Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 9, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 9, 2023

You can view a larger version of the individual photos included in the Update by clicking on the photo; the photo will open in a separate tab without a caption. For the Instagram, Facebook or Twitter posts embedded in the Update, you can click them and view images or videos on the respective sites too.

 Writer's Note, News & Views

Aloha! I'm back. (And don't forget Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday, May 14!)


A post shared by MousePlanet (@mouseplanet)

Mahalo to Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix for keeping her eyes on Walt Disney World Resort happenings while I was away these past couple of weeks. In a separate article, I'll soon share more about my most recent weeklong visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai'i, which was my fifth visit using my Disney Vacation Club membership in the past six years; this visit also included a hosted meal at the resort's recently reopened and reimagined 'AMA 'AMA restaurant, courtesy of Disney, and I will share my views on that, too!

Adventurers Club storytelling at Aulani
Auntie's Beach House at Aulani includes story elements from The Adventurers Club at Walt Disney World's former Pleasure Island. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

In the meantime, back in Florida, I did see that the ongoing dispute between Disney and Governor DeSantis continued its escalation. As I have observed before, I don't think that this ongoing legal and political dispute immediately impacts guest visits nor should it impact upcoming vacation plans, so that's all I'll say about it in this week's Resort Update, other than to provide this brief recap:

  • In March 2022, Disney publicly criticized a piece of Florida legislation.
  • In April 2022, Florida Governor DeSantis and the State Legislature responded by enacting statutory changes dissolving Reedy Creek Improvement District, effective in June 2023, the governmental entity with oversight over land including Walt Disney World Resort.
  • In February 2023, the legislature passed a new law revising the dissolution of Reedy Creek, creating a new governor-appointed board for a renamed oversight district with revised powers. It was signed into law on February 27, 2023.
  • Prior to Reedy Creek's scheduled dissolution and before the revised law was enacted, Disney entered into long-term land development agreements with Reedy Creek Improvement District
  • In March, after the enactment of the new law and the Disney-Reedy Creek agreements, the newly appointed authority's board and the governor objected to the land development agreements, claiming surprise and legal irregularities
  • On April 26, in Federal court in Tallahassee, Disney sued the governor in his official capacity and several other officials, including the appointed board.
  • The new board authorized and, on May 1, filed its own lawsuit against Disney in State Circuit Court in Orange County, Florida.
  • Since Disney's suit, the state legislature and the governor took further action against Disney-Reedy Creek development agreements and operation of Disney property.
  • Yesterday, May 8, 2023, Disney filed an amended complaint in the Federal court proceeding to incorporate the latest actions by the governor, state legislature, and board.

Assuming MousePlanet readers are interested (and I know Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is), once I have had an opportunity to review the noard's complaint and Disney's amended complaint, I will offer some thoughts based on my legal education in a separate article rather than a future Resort Update. As for the politics of the dispute, please keep that off the update, which exists to discuss topics focused on getting the most out of a Walt Disney World visit rather than anyone's political agenda.

And, in an otherwise quiet news week—speaking of getting the most out of visiting Walt Disney World—yesterday, Disney Parks Blog shared the latest policy changes intended to make visits "easier" in 2024, including the return of Disney Dining Plans, ahead of the upcoming May 31 opening of bookings for 2024 theme park tickets, Disney Resort hotel stays and packages at Walt Disney World. Since these policy changes are fairly big news, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix published an overview of the policy changes (and I provided some of that overview's content, too). For those who missed it yesterday, the next section is that overview.

Disney Dining Plans to Return & More Pandemic-Era Policies Changing in 2024

With the May 31 opening of bookings for Walt Disney World 2024 theme park tickets, Disney Resort hotel stays and packages, Disney has announced further changes to the policies put in place as it began the phased re-opening of the Resort. It describes the changes as making visit "easier," and, while not returning the resort to how it operated before the pandemic, it does move several policies further in that direction.

Dining Plan Returns in 2024

The biggest news is the return of the popular dining plans in 2024. Both the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan and the Disney Dining Plan will be available when you book packages for stays beginning January 9, 2024, and beyond. The Disney Dining Plan gives you the option to pre-pay for your meals as part of your vacation package, giving you "credits" that you redeem with each meal.

Of course, the dining plan itself has inspired tens of thousands of articles, blog posts and discussion forum threads, so "easy" may not be the appropriate word for the program—but it's definitely one thing vacation planners have been asking to have return in this post-pandemic travel world.

Dining Plan Symbol on kiosk menu
The Dining Plan symbols have remained conspicuous on menus all throughout the time the program was suspended, including, as here, on all of the EPCOT festival kiosk menu boards. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Reservation Rules Relaxed

When you purchase date-based tickets, you no longer need to make a theme park reservation before your visit, which means you no longer need to commit to visiting a specific theme park on a specific day each day of your trip. When getting your ticket, you will simply select a start date for January 9, 2024, or later, complete your purchase, and then you will be all set! If you're the type who likes to wake up and leave it to the whims of the Disney bus service to pick your starting park for the day, this seems to be great news. Even if you're a hyper-planner, this is just one less detail you need to keep track of.

This change goes into effect as of January 9, 2024, and only impacts date-based tickets. If you have a different form of admission, like a student group ticket, a sport and convention ticket, or an older unexpired ticket, you will still need to make a reservation.

1 Day Ticket prices - Jan 13, 2023
Disney currently sells one-day park tickets with park reservations automatically included when capacity is available, as each park's tickets are now priced separately (with the Park Hopping add-on available at an extra charge). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Walt Disney World annual passholders and cast members will also be able to visit without reservations on so-called "Good to Go" days, again starting in 2024. Walt Disney World has already removed the park reservation requirement for passholders after 2:00 p.m. everyday except Saturday and Sunday at Magic Kingdom. We don't expect Disney to ever return to a true no-reservations-needed system, especially on the historically busiest times, but adding more and more opportunities for a spontaneous visit is a welcome perk.

Extended Hours Continue

Disney says early theme park entry will continue through 2024 at all four theme parks everyday. This program lets guests of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels enter their reserved theme park up to 30 minutes early each morning, ahead of guests who aren't staying on property.

Extended evening hours will also continue on select nights in 2024. This perk is reserved for guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas, and offers up to two extra hours at Epcot or Magic Kingdom after the park closes to day guests.

Disney Genie+ Changes

Disney says, "We have heard from guests that they would like ways to plan with Disney Genie+ service and individual Lightning Lane selections before the day of their park visit, and we want you to know we are working on ways guests may do this for visits in 2024."

Disney Genie
Disney Genie+ changes coming in 2024. Image courtesy Disney Parks.

No details were shared, but it looks like visitors may—someday—be able to make at least some attraction selections before ever stepping foot on property. Of course, this is the model Disney moved away from in introducing Disney Genie+, but it sounds like the fans have finally gotten their message through.

This & That…

…Ariel from the upcoming live-action version of Disney's The Little Mermaid will be making special appearances this summer at a meet and greet inside Walt Disney Presents at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

…Walt Disney World teamed up with Make-A-Wish America to help grant the 150,000th Disney-inspired wish to 16-year-old Mikayla from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

…May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Walt Disney World Resort celebrates with cultural and dining experiences. There's a Foodie Guide for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and, of course, Aulani too.

…Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, May 14. Looking for gift ideas? Disney has a guide for that too.

…And, speaking of Mother's Day, some of the venues at Disney Springs have special offerings (with tickets required or reservations recommended): Morimoto Asia hosts its annual luau on May 14 at noon; Maria and Enzo's is serving its Sicilian cuisine-inspired brunch menu from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and Jaleo is serving its spirit and flavors of Spain brunch menu, too. It's also graduation season, and those venues and many others have options for your gatherings to consider, so contact them for more information.

… REMINDER Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic registration is now closed for the May 11 event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. For the remaining complimentary events at Walt Disney World Resort, details are posted on this page of the DVC website. Early registration occurs once for each park hosting a Moonlight Magic Event, where DVC members with Disney Resort hotel reservations falling on the day of an event may register for the event; General registration takes place on specified dates for each event. The remaining complimentary but registration required after-hours events in the parks for members and their guests are:

  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – September 13. General registration is August 31 (early registration has passed)
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – July 11, August 2
    – Early registration will be on June 14, 2023. Resort reservations with party size finalized prior to 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on June 11, 2023.
    – General registration (pending availability) opens June 21 for the July 11 event, and July 19 for the August 2 event.
  • Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – May 23, August 23. General registration (pending availability) opens May 11 for the May 23 event, and August 9th for the August 23 event. (early registration has passed)

For "early registration," an eligible DVC member must have resort reservations at a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort—with party size modifications finalized prior to the respective deadlines. Eligible DVC members are those who are eligible for member extras. Any eligible DVC member (regardless of hotel reservation status) may attempt to register for an event during "general registration" pending availability. Members can register up to a party size of five (including the member) or, when registering during the early registration period, up to the number of guests on the resort reservation finalized by the applicable deadline. Modifications to a hotel reservation's party size after the deadline will not change the party size for the event. Children under age 3 do not need to be registered for the event.

For all of these DVC events, "eligible" member generally means that the member bought their points directly from Disney rather than a third party resale.

The Usual Writer's Note (Updated)

Face coverings remain optional across all of Walt Disney World Resort. Remember to check this page of DisneyWorld.com for the latest requirements. It remains unlikely that the State of Florida will impose new requirements. Disney may impose more stringent requirements than the state, so, again, be sure to pay attention to updates to the policies around Walt Disney World Resort.

As has been true throughout the past several years, if you're traveling to or from overseas, be sure to check with the places you're visiting and traveling from or through for the latest rules. Though most requirements have been relaxed or removed, it remains important to check on and abide by the most up-to-date COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements for entering the United States whether as a citizen, permanent resident, or visitor (and be aware of who needs a visa).

Until the just announced 2024 policy changes go into effect, Disney Park Pass reservations continue to be required for admission to Walt Disney World theme parks in addition to a valid ticket. If your tickets have the Park Hopper option, Park Hopping only becomes available after 2 p.m. daily, and only after you have first visited the park for which you have made a reservation that day. There have been instances where Magic Kingdom has reached capacity and paused admission of Park Hoppers, as Disney reserves the right to do so at all the parks. As of April 18, 2023, Passholders are not required to make reservations to visit parks after 2 p.m. except for Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday .

Speaking of Annual Passes, sales of new ones resumed April 20, 2023 (April 13 for the DVC Member Sorcerer Pass). All Passholders may continue to purchase renewals in all tiers, and, now may upgrade pass type before renewal by paying the difference in price. As Disney reserves the right to limit quantities of passes available, sales may pause at any time, so be sure to check https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/passes/ for the latest availability. Logging in to the site with existing MyDisneyExperience credentials can direct you to purchasing opportunities for Florida Residents and Disney Vacation Club Members if those details are already tied to your account.

Note Disney now has a "Courtesy" section included in its "know before you go" webpage on DisneyWorld.com which states:

Be the magic you want to see in the world. You must always remember to treat others with respect, kindness and compassion. Those who can't live up to this simple wish may be asked to leave Walt Disney World Resort.

The usual Tropical Storm season is just about here. Though Central Florida currently has a serious precipitation deficit (and potential drought conditions right now), daily summer thunderstorms likely start popping by June or July. Of course, severe weather can occur in Central Florida at anytime. When visiting, have a regular look at the weather forecasts, and be prepared. If you are driving, be extra alert, and expect lots of traffic during Spring Break.

Join Our Networks

Follow MousePlanet on Facebook:

Resort Reservations, Ticket Advice & Special Offers

Note: MousePlanet does not edit past Updates to reflect price increases; for up-to-date prices, check the most recent Walt Disney World Resort Update.

The Walt Disney World Resort website lists current offers, deals, and discounts on this page.

Discounted stays are available on most nights from April 10 to July 10, 2023, of 10% to 25% depending on Disney Resort hotel selected for stays between 1 and 14 nights. Details and availability are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com. There are additional offers for Passholders (up to 35%), Florida Residents (up to 30%), and everyone else (up to 25%) now posted through September 28, 2023. Scroll through the full list on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

For those passholders interested in the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser "Voyages," select dates from through July 2, 2023 are now available for up to 30% off too.

The official Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels have a bunch of special offers available with weekday rates starting at $120/night (plus tax). These "on-property" resorts enjoy many of the same perks (though not all of them) as the Disney owned-and-operated resort hotels, and offer complimentary transportation to and from the parks. For more information and rates, visit: disneyspringshotels.com. The family owned-and-operated Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando is now officially open in this category, and, as it reaches its targeted completion this Spring, it will feature 604 rooms including 78 two-room suites, in-room amenities including 55” smart flat screen televisions, mini refrigerators, microwaves, alarm clocks with Bluetooth and charging stations, executive work spaces, and in-room safes. The Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando is within walking distance to Disney Springs and will also offer 17,000-plus square feet of meeting and event space for up to 250 people.

MousePlanet’s travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages. When you book a Walt Disney World Resort Package with Get Away Today with a minimum 3-night stay at a Disney Resort Hotel plus tickets, you receive its complimentary concierge service which includes:

  • Free Price Monitoring – if a special comes out after you book, we'll automatically apply it!
  • Dining Reservation Assistance – we wake up early and snag those hard to get dining reservations so you don't have to.
  • The GAT expert team is available to you! Contact them any time for extra assistance with your vacation planning; transportation, theme park recommendations, etc.

You can get a free Walt Disney World Resort vacation quote by calling 855-GET-AWAY (and tell them MousePlanet sent you) or, you can find sample prices and submit a free quote request here.

Looking to go beyond Walt Disney World Resort when visiting Central Florida? Check out Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.

Get Away Today Logo

Only purchase Disney theme park tickets directly from Disney, an authorized seller, or a travel agency like MousePlanet travel partner Get Away Today! As always, we remind our readers that Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets are rarely offered at deep discounts unless you are a resident of Florida or eligible for U.S. Military Personnel benefits. Historically, non-Florida residents tend to benefit the most by purchasing tickets in advance (and, of course, being mindful of the rules relevant to those tickets). Don't get scammed! Never buy tickets from an unofficial or secondary outlet, such as through eBay or Craigslist. Never rent or purchase tickets from people approaching you outside Disney property stating they have remaining days or leftover tickets. This practice is against the terms of use for Walt Disney World Theme Park admissions, and may result in denial of entry. There is no way to determine if these tickets are valid until you try to use them to enter the parks.

A Further Word From Our Sponsor (For full offer details and disclaimers, visit GetAwayToday.com)

Now you can get two days FREE at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort when you book with Get Away Today!

In addition to the Walt Disney World Resort offers below, if you are booking with Get Away Today at Universal Orlando Resort, buy 3 days and get 2 days free: Park-to-Park and Base tickets are included with this offer, and there are no blockout dates. Visit Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, or upgrade to a 3-Park ticket to experience Universal’s waterpark, Volcano Bay. You can find this offer and its details here at Get Away Today's website.


Get Away Today Logo

floating icons

Get 2 Extra Days FREE
at the Walt Disney World® Resort

There is SO much to do at the Walt Disney World® Resort, you’ll want as much time to experience as much as you can! With four theme parks, two water parks, over 20 themed resort hotels, the Disney Springs® shopping, dining and entertainment district, and so much more – there are endless opportunities for magic.

For a limited time, when you buy a 5-Day Walt Disney World® Resort ticket, you’ll get two extra days FREE for a full seven days of fun – exclusively from Get Away Today!

Why travel with Get Away Today?

  • One-stop shop - Exclusive pricing, amenities and more!

  • Verified Theme Park Partner

  • Travel Expert Support - 100% free to use our services

  • 365-Day Refundable Unused or Unmodified Tickets

  • Over 33 years of experience

floating icons
floating icons
Universal Orlando Ticket Offer



  1. By wdwchuck

    "In March 2022, Disney publicly criticized a piece of Florida legislation."

    Thanks Alan for this update. I urge every person who loves WDW and Disney to read about the initial dust up between the State of Florida and Disney. What are both their positions? I think people will be very, very surprised.

  2. Discuss this article on MousePad.