5 Big Changes Coming to Disney World—And How They'll Impact Your Trip

From price hikes to dining plan updates, these are changes you'll definitely want to know about.

One of the best parts about Disney World is that there's often a new ride or dining attraction to experience. And whether you've only been to Disney World once or you pop on those Mickey Mouse ears annually, your next vacation to this wonderland is bound to feel a little different. That's because on Jan. 9, 2024, a slew of changes are rolling out that will affect everything from pricing and reservations to dining plans. Read on to learn how your trip may be impacted.

RELATED: People Are Turning Away From Disney Parks: "Absolutely Dead" on Former Peak Days.

1
Reservations are no longer required for date-based tickets.

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FellowNeko / Shutterstock

Over the last few years, you had to reserve your visit to Disney theme parks in advance. But as of Jan. 9, those reservations won't be required any longer—if and only if you have a date-based ticket.

Since you don't have to decide ahead of time which parks you want to visit, you can be a bit more spontaneous on your trip. All you have to do is select a start date of Jan. 9 or later when purchasing your ticket.

Something to note, though: This isn't the case with other admission types. In a recent TikTok video, Juliet Nuzzo, a Disney expert and the blogger behind Perfecting The Magic, explains that you'll still have to make reservations for most days if you're an annual pass holder.

RELATED: 8 Clothing Items You Should Never Wear at Disney Parks, Experts Say.

2
Disney Dining Plans are back.

Bangkok, Thailand - Feb 17, 2019 : A photo of Disney Merchandises in stores with selective focus on Mickey Mouse ceramic cupcake. On the right is Chips & Dales the chipmunks. - Image
Shutterstock/Enchanted Fairy

If you've missed the Disney Dining Plans—which disappeared after Disney World first reopened following the COVID-19 closures—rest assured they're coming back.

These plans, which are available to anyone staying at Disney Resort hotels, entail pre-paying a flat fee in advance for your meals and snacks. Keep in mind, says Nuzzo, that you do have to purchase the plan for every day of your stay.

You'll have two package options to choose from: The Disney Dining Plan or the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan. As Nuzzo explains, the former is more expensive but the advantage is that you can use it at the full table-service restaurants. It includes one quick-service meal, one table-service meal with dessert, one snack, and one refillable mug.

The latter option is cheaper and covers two quick-service meals per day, one snack, and one refillable mug. With both plans, you also get one alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink with each meal.

According to Nuzzo, gratuities are not included with these meals, regardless of which plan you select.

RELATED: Disney Is Cracking Down on Controversial Guest Behavior

3
Some prices are increasing.

Walt Disney World Entrance
JHVEPhoto/iStock

And now for the not-so-great news: A bunch of price hikes are coming.

Nuzzo notes that standard parking has now been increased by $5 to $30 per day, and Disney's Memory Maker photo package now costs $185 in advance or $210 if you purchase it during or after your trip.

Annual passes are $30-50 more now—here's what you can expect to shell out for each:

  • Incredi-Pass: $1,449 (up from $1,399)
  • Sorcerer Pass: $999 (up from $969)
  • Pirate Pass: $799 (up from $749)
  • Pixie Dust Pass: $439 (up from $399)

Price increases for multi-day theme park tickets are as follows:

  • 5-day: $480 (up from $415)
  • 4-day: $445 (up from $395)
  • 3-day $390 (up from $360)
  • 2-day: $310 (up from $285)

RELATED: Disney Park Workers Confirm Gross Rumor About Guests' Bathroom Habits.

4
Park hopping is possible again.

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After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Disney World had to introduce some restrictions in the interest of controlling crowds—one of which entailed only allowing guests to visit a second park after 2 p.m. But starting Jan. 9, that won't be the case.

"You can go between parks as much as you want at any point in the day," says Nuzzo.

Picture this: You could start your day with a safari at Animal Kingdom, hop over to EPCOT for lunch at noon, and then head on over to ride the rollercoasters at Magic Kingdom.

Remember: you can only take advantage of this if you buy a ticket with Park Hopper benefits.

RELATED: Guests Are Ditching Disney World in Droves While Other Parks Thrive.

5
Genie+ will see some changes.

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Shutterstock

You can also expect changes to Genie+, the ride reservation system that allows you to use Lighting Lane entrances for faster access to select attractions or experiences.

Nuzzo notes that Disney hasn't shared specific details on this yet. However, the company did state that the goal is to help guests spend less time planning and more time enjoying their visit with friends and family.

"We have heard from guests that they would like ways to plan with Disney Genie+ service and individual Lightning Lane selections before the day of their park visit, and we want you to know we are working on ways guests may do this for visits in 2024," Disney wrote. "We look forward to sharing more information at a later date."

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Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more
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