Disney in 2022 is a very different place than Disney in early 2020, prior to the parks closing down. Since the parks have reopened, guests and visitors have been met with a constant flow of changes. Many of these cuts and changes were clearly cost savings for the company, pushing much of these costs onto the consumer, but what happens when the change is too much for some guests- and not just from a financial standpoint?
I have a dear friend who is a Disney diehard. She is a Disney Vacation Club member, has been on many Disney cruises, and lives and breathes for Minnie Mouse. If you asked me who in my life is the biggest Disney fan I know, this is the person I’d name without question. However, as she gets ready to return to the parks for the first time since pre-pandemic days, many of our conversations don’t focus on her excitement- they focus on her dread.
You see, for this friend of mine, while the additional costs are an annoyance, they are not her main gripe. Instead, it’s the rate of change that is reducing her comfort in how to navigate her vacations with her family. This friend of mine is a single mom of two children, and since her husband’s passing, Disney has always been her family’s happy place. She has a DVC home resort where she always stays, she religiously took the Magical Express there, and then knew how to navigate the various FastPass systems within the app. She was able to focus on the joy of the trip with her kids because the element of familiarity allowed her to feel safe.
This trip, however, she’s experiencing something entirely different. It starts with navigating the airport to get her luggage which was previously delivered to her resort for her. From there, it is deciding on transportation from the airport to the hotel. Once she is safely at her resort, she feels entirely overwhelmed with how Genie+ will work, how mobile ordering will change how her family dines, and so many other small changes.
I am completely confident that once my friend is there, sitting at her resort and relaxing, she will realize she is beyond capable of these changes. But as a non-digital native, these changes have come on rapidly, leading to a lot of pre-trip anxiety. Disney has removed so much of the familiar and replaced it with new, that for many, this isn’t the vacation they remember.
As someone who has been fortunate to return to the parks since the pandemic, I am aware that the magic is still alive and well. I also have an extreme amount of confidence that my friend will figure this all out and have a magical vacation, even if she needs her teenagers to mobile order the food or find the next Lightning Lane availability. Change is hard. Change to your happy place is even harder. I know my friend is not unique and there are guests all over the place dreading these changes. Like I tell my students or my own children, break it down to one part at a time, practice it from home, and when you need help- ask! There’s always someone at the park who can help, a resource or video you can watch from home, or perhaps, in my friend’s case, a friend who is just a text or call away ready to help. Change is never ending, change is scary, but with the right support, we all can get through it.
Hi there! My name is Stephanie and I am a mom to 2 young Disney fans, wife to a rope-drop-to-fireworks fanatic, a teacher, an avid reader, and a Disney-obsessed super fan! Writing and Disney are two of my greatest hobbies, so putting them together is a dream come true.