Walt Disney World opened to the public on July 11 with a whole lot of big changes. While some changes made the “new normal” feel very weird, there are a lot of things I loved- and want to keep forever. Here are the Disney World changes to keep- I hope these somehow stick around!
Dear Disney World: Please, For The Love Of Mickey, Keep These Changes!
I recently spent a week at the newly reopened Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
As a travel agent, blogger, and podcaster who covers the Disney theme parks for a living, this was something I felt needed to be done in order to advise my community if Walt Disney World should be on your travel list this year.
With all the major changes required that goes along with opening a theme park during a pandemic, I wasn’t sure exactly how the whole thing would go.
I masked up (truly, this was NO big deal, y’all!), I sanitized like I was going in for surgery, and I represented my current favorite Disney fandom (Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro) and headed into the Walt Disney World Resort.
The resulting feelings are complicated: there were things I hated about the “New” Disney, there were things I was pretty much ok with, and there were a handful of things I absolutely loved.
Like, I want to keep forever and ever and will be oh, so sad when/if they go away.
So, Dear Disney, please keep these changes!Here’s a list of the changes at Walt Disney World that should stick around.
I feel like this is proof that there are some good things coming out of this very weird 2020 and being bold enough to pivot and make changes can absolutely be beneficial.
Spoiler alert: most revolve around the super low-crowds so, yeah, I know that’s not likely to last. But a girl can dream!
List of 12 Walt Disney World Changes To Keep Forever
1. The Open Trash Cans
Look, I know that sounds ridiculous, but in this time of COVID, not having to touch any additional gross, nasty surfaces like trash can doors is amazing.
So please, keep this forever!
Sure, it doesn’t look the way Disney wants it to look, but I promise you, I was so very happy every time I walked over to drop something in it.
2. Socially Distanced Character Experiences Are Adorable
If you listened to our awkward Disney character experience podcast episode, you heard that Gaston was, well, awkward.
But mostly awkward.
Now: he’s on a horse- and there’s nothing awkward about that!
Except for the 40-something woman running over to try to snap this picture of Gaston from behind.
Ahem. (In my defense, he came out of nowhere and I was not prepared!)
The character cavalcades are pop up, unannounced mini-parades that happen in each park.
Princesses are riding around Epcot in a carriage; Elsa walks through the World Showcase to “Let It Go,” and Pixar is represented with Edna Mode in a convertible waving to all of us like the queen she is at Hollywood Studios.
Stitch was giving out air hugs every chance he got!
My personal favorites, however, were the boats full of characters in Animal Kingdom.
The Discovery River Character Cruises were happening throughout the day, and now that Rivers of Light has been permanently canceled, I sincerely hope the waterways of Animal Kingdom are utilized by character experiences like this.
It was positively delightful!
3. Disney World Changes: Keep On Cleaning, Disney World!
Man, Walt Disney World Resort SPARKLES right now. It’s absolutely stunning and super fresh and clean.
I know cleaning was pretty good before, so don’t think I’m complaining about the way things were in the past.
But it is much more active and visible now which adds some reassurances to guests in the parks and at the resorts.
Cast Members were seen wiping down everything all over the resort during our week-long stay.
You love to see it!
4. Lower Crowds = Fewer Strollers, ECVs, and Ankle Injuries
I’m a mom of 5 and I spent my fair share of time pushing the behemoth strollers through Disney parks.
But I’ve always been Team Please Don’t Hit My Ankles With Your Huge Double Stroller.
And lower crowds with noticeably fewer strollers and ECVs (Electric Conveyance Vehicles) means my ankles made it through the week unscathed.
So what I’m saying is: let’s keep the space around us, Walt Disney World, by keeping the park capacity as low as you can for the foreseeable future.
5. Rope Drop Is SO 2019
Y’all, with the above-mentioned lower park capacity, there is zero need to be FIRST at rope drop any more.
And you know it pains me to say that as a dedicated rope drop lover.
Sleep in, cruise over a little later, and you’ll miss a lot of the bad that comes with rope drop, ie, the modest crowds all flowing in at the same time.
Physical distance is the key to staying healthy in this time (along with those Disney masks!)- so go ahead and let others arrive early.
You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy all that the Disney parks have to offer- plus a little extra shut-eye!
6. FastPass Who? Standby Is Where Its At
For now, anyway. I reserve the right to beg for this back when/if the crowds return.
When you walk up to Peter Pan and there’s a 5 minute “wait”- which is legit the time it takes for you to walk through the queue- you know this new FastPass-less world is a good one.
It is a glorious thing- and Jane might have to modify her “Stay Disney and Don’t Do Standby” motto if these crowd levels stick around!
7. Mobile Order: Mobile Order Everywhere!
It is one of my not-so-secret favorite things about Walt Disney World: mobile ordering your meals at quick-service restaurants.
I could cruise over, place my order on the way to the dining location of my choice, and waltz in to pick my food up bypassing the line.
Now it is the default way to get your meals, not the exception. Everyone should be prepared to make your mobile orders for meals- and I do hope Walt Disney World keeps this change!
8. No Touchy! New Security Screening Procedures
I try not to bring a bag to the parks anymore, but in the summer, its practical to do so.
You’ll want to bring a water bottle, at the least, in with you to the parks just to stay hydrated.
And that means walking through bag check at the parks.
Plot Twist: there is no real bag check anymore.
The no-contact security screening procedures mean you don’t have anyone rifling through your well-stocked park bag any longer!
You will need to remove any phone batteries, umbrellas, or metal water bottles- but otherwise, you are able to walk straight through security without stopping for a bag check.
It’s AMAZING and one of the biggest pluses to park going Walt Disney World has made in years.
I’m positive this is one of the Disney World changes that isn’t going anywhere.
9. Disney World Changes: Keep the Pixie-Glass!
Maybe I’ve been in quarantine too long, maybe I’m just antisocial, but I really dug the plexiglass barriers around the parks.
It stopped other guests and their kids from hanging all over the dividers, leaning into your personal space, and, well, spreading cooties in general.
It may not be magical to look at, but I’m ok with sacrificing the look for the function here.
10. Ditto Social Distance Line Markers
People will stand where you tell them to- if there are clear markings telling them what to do.
So let’s keep these around as well.
See above about not liking people in my space; the whole trip was so much more enjoyable without bumping into other parties or having random kiddos hanging on my leg (yes, it happens!).
11. Photo Opps Are Phenomenal Right Now
No one in your Millennium Falcon picture? Check!
Ride photos featuring JUST your family? Check!
Empty Hub magic shot zoom video? Check!
Seriously: it’s an absolute dream if you love your personal space!
12. Stores Limiting People Means You Can Actually SEE What You Are Shopping For
I’m not a huge shopper (look, if I can’t order it on Amazon, it’s probably not coming home with me!) but I did appreciate the few times I needed to enter a store while on property.
Cast Members were counting people coming in and going out on iPad, ensuring no store had too many people in it at one time.
Do you know how much you can actually SEE when there’s no one in the Emporium with you?
It’s low-key amazing- and this is one of those Walt Disney World changes that absolutely need to stick around a bit longer!
ps- if I can see it, I might actually buy it. Or more accurately: if my husband can see it- he WILL buy it.
Have you been to Walt Disney World Yet? What are your favorite changes that Disney should keep around?