2022 Disney Summer Vacation Q&A
Okay, you’ve spent the entire school year anticipating this moment. Finally, you can kick back, relax, and plan your Disney Summer Vacation visit.
You’ve got questions, though, and MickeyBlog is here to answer them. So here’s what you need to know about your Disney summer vacation.
What’s Changed at Disney?
Disney has changed either slightly or dramatically, depending on the date of your last visit.
Everything will look familiar if you’ve attended since the pandemic’s start. But if not, you should know some stuff.
For starters, Disney has discontinued Magical Express. So, presuming you’re flying, you must schedule your own travel to and from Orlando International Airport.
Disney has also added a new requirement for theme park admission. You must have a Park Pass to enter any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks.
Disney does allow Park Hopping in the afternoon. But unfortunately, you still need a Park Pass before using this amenity.
The third significant change is the introduction of a new form of transportation, the Disney Skyliner.
These gondolas work like ski lifts. You’ll enter an enclosed space capable of holding up to 10 people. This vehicle will carry you to multiple destinations.
Some are hotels like Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The other two destinations are EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
So, when you stay at specific resorts, you can take the gondola straight to two Disney theme parks! It’s the best.
Finally, Disney has leaned into the Mobile Ordering process at its Quick Service restaurants.
The system works similarly to the online ordering you do on your phone for any number of fast food and fast-casual restaurants.
Disney has even added a similar form of automated shopping called Merchandise Mobile Checkout.
You place all your items in a clear plastic bag and then pay via My Disney Experience. By using this option, you never need to enter the checkout line again.
Only a handful of Disney stores participate in this program thus far. Still, you should use this option wherever it’s available!
How Crowded Are the Parks?
My best answer here is that the parks will host more people than they have in three years. However, they won’t be as crowded as they were in 2019.
Disney utilizes Park Passes to manage attendance. So, management can estimate the needed number of employees for a given day.
This strategy helps Disney save a fortune on staffing. There’s a flip side, though.
Once Disney knows the estimated attendance, it’s unlikely to increase the Park Pass inventory.
Disney would only add more Park Passes if it could gain enough revenue to justify the increased staffing.
That’s a long way to go to explain what’s happening right now. The short version is that parks officials don’t want 2019-level crowds yet.
Disney can earn as much, if not more, money right now while hosting fewer guests in the parks.
When management takes this approach, guest surveys suggest that customers enjoy the park visit more. So, it’s win/win for Disney and you.
Still, let’s be clear. Disney’s four most crowded times of the year are the March/April Spring Break period, Thanksgiving week, the 12 Days of Christmas, and summer vacation.
The time frame for that last one has shrunk over the past decades. Schools start earlier and end later than in the past.
Right now, we’re in an eight-week window that’s the real summer vacation sweet spot at the parks.
The parks will slow down again in mid-August. Until then, you should expect substantially longer wait times for attractions.
When you’re on summer vacation, everyone else is, too. And we all want to be at Disney!
What’s New Since Last Year?
That’s a good question, and the answer is surprisingly long. On October 1st, 2021, Walt Disney World turned 50.
Park officials threw a party that didn’t end in a day. On the contrary, this event lasts through March of 2023.
You’ll discover many special events during your visit. We’re talking about character interactions, limited-time parades and fireworks presentations, and food and merchandise.
Also, EPCOT debuted its new nighttime presentation, Harmonious, the spiritual successor to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
The show technically isn’t part of the birthday party, but it started on the same day as the other stuff.
Similarly, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure finally opened at EPCOT after a frustrating delay. This place was ready to go when the pandemic occurred.
In fact, if we don’t use asterisks here, I can throw in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
In a staggering display of atrocious timing, the world’s first Mickey Mouse ride opened one week before the pandemic escalated.
Remarkably, those two attractions aren’t the newest ones at Walt Disney World.
During Memorial Day Weekend, EPCOT also unveiled its latest E-ticket attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Disney bills this stunning Imagineering triumph as the world’s first storytelling roller coaster.
Also, the ride experience changes slightly depending on which of six different songs provides the soundtrack.
Yes, Disney has added three legitimate upper-tier attractions since March of 2020. You just haven’t heard about it due to the world catching fire.
What’s This Lightning Lane Stuff?
Okay, here’s the other new thing you need to know. On My Disney Experience, you should study the Disney Genie section.
This free service functions similarly to Alexa or Siri. It’s a virtual assistant that knows everything about your Walt Disney World theme park visit.
Disney did itself no favors with the naming conventions here. So, you may have complaints about Disney Genie+.
I cannot stress this point enough. Disney Genie is NOT the same thing as Disney Genie+.
The main app, Disney Genie, costs you nothing but adds a ton to your trip.
Disney Genie+ is a paid service that charges $15 plus tax per guest for a single day at the park.
For $15, you’ll get at least “two or three” opportunities to enter the shorter line queue for Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions.
Technically, you could schedule as many as eight Disney Genie+ reservations during your park date. Disney no longer guarantees that, though.
Also, you may have noticed that I haven’t said Lightning Lane any yet. The shorter line queue I mentioned, formerly known as FastPass, is now Lightning Lane.
Again, Disney uses confusing terminology here because it also sells individual Lightning Lane experiences. You’ll find one per park.
Here are the Lightning Lane options:
- Avatar Flight of Passage – Disney Animal Kingdom
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – EPCOT
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Magic Kingdom
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
For a price of $10-$20, you’ll get to enter the Lightning Lane for a single attraction.
So, you guarantee that you’ll ride Disney’s most popular attractions…but at a cost.
I realize this whole thing is a bit confusing, but Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane don’t have anything to do with one another.
Still, you should understand the difference now.