Predictably, we are a few days behind with the daily live blogs of our Orlando 2022 vacation. Rather than create everyday diary items, I felt it might be more beneficial to run a series of blogs of what we discover during our Orlando adventures. It has been three years since we visited Walt Disney World, and it is clear the pandemic has created a lot of changes. Some of these changes are for the better, but others are less so. In the first of these blogs, we will examine how Walt Disney World has changed in 2022. But, first, a lost property update.
Lost Property Update
As I write this post, we are on the 10th day of our vacation. We have already lost three sunhats, an additional one since our last post. In addition, we have managed to reclaim a pair of sunglasses dropped on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. We have also managed to recover an additional hat and another pair of sunglasses from Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Overall, our lost hat rate is slightly improving, losing one only every 3.33 days.
How has Walt Disney World changed?
Disney Park Pass, Park Hopping, and Disney Genie+
This one wasn’t a surprise but was a significant change from previous visits. You must book an advanced Park Reservation through the Disney Park Pass system for your first park every day. We have not had any difficulty organizing these reservations before our visit, but it does remove some of the spontaneity of your visit. There are very few passes available on the day for a last-minute change.
Park Hopping wasn’t allowed when Disney World reopened, but it is now. However, you can only change parks from the middle of the day onwards, and you must visit the park you have your reservation with first.
I will leave my thoughts on Disney Genie+, the replacement for Fastpass+, to a later post.
Not everything is still open.
Most of Walt Disney World is now open, but not everything is. Some restaurants remain closed, and a few attractions are also not available. Nighttime entertainment remains limited; Fantasmic still hasn’t returned to Hollywood Studios despite announcements it would return in 2022. However, perhaps the most significant change is that only one water park is open. Typhoon Lagoon is the only operating water park, and it is uncertain when both will start operating again.
It is known that Disney is currently struggling with the recruitment of staff. Many staff have chosen not to return after the pandemic. It is likely that while recruitment difficulties persist, there will continue to be a more limited experience.
The Disney Dining Plan isn’t available.
We used to love the Disney Dining Plan, especially as Disney often gave it free to the British market. It has been announced it will be returning, but no date has been provided. Dining at Disney isn’t cheap, and the dining plan represented a massive money saver. However, we have noted that we are eating a lot less when we don’t have daily vouchers to be used.
We expect the dining plan to remain unavailable until Disney can reopen the currently closed restaurants.
Menus and snacks are limited.
All dining venues seem to have shorter menus than previously. We have noticed there are significantly fewer vegan and special diet meals available. Disney still caters to these diets, but the choice is more limited.
The number of available snacks is something we have noticed has massively reduced. The selection of treats available in stores is much less than previously. It isn’t anywhere near as low as what Disneyland Paris offers, but it is still a lot less than previously.
Noticeably, the previously brilliant Big Top Treats in the Magic Kingdom only have a fraction of the fantastic selection previously available. Of note, no staff are currently making handmade chocolates.
Housekeeping is now every other day.
Disney struggled to recruit housekeepers before the pandemic; presumably, these shortages are only worsening. Before the pandemic, Disney offered a small cash incentive to forego daily room cleaning. Now, you get a “light cleaning service” every other day. However, the light service looks pretty similar to a regular cleaning service.
I actually quite like only having housekeeping every other day and wouldn’t be too bothered if this situation remained.
Disney buses are not all Disney.
Disney Transport provides fantastic bus services to the parks from your resort hotel. However, regularly your transport is provided by a third party operator. Presumably, linked with staff shortages?
Disney cast members now call you a friend.
Perhaps, they did this on previous visits? However, I keep noticing Disney cast members call me their friend. It does feel odd when you hear it five times when boarding one ride, but I suppose it is nothing different than me calling a new acquaintance “mate.”
Disney cast members don’t feel very Disney.
I am probably harsh, but Disney cast members don’t seem as friendly as previously. I have thought Universal’s staff were perhaps friendlier for a while, but this now feels definite. It would be wrong to say all Disney staff were unfriendly, plus now and again, you make contact with a “Disney old-timer.” Disney has a lot of new cast members and still has shortages; presumably, things will improve once these new staff are embedded.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is brilliant
We will focus on this in our next post, but it does not disappoint!
This feels like a very negative post, but Walt Disney World remains a brilliant vacation overall. Disney is suffering from staffing issues, and it would seem that a regular service might still be a long way from coming. Last week we stayed at Universal Orlando Resort, and I feel they are closer to returning to normal service.
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