If It’s Been a While Since You’ve Been to Disney, Know Before You Go

If It's Been a While Since You've Been to Disney, Know Before You Go castlemine

Recently a family member who hasn’t been to Walt Disney World in three years was excited to share with me the news of her impending trip. What this family member didn’t know, and was surprised to hear, was that so much has changed about planning and vacationing. She felt overwhelmed. I thought it was a good time as we see Spring 2022 ahead of us to highlight what a Walt Disney World vacationer who hasn’t been in awhile has missed. A debriefing so to speak of what she really needs to know, highlighting essential tips so she understands that it is the same Walt Disney World, but with important changes that will affect her planning ahead.

It’s been awhile. And while us die hard Disneyphiles who never miss a daily DIS Daily Updates newsletter in our email inboxes, many others just assume it’s the same place and nothing has changed. These vacationers visit Walt Disney World maybe once every few years and do not follow the ever-changing landscape on social media. They have other hobbies, other vacations, and Walt Disney World news is not their go-to daily interest.

If It's Been a While Since You've Been to Disney, Know Before You Go new years 2021-2022

So where do we begin, my friends? She had just learned on her own that the Disney Dining Plan is currently not being offered, so that was a start. Help me to help my family get back “in the know” about what she’s missed in three years. What are your highlights and suggestions for her? Please comment below! This is what our conversation was like, and boy was she surprised.

There is no complimentary ground transportation service to and from the airport anymore….

She had no idea Disney’s Magical Express service had ended. I envisioned her just showing up, leaving her baggage sitting alone on the baggage carousel and just assuming a free bus would be waiting for her. Not the case. Find your own transportation, I explained, or pay for a new ground transportation option like the Sunshine Flyer from the Orlando International Airport (MCO).

You need a Theme Park Reservation in addition to your valid admission ticket. They are not the same.

This is obvious to us, I know, but to someone who hasn’t been since before the 2020 changes, it is confusing. You need to have a valid theme park ticket AND ALSO a park pass reservation via the Park Pass System. She asked if it can be booked and planned the day prior. Yes, technically, but as a planner, I like to know for sure that park will be accessible to me. I also think many newcomers read the site and it says book your park pass reservation and they probably just assume it means book your tickets, not understanding they aren’t the same. Know before you go…

You are not allowed to park hop before 2 p.m.

Wait, what? Correct, it’s been awhile, I know, and assuming she purchased a ticket with the park hopping option, she may not go to Animal Kingdom, enjoy a safari ride and hop on over to Epcot by 10 a.m. I’m looking forward to this time being changed (maybe noon time or not at all), but as of now, this is the guideline. She had no idea.

Housekeeping no longer does a full cleaning

This was actually her very first question for me. What does housekeeping actually do and do they still enter your room? For me, I no longer want someone touching my bed in a resort room while on property. But for her, she was very interested in wanting to understand what modified cleaning meant and read about it on their website but couldn’t quite remember how it varied from before. In a nutshell, they don’t touch your bed and your room is thoroughly cleaned prior to entering on day one. That was my highlight.

Use your Walt Disney World app for mobile ordering

Now more then ever quick service restaurants are easily accessible, replacing long wait lines through the WDW app. Use it. I don’t even think she has the app on her phone. I explained that she needed to download the My Disney Experience app, practice at home, update it before her trip, and use it while in the parks.

I could have gone on with her for a lot longer explaining to her the many changes she has missed in three years, but I didn’t want to overwhelm her. If it’s too much, I will recommend Dreams Unlimited Travel planners to help her with her planning and navigate her to our DIS community and social media. What do you think someone should really know who hasn’t been to Walt Disney World in a twenty minute phone call? Is it the 50th Anniversary celebrations, Covid-19 mandates, that FastPass is no longer complimentary and has a new name, new attractions have and will be opening, the new evening fireworks shows, or perhaps some resorts have renovated and newly opened since she’s been there last? Let me know what to tell her below the next time we chat…

Shari Kessler loves the Disunplugged and all things Disney. She has imparted her passion for the parks along with her husband of more than 25 years to their three young adult children. Their family vacations have included Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Aulani but their home base is Walt Disney World as she resides from New Jersey. Shari also loves her cats Ricky and Lucy(RIP Lucy 2021). As a former early childhood educator she is now assisting at an animal hospital in NYC. She enjoys the Disunplugged community and hopes her articles connect with the Dis family.
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