2021 vs. 2022 at Disney World: Here’s what to expect.

Disney World is known for change. Walt Disney Wonderland has ALWAYS been about innovation and evolution, though we’ve never seen the kind of change that Disney World went through in 2020 and 2021!

Crowds in the main street

Through ALLLL the ups and downs of the last two years, there were MANY moments that changed the game and epic changes like never before. This makes us wonder what the future holds …

Since the beginning of 2020, which seems to be a DECADE, there have been significant changes throughout Disney World – Some good, some bad, some sad.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

2021 saw its own set of changes, and 2022 seems to be following suit! So let’s look back at the last two years and compare and contrast all the changes that have taken place —And it goes on — at Disney World!


New attractions and restaurants (or lack thereof)

In early 2020, things started like any other typical Disney World year. Finished another beautiful holiday season, the The most magical place on Earth was preparing to release a group of new and exciting attractions! And the news that was published of the Expo D23 2019 excited everyone for all the new additions announced for the parks. You know, just before the global pandemic ruled it all out.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

The NEW hot attraction was Mickey & Minnie’s Runway Railway, a dazzling display of animated innovation in the historic building that once housed The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The opening day rows were LONG, and while some baffled the trip to replace an iconic cinematic experience, the technology and skill shown here is undeniable.

The lines are not that long today

At EPCOT, we were thrilled to see the arrival of a new restaurant at the American Adventure in World Showcase, com The Regal Eagle Smokehouse finally took flight!

Eagle Smoker Gift Party

Of couse, both newcomers had the misfortune to open a few weeks before COVID-19 closed Disney World for an unprecedented period of time., giving rise to a new type of park when it was finally reopened in July.

Security changes

Disney World has always prioritized the safety of its guests. Not only is it one of the SAFEST places you can be in Florida during a hurricane, but there are things like guardrails, warning signs, and first aid stations. They even sometimes offer FREE sunscreen on days when it’s especially scorching!

The castle stays right here, even when there are hurricanes.

But the pandemic really put Disney’s security capabilities to the test. When the parks began their historic reopening in July 2020, guests came across new protocols and security structures like we’ve never seen before.

Dinosaur tail with social distance markers

At this point, it seems like they’ve been looking normal for so long, but in the summer of 2020, the ubiquity of plexiglass separators, social distance floor markers, signage that reminds you to bring your own facial masks, i QR code menu scanners it was TOTALLY different.

Plexiglass and Slinky Dog Dash

In addition, Disney World began using one Park Pass reservation system for mass control in parks, drastically reduced the window to make advanced dining reservations, stopped buying new annual season tickets, eliminated FastPasses, and increased their attention to mobile food orders.

Mobile order picking stations

With so many new security protocols in place, and diligent cast members reminding everyone to cover their noses and mouths at all times. Disney was tasked with innovating new ways to operate its attractions safely, a particularly difficult task for attractions that require close contact and small spaces such as Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance and The Haunted Mansion (the Stretching Room paused).

It’s starting!

Because of this Herculean task, gradual reopening meant that certain attractions took longer to update and operate safely.

Storm Troopers a Rise of the Resistance

On a positive note, It was nice to see the massive extension of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, which suddenly spread from summer to late November!


New attractions and attractions

As the global pandemic subsided and flowed throughout 2020 and 2021, Disney World continually adapted accordingly, demonstrating their dexterity and commitment to public health.


Given so many new attractions, restaurants, attractions and improvements that were due to open in 2020, they were delayed, 2021 saw many more openings. This is also due to the reduction of security restrictions.

Remy’s Ratatouille adventure took longer than expected

The big batsmen of 2021 were Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220, The Paris Creperie, Attracted to life by Cirque du Soleil, i Gideon’s Oven at Disney Springs.

How Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure virtual queue works at Disney World

Smoothing security restrictions

Although the peaks of COVID-19 in 2021 saw higher and lower than the Everest Expedition, Disney World carefully and consistently removed security features, such as social distancing markers and plexiglass, while filling vehicles to capacity and loosening face mask requirements.

Seven dwarf mine train

In the summer of 2021, things seemed more magical and “normal” at Disney World than they had since February 2020.

Mountain Splash

Combine that with the return of much-lost attractions and experiences, such as gingerbread house exhibits, fireworks, parades, character dinners and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Of course, none of this is as massive and consistent as it was before 2020, but one thing was clear in 2021: the magic was back.

UPDATE: Disney World Orange County Listed as COVID-19 Hotspot

New technology

Virtual queues, mobile orders and QR codes became a THING in 2020, and in 2021 served to calcify them as pillars at Disney World, which are likely to remain.

Virtual queue

Virtual queues, in particular, have been a game changer for Disney World. Parks have used it to mitigate crowds of popular attractions such as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Rise of the Resistance, as well as popular restaurants such as Space 220.

Waiting to be put in the virtual queue of Space 220

Another BIG technological change in 2021 was the debut of Disney Genie, a free planning tool in the My Disney Experience app that creates personalized itineraries and wish lists for guests, with the intention of making your day at Disney as magical and fluid as possible!

Disney Genie is here!

For sure, it can be a little overwhelming and confusing at first, especially when you mix paid updates like Genie + and Individual Attraction Selections and Lightning Lanes, but once you’re done, it can be a miracle!

Don’t want to read 100 different articles on how to use Disney Genie? Just read this.

Celebration of the 50th anniversary of Disney World

Then there is the little thing that is said Celebration of the 50th anniversary. Disney World had the awkward experience of making it the biggest party in its history amid a global pandemic.

Happy birthday, Disney World!

On October 1, 2021, more than a year and a half in a pandemic that changed society, the world longed for a reason to smile again, laugh, hug, and enjoy the magic that only Disney can offer.

Parade of 50th anniversary characters

While I was careful with the fireworks and the new Night Spectacles, and we follow the line between what safety procedures were still needed and what could be recovered, Disney World was able to hold its big celebration worthy of an epic birthday! (Although not everything went well!)

3 things that went terribly wrong at Disney World on October 1st … and what needs to change because of them


Looking to the future

Tan what the future holds for Disney World?

Walt and Mickey in MK!

If there’s one thing they’ve shown us in 2020 and 2021, it’s how dedicated, innovative and skilled Disney really is. It is the only place on Earth that can juggle a global pandemic and a 50th anniversary celebration at the same time, and offer a safe and joyful experience for everyone!


While the future still looks bleak in some ways, Disney looks confident in its ability to deliver stunning experiences and attractions next year. Will virtual queues and mobile orders be maintained? More likely. Will Park Pass reservations ever go away? Time will tell!

Cinderella Castle

But in the meantime, 2022 seems to be another epic year, with the launch of the Galactic Starcruiser hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and – cross your fingers ?? – TRON: Lightcycle Run.

Lots to look forward to in 2022

All of these new additions will no doubt look and feel VERY different, but that’s not just because security restrictions have disrupted plans. That’s because Disney continues to adapt and innovate. Stay tuned to DFB and we’ll keep you posted on all the latest changes, adaptations, and innovations that Disney continues to implement!

Disney World’s current health and safety guidelines for 2022

What changes at Disney World impressed you the MOST? Let us know in the comments!

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