What to know if you haven’t been to Disney World in 10 years

What to know if you haven’t been to Disney in a long time…or 10 years in my case.  It isn’t a conscious effort, but I have only been to Disney World every ten years in my life.  Obviously, I am not their target market (FaveMom goes way more often than me —see Disney Social Media Moms).  The fact I don’t go so often is simply a combination of costs and my husband finds that toward the bottom of his vacation goals and I am often traveling with my family.  (Ironic right, WDW attracts family travelers all the time, but my family is the reason I don’t go often). I don’t dislike Disneyworld, but it is one type of vacation and we can’t afford other types if we do that every year.  Now that I think on we can’t afford that type of vacation every year. If you are like us and you are looking to go to Disney World in the near future but haven’t been in 10 plus years here are a few changes you should know about.

Visiting DisneyWorld after 10 years meant there had been some changes, but Cinderella’s castle isn’t one of them.

There’s an app for that

My Disney Exerience App is a must for all park goers.  You can book your fast passes, make dining reservations, review your hotel reservations, get wait times, find nearby dining etc all the info you need.  When i see people in line at the in park fast pass kiosk I am surprised. Use your phone and look while you are in line. Though I get it if you are from another country those data fees can be atrocious.

Disney Magic Band is one thing that has changed in the last 10 years at Disney World
Washing my Hands at the adorable bath salt scrub shop in the Grand Floridian, Trying to avoid my magic band

There’s a bracelet ie MagicBand

And you want to use it. YOu can alternatively carry around a card with your ticket, but I really, really think you should use a Magic Band and you will like it.  If you are staying on a Disney Property they will mail you one or hand it to you upon arrival. It’s your ticket, your credit card, your fast pass reservation, your “key to the Kingdom” as one might say.  For all the details of the magic band break down check out the video below. The magic band also syncs with the app so it’s double valuable to have both.

Fastpass is completely different.

You used to get a fast pass at the ride itself, creating crazy lines near the lines and you didn’t know if the fast pass would be available until you got there and found out the next fast pass time was for the middle of your dinner reservation.  And then you had to game the system because you could only have one fast pass at a time. It was good, but now the fastpasses are booked on your app, you can book 3 at a time. You don’t have to go to the ride to ge the fast pass. And there are kiosk to do it also if your phone dies.  For a complete fast pass primer I recommend this article from my favorite Disney tips company Touring Plans.com

The following rides are gone:

  • Snow White’s Scary Adventure MK
  • Captain EO or Honey I shrunk the Audience  3D EPC
  • Maelstrom – EPC
  • Ellens Energy Adventure EPC
  • The great movie ride HS
  • Stitches alien attack
  • The Back lot TOur HS

The following rides have been updated or are new

  • Test Track
  • Snow White’s Mine Train
  • Figment’s Imagination
  • Frozen
  • Pandora World, Flight of the avatar and Navi River Journey
  • Soarin’ –around the world instead of just California
  • Star tours was updated a new world is being added 2020
  • Toy Story Land
  • Pirates of the Caribean now has Jack Sparrow
  • The Hall of Presidents came back
  • Under the Sea Journey of LIttle Mermaid
  • Dumbo was relocated but more cars added

Touring plans have gotten better too

I mentioned my favorite Disney Tips company is Touring Plans.com….I really recommend their touring plans if you haven’t been in 10 years.  They get you on all the major rides, leave room for a few non-ride attractions and tell you what to skip. They are real. Some stuff is worth the wait and some isn’t.  That is why they are the unofficial guide. And they have responded well to my contacting them with questions. Their plans were good 10 years ago, but they keep them up to date and  they are even more accurate with continued data gathering.

Downtown Disney is now DISNEY SPRINGS

Same concept new name.  It’s a giant outdoor mall at Disney World.  My family never went there. I only went on my most recent trip because there was an after hours event.  I am not a mall goer. But if you like the shopping and non-park and non-hotel restaurants, this may be your thing.  OR if you want to go to the movies on vacation than be my guest. Just know it’s the same place.

The Contemporary has been completely redone in the last 10 years. There is even a new tower for the Disney Vacation Club.

There are more and better hotels

Disney has long had fancy hotels like the Grand Floridian.  But there are more hotels, expansions to the Vacation CLub properties.  And overall they are giving every level of traveler more choices. In the end you want to stay on property.  It’s just so huge driving in and out is a big time-suck (not to mention parking and shuttle to the park). The Art of Animation was added with suites and such in the budget category (don’t be fooled, “budget”  is relative here –relatively high). The Contemporary was updated and expanded to include a DVC property. The other new additions fall in the Deluxe (ie expensive)category Villas at the Grand Floridian, Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  Disney4Shores shared her thoughts on the Copper Creek Villas

The prices went up

You probably anticipated this since prices always go up.  But Disney World is almost like a Debeers diamond cartel. They can raise their prices and people just keep coming.  And with the increased activity in travel generally the price increases have been large. I paid around $3,200 for my family of 4 in our vacation package.  The same package runs $4,800. So you have been warned and sticker shock might still happen. OUr package was the following: 7 night stay at Pop Century, with Disney mid-level dining plan (1 snack, 1 table and 1 quick service) during a moderate season (presidents weekend and week after). If you want “how much does it cost tips check out This article from Vacation Kids.com.  Mousesavers.com also has great specific tips for making the trip economical.   Their website is old school and ugly and you have to read –no videos–but it is super informative)

Whats the same

  • It’s crowded
  • It’s still huge
  • There is always something still “under construction”
  • Dining plans are still free sometimes–look for that in the fall  
  • You still won’t experience it all–they do that on purpose
  • Someone will still have a breakdown–full days of Disney wear a kid out and an adult
  • The tea cups will still make you throw up–and Mission Space
  • It still rains a regularly in FL bring a poncho
  • You’ll have great memories in the end
If you haven't been in 10years, things have changed at Disney World.  Here's a list of what has been updated and what's new to the not-so-frequent traveler.  #disneyworldtravel #disneyworldtips
If you haven’t been in 10years, things have changed at Disney World. Here’s a list of what has been updated and what’s new to the not-so-frequent traveler. #disneyworldtravel #disneyworldtips

Annette Barney
I live in the mountains of Utah. Yes, I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I love hot pink, XC skiing, running, hot chocolate, yoga, romance novels,traveling for fun, volunteering and, of course, origami. I am a woman, a mom, a wife and a daughter of God. I believe that everything tastes better with a little bacon or a little chocolate but not both.