Planning 101 Vacation Planner Walt Disney World

What’s Different About Planning Your 2023 Walt Disney World Vacation

December 18, 2022

2023 looks like it’s going to be an exciting year at Walt Disney World. Disney is ever-changing. And 2023 is no exception.

You guys have shown me that you love these kinds of updates. The posts dedicated to changes in 2021 and 2022 have seen lots of page views and shares. I truly appreciate it. And I truly appreciate you.

Because my goal has always been to give you the best (and most updated) information possible, I am here again to tell you what is different about planning your 2023 Walt Disney World vacation.

So, just like past years posts, I’m going to suggest giving this list a quick look before making that deposit. Because some of the changes (and continuations of some things) may surprise you.

Room Discounts Are Still Scarce

Room discounts are still few and far between. I used to say that if you’re traveling without a discount, you’re doing something wrong. Now I’m saying that if you’re traveling with a discount, you’re one of the lucky ones.

Discounts of any kind are hard to come by these days. And even if you can get one, the discount is almost not worth the effort.

A few months ago, a $400 room discount came out. However, commercials only ever reveal the full discount for stays at Deluxe Resorts. If you’re staying at a Value Resort, the discount is always much less. In this case, it was about $90.

Disney+ Subscribers and Disney Visa Cardmembers

If you’re a subscriber to Disney+ or you have a Disney Visa, you do have a better chance at getting a discount. We’ve been seeing more of those, including room discounts at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

However, the best deal I’ve seen is on the Disney Cruise Line. If you subscribe to Disney+, your 3rd and 4th Guest can sail for FREE on select sailings through April 2023.

You do have to still pay for taxes and port expenses for these 2 Guests. But, this is still a significant savings, especially when you consider that entertainment and food/drinks are included in the cost anyway.

Honestly, if you want to go on a Disney vacation and you qualify, this is the deal I’d book.

Chip and Dale hanging out in Hollywood Studios

Reservations Will Still Be Required

We’ve all seen articles over the past couple years of Guests getting extremely mad because despite buying a Ticket, they did not make a Park Reservation. And no reservation = no entry.

I know it’s easy to ignore the warning signs and exit out of popups without ever reading them. But, they are there for one reason. Please book your Park Reservations before getting to the front gates.

We all hoped that once Bob Iger returned to Disney, the Reservation System would soon be gone. But, it’s not that simple. So, while he recognizes that Guests hate making Park Reservations, it will be sticking around for a while.

Not sure how to book your Park Reservations? First, check to make sure the Park you want to visit is available on that day. Then, check out the 6 things you need to do after booking your Walt Disney World vacation (Park Reservations is Number 3).

Park Reservations are Automatic With 1-Day Park Tickets

One thing that is different in 2023 is that your Park Reservation will automatically be booked for you when you purchase a 1-day Ticket.

This was a change that came with the ticket price increase on December 8, 2022.

Date Based Tickets

Theme Park Tickets have been date based for quite some time now. This means that the price will change depending on the day you go. The same ticket will cost more during peak season than it will during slower times.

But, new to 2023, is that these 1-day Disney tickets will also be Park Specific. If you’ve ever wondered if I’m ever at a loss for words when someone simply asks me how much tickets to Disney costs…Yes. And this is why…

Under this new ticket system, not only will peak season cost more, a ticket to Magic Kingdom will cost more than a ticket to Epcot on the very same day.

Floating Mountains in Pandora - World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Park Hopping Still Not Available Until After 2PM

The Park Hopping rule that you can not start Park Hopping until after 2 PM is still in effect for the time being. And in order to be able to Park Hop, you must first enter the Park you made your original Park Reservation for.

You DO NOT need to make a separate Park Reservation for any additional Park you plan on going to after 2PM.

Is getting the Park Hopper Ticket worth it? Only you can decide that for yourself. But, in most cases, it’s not worth the price upgrade.

Screenshot of Virtual Queue and Genie+ for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Genie+

Genie+ is something that many families like to budget for. It’s not cheap. So, they need to know if the price tag is worth the benefits you get out of it.

Basically, Disney Genie is a FREE planning tool, while Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are an additional cost for anyone who wants to pay to skip the lines. For those who have never heard of Genie+, this is the replacement for FastPass+.

Genie+ is still as confusing as ever. But, they have made some modifications to the system in the past year. And not all of them have been all bad.

You can now modify Lightning Lane selections

This is a big improvement, in my opinion. Before this update, you’d have to cancel your existing reservation before rebooking for a different time. Guests were frustrated because despite immediately trying to get a different time, sometimes they’d no longer be available.

But, now, you can modify your time selection. If your desired time is gone, you can cancel the transaction and keep your existing Reservation.

You can now see when you’re able to book your next Lightning Lane

You are able to reserve new Lightning Lanes if you meet one of these conditions:

  1. You used your last Lightning Lane (and it cleared off of your itinerary)
  2. Your Lightning Lane window expires
  3. It has been 120 minutes since you last booked a Lightning Lane

With some Lightning Lanes going very quickly, sometimes you’ll get a time that is far into the future. Instead of not allowing you to book anything else until you’ve ridden that attraction, you’re able to book another Lightning Lane 120 minutes later. This does not affect your Reservation later in the day.

While all of this is not new, Disney letting you know what time you are able to book your next Lightning Lane is.

Some Guests set a timer on their phone to let them know when they can book again. But, it’s so helpful to actually see the time on the App.

The Price Changes every day

If things weren’t expensive enough, Disney decided to roll out a date-based calendar for Genie+ in October 2022. Just like Tickets, the busier it is, the more it will cost you to use.

Genie+ used to be $15 per person, per day, no matter when you went. Now, it can range anywhere from $15 – $29 per person, per day. That’s double the price that it started at just one year earlier. It’s yet another reminder at just how expensive your Disney trip can get in 2023.

If you’re not sure what Genie+ is, or you want more information, we have a whole post dedicated to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

Queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Virtual Queue

Nothing much has changed with Virtual Queues in the last year. And it looks as though Disney will continue using them in 2023.

Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the only attraction with a Virtual Queue. But, with Tron opening in April 2023, it’s likely that Disney will implement it at that attraction, as well.

Remember that attractions with Virtual Queues have no standby line. There is usually a Virtual Queue (Free) or an Individual Lightning Lane (extra cost). So, if you want to ride, plan on waking up before 7AM to grab one (or both) of these Reservation.

Lightsaber Experience at Savi's Workshop, in Hollywood Studios

60 Day Reservations

Many things have gotten much more complicated in Walt Disney World. But, reducing the 180-day window to 60-days is not one of them. And I’m glad this stuck around.

Now, all of your Reservations can be made at 60 days. Dining, Spa, Savi’s Workshop, etc… It makes everything so much simpler.

If you’re staying on property, you can also start your Online Check-in 60 days prior. This is where you make sure you have a credit card on file for incidentals, choose a pin for your MagicBands, and even make room requests.

Do you want to be close to Disney Transportation or the Lobby? Let them know. If they have an available room in your block of rooms, they’ll probably be able to grant your request.

Ready to book your magical vacation?

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Hawaii Destination Specialist

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