Home Disney Planning Tips Why the recent changes at Disney are so upsetting to fans

Why the recent changes at Disney are so upsetting to fans

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Why the recent changes at Disney are so upsetting to fans
Credit: Ashley

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In the past year there have been so many changes in the Disney parks that it is hard to keep up. Many of these changes have been met with Guest dissatisfaction. Why do you think that is?

Park Passes and Limited Park Hopping

Credit: Maggie

While both of these features were necessary right after reopening to control crowds and facilitate social distancing, it is clear from recent scenes of rope drop at the parks and Main Street over the 50th anniversary weekend that Disney is no longer concerned with social distancing.

Therefore, limiting a guest’s ability to be spontaneous, plan a last minute trip, change which park they want to go to that day or hop to a park in the late morning seem like unnecessary restraints that add more stress to a Disney vacation.

The restriction of park hopping only after 2pm is an unnecessary policy that all guests can agree needs to change.

Genie+ replacing FastPass+

Screenshot: MDE

For a long time we heard that Disney was not bringing back Fastpass+ right away. During the reopening phase, it was not needed, since lines were so short. This may have been true in July 2020, but attendance has been increasing since the fall of 2020.

Rumors began that perhaps Disney was finally going to start charging for FastPass and was working out the system. I was not surprised that Disney was finally going to make this change, but I was hoping that they would keep the same system they had before and just charge for it.

Or, even better, include it as a perk for deluxe resort guests and Annual Passholders the way Universal Studios handles express pass.

Credit: Disney

Another reasonable option would be to implement the same paid MaxPass system used at Disneyland. It is a fairly simple system that many Disney fans are familiar with from using at Disneyland.

Disney fans love the familiar and are resistant to change. There was a certain rhythm to planning a Disney vacation and booking FastPasses and seeing them laid out in My Disney Experience. It helped build excitement over a Disney vacation and brought joy to Disney fans knowing their trip was less than 60 days away.

Credit: Ashley

However, instead of charging for FastPass+ or switching to the MaxPass system Disney introduced a complicated new Genie+/ILLS system that takes some time to get used to.

This adds a whole new layer of stress to a Disney vacation and is especially frustrating for guests who spent years mastering their FastPass+ strategy. Now, a guest needs to know exactly what Lighting Lane to acquire at an exact time each day in order to maximize time.

Less Onsite Perks

Credit: KtP writer Donna

While prices for on-site rooms seem to be on the rise, Disney has taken away many of the perks of staying onsite such as complimentary Magical Express, MagicBands and shortening morning Early Entry and only offering Evening Extra Magic Hours two nights per week.

These perks made staying in the Disney bubble extra magical and the free Magical Express and luggage handling helped to make a smooth vacation experience for guests flying into MCO.

The arrival of MagicBands for the whole family was always an exciting day that helped build excitement for a Disney vacation.

Lack of Magical Experiences

Credit: Ashley

Rides were never my son’s favorite part of a Disney World vacation. He loved characters, parades and all the special magical experiences that helped make a Disney vacation so special.

Some of his favorite Disney experiences were the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage, the Pirate Adventure Cruise at the Beach Club, face painting and “bead activities” at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, henna in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot, drawing classes at the Art of Animation Resort, and Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios.

Credit: Ashley

While I understand some of these cannot return yet, because of health and safety restrictions and lack of cultural representatives at Epcot and the Animal Kingdom Lodge, my concern is that Disney will use the pandemic as an excuse to discontinue some of these special magical experiences, making Disney feel more and more like a generic theme park.

It is my hope that as character meets start to return in modified form we will soon see magical interactive experiences return as well.

Credit: Ashley

Enchantment Replacing Happily Ever After

While Disney fans eventually came to enjoy the new colors and embellishments on the castle for the 50th and the new light show on Spaceship Earth had very good feedback, the debut of a new Magic Kingdom fireworks show was met with mixed reviews.

Credit: Ashley

Part of the reason is that Happily Ever After was a very emotional experience for Disney fans. Enchantment may have more impressive fireworks and projections that go down Main Street, which is a nice touch, but many guests felt that the experience still falls flat compared to Happily Ever After.

Many fans have still not felt comfortable returning to Disney since reopening and are disappointed that they will never get to see Happily Ever After ever again. There are also fans who only visit Disney World every 3-5 years and may have had to cancel a 2020 trip. They may never have had the chance to see Happily Ever After at all. It only ran for less than 3 years before the parks closed and then again for a few months before the change to Enchantment.

Credit: Ashley

In my opinion it was too premature to change shows. If Disney wanted to debut something new and exciting for the 50th, a new nighttime Magic Kingdom parade would have been a welcome addition. Main Street has been dark ever since Disney’s Electrical Parade left in 2016.

Lack of Parades

Credit: Ashley

Speaking of parades, I still think the Disney experience is not the same without them. I don’t think social distancing is an excuse Disney can use anymore based on the crowds they let gather for the premiere of Enchantment. I think this is another cost-cutting measure unfortunately and I worry the Festival of Fantasy Parade will never return.

Some of my favorite Disney memories involve watching my son fake a sword fight with Captain Hook while dressed as Peter Pan or cheering on Prince Phillip fighting the dragon while dressed in his Prince Phillip costume.

Credit: Ashley

However, some really like the cavalcades because the multiple floats appear in the parks throughout the day. It allows Guests the opportunity to see them in passing without feeling like they are missing out. Read why Donna will be okay if parades never return HERE.

I do enjoy the spontaneity and frequency of the cavalcades, but I still prefer the Festival of Fantasy parade and think an ideal situation would be a combination of a parade and some cavalcades.

Why are all the changes so upsetting?

Credit: Ashley

After making it through a global pandemic Disney fans just wanted to experience their familiar Disney again. Many have lost friends and family this pandemic. Children have lost an entire school year and normal childhood experiences. Disney fans were willing to be patient and wait for their favorite Disney resorts and restaurants to reopen. People have eagerly anticipated the return of parades, fireworks, FastPasses, shows, special events, magical experiences and character hugs to return.

But, in the end we wanted the Disney experience we know and love back again because it was comforting. There have been a lot of adjustments in the past year and a half getting used to the new normal in this world, but we don’t need a new Disney too.

Which of these changes at Disney bothers you the most? Comment on Facebook and let us know your thoughts.

Ashley Beckwith McKellar

Follow me on Instagram: @disneyparksmom

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful article – couldn’t agree more. I’m in the midst of planning a vacation for next year after a four year hiatus. It seems like every few days I hear of one more thing Disney has dropped or changed (no Jedi training, come on!). Our first trip as a family we took Magical Express, had character dining, had little surprise experiences throughout each park, and figured out how to use Fast Pass. Planning for the first trip was more challenging than traveling to another country, learning all of the processes and terminology. Yet our next trip was so easy because we knew exactly what to expect. We knew the terminology, we knew how to schedule everything. Sure it’s expensive, but every few years we’ve enjoyed going because Disney had made it so easy and stress-free. Now Disney has made it unnecessarily difficult and is adding more costs without the same benefits. I was all set for easy trip planning but it’s become a headache.

  2. I agree completely! I was there in March 2021 and there were still limited numbers of people, covid protocols, etc. Since we had been to WDW many times before and had always planned our fast passes and meals, it was really nice to have a more leisurely and spontaneous trip. Even though not everything was open or going on, we really enjoyed ourselves. Almost as soon as we returned from our trip announcements of changes began happening. I don’t think I have seen a single change that has made me want to return to WDW. In fact, my daughter and I were just talking about our last trip last night and we both said that we have no desire to return. That had NEVER happened for us. We are thinking Universal is looking like it is due for a revisit. Everything I read about Universal is keeping things very normal and even plussing the experience by adding new exciting rides and less expensive hotels.

  3. Perfect review, Ashley! We were supposed to go in January 2022 and have decided not to because of the rise in prices and loss of so much of the magic we loved. As a single parent who scrimps and saves for a Disney vacation, I can’t justify spending the increased amount of money for less of an experience. It makes me sad to think that the majority of the time spent, people are tied to their phones trying to get ride times on Genie. Doesn’t sound appealing at all. Previously, the only time my phone was out at Disney was when I was taking photos! I don’t want to spend an entire vacation with my nose in my phone. I want to enjoy my daughter and get lost in Disney magic. Based on everything I’ve been hearing, much of the magic is gone and it’s just not worth it anymore. Very sad. Chapek’s greed has simply turned Disney into a money pit with much less to offer.

  4. I totally agree with your article and the comments! I absolutely hate having to be in my phone all day. I always planned our days so that we could stroll around the park enjoying the ambience, sights, shops, spotaneous shows, characters, as well as the rides along the way. Constantly looking in my phone, being directed by Genie to run here and there just breaks the spell. It ruins the feeling of being in a magical dream place.

  5. Everyone is tired of bob paycheck destroying the magic of Disney his greed has no limits. There are so many things that used to make Disney special and magical please sign the petition to fire this unmagical ceo the petition is on change.org down with chapek!

  6. I just finished a three day four park visit, and I believe Genie+ LL did allow my family to experience more than the standby only system of the last year, I did not like my experience. I was glued to my phone all day and ended up making my party do several long distance walks across Epcot just to not miss a return window. I got a boarding group for ratatouille that conflicted with my test track LL, so am we just skipped test track entirely.

    I don’t come often and was capable of paying the extra costs, but don’t think I got much of a benefit. I paid for ROTR and booked it for 1 hour after my 5 PM Oga’s Cantina reservation. Now of course I wanted to go to the Millennium Falcon ride around the same time of day, but couldn’t book that LL until much later in the day. I kept checking my phone to see where the return window was at so that I could avoid another foot beating like feet endured at Epcot.

  7. Totally agree! I used to enjoy getting everything planned and now a mess! Your head in your phone constantly, added stress, added costs, rising prices, loss of benefits. An DVC and AP and thinking about this being my last trip for a long time.
    Article is right on. Keep coming back to Disney was like a friend that is gone!

  8. unbelievably accurate. I was there from 10/24-10/27/21. yes, I would much rather have paid for the original fast pass then struggle through the crazy genie+/ILLS system. As we were staying at the Beach Club, and had hopper passes, it was ridiculous to wait until 2pm to get back into Epcot. My daughter, who booked the rides, was on her phone all day and there was just the 2 of us!! I have to say, Disney will have to get back closer to what they were, before I consider a trip back. All the fun of planning our trip was gone and, as someone already mentioned, only caused anxiety instead of anticipation.

  9. @sandy, I noticed on our last trip on the 15th that there is a lack of consistency with cast members. They seem disillusioned, and don’t seem to know how to respond to guest questions. They don’t seem like “cast members,” but rather regular employees of a theme park. The Disney Difference is gone. I have always used my blue DVC card to get a discount in shops, and at one shop in Frontierland, the person at the register refused to allow my mom to pay for my nephew’s pin with my discount. He insisted that I pay. That has never happened before! Also, when trading some pins, my nephew gave a Marvel pin, and the cast member asked if it was Stitch. No, ma’am. That’s She-Hulk. I asked two girls selling balloons in Disney Springs how we could deflate our balloon (my 10 year old nephew bought me one with his own money – my dream has always been to get a red Mickey balloon) if we had a late flight and the MCO store would be closed. They told me their “supervisor” tells them to say just to yank on the ribbon because it’s just a slip knot. They kept talking a lot about their supervisor, and then two gals in the Polynesian gift shop kept saying the worst things about Disney Genie. Granted, the system is kind of terrible, but to hear actual cast members talk poorly of it was really eye opening.

  10. Totally agree with article. Considering booking for next year! Last visited in Sept 2019 from Scotland (visit every 2-3 years). No more magical express transfers, no more park hopping, charging for what used to be fast passes and you are having to pre-book which park you want to visit in advance.

    Holiday cost has increased for us £400 per person since our last visit and this time we will have to pay for lightening lanes if we want to ride top tier rides. It’s harsh when we are losing out on Disney perks for staying at a Disney hotel for a whole lot more money.

    So for us, the question is what are the perks for staying at a Disney hotel now?

  11. The loss of Fast Passes is horrible. I could have our days planned out with reservations for meals worked into the day. Looks like now I will now be trying to plan the day on the fly and I will no longer be enjoying the sites and sounds and stressing about making sure everyone else is having a good time. This is so sad.

  12. Thank you Ashley for your honest and on point article. I agree with you and the other comments. Too restrictive and no spontaneity. Right now I have no desire to visit. Maybe in 2023. Hoping things will be better but will have to see. Again appreciate and thank you. Lois

  13. The writing was on the wall when WDW started charging resort guests for overnight parking. In the big scheme of things $25/night for parking wasn’t that outrageous but it signaled the beginning of a downward spiral of nickel and diming the magic out of guest experiences. Maybe if Disney just raised resort and ticket prices there wouldn’t be the outcry. As it is, we are just left to wonder what stupid idea will be dumped on us next.

  14. Disney made the trip even MORE anxious on top of what it already was. It’s not longer a fun trip when you have to preplan everything

  15. As other’s have said the last minute rush to reserve a ride probably is the worst part of planning a Disney trip. However, if they continue having the guests reserve the day to visit a park – this will ruin any chance of enjoyment for a family. Although I always liked to plan our days at the park way in advance – things CHANGE. Little children get sick, they don’t sleep well some nights, the weather may not be the best to go on a certain day! So many things may change, You may decide you want to go to a different park then you originally planned. What if family members enjoyed one of the parks so much they want to go back! Disney is taking choice out of our vacation! This is anti-Walt Disney and anti-American.

  16. I agree wholeheartedly with your review Ashley. Everything has been going down hill since the arrival of Bob Paycheque. So sad what is happening to this wonderful, magical place.

  17. A friend just went and she said she spent more time on her phone trying to make fastpasses than she did with her family. Also there was no social distancing and they kept telling people in line to scoot up as close as they could and packing people in. Her 5 year old broke his wrist 2 days before they came. It was so bad he had to have surgery. She asked guest services if they had any accomodations for them and the lady said…sorry we cant do anything if its just a broken wrist. She didnt even offer a stroller! No Disney magic anymore! Shame on Disney!!

  18. not only have the guest services, the cleanliness and the guest satisfaction went way down, but the cast members are now not receiving cast compliments given directly to them but given as a whole to each given location. for example, a cast compliment now goes to attractions cast members in fantasyland as a whole or to custodians in frontierland as a whole, and so forth. this takes away A LOT from the cast members point of view, not individually being recognized for their great work aspects. also disney did not stand up as many other companies did for their employees to have freedom of choice in their personal medical decisions. they also have lost many discounts, including their holiday discounts they have received yearly by september every single given year, still haven’t gotten them yet. unfortunately, as a yearly visitor I am highly disappointed in the current state of affairs at disneyworld. i have gone so far as to sign the fire chapek petition that is going around. as of last night it had over 53,000 signatures.

  19. This hits right in the feels. We are annual visitors and anticipating a trip to Disney is what gets us all through different rough spots because it is where we are consistently present as a family. I am sad at how many things feel like they have been taken away from our usual trip. I don’t know how to plan and be excited for the one coming up in December and you rightly point out that some of the moments that have built anticipation in the past are gone. As the trip planner, I am so sad that I can’t do my planning ahead and then show up and just execute the plan. Now every day of our trip where we want the chance to use the lightning lanes will start early and with a jolt of anxiety. I think that is the part that feels like salt in the wound of all these changes; I don’t even get to start my Disney day relaxed.

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