Ways Walt Disney World Has Changed Over The Past 10 Years

Let’s talk about the last years at Walt Disney World, shall we?! We’ve gathered a list of ten pivotal changes that have occurred at WDW over the past decade, so you can see just how far WDW has come in only 10 years.  Who knows what may be next?

10. New Lands

There are entire lands at Walt Disney World that didn’t exist ten years ago.  Pandora – The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios are perhaps the most impressive of the new lands to arrive at WDW. Hollywood Studios also welcomed Toy Story Land, where guests can feel like they’re the size of a toy.  Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom doubled in size over the last decade.

9. Attractions

With so many new lands now open at Walt Disney World, it makes sense that there have been numerous attractions added to the parks in the last 10 years.  In Magic Kingdom, newbies include Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Princess Fairytale Hall, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid.  In Epcot, you can now enjoy Frozen Ever After and the revamped Soarin’ Around the World.  Hollywood Studios brought us Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Rise of the Resistance, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, while Animal Kingdom introduced Kilimanjaro Night-time Safari, Avatar: Flight of Passage, and Na’vi River Journey.

8. Memory Maker

Introduced in 2012 under the name “PhotoPass+”, Memory Maker, as it’s now known, is the most convenient way to take advantage of the hundreds of PhotoPass locations throughout WDW.  Anytime you see a Disney PhotoPass Photographer, you can stop for a family shot without wasting time trying to get that perfect Cinderella Castle selfie.  If you purchase Memory Maker, you’ll have access to all of your digital shots online, without having to buy each photo separately.  Animated Magic Shots are even available now, to add your favorite moving characters to your photos.

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7. Technology

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to Walt Disney World in the last decade is the use of technology.  You’ll now find free WiFi at resorts and parks throughout WDW.  Mobile ordering is available at many counter service restaurants using My Disney Experience app, and those refillable mugs now know how long your stay is, thanks to radio frequency chips.  RFID readers are now part of most WDW turnstiles.  Who knows what new technological marvels will be introduced to the parks in the next 10 years?

6. Disney Springs

If you haven’t visited Disney Springs in the last decade, you’ll barely recognize it – for one, its name has changed!  No longer referred to as “Downtown Disney”, this area has everything you could want in entertainment, dining, and shopping.  It’s been revamped extensively in the last few years, and Disney Springs is now such a sprawling complex that you’ll need a map to navigate it.  It’s divided into 4 different thematic areas: Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side.

5. FastPass+ & Virtual Queue

Although it’s hard to remember a time when we couldn’t skip the lines with daily FastPasses+ at Walt Disney World, they didn’t exist a decade ago.  This is one of our favorite WDW changes, as it frees up our time in the parks – who wants to spend hours in line? While many of the Disney attractions have the FastPass+ option, there is one attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, that is the first ride to have a Virtual Queue. No FastPass+, no Standby line… you can only ride this one by going virtual!

4. MagicBands

As anyone who’s been to Walt Disney World lately knows, MagicBands are your key to WDW (literally, in some cases!).  Your park tickets are stored on your MagicBand, and a simple swipe gains you entry.  You can add a credit card to your MagicBand so you don’t need to carry a wallet in the parks, and the MagicBand also acts as your room key.  From accessing PhotoPass pics to dining reservations, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with a MagicBand!

MagicBands at Dumbo

3. Alcohol

While alcohol has always been available in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot, this was not the case at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, which originally had an alcohol ban.  But things changed in the last few years, starting with the opening of the park’s Be Our Guest Restaurant, which was the first MK restaurant to serve alcohol. Fast-forward to today, and you can find alcohol at all table service restaurants in the park.  Bottoms up!

2. Hotels

Your choices of on-property accommodation at Walt Disney World expanded in the last decade.  Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opened, with family suites and a super fun storybook landscape that lets become part of your favorite animated films.  Bay Lake Tower, part of Disney’s Contemporary Resort and connected to it by the Sky Way Bridge, was also built in the last 10 years. Let’s not forgot about the new Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Resort known as Disney’s Riviera Resort. And of course, there’s a new Star Wars-themed hotel in the works that will make choosing a Disney resort even more difficult!

1. Price

With all of the changes to Walt Disney World in the last 10 years, it makes sense that prices for admission have also changed!  Back in 2008, a family of 4 would pay $276 for a one-day single park ticket.  A decade later, four tickets cost $422 – and that’s if you’re visiting during value season!  If you want to visit during peak season, tickets for a family of 4 to visit one park for one day will cost more like $504!

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.