Disney World Update – Major Observations from My Most Recent Trip
As some may have noticed, MtM’s Diamond member meetup in Orlando recently wrapped up. Among other fun-filled events, many of us visited Epcot for an eventful day and lively night. Several members took in other parks, as well. As a Disney World fan who hasn’t been to any park in almost two years, I had much to absorb since my last visit. We’ll be back on a family trip in late January, so this was also a great opportunity to reacquaint myself prior. Here’s my Disney World update, including my takes from the recent visit.
Genie+ Is a Mess
Genie+, the $15 per day replacement for FastPass+, was a wreck during our visit. First off, Genie+ design within the Disney World app is confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming. Booking errors out. If I want to make a change, I have to let go of my current reservation before obtaining a replacement. The app organization follows no coherent order – existing reservations are mixed in with a lot of other noise. It’s a big, tossed salad. Perhaps this is intentional. I can’t help but think the Disney masterplan is to tie up guests on their phones rather than on attractions. But hopefully, it’s just a bump in the road related to the recently-introduced Genie+ “features.” Regardless, the streamlined FastPass+ experience has been replaced by the opacity of Genie+.
As of right now, I plan to buy Genie+ for most days on our future trip. I’ll treat it more as an insurance policy during our visit while not expecting too much out of it. I guess this means Disney wins $60 more per day from my Disney gift cards. But I will more than make up for that by opting to stay off property this trip.
Construction Around Epcot’s Entrance
Upon entering Epcot, the area around Spaceship Earth has seemingly been in a state of transition for years. Construction has diverted walkways, introduced ugly facades, and created confusion. I felt I was walking in a circular pattern to get anywhere. Of course, changes have been long overdue in this area of Epcot, and the pandemic has slowed completion. Future Worlds East and West, now called World Discovery and World Nature, maintain some familiarity. The Space 220 restaurant next to Mission Space is a nice addition. No, I couldn’t get in.
Unfortunately, dining options up front are relatively limited during construction. Beyond luckily snagging a Space 220 visit or trekking way over to World Nature, the only open option I saw was a snack stand on the way to Mexico in World Showcase. Of course, many (including this writer) focus their dining in World Showcase. Regardless, it’s slim pickings around Spaceship Earth.
Early December Weather Is Excellent
Before this recent visit, I’d never been to Disney World during the late fall. I can see why it’s so popular this time of year. The weather is great! Temperatures approached the mid 60’s upon our park entry, peaked in the mid 70’s, and fell to the low 60’s after the Harmonious fireworks. Jeans and a t-shirt were perfect all day and night – I enjoyed not carrying anything extra.
On the flip side, many came out for the excellent weather. I’d never seen World Showcase so busy. I enjoyed that for the people-watching aspect, but the food lines were killer. I had to skip the poutine in Canada this trip – maybe that’s for the best. Beverage lines were long but moved fairly quickly.
Harmonious Is Enjoyable, All the Stuff Isn’t
Our visit ended with the new Harmonious fireworks show. I enjoyed this latest offering, particularly the Moana intro. However, all of the equipment overtakes the lake around World Showcase. It’s just a monstrosity. I guess it’s necessary for the innovative Harmonious show, but Shawn and I discussed how Illuminations, the previous Epcot fireworks show, didn’t have near as big a footprint.
World Showcase Delivers, As Expected
My family visits to World Showcase have been a blast. Historically, we’ve built these visits around a dining reservation at a sit-down restaurant. This was my first time visiting World Showcase with a group purely for quick service beverage and dining options. I had just as much fun with this different touring style. Exploring all the different nooks and crannies of World Showcase never gets old to me. I realized I’d never been all the way back in Morocco – there’s a great Sangria stand back there now!
Standby Lines Are Digestible
Of course, my family and I have loved FastPass+ access to attractions historically, peppered in with a few standby lines when necessary. On this trip, we ended up waiting 60 or so minutes for Frozen Ever After in the standby line – we didn’t see a reason to pay $11 for individual Lightning Lane access. The wait time actually ended up being shorter, and the enjoyable conversations with other Diamond members helped!
Disney World Update – Conclusion
I could go on, but those are my primary observations from the recent trip. I look forward to Epcot’s continuing transformation and will defer ultimate judgment until this construction iteration is done. Despite the flaws of Disney World, Epcot in this case, I’ll accept the bad with the overall good. I’m hopeful Genie+ will slightly improve prior to our next trip, and I’m happy to be a bit more prepared for said visit. Have you been to Disney World and Epcot recently? What’s your current opinion?