Your Disney World trip this summer won’t be the same as it was before.
From supply chain issues to ever-changing gas prices, your summer trip may be totally unlike your trip last summer and even unlike the trip you took just a few months ago. Today we’re going through ALL the ways Disney World will be DIFFERENT this summer so you can be prepared!
Supply Chain Issues and Shortages
Supply chain issues aren’t necessarily “new” to Disney World this summer (we’ve seen them affecting parts of the parks for months now), but you may encounter them this summer more than ever before in a variety of areas.
In terms of food, supply chain issues and shortages could cause a number of complications. For example, the special 50th Anniversary Monte Cristo sandwich was removed from Magic Kingdom in late May due to supply chain issues.
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there have been some complications with getting an ingredient key to the Fuzzy Tauntaun drink. While the drink remains available at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World, Cast Members have indicated that they are working on a new formula, so that drink may be a tiny bit different in the future. And over at Disneyland, the Fuzzy Tauntaun has come off the menu entirely because of supply chain problems.
A peanut butter recall also led to the removal of some snacks in Disney World, though it seems that problem has been mostly alleviated, at least in terms of its impact on select Disney items.
We’ve seen everything impacted — from ketchup to chicken tenders, sometimes in Disney World, somethings just in the world at large. The recent issues with the Fuzzy Tauntaun and Monte Cristo show that those aren’t necessarily going away.
So if you’re heading to Disney World this summer, just be prepared and try to go into things with as much flexibility as possible. Know that the snack you’ve been itching to try might be gone by the time you arrive if, for some reason, supply chain issues impact it. Be sure to check those menus on the My Disney Experience app often so you can see what has changed, and be on the lookout for our menu update posts!
But it’s not just food that’s being impacted by supply chain issues. We’ve seen a LOT of shortages when it comes to merchandise as well. In some cases, it has closed entire shops down. In Hollywood Studios, Beverly Sunset Boutique closed several months ago and still is not open to guests.
Over at Droid Depot, we’ve seen supply chain issues severely impact the kinds of droids guests can build.
We’ve also seen misting fans — a very popular item to beat off the Florida heat — out of stock in some places due to supply issues, though they have been restocked in some areas now!
Some of these supply issues have lasted longer than others, but the moral of the story here is supply chain issues could impact the shopping on your trip. A product you want might be temporarily sold out, though it later may be restocked. The key here is (once again) to be prepared.
If you absolutely know that you’ll need a misting fan while in Disney World this summer, you might not want to wait to buy it in the parks. Even though some have been restocked, you might want to consider buying one ahead of time so you can come in prepared and any supply issues that might exist at that time won’t impact you.
The same goes for any other essentials you’ll need for your trip. Our advice is to buy it ahead of time and bring it with you, so you can avoid complications of it being sold out during your trip.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re in the parks and you see an item you want, you probably won’t want to wait to buy it. Ears, Starbucks mugs, and all kinds of collectibles and essentials can sell out quickly if they’re particularly popular, and they may not be restocked for a while.
So if you see a souvenir you absolutely must have, don’t wait. If you do wait, you might be left with the disappointment of finding that it’s no longer available!
If the last few week/months have been any indication, these supply chain issues may come and go, but you might hit the parks right at a time when they’re at their worst, or when new supply chain issues arise. Being prepared can help you have a smoother trip overall!
In the past, we’ve analyzed whether Disney’s decision to layoff much of its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic would end up being its biggest regret, and looked at whether Disney is still short on staff.
In February of 2022, Disney CEO Bob Chapek shared that they were still experiencing staffing issues in 2 specific areas — hospitality and entertainment.
Chapek said, “And right now we’ve got 90% of our hotels at Walt Disney World open, and we’ve got all of our hotels at Disneyland open, but also short of cooks, think kind of short-order cooks.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, for Orlando’s theme parks in general, park staffing has largely recovered, but industry experts and data show that it “continues to trail pre-COVID totals.”
The CEO of International Theme Park Services, Dennis Speigel, has estimated that Walt Disney World (as well as Universal and SeaWorld) are at about 85% to 90% of their staffing numbers in 2019.
While that’s an improvement that’s bigger than anticipated, there are still staffing problems. Speigel has said that it is the “biggest issue facing the industry.”
A smaller workforce can cause a number of impacts. Lines may be longer due to lower levels of staffing, things may take longer, or you may see shifts in availability or operating hours at places.
Scott Smith, who works as an associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management said, “This is a watershed moment. This could be a great summer for us if we figure it out, or this could be a disastrous summer if we don’t.”
Pre-COVID, Disney employed about 77,000 people in the parks. As of April of 2022, some data showed they had 58,478 employees. An unnamed Disney spokesperson said that they employ 70,000 people.
Unite Here Local 737 (which represents some of Disney’s housekeeping and food & beverage Cast Members) represented 18,099 workers in January of 2020. In early 2022, that number was down to 17,691.
Eric Clinton, President of Unite Here Local 362, said that to truly meet the Disney World Resort’s needs, Disney would have to hire about 500-1,000 more people in attractions and custodial.
According to Clinton, Disney is “hiring lots of people — we know that because we get to talk to new workers as they get hired — but it’s not enough to keep up with the demand.”
Speigel has anticipated that the short-staffing in the theme park business could last into 2023 or past that.
So if you head out to Disney World this summer, at a point when staffing may still be a bit tighter than the usual, be prepared. Understand that things may take longer than you were used to (that includes getting through lines at rides, restaurants, merchandise spots, and more). Consider getting in these mobile orders EXTRA early so you can account for any longer waiting periods.
Know that there may simply be less Cast Members available to handle the same requests as before, meaning increased waits or the need to adjust to some modified hours of operation or other changes.
And, most importantly, remember to be kind and patient with the Cast Members who are there working their hardest to do as much as they can giving the staffing that is available!
COVID-19 concerns also aren’t strictly “new” or exclusive to this summer’s travels, but concerns regarding some of the new variants may be.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen the original Omicron variant become a little less of a concern, and its more contagious subvariants increase in terms of case numbers.
First, the news was all about the BA.2 Omicron subvariant. While BA.2 continues to be a subvariant being discussed, another subvariant, BA.2.12.1 has started to make up a larger portion of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
Some experts warn that a COVID-19 summer surge could be on the way. A virologist at the Scripps Research Institute said, “I expect we’ll see a wave in the U.S. sooner than what most people expect.” (New York Times)
We have seen COVID-19 cases increasing in some places during recent months, and as of June 9th, WUSF reports that the number of patients admitted to Florida hospitals with COVID-19 has increased more than 14% during one particular week in June.
And there’s a potential for new variants to begin taking shape in the U.S. which could change the game. In early June, we saw both Disney World counties (Orange County and Osceola County) placed into the “high” COVID-19 risk category. In this category, the CDC recommends that all individuals wear a mask indoors in public.
Disney World’s mask rules currently note that masks are optional in all locations (indoors and outdoors), though masks are recommended indoors for those who are not fully vaccinated. Thus far, Disney has not made any indication that they will be changing their mask rules. However, depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops, mask rules could change. We certainly have seen mask rules change in the past, and there’s always a potential for them to change in the future.
The ever-evolving COVID-19 situation is something that could impact your decision to travel to Disney World or could otherwise impact rules for travel (especially depending on how the situation with the lawsuit regarding the travel mask mandate is resolved). We’ll continue to look for more updates on the COVID-19 situation and let you know what we see.
Click here to see our full post on the potential COVID-19 summer surge and what you need to know for your Disney World trip
If you’re planning a trip right now, high costs are something you’re probably facing. The cost of gas in particular has been something that has been fluctuating over the last several weeks. Though we saw gas prices going down at one time, they’ve been increasing quite a bit recently.
The high gas cost could cause you to reconsider your trip, or at least the way in which you arrange your trip. It actually ranked as one of the major factors people are considering when it comes to summer vacation plans in general.
Another top consideration? Flight prices! Between higher fuel costs and increasing demand, flight prices can be considerably higher now than they would have been in the past. (Bloomberg)
The increased flight costs could (again) cause you to reconsider your trip entirely or at least reconsider your trip budget. If you’re determined to make your trip work, but are facing higher-than-expected flight costs, remember that you may be able to take advantage of discounts and deals for Disney World than could reduce some of your costs for your hotel to help make room in your budget!
You can also search for flights through more budget-friendly airlines, use price comparison websites, or track flight costs through apps or websites to see when might be the best time to buy.
Flight Delays and Cancellations
In addition to high flight costs, flight delays and cancellations could really impact trips this summer. JetBlue Airways has announced that it plans to cut some of its summer schedule to avoid too many flight disruptions. And JetBlue isn’t alone. According to USA Today, Delta will be cutting 100 daily flights this summer, and the Wall Street Journal reported that Spirit Airlines will be cutting some of its summer flights.
So if you don’t already have that flight booked, you’ll want to look and see what availability looks like right now. Don’t be too surprised if the typical number of flights typically offered from your airport to Disney World or elsewhere has been trimmed down.
The key here is to book early, keep checking back for availability, keep checking to see if any delays or cancellations impact your trip, and have a back-up plan just in case things go wrong.
Another big change coming this summer is the opening of the NEW terminal at Orlando International Airport. Though it is a bit later into the year (right near the very end of summer), Terminal C is expected to open at the Orlando Airport on September 19th.
JetBlue will be the primary airline for this Terminal, and the Terminal will feature over 24 food options, a new luggage system, and some pretty impressive uses of technology. So at least if you’re stuck in the airport due to delays and cancellations, you’ll have a brand new terminal to explore! (Hopefully you don’t have to explore it for that reason, but if you’ll be using JetBlue it’ll be interesting to see the changes at this terminal in effect.)
Constant Disney Changes and Reopenings
Aside from travel and COVID-19 related matters, there are a whole bunch of changes coming to Disney World this summer that relate directly to park attractions, restaurants, and more.
Here’s a quick list of just some of the things happening this summer:
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is returning to Fort Wilderness (reservations are available and the full menu is viewable here)
- Hours are changing for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and other shows
- Minnie Vans are coming back
- Changes are being made at Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and more of the full show will be back soon
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! (the reimagined Nemo Musical) will reopen in Animal Kingdom this summer
- The Mickey and Minnie meet-and-greet will be back in Animal Kingdom this summer
- MagicBand+ is set to debut in Disney World this summer
- The Harmony Barber shop is reopening in Magic Kingdom
- There are refurbishments and construction going on all throughout the parks
- Genie+ has changed so that it can now only be purchased the day of your trip (not in advance)
- Some rides are temporarily available through the regular Genie+ service, but that’ll be ending in August
- New Disney Vacation Club Resort Studios are opening in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
And that’s just a TASTE of the new things on the horizon!
In many ways, Disney will be DIFFERENT this summer. So even if you’ve been in the past few months, there will be some returning things to look forward to, and some changes (like that Genie+ booking change) to be aware of.
The Return of 2 Huge Events
On top of those changes, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will be starting up this summer (with a partial opening of booths at first, and an opening of more booths later in the summer), and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will be BACK in Magic Kingdom for the first time in years.
So whether it’s increased flight costs, concerns about a potential COVID-19 summer surge, or the many things returning to Disney World this summer — there are a number of ways that your trip could be DIFFERENT than it has been in the past.
Again, as we’ve mentioned above, the key here is to be prepared. Anticipate flight delays and cancellations and have back-up travel plans in place, expect longer lines in some places potentially due to staffing shortages and allot extra time for that into your schedule, adjust your budget to allow for those higher gas costs, and be aware of the reopenings (or any construction/refurbishments) happening during your trip so you can be prepared for what awaits you.
We’ll continue to look for updates and let you know what we find. Be sure to stay tuned for all the latest news to help you prepare for your trip!
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Are you planning a trip for Disney World this summer? How are you preparing for these complications or changes? Tell us in the comments!
The post Big CHANGES Could Impact Your Disney Trip This Summer first appeared on the disney food blog.