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Visiting Disney World in 2023 v. 2024: Should You Go or Wait?


When to visit Walt Disney World is a common question, with many fans wondering whether it’s a good idea to delay a vacation due to construction, cutbacks, pent-up demand, prices, and more. Among other things, this addresses whether you should visit in 2023 for the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration, or wait until 2024?

This has been a big question in recent years, as major expansion hit Hollywood Studios and then EPCOT, with the center of the latter park still a giant dirt pit. Walt Disney World is an expensive vacation destination, so it’s understandable that many families–including infrequent or once-in-a-lifetime visitors–would want to see the parks at their best, with everything open and lots of shiny new rides.

On top of construction, the last couple of years have been rough. Reduced stage shows, nighttime spectaculars, other entertainment, scaled-back menus, limited hours, missing perks, staffing shortages, maintenance woes, dramatically increased costs due to supply constraints and pent-up demand–the list goes on and on. Then there was Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, which was incredibly underwhelming and didn’t deliver on many of its promised additions.

In typical times, we oppose postponing experiences for something theoretically better down the road. In life and with Disney theme parks, there’s this fantasy of a perfect tomorrow and imperfect today. Something better, newer, or bigger on the horizon that you should wait to see. That overlooks the costs of waiting, and also the downsides.

The last couple years have really driven this point home. Americans have reweighed their priorities and placed renewed emphasis on experiences. Even beyond that, waiting on a Walt Disney World trip is not much of an option for many families; kids grow up quickly, and taking them sooner rather than later is the best course of action.

Then there’s the nature of nostalgia and change. To borrow a line from Andy Bernard (who went to Cornell, so you know he’s smart), “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” This statement is profoundly simple, yet simply profound. And it’s especially true when it comes to Walt Disney World.

Looking back, there are a number of times that I’d consider to be the “Golden Age” at Walt Disney World. Most recently, September through early December 2019. Before that, November and December 2016. Prior to that, Summer 2014. Even what’s routinely viewed as an era of stagnation, 2007 through 2011, holds a lot of nostalgia for us. (That’s us below in Summer 2008, sporting Mickey ears we won while lining up for Journey into Imagination–one of several successes during the Year of a Million Dreams! If I could trade everything added to Walt Disney World since to revisit then, I would do it in an instant.)

With the benefit of hindsight, I could give examples of why each of those years were special (Dream Lights’ debut, Year of a Million Dreams, SpectroMagic’s farewell, Summer Nightastic, Extra Magic Hours until 3 am, etc).

The problem is that, with the exception of late 2019 and Summer 2014, I don’t think I could identify those as special eras while living through them. There are several reasons for this, all of which are beyond the scope of this post. Regardless, the point is that it’s hard to say how 2023 or 2024 might be perceived with the benefit of hindsight. Maybe one or both will be viewed as a new “Golden Age” when looking back from 2030.

But enough with the ‘deep thoughts’ about revisiting the past. Let’s take a look at the pros & cons of visiting Walt Disney World in 2023. As compared to the last couple of years, the big thing is that the parks will not be operating in ‘phased reopening’ mode. By and large, guests will not have to settle for a compromised Walt Disney World experience.

To be sure, there are going to be modifications you don’t like that persist. Disney Park Pass reservations still exist–but we wouldn’t be surprised if that system is retired for everyone but Annual Passholders sometime in 2023. Park Hopping is still restricted–but that’s likely to be rolled back to some degree. Shows like Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Jedi Training Academy, and Enchanted Tales with Belle are on hiatus–but at least 2 of those are likely gone for good. If the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights are ever going to return, that’ll likely happen in 2023.

It’s likely that major complaints you might have with Walt Disney World in 2023 are likely to exist in 2024 and beyond. A lot has changed in the last few years, and most of it is not intended as temporary. Sure, some things might change. It’s realistic to expect the Disney Dining Plan to return or Genie+ and Lightning Lanes to improve as more tweaks are made.

It’s also reasonable to expect tensions, for lack of a better term, between guests and Cast…



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