There's nothing quite like staying on property at a Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort hotel. If you're among the millions of guests with upcoming reservations at Disney's dozens of properties, you're undoubtedly counting down the days until your magical stay kicks off.
However, Disney has recently implemented some new policy changes that you'll definitely want to know about before checking in. These updates include a new option for dining plan availability and changes to extra park hours on both coasts that will affect what parks guests can visit.
1. Ticketless Disney Dining Plan packages now available for purchase for guests with split stays
Guests are now able to book ticketless packages that include the Disney Dining Package for Walt Disney World vacations that begin on January 9, 2024 or later. These packages are designed to accommodate guests with split stays across multiple resorts and can only be booked directly through the Walt Disney Travel Company.
Currently this is the only scenario where the Disney Dining Plan can be added to a stay without tickets (sorry annual passholders!) but of course more changes could be made in the future. For more on the returning Disney Dining Plan (including cost) click here.
2. Extended hours come to Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time since the program launched In 2021
Hotel guests will be getting after-hours access to a brand-new park, beginning this November. According to the official calendar for Walt Disney World, Extended Evening Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom will kick off on the night of November 8, 2023, with qualifying hotel guests able to enjoy 2 additional hours in the park from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on select nights. This marks the first time that Disney's Animal Kingdom has hosted Extended Evening Hours since the perk made its debut in October 2021.
This change was likely made in response to the addition of the new Jollywood Nights upcharge event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Since both that park and Magic Kingdom can no longer host extended hours due to these upcharge events, Disney's Animal Kingdom and EPCOT will likely be the only options for guests until the holiday season ends.
3. Disneyland downsizes early entry perk in 2024
Starting next year, the Disneyland Resort will change one of its perks for hotel guests. Beginning on January 20, 2024, hotel guests staying on the property will no longer receive early entry to both Disneyland and California Adventure during their stay.
Instead, only one park will be available per day, and guests will need to check Disneyland's official calendar to see which park is offering early entry during their stay. In addition, guests will need to have a valid ticket and reservation on the same day the selected park offers early entry. So for instance, if a guest does not have a park hopper ticket and has made a reservation for Disney California Adventure on a day when Disneyland has early entry, they will not be able to take advantage of this perk.
Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland has not announced plans to phase out its reservation system just yet, which means this may create issues for guests with single-park tickets when this change takes effect next year.