Walt Disney World cancels reservations and adds dining plans


Guests at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Changes are coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Prompt by guest feedback, Disney is updating a number of park policies to better accommodate local and out-of-town visitors, the company announced Monday.

For starters, Disney World will remove theme park reservation requirements for its date-based tickets effective Jan. 9, 2024. This reverses a pandemic-era policy that required guests to plan their visits before arriving in parks by purchasing a ticket and selecting a reservation date.

From now on, there will be only one step: buy a ticket for a specific date.

The holder of an annual pass will need to make reservations for most tours. However, Disney plans to roll out “good to go days,” which won’t require park reservations.

The change is in addition to the recently passed rule that passholders can visit any of the Disney theme parks in Orlando after 2 p.m. without a reservation. The only exclusion is admission to the Magic Kingdom on Saturdays and Sundays.

Disney’s latest round of operational updates is part of its broader strategy to reduce friction points for customers. The company’s theme park division is one of the most lucrative segments of its overall business, and its success is built on strong customer experiences.

The House of Mouse is constantly looking for ways to improve the guest experience, whether through new rides and attractions, better dining options, magical moments with characters, or updates to its resorts. The company aims to accommodate customer feedback, including concerns from some customers that the park’s reservation system was confusing or inconvenient.

As part of the changes announced on Monday, Disney also said it will bring back dining plans for those staying at its resort hotels after Jan. 9, 2024. There will be two plans available – the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan and the Disney Dining Plan. .

The Quick-Service Plan allows for two quick-service meals per night of stay, plus two snacks or non-alcoholic beverages and a refillable beverage mug. The meal plan offers one quick-service meal per night of stay and one sit-down meal per night of stay. It also includes two snacks or soft drinks and a refillable beverage cup.

Disney also announced that it was extending its early entry to theme parks for hotel guests through 2024.

The company said Monday it may make more changes in the future. Disney is seeking to address concerns about its Genie and Genie+ itinerary programs, which launched during the pandemic.

These digital offerings have been designed to optimize the customer experience at the parks, allowing them to plan their days more efficiently, with access to estimated wait times and restaurant reservations. Coupled with Lighting Lane, guests also have the option to pay for a shorter wait for top Disney attractions.

Currently, customers can only access their Genie and Genie+ itineraries on the day of their visit. Disney said it is working on ways for guests to make selections before their visit, so they can spend less time planning and more time enjoying the park.

The company is also exploring individual Lighting Lane selection so that not all party guests need to register to ride an attraction.

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