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A Look Ahead at Walt Disney World Resort

Avery Maehrer

by , Manager of Communications, Walt Disney World Resort

For nearly 50 years, Walt Disney World Resort has continued to evolve the guest experience to best suit the changing times. As we plan for the future, we are looking at how needs and preferences are changing across the travel industry, particularly in the way people want to get places faster, at their convenience. 

Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

While we are retiring this option, we’re introducing some new ways for guests to enjoy their visits, while reimagining others:

NOW AVAILABLE

  • Return of the Park Hopper Option: We kicked off a new year with the exciting milestone of bringing back the Park Hopper option, with some new updates as part of our ongoing focus on health and safety. With the return of this option, guests can enjoy more Disney magic in our theme parks, including the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts happening now through Feb. 22, 2021 and the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival springing to life beginning March 3.
  • Special Vacation Offer: For those of you ready to start planning your next vacation, we just released a special new offer! Get two extra days added to your ticket when you buy a 4-night/3-day room and ticket package at select Disney Resort hotels for arrivals most nights Jan. 8 through Sept. 25, 2021. Also, visit DisneyWorld.com/Offers to learn more about other great offers we recently launched for visits to Walt Disney World Resort.

COMING SOON

  • Early Theme Park Entry: We know how much guests enjoy extra park time, so coming later this year as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will be able to enjoy more fun with 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park, EVERY day. It’ll be a great way to get a jump start on your Disney day, no matter the day! As a reminder, the Extra Magic Hours benefit was suspended when Walt Disney World Resort reopened last summer, and as we continue to manage attendance with health and safety top of mind, Extra Magic Hours will not return. The new early theme park entry benefit helps us better spread visitation across all four theme parks, while providing added flexibility by giving guests extra early park time on each day of their vacation and in the park of their choosing. Please note that guests need valid admission and a park reservation made via the Disney Park Pass system to enter a theme park.

As with every other change we’ve made in our history, we will help guests navigate through these next steps and will continue to deliver on what’s expected from a Disney experience. We remain focused on exploring new ways for guests to spend more time with their friends and families and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Comments

  • The reason we stay at a Disney Resort hotel is because we love the immersion, it’s a fortnight of “hakuna matata”, you have the feeling that Disney is there to take care of it, but now?
    Losing the DME means your Disney experience no longer starts from the moment you get off the airplane and, tired from a flight from the UK, that means a lot.
    The park reservation system turns a carefree vacation into a regimented one. Park hopping was a big deal for us, the feeling that you could just go anywhere on a whim was a major part of the experience.
    No more free Magic Bands. A Magic band doesn’t care if it’s dropped or gets wet and, if you lose it, it’s easy to replace. I’ll pay extra for the convenience of Magic Bands but I really resent having to do that.
    Extended Magic Hours. An extra half hour in the morning does not replace an extra hour or possibly two in the evening. I suppose it leaves the parks free for more paid nightime events though…

    It all feels like penny pinching and it makes me sad for what should be a wonderful, carefree holiday. I suppose, because of Covid restrictions, these things may seem worse than they are right now.
    Our next visit is in 2022, we’ll see how that works out before making any decisions.

  • How does this help with COVID Crowds? The opposite it packs more people in to less hours. Looking forward to off property bargain lodging now

  • I fully agree with all the other Disney fans who are disappointed about the downsizing of the (magical) services offered by WDW. Starting in 2006 we (a family of 4) visited WDW almost every year. The travel from home to Schiphol airport and the flight from Amsterdam to MCO took us about 20 hours. What a relief DME was there! A major reason for staying at a resort hotel and a perfect start of a relaxed holiday. Same for the trip back to the airport. No worries about taxi’s being on time and a perfect way of saying goodbye to Mickey and his friends.
    I can imagine and do understand that COVID urged Disney to take some impopular measures. But please don’t use arguments with respect to health as a justification for ending the EMH forever. And in my view a 30 minutes early entry is fobbing us off with something.
    What will be the next step in cutting back the resort hotels benefits? The bus trips to and from the parks, the romantic boattrip from Port Orleans to Disney Springs?
    WDW, where dreams come true, dreams fans are willing to pay a substantial amount of money for. Please reconsider the intended changes and prevent the dreams from bursting.

  • Whoever is making these decisions is living in an alternate reality. You know the scene in Jurassic Park, where the out-of-touch rich guy talks about charging people insane amounts of money to visit his park because “people will pay it”?
    I always took that scene as a joke- but that’s who Disney has become.
    When I first heard the rumor that Disney was going to start marketing to the “family who makes $100,000/year” I was skeptical. Now I believe it.
    I guess the only people who are “Welcome…to this Happy Place…” are the people w money.

  • I would have paid more for my resort stays to keep Magical Express around… 🙁

  • Magical Express was part of the magic! And guest convenience/simplicity. Disney’s smart, so I’m sure this was a thoroughly investigated financial move that benefits the company. But it’s definitely detrimental to guests. And other options like ride-share services are a poor substitute. 🙁

  • This is very disappointing, those of us that are older or have older kids enjoy the Extra Magic Hours, especially the ones at night. I understand the change due to Covid-19, but making it a long term change is a mistake. I would rather be able to sleep in late, let the parents with the little kiddies go into the parks early and go in around noon or even a little later and have the extra magic hours. It was nice it was only offered to Disney Resorts because then it was also less crowded. You really are making a bad decision, and it may cost you in the long run by losing visitors and revenue.

  • These changes are a huge mistake. These were prime reasons to stay at the park. No more Magical Bus, late extended hours (I will not be utilizing the mere 30 minutes before opening), magic bands were the main draw. I do not think I will ever be staying in the park again. So disappointing.

  • I assume this is a cost-saving measure but overall I think it will end up losing the company money, in loss of good will and guest satisfaction, the kinds of things that make people happy to spend money at the parks. The communication on this decision has been tone deaf and shortsighted. If I’m going to spend this much money, I want to go somewhere where I feel like I am valued as a customer. There are a lot of places to go on vacation.

    I think Disney Parks needs to be careful before they lose the goodwill they have built up over many years.

  • I am a long time WDW fan and shareholder. I have been there so many times to count, but almost once a year since my children were born, 13 times in the last 15 years. We have never used the DME, because it never worked for us. We know so many that use it and will be disappointed. I do like that the idea of decreased planning of which park to attend just because of magic hours, however, 30 minutes is NOT enough time. I can’t see you getting more than 1 or 2 rides in that time. We are planning a trip for later this year and are torn between staying on or off property, which was a given before. I realize things have changed due to covid that probably had a lasting impact. I just can’t see how some of these recent changes, if kept permanently, will encourage people to stay on property, especially at premium rates. My family is very disappointed, but hopeful that some magic will return, or replace, what is being lost.

  • I understand the changes due to Covid. I have been to Disney at least 10 times in the last 20 years. I always stay on property. I have helped others plan trips and have encouraged people to stay on property. The convenience, extra perks, and the top notch service are the reasons for staying on property. Knowing that Magical Express, baggage pick-up and delivery by Disney, resort baggage check-in and Extra Magic hours are a thing of the past means that my visits to Disney will result in off property stays which are much more affordable and offer more space. I think this is a huge mistake and that you are losing what sets you apart from other vacation resorts. I will always love Disney and visit but you will lose on property stays due to these changes.

  • We started staying on property after we realized Disney provided a military discount at its resorts as well as for tickets and that instead of driving 17 hours each way we could fly and use Disney’s Magical Express to get from the airport to the resort and back to the airport after our vacation. We loved it because we actually felt like we were on vacation the whole time instead of being extremely tired after driving to Florida and then spending over 17 hours driving home and being worn out after our vacation ended. We felt the magic from the moment we left the airport until we returned home. We are really upset that Disney has decided to end the Magical Express. We also enjoyed the extra magic hours provided for guest staying on property. It gave us a chance to enjoy more rides than we could enjoy staying in town. While we realize COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone and really hoped Disney’s changes were temporary. Reading the changes are now becoming permanent is extremely disheartening. Having to stress about not only finding but having the extra expense of transportation from the airport to the property, not being able to have extra hours at the parks will definitely make our family rethink future vacations. Our magical vacations will become more work than fun and that is not what I want in a vacation. My yearly Disney trips will start being less frequent.

    Retired Military Disney Fan who is now an Extremely Disappointed Retired Military Disney Fan.

  • I am not happy about this decision. This was one of the best parts of going to Disney. If I knew this service would be canceled I would have never became a DVC member. Out of all of the conveniences to take away this?? The thought of not having to worry about luggage and getting from the airport to the hotel made our vacation stays so much easier. Especially on the return flight home. Seriously Disney please reconsider this most horrible decision. I’ll sell my week and make money off of my condo if you are just going to slowly kill the “Disney” experience.

    In 2020 you ruined our buying experiences for your collectible merch. You are worth millions and we easily spend 10 grand a year on your collectibles, meeting at Disney for our Family Vacation and buying our favorite souvenirs.

    Who makes these decisions??? Someone who doesn’t understand the guest experience. Get rid of the Minnie Van’s, they were too expensive anyway but don’t take away the one thing that made this a vacation without worry!!!

  • The past two trips with three young children and elderly parents getting on DME was part of the magical experience!
    Being worry free of luggage (10+ day’s of luggage) from departing the plane and following the directions to Magical express, kids watching the Disney videos on the bus (they still remember to this day as the first ride of the Disney trip), and the ability to check in luggage from the lobby leaving from the resort were HUGE in identifying the Disney Resort experience.
    Please reconsider and realize the the impact of the overall Magical Experience.

  • Bad idea! Magical Express is part of the magical arrival and departure experience. And the no more extra extended hours changing for 30min early is some kind of joke. You are losing magical differentiation with this kind of decisions, and we as customers and fans are very disappointed. Hope your management team will review this decision to add MORE Magic NOT Less. ☹️

  • I am very disappointed to hear that visitors in 2022 will have to find their own way from the airport to the hotel. I will not return. This is too complicated, especially for the elderly. Why not charge us extra for the DME?

  • I’m skeptical 30 minutes will get more than a single ride done.

  • For me personally I am thrilled at this news. I never use DME as I prefer the speed of getting to resort by Uber rather than waiting around for an hour for DME.

    The EMH removal is a shame BUT to have EVERY park now open EVERY day 30 minutes early is a MASSIVE perk. I can now chose any day to go to any park and get in 30 minutes early and beat the crowds. Imagine getting in early to avoid a 2 hour wait for Avatar…Seven Dwarves Mine Train..Slinky Dog…Test Track..Animal Kingdom Safari…etc etc – Before I would have to plan each parks early admission around EMH.

    Times are a changing and Disney has to change too…for me this announcement is making staying on property even more valuable and actually guarantees it. Why would I stay off property to then see thousands of guests walk past me in the queue outside before the park opens and make my wait times for rides huge from the first minute.

  • I am an out of state AP. I typically make 4-6 trips a year bringing with me several non AP family members each stay. I spend ALOT of money at WDW every year. These changes post Covid are disappointing. Eliminating DME, discontinued magic bands with your stay, no EMH…so many other perks disappearing one by one. The writing is on the wall that APs will be the next to go, just like has happened at Disney Land. At that point, I’ll be done. The value for the experience is gone. I do not feel appreciated as an AP. The magic keeps fading…and with that, so will the desire of the faithfuls to buy into your brand. Truly disappointing.

  • My sister is Disney-obsessed and the only reason I’d agree to go back with her was the Extended Magic Hours. It’s the only way I’ve ever enjoyed Disney Parks, even including when I was a child. I’m a person on the autism spectrum with sensory issues and there is no way I’ll ever return without Extended Magic Hours late at night. Very disappointing.

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