It’s been a busy day for the Disney Parks! A busy and good day. We started off with opening/returning dates for Tron Lightcycle Run and nighttime spectaculars at WDW and that has been followed up with more good news at both resorts. In this post, we’ll cover the flexible and guest experience improvements coming to both coasts. We’ll start with the Disney World news, move to Disneyland Resort and finish off with some commentary!
Enjoy complimentary self-parking when staying at a Disney Resort hotel
Beginning this evening, Jan. 10, overnight self-parking will once again be offered complimentary to guests staying at Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World. Guests have been paying for parking for a few years at Disney World but now they have reversed course. This change goes along with other on-site benefits like complimentary standard parking at Walt Disney World theme parks, daily early theme park entry (with valid admission and a park reservation) and complimentary on-site transportation options such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner.
Walt Disney World Annual Passholders: Park reservation requirements will be relaxed for visits after 2 p.m.
Beginning in the next few months, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom Park. Pass blockout dates will continue to apply like they do today. Passholders will also receive access to Disney PhotoPass lenses and one complimentary Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories experience (age restrictions apply). Visit Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories and Disney PhotoPass Lenses for details, restrictions and other information.
A start date for these changes will be shared soon with Passholders for when these offerings will become available, as well as information about a new offering that is planned where you can create and share short Disney-themed video slideshows with favorite photos from your theme park visits.
Attraction photo downloads will be included with Disney Genie+ service
Beginning in the next few months, guests purchasing Disney Genie+ service will also receive digital downloads of their Disney PhotoPass attraction photos, taken in the park on the day of their purchase, at no additional charge. Attraction photos are taken while in the parks at more than a dozen of the most popular attractions including Space Mountain, Slinky Dog Dash, Test Track, Expedition Everest and more. An exact launch date will be announced at a later time. Disney PhotoPass terms and conditions and expiration policy apply.
Moving to the Disneyland news:
Switch between parks even earlier with your Park Hopper ticket, beginning at 11 a.m. PT starting February 4
Beginning February 4, 2023, guests who enter a Disneyland Resort theme park with a Magic Key pass or a Park Hopper ticket may begin crossing over between the parks two hours earlier – starting at 11 a.m. PT!
more opportunities to visit with a $104 park ticket
We’re happy to share that the Disneyland Resort reservation calendar will offer nearly two months worth of $104 park ticket dates throughout 2023, which means additional opportunities to enjoy the lowest one-day, one-park ticket price.
Complimentary Disney PhotoPass digital attraction photos for you to take home as a souvenir
As a “thank-you” to Disneyland Resort guests, Disney will make PhotoPass digital photo downloads captured on any Disney PhotoPass available attraction during a park visit, complimentary for all ticketed park guests on the Disneyland app starting February 4, throughout the Disney100 celebration at the Disneyland Resort.
More opportunities to join the Magic Key program
Disneyland Resort will make select Magic Key passes available for new sales from time to time throughout 2023 as pass inventory becomes available. Continue to check Disneyland.com/MagicKey for pass on sale dates and availability.
Well, how about that! I was talking with a friend the other day about the mood around Disney Parks. Even though there hadn’t been any actual changes to the system but people appreciated seeing Iger interacting with both Cast Members and guests. Now, we have some actual changes to sink our teeth into. Not that these should all be attributed to Iger. I doubt he was the one who came up with all of these ideas but I also don’t think these would have happened if Chapek was still in charge.
I’m not going to dive into all of these changes, most of them speak for themselves. Photos are a nice perk for all of those who visit the parks. Some will like than more than others but it is a good way to keep all of those memories and not worry about constantly having to grab a selfie. Including those with Genie+ or as part of the Disney 100 celebration is a great way to build up goodwill.
Complimentary parking to go with the expensive hotel rates seems like a no-brainer too. Now that Magical Express is gone, offering parking free of charge goes a long way to build up goodwill. That change was frustrating when it was announced and I’m glad they’ve reversed course.
The same goes with lower ticket prices on select days at Disneyland Resort. Ticket prices continue to rise and the amount of days at the lowest price was comical. Now that’s not as much of a problem! Of course, I’d like to see lower prices or even more days at the lower price but we’ll take the wins where we can.
Out of all of these changes, the most interesting to me were the change to the park hopping hours at Disneyland Resort and relaxation of reservations for Annual Passholders at WDW. Both of these are first steps back to pre-shutdown rules at the Disney Parks. No one really enjoys the reservation system or limiting park hopping. Moving past these rules or simply relaxing them will build up goodwill.
Disney likes the reservation system for many reasons and I’m afraid that it’s here to stay. That means some restrictions on park hopping will remain in place. But there’s no reason it needs to be as restrictive as it currently is. The parks feel no less busy than they did pre-pandemic. The reservation system isn’t enhancing the guest experience. This is the first step in relaxing some of those regulations and that should be celebrated.
There’s so many ways to take this news. The optimist might say that this is the start of a shift to a fan-friendlier version of the Disney Parks, one that listens to its customers and doesn’t nickel and dime them. The cynic might say that now that the rush of the holidays is over, Disney is trying to incentivize guests to visit and build up goodwill. I don’t know, both might be true!
What I do know is that this was good news and fans haven’t had much of that recently, at least from a guest relations perspective. I’m hopeful that this is the start of a trend and I’m very happy about all of these changes!
What do you think of all of these changes? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a trip to a Disney Park? Check out our guides to help you along the way! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!