Walt Disney World to Make Critical Changes in 2024

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The Disney World characters have their hands in the air with a 2024 sign in front of them inside Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World.

Credit: Inside The Magic

2024 will vastly differ from the last three years at Walt Disney World Resort. From new attractions, lands, and deals to returning options for guests – here is everything you need to know about Disney World in 2024.

Disney World 2024- Disney's governing district - Mickey Mouse holding his hands out in front of the Walt Disney World Cinderella Castle with money falling from the sky.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Exciting Changes Coming to Disney World After COVID

Walt Disney World suffered a lot when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. Since then, the theme park giant has slowly returned to a new normality. The most controversial change was having guests make park reservations when they wanted to visit Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. The other highly contentious action was having Bob Chapek run the company.

Bob Chapek officially replaced Bob Iger as CEO of The Walt Disney Company on February 25, 2020. Bob Iger has been the CEO of Disney since 2005 and played a significant role in the company’s expansion and acquisitions during his tenure. Bob Chapek, who had been with Disney for over 25 years and had previously served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, took over as CEO as part of a planned succession. However, that change lasted only a short time. Bob Iger returned to Disney as CEO on November 20, 2022. Iger’s return came after the board of directors requested it following the dismissal of Chapek.

With Iger back, however, things still need to be more rough around the edges. However, some significant changes are being explored for Walt Disney World Resort. From new rides to new experiences, here’s everything new coming to this massive theme park.

The Magic Kingdom entrance with guests walking through on a bright, sunny morning.
Credit: Brian Becton / Flickr

What Are Some New Attractions Coming to Walt Disney World?

Right now, there is one big ride that is currently getting a facelift. The former Splash Mountain attraction inside Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom Park is turning into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Right now, it’s set to open in late 2024. It will be located at Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida.

The ride reimagines Splash Mountain, highlighting Disney’s first Black princess and celebrating New Orleans. It will feature a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Malaika Favorite. The ride will also include a virtual queue, similar to other new rides at Disney World. Some other worthy rides to mention coming in 2024: 
  • New Star Tours scenarios: These scenarios will be available at Disneyland, Disney World, and Disneyland Paris in Spring 2024.
  • Revamped Country Bear Jamboree: This ride will be available at Magic Kingdom.
Spaceship Earth at EPCOT inside Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

What New Lands Are Coming to Disney World?

Disney World CEO Bob Iger dropped massive news about exciting expansion plans coming 2024 to the Disney World parks and property. In May 2023, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney would not construct a $1 billion office complex in Orlando. The decision was made due to business conditions and leadership changes since the project’s announcement. However, Disney announced a $60 billion plan to expand its parks in Florida and worldwide over the next decade. This includes projects in Disney World. The plan also includes: 

  • Investing $17 billion over the next ten years in Walt Disney World
  • Bringing 13,000 new jobs to the area
  • Accelerating and expanding investment in its Parks, Experiences, and Products segment
  • Nearly doubling capital expenditures over approximately ten years
  • Changing systems like Park Passes and Genie+ over the years
walt disney world boardwalk at night
Credit: Disney

Also Coming to WDW in 2024: Disney’s Boardwalk

Disney’s BoardWalk is set to welcome an exciting addition – The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, a fresh bakery and cafe concept. Anticipate a delightful array of pastries and baked goods, complemented by counter and table service options. The establishment will even offer an afternoon tea experience to add a touch of elegance. Keep an eye out for the grand opening scheduled for early 2024.

Disney World guests sitting down enjoying a meal through the Disney Dining plan with characters like Goofy and Mickey Mouse.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Disney Dining Plan Returning in 2024

Perhaps the biggest news of Disney World is the triumphant return of the highly popular Disney Dining Plan. The Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World was a prepaid meal plan that allowed guests to budget for their dining expenses in advance. It was taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic’s early years, leaving guests to vacation at the theme parks without those options. In the past, the Disney Dining Plan typically included the following components:

  • Quick-Service Dining Plan:
    • Two quick-service meals per night of stay
    • Two snacks per night of stay
    • One refillable resort mug per stay (for use at self-service beverage locations)
  • Disney Dining Plan:
    • One table-service meal per night of stay
    • One quick-service meal per night of stay
    • Two snacks per night of stay
    • One refillable resort mug per stay (for use at self-service beverage locations)
  • Deluxe Dining Plan:
    • Three meals (any combination of table service and quick-service) per night of stay
    • Two snacks per night of stay
    • One refillable resort mug per stay (for use at self-service beverage locations)

Guests could use their dining plan entitlements at participating locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, including theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. The Disney Dining Plan will return to Walt Disney World on January 9, 2024. The plan will be available as an add-on for vacation packages, including a Disney Resort hotel stay. Bookings opened for the plan on May 31, 2023.

Disney characters standing inside of Magic Kingdom Park.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Goodbye, Disney World Reservation System!

Starting January 9, 2024, theme park reservations will no longer be required for date-based tickets. This includes the standard ticket option, which requires a start date. The Disney World reservation system primarily refers to the Disney Park Pass system, which was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to manage park attendance and promote social distancing.

Here is an overview of the Disney Park Pass system as it was implemented:

  • Disney Park Pass Reservation:
    • Guests were required to make a reservation for the specific theme park they wanted to visit on a particular day.
    • Reservations could be made through the Disney Park Pass reservation system, available on the official Disney World website.
    • Each party member, including adults and children, needed a valid park admission and a park reservation for the same park and date.
  • Availability:
    • Park reservations were subject to availability, and it was recommended to make reservations as early as possible, especially for popular dates and parks.
    • Availability was regularly updated; guests could check the availability calendar on the official website.
  • Ticket Linking:
    • To make a reservation, guests must link their valid theme park admission to their Disney account. This could include standard theme park tickets, annual passes, and other types of admission.

Nevertheless, visitors holding non-date-specific tickets, such as Annual Passholders (except for visits to specific parks after 2 p.m.), Cast Members, and other ticket types not tied to particular dates, must still secure park pass reservations.

On a positive note, Disney has introduced “Good to Go” days for Annual Passholders and Cast Members. During these designated days, these guests can access the parks without needing a Park Pass Reservation. Initially slated for initiation in 2024, according to Disney’s prior announcement, it has now been confirmed that these “Good to Go” days will kick off in January.

Disney World Park Hopper website display.
credit: Disney

New Disney World Park Hopper Rules for 2024

Starting January 9, 2024, guests with Park Hopper benefits or an Annual Pass can visit another Walt Disney World theme park anytime during park hours. This was previously only available after 2 p.m. each day. The updated Park Hopper experience requires guests to:

  • Make a theme park reservation for the first park they plan to visit
  • Enter that first park before visiting another
  • Scan into the reserved park before freely park hopping if a visit falls on a day when park reservations are required

The Park Hopper option at Walt Disney World was temporarily modified due to operational adjustments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney World suspended the traditional Park Hopper option when the parks reopened in July 2020. The decision was made to help manage park capacity, implement health and safety measures, and ensure proper physical distancing within the parks. Under the modified Park Hopper system implemented during the pandemic, guests could still visit multiple parks in a single day, but with some restrictions. Here are the key points:

  • Start at a Designated Park: Guests had to make a reservation for a specific park to start their day. This reservation was required to enter the first park.
  • Park Hopping After 2 p.m.: At 2 p.m., guests with the Park Hopper option could visit additional parks without needing a different reservation. However, this was subject to capacity limits.
A person holding up a smartphone with the Genie+ service open while looking up at the Cinderella Castle inside of Magic Kingdom Park.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Genie+ Changes Coming to WDW in 2024

Disney is changing the Disney Genie+ experience in 2024 to make it easier for guests to plan their visit. The goal is to reduce guests’ time on their phones during their vacation and increase their time with others. Some of the changes include: 

  • Lightning Lanes: Guests can schedule Lightning Lanes before their visit. Lightning Lane is available through the app.
  • Ride reservations: Guests can make ride reservations before their visit.
  • Price: Genie+ prices will vary depending on the park. For example, Genie+ might be cheaper at Disney’s Animal Kingdom than in Magic Kingdom
  • Extended access for Annual Passholders
  • Return of parking trams to all four Disney World theme parks
  • Return of all-day park hopping

Previously, the Disney Genie+ system was introduced at Walt Disney World to replace the previous FastPass+ system. However, the specifics of its implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic may have evolved since then. The Disney Genie+ service was designed to enhance the guest experience by providing a new way to access attractions and experiences.

a photo of Cinderella's castle inside of Magic Kingdom at Disney World
Credit: Inside The Magic / Walt Disney World Resort

In 2024, Walt Disney World Resort guests can anticipate enchanting and innovative experiences that will elevate their magical journey to new heights. From captivating attractions to immersive entertainment, Disney is set to introduce many exciting additions that will delight visitors of all ages. Whether exploring the reimagined classics or embracing new adventures, the park promises a renewed sense of wonder and joy. With a commitment to creating unforgettable memories, Walt Disney World continues to evolve, ensuring that each guest’s experience is extraordinary in the year ahead. Prepare to embark on a magical odyssey filled with enchantment, laughter, and the timeless magic that makes Disney World an unparalleled destination for unparalleled moments.

Please follow Inside The Magic as we revamp ourselves for an all-new Disney-focused experience for all our readers.

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