Walt Disney World Resort Axes Benefits, Continues to Raise Costs

in Walt Disney World

People enjoining their lives in Disney World

Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World is one of the most popular vacation destinations for families from all over the world. From themed Resorts to family-friendly attractions to magical interactions and memories, Disney World is often considered a “once in a lifetime” experience.

The Twlight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

However, the Park has come under some heavy criticism lately as it continues to raise costs while cutting a variety of benefits and offerings for Guests. Much of the differences seem to have come about as a result of the 2020 pandemic and former-CEO Bob Chapek, but have continued into 2023.

Mirabel Madrigal from 'Encanto' during the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Pre-pandemic, around 2019, Disney World offered a wide variety of benefits for Guests staying on property at a Disney Resort. These benefits included early magic hours, allowing Guests early access to the Parks, as well as late hours, allowing them to stay in the Parks after closing. Those staying in a Disney World Resort also received complimentary MagicBands for everyone traveling, for use as a hotel key and Park ticket.

A guest using their MagicBand to access the TRON lockers
Credit: Disney

Disney provided a free shuttle service, Disney’s Magical Express, to transport Guests to and from Orlando International Airport to their hotel. This also provided complimentary valet service, with Resorts holding Guests’ luggage or delivering it to their room as they immediately headed to the Parks. Guests also used the My Disney Experience app to make dining reservations and book complimentary FastPass reservations throughout the day.

space mountain fastpass tickets
Credit: Disney

As of 2023, ticket prices for Walt Disney World have risen even as the Resort slashes previous benefits for Guests. Rather than a one- to two-hour window of additional Park hours, Resort Guests only have a 30-minute window of early access in the morning. MagicBands are no longer complimentary as Guests are encouraged to use the app for room access or buy a MagicBand+for additional immersive experiences in the Parks.

Magical Express Bus pulling up at the resort
Credit: ITM

The Magical Express has been discontinued, leaving Guests to frantically figure out their own transportation to their Resort. Disney has also rolled out Genie+, a paid-for additional service through the app that allows Guests to make dining reservations, virtual queue reservations, and Lightning Lane times. On top of paying to use Genie+, Guests may have to pay an additional cost for certain Lightning Lane attractions.

Disney Genie service banner
Credit: Disney

While staying on property at a Disney World Resort may be beneficial in some areas, like providing free transportation to the Disney Parks, between the cost of Park tickets, the Resort fee, and the lack of benefits, Guests are no longer sure that staying on property is worth it.

disney's boardwalk at night
Credit: Disney

It’s an unfortunate trend with Disney lately as they work to lower their overall costs while maintaining a profit, often at the expense of the consumer. With tickets costing an average of $120 per person per Park per day and Resorts starting at $140 a night, Disney World is quickly becoming a place that the average family is unable to visit.

Grand Floridian Resort, exterior aerial shot
Credit: Disney

Current CEO Bob Iger has previously addressed prices and cost of attendance, stating that he’s aware it’s becoming unattainable and that Disney may have jumped the gun. However, there doesn’t seem to be any major changes made as of yet. As people are more excited to travel with the pandemic seemingly over, hopefully Disney World and the Disney Parks overall will make adjustments, bringing benefits back to Guests.

Do you think it’s worth it to stay on Disney property anymore? Let Inside the Magic know what you think in the comments below!

View Comments (8)