Planning when to visit Walt Disney World is already a difficult decision, but with everything happening so far in the last couple of years, it’s proved to be a bigger challenge than usual. The question many people are wondering now is: “Should I visit Walt Disney World in 2022, or wait until 2023?”
Picking the right year to visit got a lot harder to do ever since the Disney World closure that happened in 2020. Walt Disney World is open now and slowly getting back to normal, so in this post, we are going to help you make the best decision and figure out if you should go now in 2022 or if 2023 is better.
First, let me be upfront with you, there is no clear-cut answer to the question and a lot of it will depend on what you are looking for from your vacation. We’ll talk about the positives and negatives of going in both 2022 and 2023 including the price, crowd levels, and what’s going on in the parks in those years.
Disney World’s 50th anniversary will also have a big influence on your choice as you will have to figure out if you want to deal with the construction work leading up to the big event or the increased crowds during it.
Lastly, if you are waiting for a specific new attraction to open before going, that will weigh heavily when deciding.
One resource that will be a tremendous help to you right away is our post on the New Disney World Rides & What’s Coming in 2022-2024. That breaks down every new attraction in Disney World and everything on the immediate horizon that you might want to wait for.
You can also read our Walt Disney World Construction Guide where we have the latest updates on all the construction projects going on around the property.
One thing that is a huge help in planning our trip is that since Walt Disney World has now been reopened for more than 1 1/2 years, we have a much better idea of what to expect going into the next couple of years.
When the parks first reopened in 2020 it was way harder to predict what the whole experience would be like and some of our predictions for 2021 were slightly off. Not that we will get everything right for 2022 either, but having spent so much time in the parks this past year we have a better grasp on the situation.
All 4 theme parks are open, plus Disney Springs and the vast majority of resort hotels and restaurants. In fact, we are only waiting on All-Star Sports to reopen at this point, whereas last year there were still about 10 resorts that were still shuttered.
The rest of the resort will continue reopening slowly over the next year or so based on attendance levels and demand from guests.
Something thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the information in this post is going to change in the coming months. There are so many uncertainties and variables right now in the parks that could drastically change your experience. We’ll continue to update you as they take place.
We go much more in-depth on what changes to expect at the parks in our master post on Walt Disney World Reopening – Complete Guide, as well as explain all the new changes coming to the parks for guest safety.
One thing is sure, no matter when you visit, you’ll have to get a grip on the new Genie+ and Lightning Lanes as they will have a big effect on how you tour the parks.
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Ok, so let’s get into some of the details of if it’s better to visit Walt Disney World in 2022 or 2023.
Disney World Regulars vs First Time Visitors
The first factor is what kind of a Disney World guest you are. Our advice is going to be very different depending on if you are crazy like us and have been to Disney World hundreds of times, or if it’s your first time visiting.
First off, no matter who you are, you should be planning your trip around a combination of factors including crowds, weather, events, park hours, and more. Our post on the When is the Best Time to visit Visit Disney World helps explain those things more and we rank each month from best to worst.
If you are planning your first visit to Disney World, there is no “perfect time” to go. Remember this.
I get it. You want this to be the trip of a lifetime, something your kids will remember forever and so you keep putting things off in hopes of finding that perfect moment to go. I have news for you, it doesn’t exist as far as the parks are concerned.
Disney World is always in motion and whether or not you go in 2022, 2023, or even 2024, it will be different each time.
The risk you run is waiting so long that your kids grow up and then you miss those precious moments you could have had together. That’s why we usually say to go as soon as possible based on your family’s schedule and budget.
Even though there are plenty of new projects under construction to look forward to in 2022, there will be even more opening in 2023, and 2024, etc. You can’t wait for “the next big thing” because it goes on forever and eventually, you just have to choose a time and go.
There are already a bunch of great new attractions that are open, and they are more than enough of a draw to make going in 2022 a valid idea. Just a few years ago, Disney started some of the biggest and most impressive expansion projects they’ve ever done with many new attractions now open (more on that in a minute).
My philosophy is to seize the moment. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so why put it off if you have the time and money to go in the near future?
Normally, I would tell you “Who knows, maybe if you go in 2022 you’ll have such a good time that you become Disney-addicted like us, and will end up going back again in 2023 or shortly thereafter.”
A few years ago when everything was normal months ago, this was definitely my advice. However, 2022 is NOT a normal year.
Everything has changed since Disney World rolled out all the new safety measures. It’s true that many of them like distancing are no longer a factor, but some like wearing a face mask in certain areas of the resort remain.
The really big problem however is not the limited safety measures that remain, but the lack of entertainment and other experiences that are still missing from the parks. While Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is now back, we are still waiting on the new Finding Nemo musical, Jedi Training Academy, among others.
If you are a first-time visitor to Disney World, you aren’t going to get the real “Disney experience” in the next few months. There are just too many negatives that it would ruin your first impression of Disney World, and you might never go back as a result.
- Going around the parks all day in a face mask (at least indoors)
- A complicated reservation system
- Reduced park capacity
- Reduced park hours
- Reduced park staff
- Limited entertainment options
- Limited character meets
Right now, I just can’t in good faith tell you to pay your hard-earned money on a trip that you won’t ABSOLUTELY love, and that is worth the increasingly high prices.
If on the other hand you are a Disney veteran and you have already been to the parks recently, you have more options.
On one hand, you might be ready for a vacation after the events of the last few months, and going to your “happy place” could be just the medicine you need. I think it’s important to realize though that it won’t be exactly the way it usually is, and you’ll need to have a bit more patience than usual.
On the other hand, you might want to hold out on going in 2022 and wait to go in 2023 instead. If you’ve already experienced these new lands and rides and you can’t go in both years, we recommend you wait for some of the other projects Disney is working on for 2023 and beyond so you get the most for your money.
Even though most of the new guidelines and changes at Disney World are no longer relevant, it still might be too much, and you might not want to deal with all that hassle right now. We don’t blame you if feel that way and if that is the case you should wait.
Then there is Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary which started in 2021 and is carrying on throughout 2022. Disney World is expecting more visitors in both years because of the 50th Anniversary celebration, and if you are a long-time Disney park fan like us, you will probably appreciate what Disney is working on for the event and will put up with the higher crowds.
A first-time guest won’t have that same nostalgia and is probably better off going when it’s less crowded and can enjoy the regular attractions more. We’ll get into this more in a bit. Now let’s take a closer look at the specific events going on in 2021 and 2022 at Disney World and if those will be negatives or positives for you.
Going to Disney World in 2022
What is it like to visit Disney World in 2022? First, the Disney World parks have been operating once again from closure since July 2020. There have been ups and downs along the way, but in general, things have gone fairly well, all things considered.
At this point, it’s a pretty safe assumption to say that the parks will remain open and don’t run the risk of closing again anytime soon. If that was one of your worries as you are planning your trip, you can rest easy.
Though there are some major reasons why you might want to put off your trip and skip 2022, there are a few reasons to at least consider going to Disney World this year.
New Attractions – The first reason why we think it’s a good idea to go in 2022 is all the new attractions that are already open. If you are a first-timer or haven’t been in a few years, there is plenty to keep you occupied without having to wait for what still is under construction.
In recent years, we’ve seen the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Pandora is the clear winner between them, but Toy Story Land also had some good additions and both are must-visits when you go.
Finally, in 2019, Disney took things to a whole other level when they opened the first Star Wars-themed land “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” This was the most hyped new land in theme park history, and it’s done pretty well to meet those astronomical expectations. Since it opened, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance became a phenomenon and the most popular attraction on the planet.
The revolution at Hollywood Studios continued with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. In March 2020, Disney opened the first ride-through attraction for Mickey Mouse and we think it’s yet another must-see attraction for the park.
The latest big attraction to open is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT’s new France pavilion expansion. This has instantly added a much-needed ride for families to the park, and it uses Disney’s trackless ride system which makes for a more unpredictable experience.
In fact, the entire expansion of the France pavilion has been a welcome addition and is one of the most beautiful spaces in the park. Don’t skip that new crepes restaurant either!
There were more additions to EPCOT. Who doesn’t want to dine with a view of the planet Earth at the Space 220 restaurant? The new Epcot fireworks show, Disney Harmonious, is one of the biggest fireworks shows Disney has ever created and while we still like Illuminations better, you won’t want to miss it.
Disney Enchantment also opened for the 50th anniversary at the Magic Kingdom. This show is a disappointment, but again, it’s not likely you visit the park without seeing the fireworks.
The Disney Skyliner also opened recently and has been a huge hit with guests and is now our favorite form of transportation in Disney World. All of these are great reasons to visit and if you haven’t experienced any of them yet, 2022 is a good time to do that.
Then we have all the new additions on their way in 2022. The biggest attraction for sure coming to Disney World in 2022 is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT. It’s one of the longest indoor roller coasters in the world and is going to draw some massive crowds when it opens.
Disney has announced it will be open on May 27, 2022. For a long time, all we knew is that it would have a “Summer 2022” opening. Thankfully, it will be open in time for Memorial Day Weekend. If you really want to plan your trip around Cosmic Rewind, you can book it anytime from June 2022 and beyond. This will assure it will be open during your trip.
Then there is the TRON Lightcycle Run coaster coming to the Magic Kingdom. This has had some heavy delays and at this point, we aren’t even sure if it will be ready in 2022. It’s possible it gets a December 2022 opening date, but we highly doubt it.
It’s more likely Disney spaces out the opening dates for its two biggest new attractions, and we see it open in 2023 instead.
We now know that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel is opening on March 1, 2022, but will there be a market for it? This will be interesting to watch as already many guests have canceled their reservations as their 90-day cut-off dates arrive. We will see just how many people will want to pay for an astronomically “high-end” hotel experience like this.
We will also see the new MagicBand+ sometime in 2022 and we are excited to see what enhancements it brings.
Price is another factor why visiting Disney World in 2022 is a good idea. Simply put, the more you put off a Disney World vacation, the more you will end up paying. Disney has some of the most aggressive price increases of any vacation destination and it happens year over year, almost without letup.
Over the last two years, guests have had some really great discounts on Disney World vacations. Unfortunately, you likely won’t be seeing anything similar this year.
The main reason for this is that Disney is still running reduced guest capacity, which means not as many people are able to book hotels or come to the parks. With fewer hotel rooms available to guests, almost all of the available inventory has been selling out without a problem. That means until they make more rooms available, there is no need for big discounts.
However, even if 2022 doesn’t have amazing deals to take advantage of, going to Disney World now is still going to be cheaper than putting it off until 2023. With the percentage that tickets, hotels, and food all increase year over year, you will be saving hundreds of dollars (if not more) by going a year early.
So if you are concerned about saving money, we can think of no better time to go. This may be the cheapest time to visit Walt Disney World for a while.
At this point it doesn’t look like the Disney Free Dining offer is coming back soon. We still haven’t heard anything about it, but it’s possible we may see it in the second half of 2022, or maybe in 2023. The best rates you are likely to get this year are 20-25% off hotel rooms, but those will likely be limited to Annual Passholders only.
Crowd Levels in Disney World are another huge factor when deciding between going in 2022 or 2023. It’s safe to say that the unstable economy and travel worries have kept millions of people from going on vacation in the past couple of years.
At certain points in 2021, crowds were at historic lows which was an opportunity for anyone visiting during that time as they were able to experience the parks with minimal crowds and potentially low wait times for all the attractions.
However, as we move into 2022, this advantage has disappeared. There will still be a few periods this year that should have lower crowds, so we recommend taking advantage if you can. However, don’t expect anything like when the parks first reopened.
The more the months go by, the more we have seen people willing to start traveling again, and the desire to get back to WDW has been strong. There were some points during busy periods last year that it even felt like regular max crowds.
We expect this trend to continue. With so many canceled trips in 2020 and 2021, it’s likely many of those got pushed off into 2022, and months like January or February (which are traditionally slow times at the theme parks) could be a lot more crowded.
Why is this an advantage for 2022? Because this will probably increase again in 2023. Though it seems like this current health crisis is going to go on forever, eventually it will come to an end and it’s likely much of the world will be back to “normal” in 2023 when means even more guests.
So even though 2022 will be busy, 2023 should be worse.
That being said, there are also some negatives about going in 2022. The first is the difficulty of planning in an uncertain time.
Even though we know Disney World will remain open, you are more likely to run into travel problems or restrictions this year. The parks won’t shut down again, but if you are planning to go to Disney World in 2022, you need to be flexible and understand there are more challenges when booking a trip.
The policy changes in place for guest safety are also a big negative for many people. Right now you have to wear a face-covering in all indoor areas of Disney World. Some of the guidelines have already changed multiple times so you have to be adaptable or change.
If you visit in 2022, don’t expect the parks to run exactly the way they usually do. Each park has a limited capacity with many fewer guests allowed in each day. This means that waits for attractions at times are longer than usual and advanced dining reservations are harder to get for your favorite restaurants.
Many of the entertainment options and almost all of the attractions returned in 2021, including some stage shows and the fireworks. Even so, not everything is back and you don’t get a full slate of entertainment options.
This is our biggest gripe with going in 2022. Character meets are limited and the experience is different with no hugging or autographs as of this writing. They may return to normal in 2022, but it’s impossible to predict when that could be at this point. It’s possible a good part of the year will go on the way it is now.
Though character meets are limited, you do see some characters greeting guests from afar, and they have also introduced the Character Cavalcades which are nice substitutes in the meantime.
Even though prices for a Disney World vacation will be cheaper in 2022 than in the years to come, one thing to consider is the price/value ratio might not be its maximum. Prices might be lower, but you aren’t getting as much for what you are spending with some limited entertainment options and park hours.
Even though some of the entertainment like Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Festival of Fantasy parade, and the EPCOT street performers might not move the needle for you, the problem is that not having them open makes all the other attractions more crowded, pushing up wait times.
When will the remaining entertainment return? The silver lining is that the further into 2022 we go, the more likely we are to see more of the entertainment come back and things start to feel “normal” again.
Our guess is by the Spring you will see a few more options return, and it will continue through the Summer. By the Fall we could be almost at 100% once again. If having the regular “Disney experience” is important to you, then going in the last quarter of 2022 or waiting until 2023 is a good idea.
If you want to know more about what the parks are like now, read our Disney World Reopening Guide.
Another downer for 2022 is all the construction in Walt Disney World. It already was going to be bad for most of the year, but now some projects we thought were going to be finished by the Spring or Summer now likely won’t get built until 2022, or even later.
If you have seen photos of EPCOT over the last year, you’ll have noticed World Celebration has turned into one big construction wall with the entire center blocked off.
Epcot is the middle of a complete transformation and that isn’t going to end anytime soon and will continue through all of 2022 and into 2023.
We also aren’t getting the Spaceship Earth refurbishment like we originally thought, as that project has been put on hold.
The Magic Kingdom doesn’t have a ton of big projects going on at the moment, but there is still the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster which will drag on for most of, if not all of 2022.
Then there is the Disney World 50th Anniversary. This could be a positive or a negative depending on if it’s something you really want to see. It started on October 1, 2021, and it will last through all of 2022, and into the first months of 2023.
While there are some cool aspects to the celebration, it’s not nearly as grand or ambitious as the original plan, and honestly, there isn’t much you will miss by waiting until 2023. One solution to catch the anniversary and still experience Disney when it is closer to “normal” is to book a trip for the end of 2022.
By that time, most of the entertainment will be back, and you can still see some of the new entertainment, as well as taste all the 50th anniversary snacks throughout the parks and resorts.
With all of these changes, we still think 2022 is a good year for someone who has visited many times already and first-timers, just depending on when you choose to go in 2022.
Early December 2022 could be a good time to go. This should be a good time because it’s before the Christmas crowds start coming in, and at the same time getting the real experience.
If you are interested in experiencing the new attractions we’ve already mentioned, hopefully, most of those will also be ready by the end of the year. Maybe the rest of the new safety policies Disney put in place might be gone by that time, and most of the entertainment options opened back up.
If you can’t go in December, Early November could also be an attractive alternative. This is a good alternative because the crowds are bound to be extremely low, meaning more space in the parks.
Going to Dinsey World in 2023
Overall, we feel there are more reasons why it’s better to wait and go to Disney World in 2023. The main reason is that things will be much more likely to be back to normal than in 2022. We just went over everything that will likely be coming back, so we don’t have to rehash it again.
We feel it’s important for guests to get their money’s worth on a trip to Walt Disney World, and you are more likely to get that in 2023.
Some things you won’t be able to escape, like park pass reservations which are likely here to stay for good. On the other hand, by this time the Disney Dining Plan could be returning, among other perks we are still waiting for.
The only downside to this is that all these new attractions will bring huge crowds to the parks already which means longer wait times. Our guess is that we should be looking at almost “normal-level” crowds at some point in 2023.
A lot of this is going to depend on how the economy recovers. If we move into a long recession, that could put a damper on Disney’s expectations for the next couple of years. People that don’t have jobs can’t go to Disney World obviously.
The demand to travel however cannot be underestimated. Already there are millions of people who haven’t taken a vacation in the last couple of years, and by this time, if they have only done smaller things closer to home, by 2023 they will likely be ready for the big trip to Disney World once again.
We already have seen crowds come back in a big way in 2021, and if the economy stabilizes, they could get back to 100% or close to it in 2022, and more in 2023. So for this reason, plus everything new, we should still see huge attendance numbers in late 2022 and into 2023.
So what does this all mean for you? If the new TRON or Guardians rides are a top priority for you, going in 2022 is possible, but 2023 is the better option. The worst thing would be to book your vacation and then find out they are opening up the following month.
Just like in 2022, we think the best time to visit will be once again after Thanksgiving into the first couple of weeks in December. You will get there before the biggest crowd surge of the year, and by then all major projects will be completed.
If you are a first-timer and can’t go in 2022, then January/February 2023 will be your best choice as it will probably have the lowest crowds of the year.
The parks are going to be packed through 2022 and beyond, and following a Disney Crowd Calendar will help you avoid the busiest seasons at that point.
Another thing to keep in mind is the potential for big price increases in 2023.
Again, this is dependant on the economy and just how high attendance is looking, but as the 50th celebration finishes, Disney will surely continue its hefty price increases. So though more things will be open in 2023 rather than 2022, you will have to pay more for them at that time.
One of the positive changes, however, should be looser safety guidelines, or the outright elimination of them. Hopefully, at some point in 2022, we won’t have to wear face masks at Disney World, and will be a thing of the past like the other restrictions already are. If that doesn’t happen this year though, it’s almost a sure thing in 2023.
If you are waiting to go for this reason, then 2023 is definitely better than 2022.
I know you were hoping for a clear-cut answer to the question, but when comparing Disney World in 2022 vs. 2023, there are just so many factors to consider and it depends on your budget, crowd tolerance, and how important the 50th anniversary and the new attractions are to you.
In general, due to the particular circumstances facing the world at this moment, we think 2023 is the better choice. It could depend slightly on your situation though.
If you are a first-timer, we think early 2023 is a perfect time to go to Disney World. Early March before the Spring Break crowds is an amazing time and you might catch the tail end of the 50th. If you have to go later in the year, after Thanksgiving into the first couple of weeks of December are your best times.
If you are a Disney-vet who needs to be there for the 50th anniversary and doesn’t mind navigating the construction around the parks, going to Disney World in September 2022, or after Thanksgiving and the first couple weeks of December is best.
If really want to wait for the TRON and Guardians coasters, skip 2022 and go in 2023 instead. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be open in Summer 2022, but if you want to see both coasters, you will have to wait until 2023.
If you are waiting for the safety guidelines to end, that is a bit more unpredictable. It’s possible from the second half of 2022 and beyond all the safety guidelines will be gone, though nothing is 100%. You can wait until 2023 if you really want to be on the safer side.
Lastly, once you figure out which year you want to go, you should read our Disney World Crowd Calendar to find out when the most and least crowded times of the year are. That will save you both time and money.
I hope that helps you decide which year is better for your Disney World vacation. Even though we have had a slight setback recently, we are still more excited than ever for all the additions coming to Walt Disney World in the next few years and think there is no wrong time to check them out. We’ll see you in the parks!
I want to know if you think it’s better to go to Disney World in 2022 or 2023…
- Are you going to Disney World in 2022 or 2023?
- What plays the biggest role in deciding for you?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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