Disney Parks Are Making A Change To The Maps Now, And I Feel Weirdly Nostalgic

Disneyland Paris castle
(Image credit: Disney Parks)

Disney Parks are largely built on nostalgia. Even when Disneyland was new in 1955 Main Street U.S.A. looked back, with rose colored glasses, at an even earlier time in history. So it’s not really a surprise when things change at Disney World or Disneyland and people get wistful, or look back at a previous era in the parks with certainty that things were better before. But I’m a little surprised that I’m starting to feel nostalgic at the realization that before too long, paper maps are going to be gone from all Disney Parks.

Disneyland Paris has made the move to remove paper maps from the resort, and instead all that’s left is a sign with QR code that guests scan with their phone in order to download the park app, which includes a map. While paper maps are still available at all North American Parks today, and in multiple languages. it’s not difficult to imagine that a day is coming, very soon, when that won’t be the case. 

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I don’t even remember the last time I actually picked up a map in a Disney park. I know every park at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World well enough from memory that I haven’t needed one in a very long time. If you visited any park even in just the last few years you probably remember it well enough that you wouldn’t need a map to get from one end to the other. I’ve been using the Disney apps for any necessary navigation for as long as they’ve been available.

But I still remember those first trips to Disneyland where I grabbed a map and by the end of the day it was in shreds from being folded over so many times all day long. The fact that, at some point, others will not  be able to do the same is making me feel oddly nostalgic. 

And maps make great free souvenirs for people who want to have something to remember their trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World but don’t have a lot of extra money after spending a lot on the Disney trip itself. I expect many families on a first trip grab one map on the way in, and then grab a second, in pristine condition, on the way out to take with them. 

There are certainly benefits to shifting to a completely digital map. It will save costs for the parks which can theoretically be spent elsewhere. A fully digital map, in theory, could be more easily made available in even more languages as simply adding language options to the digital map should be easy.

But there are downsides too. People already have to use their phones a lot in the Disney Parks, to access, dining reservations, mobile ordering, and using Disney Genie. Requiring they also use their phones for the map will just add one more reason you’ll need to bring a battery for your device.

It could still be some time, even years, before maps are gone entirely, but it seems all but certain that will happen. I'm just going to miss seeing the stand of maps as I enter the park, miss seeing the crowds of obviously first time visitors opening it up to figure out where in Disneyland they want to go first.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.