As the Disney 100 celebration awaits, and more hoppin' events and openings take place at "The Most Magical Place on Earth," there's so much to look forward to! Events are back in full swing, including Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Disney After Hours events and EPCOT's iconic festivals. The 100th-anniversary of the Walt Disney Company is coming in 2023, too! While the flagship celebration will be hoppening at Disneyland, Disney World will get in on the partying, too, with EPCOT as the main host. While there's lots of excitement on the horizon, there are some key things you should know when planning a Disney World trip in 2023 and beyond. (And if you're looking to buy discount tickets or hotel stays for your next Disney World trip, these become available May 31, 2023!) Let's jump in!
16 Key Things to Keep in Mind If You're Planning a Disney World Trip in 2023 and Beyond
1. Nighttime Spectaculars Are Back ...
Hip, hop, hooray! Two all-new nighttime spectaculars, "Disney Enchantment" at Magic Kingdom and "Harmonious" at EPCOT, debuted for Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration. "Wonderful World of Animation" and "Disney Movie Magic" have also returned to Hollywood Studios, as well as the long-awaited Fantasmic! with an all-new sequence!
2. ... But Things Are Transitioning After the 50th
Harmonious and Enchantment were created especially for Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration, which ended March 31, 2023. In their places, a reimagined version of the fan-favorite Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular returned April 3, 2023, and EPCOT Forever took over World Showcase Lagoon on that same date temporarily. EPCOT Forever will be replaced with an all-new fireworks show for the Disney 100 celebration soon.
3. Characters (and Character Dining) Are Back
Character dining experiences are continuing to reopen, including Akershus, Cape May Cafe and Crystal Palace — and princesses returned to Cinderella's Royal Table Feb. 28! Buffet service is back at most restaurants, as well.
Traditional character meet-and-greets have returned, too! That means hugs, autographs and high-fives with your favorites are back, including the reopening of Star Wars Launch Bay and Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios. Moana has made her debut at Animal Kingdom, and Figment and Mirabel are coming in the later half of 2023!
4. Advance Dining Reservation Details Have a New Caveat
Advance Dining Reservations can be made 60 days in advance of your trip, and they can go quickly! Disney World's cancellation policy recently changed from 24 hours to 2 hours — a big jump! Just be sure to stay on top of your plans so you aren't hit with a no-show charge. Certain dining experiences, such as dining packages, may have different cancellation policies, so be sure to check before you reserve.
5. Mobile Order Is a Must-Do
While it's not required, Mobile Order is all but a must-use for quick-service restaurants — and some restaurants exclusively use Mobile Order. No one wants to spend more time in line for a hot dog than for a ride! Thankfully, with Mobile Ordering at Disney World, you don't have to. It's pretty easy to set up Mobile Ordering using the My Disney Experience app, and we've got a full guide to walk you through it. (Psst ... on the app, you can also check table-service restaurants near you for walk-up availability!)
6. Park Reservations Are Still Required Through Early 2024 — Then They're Going Away!
Disney World implemented a Disney Park Pass reservation system wherein you need to reserve the park you plan to attend on each day of your vacation. As more people have returned to the parks, booking your park reservations earlier has become very important, especially if you want to visit around holidays and weekends (or opening day of TRON!). We cannot stress this enough — Park Passes can fill up quickly, so it's essential that you purchase your tickets and reserve your Park Passes as early as you can. But Park Passes will no longer be required as of Jan. 9, 2024, for date-based tickets. Woohoo!
7. Favorite Events Have Returned!
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Verry Merry Christmas Party had brief hiatuses in 2020 and 2021 — but they returned in 2022! The Disney on Broadway concert series (EPCOT International Festival of the Arts) and the Garden Rocks concert series (EPCOT International Flower and Garden) also returned to the festivals in 2022, and will continue in 2023.
If you're planning a Disney World trip around these events, keep in mind that Park Passes may fill up early. Hotels also fill up around these dates, so we'd highly recommend booking your stay in advance if you plan to attend.
8. Park Hopping Hoppens at 2 p.m.
Park hopping has returned — but you need to know how to do it! You need to make a reservation for the park you plan to start the day in, but you're free to hop to another park at 2 p.m. (provided there's availability). To date, there has only been one day when park hopping wasn't available (on the very first day of Disney World's 50th-anniversary celebration at Magic Kingdom), but you'll want to keep this in mind during busy times such as the holidays. You only need a park reservation for the first park you'll be visiting if you are hopping, but you do have to tap into your reserved park before you can make the jump.
9. Typhoon Lagoon Is the Water Park Currently Open
10. On-Site Guests Get Early (and Sometimes Late) Access
Early Magic Hours are gone, and in its place is the Early Theme Park Entry benefit. Early Theme Park Entry is available for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and allows entry to any theme park 30 minutes before it opens to the public (the park you are able to visit aligns with your admission and theme park reservation). During busy times, such as the holidays and spring break, this may expand to a full hour. Deluxe and Villa resort guests also have access to Extended Evening Hours at select parks on select nights. If you're planning a Disney World trip, you may want to consider staying on-site to take advantage of these benefits.
11. Genie+ Has Emerged from the Lamp and Changes Are Coming
Disney has retired FastPass+, its skip-the-regular lines service. In its place are Lightning Lanes, which guests can pay to access using Genie+ service. Similar to Disneyland's former MaxPass system, the add-on covers 40+ attractions and can be purchased same-day. (No more getting up early 60 days in advance to snag your spot!)
Disney Genie+ service is only available for sale on the day of your visit via the My Disney Experience app. If you have multi-day tickets or annual passes, you will need to purchase Genie+ each day. Pricing is variable by date.
Disney recently announced that changes are coming to Genie+ service to allow guests to plan more in advance versus taking up same-day park time — so stay tuned for more info!
12. There Are New Ways to Tap into the Park
MagicBands are still available for purchase to all, but they are no longer provided free for resort hotel guests. Disney has brought some of the functionality of MagicBands to an all-new service called Disney MagicMobile. Disney MagicMobile provides a contactless way to access MagicBand features such as theme park entry through your iPhone, Apple Watch or other smart devices. Guests can create a Disney MagicMobile pass through the My Disney Experience app and add it to their smart device’s digital wallet. Just like a MagicBand, MagicMobile works by holding or tapping your smart device near an access point. Digital room keys will continue to be available through My Disney Experience. You can also use Disney MagicMobile for Genie+ access to Lightning Lane entrances, validating Early Theme Park Entry access and more — anything that your MagicBand can do! A new, interactive version of MagicBand has arrived, too, called MagicBand+.
13. Now, More Than Ever, You Need to Plan Your Time in the Parks
It is perhaps more important than ever to have a plan when visiting the parks. At the very least, have all of your family members decide at the outset which rides are most important so that no one is left disappointed. If you want more direction than that, we frogs have added new Disney World park plans that consider these changes to help you plan your best day.
14. Know the Latest Ways to Make Reservations for In-Demand Rides
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run do not offer standby — they are only available via the paid individual Lightning Lane option or by snagging a spot in the virtual queue. And virtual queues are here to stay! Most new rides have utilized this system, so much like Genie+, it pays to brush up on how to use it.
15. As Soon as You Know You're Going, Book the Trip!
This goes for hotel reservations, park reservations and tickets. It's doubly true if you will be visiting during a holiday, peak times or major events. Park passes can go quickly, so be sure to jump on them!
16. Consider Travel Insurance
While Undercover Tourist has a generous 365-day refund policy, in these times, you may want even more peace of mind. Our travel insurance offers reimbursement up to 100 percent for pre-paid, non-refundable tickets if you cancel or interrupt your vacation for a covered illness, injury and more. You'll find it as an easy add-on in your cart before you purchase!
While this is a lot to consider, we think the benefits of a fabulous Disney World vacation are toadally worth it. Have a tip you think other vacationers would benefit from knowing when planning a Disney World trip? Share it in the comments below!
Related: Best Time to Visit Disney World