so you do NOT have to add that cost to your vacation budget. However, Disney World has been VERY crowded lately, probably because people are making up for lost vacation time from the pandemic.
If you’re hoping to avoid some long lines in the parks, it might be a good idea to at least consider buying Genie+ for certain parks. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios tend to get the longest lines for rides, so those parks usually let you get the most bang for your buck as far as Genie+ goes. You might not get on a ton of rides in Hollywood Studios (even with Genie+), but you’ll likely avoid at least 1 or 2 multi-hour waits.
Disney has stated that guests can expect to skip the line on 2-3 rides per day with Genie+, but our reporters have found that you can really get on more rides with it, especially if you know how to use it well.
For those looking to get on a lot of popular rides, Genie+ could be a good investment to save you a lot of time during your vacation. To make the most of it, be sure to study up on how to use it and take full advantage of the different features!
You’re banking on the DDP
Many people loved to use the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) during their vacation, which allows guests to pre-pay for their meals and snacks before even arriving in Disney World. Guests get credits to use throughout their trip, which can be for snacks, quick-service meals, or table-service meals. There are a variety of plans available with different amounts and kinds of credits.
If you’re a Dining Plan fan, you’ll need to note that it has NOT returned to Disney World. After the 2020 closure, it never returned to the parks. Disney has said that the DDP will return at some point, but they haven’t given us a timeline yet.
So how does this change your planning? You may need to do some extra research when it comes to your plans for eating in the parks. Since you’ll need to pay for each meal and snack instead of using credits, you’ll probably want to know the current prices at the restaurants you plan to visit.
We recommend taking a look at menus, prices, and reviews before your vacation so that you know which reservations and dining locations are worth your cash. We’ve got TONS of reviews here at DFB, so head to our Disney World Restaurants Guide online to check out the latest reviews at Disney World restaurants.
Before you arrive in Disney World, you should have reservations for any table-service restaurants you’re hoping to visit. And it’s a good idea to plan out which snacks and quick-service spots you want to hit as well! It’s not the same as having the actual dining plan, but with lots of preparation, you can have a similar experience of not worrying about what you’ll buy during your trip.
You’re not working the inflated prices into your budget
Disney World increases prices on things like food and merchandise pretty regularly. In early 2022 we saw a BIG wave of price increases hit the parks, and many iconic snacks cost a little bit more now than they used to.
Prices can go up at snack stands, restaurants, merchandise shops, and elsewhere in Disney World, so make sure you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget if you haven’t been to the parks in a while. We recommend budgeting at least $20 per person for a quick service meal and around $35 per person for table service meals. At signature or character dining locations, the cost will likely be closer to $45 to $60 (or more) per person.
Take a look at the prices of merchandise before you visit as well, so that you know what to budget for souvenirs. Most Minnie Ear headbands cost $29.99, and those cute Loungefly mini-backpacks are usually $85. Spirit Jerseys are another popular item, and those are usually around $80.
But Disney World isn’t the only place you’ll see price increases. Right now, we’re seeing increased prices for flights, gasoline, and rideshare services as well. General inflation and high demand for travel have driven up the cost of many transportation options.
The best way to be prepared for price increases is to do your research ahead of time. Look at flights well before your trip to see what prices are like, and compare that with the cost to drive to Disney World with current gas prices. Check out menus to see prices at Disney World restaurants so that you can plan for those costs as well.
You’re not considering unofficial Disney “holidays”
A lot of people know to avoid Disney World during holiday seasons because it can get even MORE crowded around Halloween and Christmas time. But are you taking the unofficial Disney “holidays” into account?
EPCOT is celebrating its 40th anniversary on October 1st, 2022, so we’re expecting to see BIG crowds in that park on that day.
If you want to take part in these “holidays,” that’s great! Just be prepared for larger-than-normal crowds. And if you’re hoping to avoid the masses of people, check out the dates for these kinds of events before booking your reservations and tickets.
You’re not planning on transportation changes
Disney World has free transportation on property, including buses, the Monorail, and the Skyliner. But if you’re flying to your destination, you’ve still got to get from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney World hotel! Since Disney discontinued the Magical Express, there is no longer a free option to get from the airport to Disney World.
Instead, you’ll need to use one of the replacement services, all of which are paid services. Mears Connect is run by the same people who ran Magical Express, and it’s located in the area of the airport where Magical Express used to be. This service currently costs $32 round-trip for adults and $27 round-trip for kids. One-way trips cost $16 for adults and $13.50 for kids.
Another option is to use Sunshine Flyer, which operates with buses that look like 1920’s train cars. This service costs $34 round-trip for adults and $25 round-trip for kids. One-way trips are $17 for adults and $12.50 for kids.
If you’d rather not take a bus, you can always use rideshares like Uber and Lyft. These services will likely be more expensive than Mears Connect or Sunshine Flyer, but you’ll probably get to your hotel faster with no additional stops along the way, and you are paying per ride, rather than per passenger like you do with the bus services.
Be sure to make a plan for getting to your Disney World hotel so that you don’t arrive at the airport with no way to get to your final destination!
We hope this list helps you out as you plan your 2022 Disney World trip! Our reporters are in the parks every single day, so we’re constantly looking out for more helpful tips and tricks. Keep following DFB for the latest news and best advice as you plan your upcoming Disney World vacation!
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Are you visiting Disney World this year? Let us know in the comments.