With visits to Walt Disney World on a seemingly perpetual increase in cost, the resort is taking a few steps to make a dent in those prices.
The changes come as new features are set to be unveiled, including Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana at EPCOT, TRON Lightcycle/Run at Magic Kingdom, and the return of the nighttime extravaganza Happily Ever After.
“As we step into this bright future, it is important that we continuously evolve to help deliver the best guest experience possible,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told employees in an email seen by USA Today. “And while this doesn’t address everyone’s feedback, these changes will increase flexibility and add value to our guests’ experience.”
“We’re excited to announce a few other updates we’re making to improve the guest experience and to let our fans know we are listening to their feedback, including Annual Passholders, who are some of our most loyal guests,” Avery Maehrer, communications director, said in a blog post announcing the new steps.
1. Free Self-Parking At Hotels
Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels will see a small change, as complimentary self-parking has returned. Until this week, those fees had been between $15 and $25 per night.
“This is a Disney difference many of you have asked us to bring back, and we’re happy to reintroduce it to make your vacation a little easier and more affordable – whether you’re road tripping across the country, renting a car or vacationing as a local Florida resident,” Maehrer wrote.
The free parking at the hotels goes along with complimentary standard parking at theme parks, daily early theme park entry, and free on-site transportation options, including buses, monorails, and the Disney Skyliner.
2. Attraction Photo Downloads
In the coming weeks, guests using the Disney Genie+ service will receive digital downloads of the Disney PhotoPass attraction photos taken at a variety of popular locations around the parks. Maehrer noted the photos are a perfect way for visitors to remember their visit to the parks.
An exact launch date for this perk has yet to be announced.
Speaking of photos, another change coming for annual pass holders will be access to Disney PhotoPass Lenses, which are special augmented reality camera views in the Disney Genie+ app only available while at Disney.
3. Relaxed Reservations After 2 P.M.
In the coming months, Walt Disney World annual pass holders will be allowed to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a reservation. At Magic Kingdom, the new rules will only apply on weekdays.
Disney officials said the reservation system is vital to maintaining targeted attendance levels, but they also noted that pass holders often make spontaneous visits to the parks.
Another change coming for pass holders will be one free Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories experience.
Officials noted all of these changes are specific to Walt Disney World and have yet to be added to Disneyland.
“We hope these updates make your next visit more convenient and enjoyable, so you can focus on making memories with your family, friends, and loved ones,” Maehrer said.