Should You Visit Walt Disney World Right Now?

Should You Visit Walt Disney World Right Now?

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World chances are you’ve seen the news. High crowds and high prices are issues. Revenge travelers are issues, Low staffing, high stress and guest fights in the parks are issues. While we tend to stay pretty upbeat on this blog, our most recent trip to Walt Disney World has us feeling inclined to share some difficult truths about the Most Magical Place on Earth. Mainly because, while we visit the Disney Parks in good times and bad if you’re looking to spend your hard-earned cash, saving it may be a better choice. If this is your first Disney vacation, only Disney vacation, or even your annual visit, THIS MAY NOT BE THE TIME to go. Especially for those Disney Vacationers that remember the “Golden Age” of Walt Disney World where crowds were low, extra magic was everywhere and you didn’t have to pay for every last thing. If you’re gearing up for a Disney World Vacation, here are a few reasons we think you should wait until 2023, or 2024. 

flower and garden festival

If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World before, then you may not notice that anything is “wrong,” but for those of us who depend on this escape from reality into worlds of magic, the parks are decidedly different than they were 5 years ago, and not necessarily in a good way! 

Frankly, stepping into Walt Disney World these days comes with a lot of stress. If you’ve traveled to Walt Disney World in the last year, then chances are you know what we mean. So, what’s going on here? What is it that may cause your Disney Vacation to be less than magical?

DISCLOSURE: This is a blog post with TONS of personal opinions, expectations, and bias. So, by no means take it as the Gospel Truth. It’s simply based on several experiences we’ve had lately at WDW parks. And thought it only right to give you, our readers, a heads up. Let’s jump in. 

Is Disney World that Bad Right Now?

It’s true that having traveled to Walt Disney World in the most magical of times, we’re somewhat spoiled. That said, stepping off our most recent Disney Cruise and into Walt Disney World may have been a mistake. Since on a Disney Cruise you’re very much in the “Disney bubble” away from all the cares of the world, served with world-class care, with magic around every corner, at Walt Disney World that simply isn’t the case. ANYMORE.

With things like park pass reservations, the need to pay for rides, no magical express, Disney resort parking fees, no more free dining offers, no bounceback offers, and the crowds, Disney is feeling less and less magical. That said, here’s a lineup of some reasons that you may want to WAIT for your dream Disney vacation until things have normalized. 

polkadotsandpixiedust.com Ana and Elsa Character Meet and Greet

Walt Disney World’s Staffing Problem

It comes as no surprise that Walt Disney World is struggling with getting and keeping staff post-pandemic. All companies are. And in the wake of these struggles, Walt Disney World has even started offering an “up to $1500” sign-on bonus for those poor unfortunate souls willing to work at a theme park. That said, the staffing problem, while a significant issue, is currently being addressed. But that doesn’t change the carnage left in the wake of those staffing issues. Here are some of the ramifications you will visibly see on your Disney Vacation. 

Disney Resort Check-In Delays

Check-in at any self-respecting hotel is typically 3 pm. This is an industry standard. And in the past, we’ve been lucky to sometimes get in even earlier at Disney Resorts. On the last few visits our rooms haven’t been ready at 3 pm, and we’ve waited until closer to 5, or 6 pm. This has happened at both moderate and deluxe resorts alike. And in both the low crowd and high crowd months. While Disney Resorts have always been top-notch, the latest strain is affecting even the most basic of expectations. This leads us to our next issue. 

Housekeeping Challenges

Of course, if rooms aren’t ready at 3 pm, it’s most likely because the rooms aren’t cleaned. While not unacceptable, this is becoming the norm lately. Like most staff at Walt Disney World, housekeeping is understaffed and overworked. Extra cleaning measures and requirements due to the pandemic have increased their workload. And of course, as vacationers increase, the work becomes insurmountable. We don’t blame the staff. However, you can expect to see laundry bags piled near some rooms, and trash bags piled near others. Needless to say, walking into a Disney Deluxe Resort and seeing trash bags lining the halls, isn’t something we’d see at a Hilton, or Marriott and we surely don’t expect to see it at a Disney Resort. 

Litter

As a result of the limited staff and the massive crowds, there is more trash than ever across the resorts and parks. This is crazy to us! In the past, Disney prided itself on extreme cleanliness. Extreme. To the point that it used to be something we actually noticed and wrote home about! It was part of what it made it another world. But, as Disney grapples with the “now,” litter is something we’re seeing everywhere. 

Stressed Cast Members

It will come as no surprise that any work team dealing with changing management, changing staff, and a higher workload are bound to be stressed. Know that we RARELY see Cast Members share their stress with guests. They are truly magical people. We have no idea how they do it, and many are truly there to help make your stay more magical. Be Kind to them. 

Delayed and Packed Buses

While Disney’s Bus Drivers are part of the union, it doesn’t affect the fact that there still needs to be more of them. As a result, bus lines are long, buses are crowded and there are fewer to go around. If you’re hoping to be somewhere on time for a reservation, just Uber. 

crowds at walt disney world

Walt Disney World Changes in Processes and Procedures

One of the biggest issues currently at Walt Disney World is that there are so many changes, and all at once. While we love progress as much as Walt Disney himself, when it all happens at the same time, it’s difficult to adjust. As Disney tries to fix its money, staffing, and crowd problems, these are the changes that have happened as a result.  

Park Pass Reservations

Reserving a Park Pass at Walt Disney World for each day of your vacation is a hassle, but it’s not a crisis. It does however limit your ability to make last-minute changes to your day, or park hop before 2 pm. And as Park Pass Reservations seem here to stay, for what reason we’re unclear, since it’s not being used as a tool to manage crowd levels, we’ll have to live with them. 

Changes in Disney Transportation

Disney Transportation options are always in flux. And up until recently, they were primarily FREE. Disney’s Magical Express, which took people from the Orlando International Airport and delivered both them and their luggage to their resort, is no longer operating. In its place is a variety of paid transportation options. Options like Mears Connect, the Sunshine Flyer, and Uber and Lyft are options at your disposal. That said, the “magic” that once included your luggage magically appearing in your room, with no need for you to get it at the airport, is no longer offered. 

Longer Lines

With extremely high crowds at  Walt Disney World comes longer lines. As such almost everyone is buying into, literally, the Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane system, resulting in a per person fee of $15 per person per day for rides, and higher for individual lightning lane rides. If you were a WDW regular in the past used to the luxury of FastPass and the ability to choose multiple rides where you could skip the line, think again. Disney Genie Plus allows 2-3 rides per day simply because of how the system is set up. As a result any other rides you’re hoping to fit into your day will be because you’ve waited in a standby line- for God knows how long. 

Disney Phone Lines are ALWAYS Busy

With changes to the Walt Disney World website and My Disney Experience app, things like canceling dining reservations, modifying a resort reservation or even canceling has become a challenge. As a result, the phone lines are always busy with so many people who now need to “call-in” instead of just adjusting their reservations online. This also goes for Disney Cruise Line and is a clear indicator that even the customer service teams are dealing with low staff issues.  

You Have to Pay For Everything

While Disney World has never been cheap there was a sense that at the end of the vacation, you got Value for your money. Mainly because the “feeling” you get at Walt Disney World is magical. It feels magical. Right now there are lots of things that don’t feel magical. There are parking fees at the parks, parking fees at the resorts, ride fees in every park, rideshare fees if you’re traveling from the airport, higher snack prices, higher meal prices, and a sense that you just keep handing over your credit card. 

No Disney Dining Plan or Free Dining

While we get that Free Dining is a huge expense for Disney, once upon a time they did offer it, and as such, people still reminisce over whether it will ever return. And without the Disney Dining Plan option, you’re not only aware that you didn’t get your food for FREE, but also that all you do now is pay A LOT of MONEY for FOOD.  Because you couldn’t “buy it ahead of time” with your vacation package the illusion” of magic, and an easy vacation, is gone. Now, you are reminded at least three times a day that you have to pay for food, every day of your vacation for everyone in your family.

Disney Resort Parking Fees

The issue with Disney Resort Parking Fees is that Once upon a time it was FREE to park at the Disney Resorts. Now there are tiered charges, based on your Disney Resort, that are automatically charged to you for parking your car, every night of your stay.

Transportation to and from the Airport

Also once offered for free, you are now tasked with finding and paying for your transportation to and from Walt Disney World. Again, if you never experienced this before, you don’t know that you’re missing out. But for tried-and-true Disney vacationers, this is a HUGE loss. Not necessarily because you have to pay, but because the magic is gone. Your luggage isn’t magically transported from your home airport to your Disney resort (waiting for checked luggage sucks), and you don’t get Mickey cartoons, Disney behind the scenes or a colorful Mickey bus to help you start your vacation as soon as you land. As a result, you can plan on spending about $15 per person each way to ride a bus to and from the airport to your WDW resort. Or you can rideshare, of course. Yet another detail you never had to worry about before.

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane

I bet you never thought your expensive Disney World ticket wouldn’t include rides. Well, guess again. While you’re welcome to wait in standby lines at any ride, the typical 60-minute waits leave many looking for other options. Hence the arrival of Disney’s Pay to Ride system, Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane. 

Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World’s Pay to Ride System

Never mind the fact that you just spent over $100 per person to get into a Walt Disney World park, if you hope to ride anything without waiting in a 45-minute line (on a good day), then you best be willing to pay for it. A typical park day at Walt Disney World will include an extra $15 dollar charge (per person per day) for Disney Genie Plus ( to ride 2-3 rides that you pre-select at 7am that day) and a $9-$17 charge for any Individual lightning Lane passes to rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Of course, we understand that inflation is hitting everyone hard. We also understand that an increase in ticket prices would have been an easier way to socially engineer the humongous crowds. Universal Studios is just fine charging plenty and offering value where Disney has been missing the mark lately. 

Hollywood Studios Statues for the 50th Anniversary of Disney World

Walt Disney World Crowds

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how well we know the Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World or what the Capacity of Walt Disney World Parks is, the struggle is real. The Crowds at Walt Disney World are a result of several factors. And therefore hopefully “Temporary.” Here are the things affecting crowds at Disney World right now.

  • Disposable Income Saved from the Pandemic. Since no one was traveling, everyone was dreaming of vacations to come. As Disney bloggers, we can say that our data never saw higher levels of people dreaming about their next vacation. Suddenly everyone was perusing travel websites, buying vacation planners, and browsing Pinterest for everywhere they could go in the future. The pandemic gave people time and money.
  • Extra Money from stimulus checks. The pandemic also gave people extra funds in the form of stimulus. While this was a necessary boost for many attempting to afford rent, for others this simply added to their savings accounts. Americans never saved more money than they did through the pandemic.
  • The convenience of domestic travel. Additionally, domestic travel is easier for everyone. Especially since things like covid regulations including vaccination and mask requirements are still a real requirement for almost all internal locations. A US vacation to somewhere like Disney World requires no hoops to jump through, and Disney no longer has mandates of any of that.

The Gen Z Trend

  • The “Coolness” of Disney Parks is having a Moment. Thanks to Instagram, Tik Tok, and even Travel blogs like this one, Disney has become cool again. Remember when it wasn’t cool? Like in the 90’s when they were trying to boost attendance with that “I’m going to Walt Disney World” campaign? Well, now it’s cool! There are Instagram Walls for your feed, Disney Vloggers, Bloggers, Creators and Influences out the wazoo sharing how magical, wonderful, pretty and fairytale-like Disney World is. As a result, Disney is becoming the travel destination for Gen Z and young Millennials as a result of the social media frenzy.

Revenge Travelers

These folks are currently living on the mindset of “I’m gonna spend every last cent I have on travel- since I was “forced” not to travel for the last two years”. Frankly, many people can only live sparsely for so long before they just give in. And that’s where we’re at right now. That said, because many don’t want the hassle of international travel, and may only ever have “this much money” once in their lifetime, they’re choosing to spend it ALL at Walt Disney World.

This unfortunately gives a skewed view of reality. Mainly because when it’s all said and done, many people will begin to rediscover other locales- both domestic and international- that are affordable and more interesting than a theme park. As a result, Walt Disney World will be left with what it’s always had; Disney devotees that visit annually, passholders and locals. And those folks will refuse to pay for all the things they’re currently charging for.

Non-Disney Fan Travelers

A newer breed of travelers bent on stepping foot into Walt Disney World, and we would argue Disneyland as well, are people who don’t really LIKE Disney. Yes, we said it. WHY would anyone spend “all this money” to go to Walt Disney World when they don’t like it? Because it’s easy. With many pandemic restrictions still in place, people traveling don’t want to have to worry about vaccines, mask mandates, international port requirements, or foreign custom requirements. That said, they are all going to Walt Disney World instead. It’s easy. No masks are required anywhere. It’s domestic travel, so you don’t have to worry about that, and it’s really just a “theme park” anyway, right? 

Everything is Crowded

While the general feeling at Walt Disney World is “crowded,” you can even find this to be true even at a microcosmic level. Unknown Disney Lounges at random hard-to-get-to resorts are crowded. Gift shop lines are crowded. Ride lines are crowded. Table-Service Restaurants are Crowded. As people begin to really saturate all areas of Walt Disney World and not just the parks, we’re seeing an uptick of people everywhere. Buses are back to pre-pandemic levels of shoving as many people as possible on board. And the boats and monorails are the same. Even the Disney Skyliners are back to fitting multiple families into a gondola to help manage the “crowds.”

All in all, if you’ve been waiting for your chance to FINALLY visit Walt Disney World we’d recommend against visiting right now. There are A LOT of variables in play that could compromise your well-laid plans, Disney budget, and hopes for a magical vacation. Don’t get us wrong, we love Walt Disney World. The park is just struggling right now with tons of changes as a result of the pandemic, new management, and a population desperate for travel.

relaxing at disney on the hub grass polkadotsandpixiedust.com

Rewarding Wealth instead of Knowledge

One of the most notable things about the Changes at Walt Disney World is the complete shift toward focusing on the elite classes. Again, as business owners, we know that a business needs to make money. We get it. As Disney Vacationers, we are also stringently aware of the number of things that used to be “Open to All” that is now only available IF YOU PAY FOR IT. What’s worse is that most of the things that have been taken away from regular guests (who already paid their over $100 dollar per person ticket btw) were accessible simply because these families looked stuff up online on how to make their vacation better. Now people have to have money to enjoy these things.

The Hub Grass at Magic Kingdom for Fireworks Viewing

Mostly free throughout the day, except for the gazillion paid photo shoots that take place in this area, the Hub Grass used to be available to all guests in the evenings as a place to view fireworks. Now, these grassy areas are reserved only for Dessert Party guests at more than $60 a person.

The Main Street Roundabout Lawn at Magic Kingdom for Seasonal Parades

Once open to guests wanting to get great pictures for the parade, this area is now only reserved for people attending themed dining events, available at an upcharge. Most notably Cruella’s Halloween Hideaway at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. It is also reserved for those paying for Disney tours, signature services, and extra add-ons when situations arise. 

Skip the Line Ride Passes

Previously known as fast passes, the ability to Skip the Line at a Ride was part of the Disney Vacation Planning process, and allowed you up to 3 rides per person, per day, for FREE. With the chance of additional fast passes after your last one is completed. This system rewarded those who knew about the FastPass system and actively booked rides ahead of time in their app or online. Now, this has changed to Disney Genie+ which is $15 per person per day and can only be booked on the day you are visiting the park. 

Individual Lightning Lane Selection Rides

As the most popular rides in each park, strategies for getting on these rides without waiting include racing to the ride at park opening time, aiming for meal times, or just before close. While you can still attempt these, the surest way to get on these rides is to pay for it. And for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, there is no standby line, so you must buy it, or enter the hard-to-get virtual queue line.

Disney's After Hours at Magic Kingdom

Is Walt Disney World Worth the Cost in 2022?

No, we’d say at least not right now. Just the idea that a family of 4 would pretty much have to pay an extra $60/ per day for Disney Genie+ with the hopes that they can get 2-3 rides they want without waiting in long lines, is ludicrous. That’s PER DAY… on top of tickets, lodging, parking fees and food. While we definitely don’t mind paying for things, when lines at all rides are consistently above 40 minutes each due to crowds, it really limits what you can do on a trip to the parks. As such, if you are visiting, we highly recommend taking time to visit the Resorts, Disney Springs, and Fort Wilderness Campground. You can even grab a round of miniature golf. Check out all the Free things you can do at Walt Disney World. 

Will Disney World Bring Back Free Dining?

Know that since the Disney Dining Plan hasn’t even been reinstated yet, the free dining offer will most likely not return anytime soon. Yet, with fingers crossed we’re hoping for the return of Disney Free Dining potentially in late 2023. But as Disney obviously doesn’t have to lure people into the parks, take this simply as wishful thinking at this point. 

Will Disney World Go Back to the Way it Was?

With Disney’s recent CEO change from Bob Iger to Bob Chapek, we’d say No. At least not until another changing of the guard. And since Bob Chapek’s contract has been renewed for another 3 years, plan on it to be a while. At present, the focus for Walt Disney Companies is streaming, Intellectual property, real estate, and a bunch of things that don’t necessarily have to do with the parks. That said, the approach to the parks has been fairly cut and dry; i.e. streamline and charge for everything. The parks are not getting the creative attention they need, and vacationers are feeling it. The fact that the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ( i.e. the Splash Mountain renovation) is now pushed to late 2024 is evidence of other priorities now. Especially since the re-imagining of Splash Mountain was originally announced in 2020. But, at some point, we’re hoping parks get some love and attention. Again, with new leadership anything is possible.

Disney Characters at Magic Kingdom Park

When Will Walt Disney World Get Better?

Having visited Walt Disney World many times, we can safely say that these things come in waves. If you’re trying to decide between 2022 and 2023, or 2024 for your next vacation, we’d say the later the better.

As People’s Finances Self-Correct. Many travelers right now are using pent-up cash as a result of the pandemic. But with high gas prices, inflation, and a possible recession on the way, at some point, many will re-direct their funds to other places. And not Walt Disney World. 

After March 2023. Once the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World is over crowds should die down and make simple things like riding rides,  without Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane passes bearable. 

After TRON opens. Another rush will happen in early 2023 when the TRON LightCycle Power Run opens and everyone on the planet descends on Disney World to try it. The hoopla around new rides typically lasts about 6 months. With the large portion of vacationers simply waiting until their next vacation to try something new. 

After the Fad Dies Down. Everything has a threshold. As Disney fans, we can say that there are a lot of us. BUT, many of the people saturating the market right now are deep in it as a result of self-imposed social media pressure. At some point, this will change, if for no other reason than people themselves change. Like everything, fads come and go. All those young adults currently loving up Disney World will at one point get tired of it, grow up, and move on.

Disney World Magic Kingdom Photo Spots

What to Know Before You Go to Walt Disney World in 2022

If you do choose to visit Walt Disney World this year, despite all the reasons we’re sharing not to, here are a couple things to know before you go. 

Fill out the Disney World Surveys! 

Believe it or not, the administration at Walt Disney World knows there are issues. Imagine running damage control at 25+ resorts across the Walt Disney World property, and dealing with limited and new staff? That’s where these handy surveys come in. Some time after you check-in to a Disney Resort, you will receive an E-Mail Survey regarding your stay. Frankly, we were so appalled at seeing trash in the hallways at Animal Kingdom Lodge and dealing with a several-hour late check-in at Caribbean Beach Resort, that we chose to actually fill out the survey. What followed, was a bit of a shock! Frankly, THEY CALLED. And Within like 15 minutes of submitting the survey. Of course, apologies are always nice. But they also tried to make right some of the issues. And other guests we’ve talked to have shared similar stories, some that even include getting a free night’s stay for the trouble. So, it’s worth it to let them know when you’re having an issue. They will FIX it. 

Find the Magical Moments

If you choose to visit Walt Disney World try to remember to see the magical moments. Truth be told for us, we couldn’t stop seeing the issues this last visit. People were crammed into the Disney Skyliner, during times of day when it wasn’t necessary. Litter seemed to be around every corner. Buses were crammed, and not arriving regularly enough. The lines everywhere were long. And we witnessed more fights than normal, which we blame on the non-Disney travelers. Because generally, while you sometimes see bad behavior at Walt Disney World, there’s usually a security guard close by to remind people “this is a kid’s park.” A phrase that usually limits all-out family fights, swearing, and the like. 

BUT, there were magical moments on our trip too. So many Disney Cast Members were hands down amazing. Kind, generous with their time, and truly helpful. We even got a special ride in the DVC van to Magic Kingdom because the bus was taking too long. Magical Moments still do happen. Remember to see them. 

Should You Visit Walt Disney World right now?

While many of the changes are here to stay, we’re hoping that as things level out, Disney will remember about the “magic” and bring some of it back. The coolness of Walt Disney World isn’t permanent.  And the Disney families traveling through these crowded and difficult times will most likely get a bad impression of what a Disney Vacation is and vow to either, wait it out or go later. OR never go again. Whatever is on the horizon at Walt Disney World we know it will get better. We’ll be sharing all the news from D23 EXPO in September 2022, which should give us ( and you) a better handle on Disney World projects and plans on the way that could affect your magical vacation. Stay tuned. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.