Is Walt Disney World losing the magic?

For the last many years we have taken a week off in late September, early October, and enjoyed a relaxing stay at the same resort at Walt Disney World. We are annual pass holders, and have really enjoyed all the extras that Disney offers. We have been visiting the parks since we were kids, and now our kids are grown, we continue to go because of the exceptional service, and all the extras that can be enjoyed inside and outside the parks. The fall season usually affords us a discounted room, lower crowds, and more enjoyable temperatures, and for the last several years, the Food and Wine festival.
With the full understanding that the covid issue has dealt a significant blow to Disney and many other businesses, it looks like Disney took advantage of the issue to roll out the park reservation system severely restricting the benefits of park hopping, the removal of fast pass service, only to be replaced with a paid version of the same, removed the fall discounts for regular guests, annual pass holders, and the rest of their guests. Disney has also been very slow to reopen many of their resorts, what dinning locations have resumed operating have limited menus. Disney also did away with the 180 day dinning reservation windows, now only offering 60 day advance reservations, further complicating trying to get table service dinning. I know a lot of folks will say that Disney is taking their time getting back up because of covid, however, I will point out that they sure got away from only letting 25% of crowds in the parks quick enough. Until August, the Disney resorts that are open have been at or near capacity, but their level of service is still a small fraction of what it was.
In the past, calling for reservations for cabanas, golf, party cruises, firework cruises, events or tours, your call was answered promptly, now it takes hours (often more than two), and the nice folks who answer, are trying hard, but obviously are not trained. They have done away with room service at the resorts that did offer it, club level service is only back in bits and pieces, and Disney has had a steep increase in pricing even from last year, this coupled with there lesser service, and offerings is not sitting well with many of their guests.
I understand that this year is Walt Disney Worlds 50th anniversary, and I’m sure the planning for this celebration has been in the works for quite some time, however I think Disney may be staring to forget that many families save up for a Disney trip that they get to take once or twice, but those of us who have been coming for many years, many times a year, are not an insignificant group, and they are charging us more, offering us less, and loosing that magic that we have come to enjoy so much.
Walt Disney World has set that bar high, and I hope that they see that they can do better, trying to find a replacement for Disney is difficult, I know, I’ve been looking.


I’m so glad you posted. I know appreciated when I could plan my trip and then just go enjoy it. I am in the same boat wondering if future trips are going to be as enjoyable.


I think a lot of the reopening limitations and phone call wait times is due to staffing issues, not necessarily anything Disney wants to / is choosing to do. Staffing in customer service jobs is very difficult right now. If they can’t hire enough people, they can’t reopen more resorts, restaurants, and wait times will be high.


I think most of it is Covid related. I’m seeing some of the same issues at other corporations I frequent. The obvious money grabs aren’t cool and the only thing I take issue with. I mean, I take issue with all of it, but put the blame squarely on Covid.
The last minute changes are definitely frustrating and challenging. I just hope the level of service is still there to balance out the negatives.

When it comes to service, oftentimes it’s the small gestures and attention to detail. For example, I was struggling to get this pic of SDD with my Forky plush in the foreground. (Solo trip.) A CM must have been watching from afar. She asked if I needed help and proceeded to hold Forky in just the right spot.
It’s those things that go a long way with me. For many of us, I suppose, and the reason we spend our hard earned $$ with them.
I do hope your family has a lovely trip and hope you will report back on the experience.


Very much agree with @ISUamanda that staffing is driving much of the current experience.

We were lucky enough to have a week in the World, leaving 5 days before Christmas, in 2020.

We had not expected much and had a great time. Actually recovered some Disney magic tho we’ve always felt we were equally responsible for how much magic we received.

In May we did 2 weeks between Yellowstone and the North rim of the Grand Canyon Canyon stopping at a favorite Colorado town on the way home. It was virtually closed Memorial Weekend due to staffing. Businesses hadn’t hired many employees as they hadn’t expected things to open up as much.

At WDW, much is driven by the union for CMs.


Most certainly issues with hiring, Disney laid of a LOT of people, and I saw how many of the CM’s were notified and treated, most of what I saw was not good. I know of one particular person who had been with Disney for a number of years, she said in no uncertain terms, she would not return, and they have reached out to her multiple times. On my visits back since they reopened my resort, I see lots of new faces, as well as some of the old ones, I was also suprised how many CM’s from our resort had been relocated to other locations, and none of them had asked to move, they were told.


I both agree with you and disagree.

In some cases, Disney is doing a money grab. Of course, they are allowed, and trying hard to recoup losses during the pandemic, I am sure. Personally, I think some of those choices will backfire longer term, but shorter term, they are having little trouble packing people in (aside from the ebb and flow related to COVID numbers and associated rules).

Regarding the employees…I am sure in hindsight, they might have done things differently at the outset…be remember, the sky was falling and there was no known pathway to when things would return. Disney probably initially thought it was going to be a short term thing, and then when it wasn’t, they had to figure out how to survive. Keeping employees who have no work to do was not financially possible for them. At the same time, it was hurting real people. Of course, even I lost my job during COVID, and I am a software engineer. COVID didn’t really discriminate (well, you know what I mean). Fortunately, I was able to find a new job quickly. But a lot of people just aren’t returning to the workforce, for a variety of reasons.

Anyhow, Disney isn’t the only one having trouble getting employees to return. Pretty much the entire fast food industry, for example, is operating with a skeleton crew. Most places around us don’t have staff to open up the lobby, and drive-thrus are slower than ever. This, despite the higher wages they are paying, plus sign on bonuses.

So, Disney is trying to get staffed up. They, like everyone else, likely didn’t anticipate the difficulty they would have in getting people to return. In the meantime, they have an anniversary celebration they are hoping keeps the crowds coming.

Some if what you are saying is a loss is actually a matter of opinion. 180 ADR booking? Crazy…and so changing it to 60 days was going to happen eventually. It doesn’t take anything away…just changes the timeframe when it can happen. And it actually is beneficial in many ways. Personally, I see the change as almost entirely positive. Always hated that you had to know your schedule for the parks 6 months in advance.

The Park Reservation System has impacted park hopping true…but I think that is temporary. I anticipate the time you can hop will move up gradually. But overall, the park reservations are a positive, because it means Disney can finally control and plan and respond to the park capacity like never before. They can keep parks from becoming over-inundated with people. Again, I see the APR system a positive change overall, despite the impact on park hopping. (And truth is, a 1:00 or 2:00 time to allow hopping is probably covering a vast majority of people who would park hop to begin with, other than a few die hards.)

The paid FP system? Well…the writing has been on the wall for a while on that one. I enjoyed the parks without any line skipping system this past year or so, but the free FP system was not likely to be around much longer even without COVID. The replacement is, in my mind, horrible…but I am holding out hope that Disney will limit it severely enough to keep Standby lines similar to what they have been.

Prices are going up, and more things are costing more money. What this means is fewer people might be able to afford going, or go less frequently. But that might end up being a blessing or sorts as well, because it may keep the crowds a bit more manageable for those who do go.

Is the magic gone, or diminishing? It feels we have been pondering that one for years in these forums…and yet, many of are still going and having great times when we go. Each time, it looks different than before…and that’s okay. A little mystery adds to the magic. It is sad to lose things, but there is plenty to love. We went twice last year, and had a wonderful time both times. We are looking forward to returning in Dec. 2022. The magic isn’t gone for us.

That doesn’t stop me from complaining about changes I don’t like…but once I am there, I will be happy as ever!


Ryan1, there you go, confusing us with facts again.


I feel like all the extra costs are making it more difficult for a middle class family to go to Disney. I know they are “keeping up with the jones’” in terms of paid fast passes, not having travel from the airport etc, but I feel these were the things that made the trip more magical and less like going to any amusement park. However I will also say that the cast members my past trip in August were wonderful! We had some very magical interactions!! I can’t say that it will make up for the extra costs but it was nice.


Welcome to the forum! We were just talking about this yesterday. How as out of state AP holders, when we go to WDW, we’re dropping a significant amount of money every time we go. We’re staying in on-site hotels, eating the food and buying the merch. Every time, multiple times per year. When we go on large family trips, we go on LARGE family trips – 18, 24, 30 people at a time. Some of which have caught the “magic” and are also now regular visitors or have become DVC owners. One of the greatest loses for me is DME and the luggage service. I agree that Disney is losing site of that loyalty and profit.


Been traveling with my family to disney well before all the fast pass variations and the magic express…Disney has always been pay to play -
Depending on what your willing to pay is how magical your vacation can be…

Seriously if you have ever paid for a dessert party, dining experience for fantasmic vigil/ rivers of light - how bout after hours parties - if you gone to those it’s the same thing… you paid extra for a different level of service than the standard guest. You have paid to play at some point

I couldn’t get fast passes for FP- it was important at the time my sister got to ride it ( bucket list ) I purchased Ultimate nights - my whole family didn’t get ultimate tours everyday on that trip…just us just once…

We will ultimately wind up paying for genie+ or LL rides but not every day every trip…

I think we need to keep in mind this is an optional add on expense-

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You not far off the mark.
We can’t get the dessert parties, (not offered now), we can’t get the fireworks cruises, (super limited availability), we can’t get club level, (slowly coming back), gone is Minnie vans, Gone is Magical Express, gone is free parking, gone is discounted rooms, gone are many benefits of annual pass. Still closed are many restaurants, (look at Epcot right now, it’s crap and it’s supposed to be full Food & Wine right now.

It is such poor service right now, that you can’t even get your rooms freshened up daily!
Like you, I will probably pay for the genie+, what ever that turns out to be, but I think I will not be renewing my annual pass until I see the value come back to match the charges.

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After our last trip in January I had no intention of coming back until many of these things returned…
Didn’t even initially renew my AP-

For 2022 we planed on heading to DL for the first time instead…I know they lost a lot also but we are first timers there so we can’t miss what we haven’t experienced…

Sucker that I am D23 announced destination D - and I scored a ticket-
DVC opened up sneak peak to members w/o reservations-
Was granted permission to purchase APs again
and I am right back in the mix…

I drew the line at BooBash - no parade no go for us (grave diggers were the best part)

Hopefully the next announcements are the return of tables in wonderland and the dining plan…

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Parades have been replaced with calvacades…which we felt was a change for the better…at least during normal park hours. I hope the calvacades remain and the parades don’t return, actually.


Could housing be a problem in FL? I know there has been population growth, although not as acute as it suddenly is here. I live in a tourist area that also has terrible staffing issues. Our problems are not due to COVID, except insofar as people have perhaps moved out here to get away from city crowding. Our new residents have bought out what used to be rental housing. It’s peak season and most restaurants were only open half the time- some never re-opened after the pandemic. And yet we’ve got record numbers of visitors. It’s just crazy.

This is an issue for me, too. And the dessert parties. Pretty much anything that gets us out of the crowds is what we sign up for. We had planned to go to WDW early next year to try the GSC, but decided to wait, because we would not want to go all the way there just to spend 3 days, we’d want to add a few more days, but things just don’t seem to be quite where we would like it to be in the rest of the resort. Hopefully things will improve and we can go later in 2022. We really are in a wait and see mode.

I might just go down by myself and check things out, but I wouldn’t want to bring the whole family until I know what’s going on. There’ve been so many changes!

lol I am still sore about losing the electro magic parade…

The calvacades are ok I guess - they remind me of when characters just kinda pop- up spontaneously-

But the holiday parades they were great - will never forget how excited my son was to see and actually dance down Main Street with Mary Poppins.

That right there was the Magic-


WDW has already stopped cavalcades (at last in MK and EP).

Not according to their website. They have calvacades listed for today’s date.

I believe the EP princess calvacade has ended but the MK ones are still happening.


The cavalcades are gone from EP. I misread that it included MK, too.