Walt Disney World has announced 2023 vacation packages and resort reservations info, including what will and will not be included. This post offers dates and details about hotels, tickets, and what’s not back…yet.
Let’s just get the big “not back” things out of the way at the outset. Despite a lot of wishful thinking from fans, Walt Disney World indicated zero intention of creating a competitor to Mears Connect or the Sunshine Flyer. There is absolutely no reason to believe Disney’s Magical Express will return in 2023…or ever. (Although, never say never. Enough of an economic downturn or Universal siphoning off attendance could change the equation. Just not by 2023.)
Next, there’s no indication of any restoration of Extra Magic Hours. Although originally billed as offerings for the 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World confirmed in this announcement that Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours will stick around through 2023. It’s our expectation that these are offerings are permanent, with no end dates in 2024 or beyond, either.
Although not directly addressed, almost certainly sticking around is the MagicBand Upgrade Program. This is despite being plagued by inventory shortages due to supply chain disruptions that have led to readers questioning whether it’s being phased out.
To the contrary, our expectation is that this will be expanded to include the MagicBand+ when that launches later this summer. Regardless, there’s no reason to believe the MagicBand upgrade program is ending in 2023. Nevertheless, it’s worth proactively addressing since Walt Disney World did retire complimentary MagicBands for guests booking hotel reservations with one recent release of vacation packages. (More likely, Walt Disney World is about to embark on a concerted push of the MagicBand+ products.)
Although it was one of the first things to return as normalcy was restored, Park Hopping at Walt Disney World still is not back to its pre-closure form. There’s no indication that this will change come 2023, either.
At present, Park Hopping does not begin until 2 pm each day. We’re hopeful that at some point in the not too distant future, Park Hopping is entirely back to normal. That really depends upon Disney Park Pass, attendance caps, and whether Walt Disney World actually wants to revert to earlier Park Hopping. We’re not holding our breath.
On a similar note, there’s the thing guests would like to go away but Disney would like to keep around. Walt Disney World didn’t directly address the Disney Park Pass reservation system nor did the calendar get extended, but it already went through January 18, 2024–so no reason to do that for next year’s vacation packages.
The park reservations aid Disney with staffing, other resource allocation, and crowd distribution. Given how CEO Bob Chapek and CFO Christine McCarthy spoke of the reservation system on the most recent earnings call, we’re not expecting it to be retired anytime soon. Still, it would be nice if it were rolled into the ticket buying flow by next year, which doesn’t seem like too much to ask. (See When Will the Disney Park Pass Reservation System End? for more thorough commentary and recent updates.)
Also nothing on Annual Passes for Walt Disney World.
Not that this would be expected during the 2023 vacation package announcement, as the two products are aimed at very different audiences. Still, throwing this out there because readers keep asking–better to proactively address it than answer a bunch of comments individually. (See When Will Walt Disney World Resume Annual Pass Sales Again? for more.)
On the final ‘not available/no updates’ front, the Disney Dining Plan isn’t mentioned in the announcement about 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package bookings.
Our expectation is that it will not be available for booking when the packages are released on June 8, 2022. We’ll cover the ‘why’ of this in a separate post. (For now, see When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return?)
With all of that out of the way, here’s what we know: bookings will be available for theme park tickets, resort hotel stays, and 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages beginning June 8, 2022 for arrivals dates January 1, 2023. Bookings will be available for check-in dates up to 499 days in the future on a rolling basis (meaning you can only reserve through late October 2023 as of mid-June, but that’ll slowly move to November 2023 by later this month).
Normal terms and conditions for final payments, cancellations, and change fees will apply for all 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package bookings. Essentially, all of the standard rules apply.
We wouldn’t read anything into any of these ‘temporarily unavailable’ things or what hasn’t been announced yet. With the 2023 package release, it’s as if Walt Disney World’s reservations center wanted to drum up business and start accepting new bookings. Rather than trying to prognosticate how things would change next year, they’ll freeze options at today’s status quo.
We’re unconcerned because this is precisely what has happened for the last two years. Resorts that had not yet reopened, ticket options that hadn’t yet returned, and water parks were all treated similarly with previous 2021 and 2022 vacation package releases. All of those things were restored gradually, and became available to book following official announcements of their return. We’d expect nothing different for 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages.
In short, nothing is set in stone. Don’t treat any of these vacation package details as conclusive of the totality of what will and will not be available for the duration of 2023 at Walt Disney World. Heck, it’s not even indicative of what’s on the horizon for the remainder of 2022. Basically, the only thing they offer is a preview of what’ll be bookable in a couple of weeks.
One final little thing that I find interesting about this announcement is the timing, which is happening about one month earlier than historical precedent. Now, it’d be pretty easy to wave that away with the point that things have been atypical for a while now with Walt Disney World, and are not occurring on normal timelines. That’s a reasonable and fair assessment.
However, I can’t help but look at the recent disappointing earnings results of companies like Walmart and Target, and wonder if Disney’s parks & resorts analysts are thinking: that’s going to be us in 6-9 months–let’s get future revenue locked in ASAP!
It’s beating a dead horse at this point, but we’ve been saying for months that there’s likely to be a spending slowdown in the not too distant future. Pent-up demand among domestic visitors could fizzle out, inflation on necessities might result in reductions to discretionary spending, and the same could also happen due to depleted household savings and stimulus money. Inflationary pressures and the rising cost of travel due to oil prices could bring the party to a premature end, too.
When all or some of that happens, consumers will return to being more cost-conscious and price sensitive, and things will normalize to at least some degree. There don’t appear to be any signs of those things happening anytime soon, but Walt Disney World’s goal in announcing and releasing these packages a bit early could be to get ahead of that slowdown and reach consumers while they’re still thinking about spending big on travel. Or maybe I’m simply reading too much into this!
One final word of warning for those already itching to book a 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package bright and early on June 8, 2022. As with most Walt Disney World “drop days,” the phone lines will be jammed and the online system will likely slow to a crawl at peak times, with Stitch eating the occasional page here and there.
If you’re at all flexible about your resort choice or room preferences, consider waiting until later in the evening (or even June 9-10) when things calm down a bit. You might save yourself some headache and frustration. Alternatively, it’s always a good idea to use a travel agent. We recommend requesting a quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, well before the booking window opens so they can do the work for you. The agents there will book your vacation and help take the stress out of planning.
That’s pretty much all of the commentary we have about the announcement of 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages. Even with all of the above said, our advice is to book Walt Disney World vacation packages when they go on sale on June 8, 2022 to lock-in ticket and component pricing as a safeguard against the inevitable price increases. That’s especially true if there’s a certain hotel or room type that’s a must-have for your trip.
While we remain of the belief that prices will drop thanks to the release of discounts, that’s not a sure thing. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the course of the last two years, it’s to expect the unexpected. As you can see from the previous several paragraphs, there are still a ton of unknowns, fluidity, etc. to the Walt Disney World experience both this year and in 2023. A ton is changing on a weekly basis, and it’s truly impossible to say today what things will look like in Fall 2022 and beyond. From a financial perspective, it never hurts–only helps–to get something locked in now. Plus, there’s the excitement and optimism of having something to help build anticipation!
Will you be booking a 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package? Notice anything interesting about hotel room or package prices? Anything surprise you? Is there anything you must have–Disney Dining Plan, all-day Park Hopping, Fantasmic, no Park Pass–before you’ll book a 2023 trip? Will you be booking soon, or taking a wait and see approach? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments here? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!