With Walt Disney World reopening, one of the biggest announcements recently has been the creation of a new Disney World Park Pass Reservation system. It’s going to change the way you visit theme parks and who can visit.
At least during the reopening period (July 11 through January 14, 2022), all visitors to The Walt Disney World theme parks will need to use the new Park Pass reservation system in order to secure a place in the parks. No reservation means you aren’t getting in.
NEWS 2/16/21 – Disney has extended the use of the Park Pass Reservation system until 2023. This goes along with recent comments by Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro, who said it is here to stay.
Disney has just updated more Park Pass reservations for guests in February. We look at the latest dates available for the Disney parks including Hollywood Studios which has been very difficult to get reservations for up to this point.
Read in the “NEWS” section for more on these latest updates.
The “Disney Park Pass System” is NOW ONLINE and reservations can be made!
In this post, we will explain everything we know so far about the new park reservation system coming to Disney World including why Disney is using it, and how it works.
We’ll also share with you who can make reservations to the Disney World parks, how to make reservations and how long Disney might continue using this system.
We’ll try to answer any questions you have about Disney World parks reservations in the post, but if we miss something you can ask a question down below and we’ll do our best to find out the answer for you.
Before we get started, we wanted to tell you we know how frustrating this whole process is, and how difficult it’s becoming to travel to Walt Disney World right now. There are so many changes happening, and more updates keep coming out almost on a daily basis.
Try to hang in there and be patient. Disney is still trying to figure out a lot of the details, and as the weeks go on and we get closer to the Disney World reopening, things will become clearer.
Besides just making these new reservations, here are some links to other articles that we think you will find helpful during this time while planning your trip:
- Disney World Reopening Guide – FAQs, Updates, Details
- All the New Safety Guidelines, Procedures & Changes in Disney World
- Face Masks at Disney World – The Complete Guide
- Is Disney World Safe to Visit Now?
If you want to get notified immediately when Disney makes changes to the new reservation system, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter There we’ll make sure you’re up-to-date with all the changes!
(NEWS 2/16/21): Disney Park Pass Reservation System Extended Into 2023
Even though we had some good news recently about safety procedures going away in 2022, it doesn’t look like park reservations are going anywhere. Today the Disney Park Pass reservation system has been extended into 2023.
Previously, reservations online the Disney Park Pass system were only available through January 14, 2022.
However, today if you log on to the Park Pass availability calendar you can see park pass reservations available from now through January 13, 2023.
Months ago Josh D’Amaro made comments about all of Disney’s new technology advancements they have been using since the parks reopened. He then commented many of them will be here to stay for the long-term, hinting at future use of the Park Pass system.
How long will it be around? Is it staying permanently? That is unclear at the moment, but after this latest addition, it’s clear Disney plans on using it for the next couple of years minimum.
Stay tuned for more info soon…
(NEWS 1/3/21): Latest Park Pass Reservation Updates for January and February
Since the launch of the Park Pass system, reservations have been selling out very quickly, with many days filling up weeks and sometimes even months ahead of time for the various Reservation Tiers.
That’s why it’s important to check the Park Pass availability calendar before making plans for Walt Disney World and why we continue updating you with the latest info.
Annual Passholders have usually been the first group to sell out of reservations. However, we have noticed however that with the last few updates it looks like guests in the “Theme Park Tickets” and “Disney Resort Guests” groups are actually starting to sell out more quickly.
The increase in out-of-town visitors to Walt Disney World during the holiday period affected Park Pass distribution at the end of 2020, whereas before the majority of passes were going to annual passholders.
This latest park pass dump starts from January and continues through February. Right away you will notice that things are a lot quieter in the coming months than during the holidays. The beginning of 2021 will likely have the lowest crowds for the whole year and is your best chance of finding availability for the dates you want.
Thankfully, Disney continues adding additional availability for all distribution groups, including Annual Passholders, and with more availability for Disney’s Hollywood Studios!!
Hollywood Studios has been the hardest park to get reservations for since it’s the smallest park in Disney World and the extreme popularity of Rise of the Resistance. Whenever Disney adds more availability, it sells out almost immediately.
The update for Annual Passholders added inventory for all 4 parks from January – February and these changes go into effect immediately.
The earliest Annual Passholders can get a Park Pass Reservation as of this writing is:
- Magic Kingdom – January 5th
- EPCOT – January 4th
- Hollywood Studios – January 7th
- Animal Kingdom – January 4th
That is an improvement over what’s been available over the last few weeks as we see Disney continue to release more passes in waves.
Here is what availability for Annual Passholders in January 2021 looks like now:
This last round of new park passes gives more availability in January and they are spread out throughout the month. In the short time that’s passed since Disney released these new park passes, some of the dates have already sold out, but there is still a lot of park availabillity left.
Right now the weekends are starting to fill up and Hollywood Studios continues to be the park that sells out first. The next most difficult is the Magic Kingdom which has a few days unavailable on the weekends.
During the week in January there is still plenty of availability for all 4 of the parks, especially in the second half of the month.
We anticipate very few out-of-town guests coming to Walt Dinsey World in January, so expect annual passholders to make up a very large percentage of the guests.
We expect more annual passholder availability for January in the weeks to come.
Here’s February 2021:
Right now, all days in February are still open for all 4 theme parks, including Hollywood Studios. Things shouldn’t start filling up until the beginning of the month, but we don’t think there should be big problems for any of the parks the whole month.
That said, things always fill up first on the weekends, so make your plans as soon as possible just to be safe.
Theme Park Tickets
Things were more difficult for “Theme Park Ticket” guests during the holidays, but that is changing in Q1. Again, this is likely due to fewer non-APs coming to Disney World in January and February, and probably waiting until the spring.
In January things are pretty wide open except for the first week where Hollywood Studios passes have already been snatched up by guests.
The hardest park to get for Theme Park Guests has once again been Hollywood Studios, but passes are still available for most of the month. After that, things are quiet for the other 3 parks with availability left for most of the dates.
February is completely open at the moment for Theme Park Ticket Guests, with every date open for all 4 parks. We expect crowds to continue at extremely low levels after the holidays.
Disney Resort Guests
Availability for January Disney Resort Guests is very similar as it is with “Theme Park Tickets.” Hollywood Studios is not available for a few days at the beginning of the month but open after that.
The other 3 theme parks are still available for practically the whole month.
February is the same as January, and most of the month is open.
As Disney replenishes the Park Pass inventory, many people are wondering where the new dates are coming from? This has been possible due to a number of reasons.
For one, Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said they have increased theme park capacity from 25% to 35%. That certainly helps and gives a lot more guests the opportunity to visit the parks. We’ve seen slow and steady growth in attendance from the Summer through the Fall and the Holidays.
Disney has also been good at shifting around park pass inventory from one group to the other based on who needs it more. In the first few months that meant taking unused inventory away from Disney World Resort Guests and Theme Park Ticket Guests and giving them to Annual Passholders.
As Disney gets better at understanding the current theme park demand across the 3 groups, more passes should be made available. Now that the holidays are over, things should shift back more to Annual Passholders.
Remember, Annual Passholders can only make 3 park reservations at this time, unless you are staying at a Disney World Resort.
Even though things are going better, be aware that there are still some bugs to work out with the system. We’ve seen some dates available in the calendar but then not actually available when going to book them. We urge you to have patience and keep at it until you find the dates you are looking for.
We’ll update you with more on the Park Pass system as soon as we have news. Follow the instructions below for details on how to make Park Pass reservations…
How Does It Work?
The first question you are probably wondering is “What is this new Disney World reservation system anyway? How does it even work?”
With limited theme park capacity during the reopening phase, all guests are required to make reservations in advance to enter the parks. The Disney Park Pass Reservation System is how guests make those reservations and it is limited in number.
Only guests with an existing park ticket or Annual Pass can make park reservations and they are made Online at DisneyWorld.com.
In planning, it means guests will have to decide ahead of time which parks they want to visit each day and then stick to that schedule. There is no changing idea at the last minute. You can’t just decide that morning which park you want to go to, it all needs to be planned out ahead of time.
Things to Know
It’s important to note that a Disney Park reservation does not replace theme park admission, both are required. Disney has confirmed this: “To enter a park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date is required.”
Here are some other things you’ll need to do before you can get a Disney Park Pass:
- You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
- Link your valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass to your My Disney Experience account.
- If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, you MUST link it to your My Disney Experience account before making reservations.
- All reservations must be acquired prior to going to the theme park. You can’t show up to the park entrance and get a reservation.
Why is Disney World Implementing a Theme Parks Reservation System?
So know that we know what it is, just why exactly is Disney World using a theme park reservation system anyway?
In order to allow guests to keep a safe distance from each other, the Walt Disney World Theme Parks are running at limited capacity with much lower attendance than usual.
The number of guests in the parks each day needs to be limited. Keeping a low capacity will help protect the safety of both guests and Cast Members.
The Park Pass Reservation System does just that.
Since the parks are operating at a lower capacity, you run the risk of guests showing up and then being turned away at the gate if that park is already full for the day. The theme park reservation system eliminates that problem since everyone knows ahead of time if they can get into a certain park on a given day.
How Much Do Reservations Cost?
The good news is that Disney Park Reservations are FREE of charge. These park reservations do not replace your theme park admission but go along with it. You need to have a valid park ticket first, and then you can book a reservation in the parks.
New Disney Planning Priority
With the Park Pass System, your priority when booking your Disney vacation changes quite a bit from what you are used to. Normally when planning a trip you book your airfare first, followed by your hotel package and tickets.
With the Park Reservation System, park availability becomes the first priority when making the decision to go or not.
Here is the recommend order when planning your Disney World trip:
- Check Availability for Reservations – If you plan on going to the theme parks you first need to make sure there is availability, otherwise, you’ll have to choose another date.
- Book Hotel Package + Tickets – Once you see park reservations are available, select your hotel package, including park tickets if you don’t already have them.
- Make Park Reservations – Once you have your hotel and tickets linked to your My Disney Experience account, make those park reservations ASAP!
- Book Airfare – What was usually the first priority has now become the least important booking of a Disney World vacation.
Checking Park Availability
Before you can even think about making park pass reservations, or buying tickets, you need to first check the dates you want to go and see if there is availability in that park.
Log in to My Disney Experience on DisneyWorld.com prior to purchasing your tickets. There you’ll have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park. Reservations are limited and availability can change up until the moment your reservation is confirmed.
Availability can be filtered by:
- Theme Park Tickets Guests
- Disney Resort Guests
- Annual Passholders
Here is the link to the Disney Park Pass Check Availability Page.
Each of the three groups above have a DIFFERENT inventory of park passes and they are not part of one big pool of passes. That means if you check a specific day and there are no more passes left for Annual Passholders for example, there might still be some left for theme park tickets guests or for resort guests.
Make sure you’re filtering by the right group otherwise you might not be getting an accurate reading of which parks are available. We’ve had multiple readers think the parks were all sold out when really they clicked the wrong group.
Here is an example of the same month of August, on the left it looks like a bunch of dates are already sold out.
In reality, there are a limited number of passes available, but only for Annual Passholders. Instead on the right side, you can see all 4 parks have availability still for resort guests.
What happens to the unused reservation inventory?
Since all three groups have a different ticket inventory, when you check a specific date some groups could be sold out of passes while others still have inventory left available to book. Right now as each date gets closer, Disney is park passes from groups with a lot of inventory left over to groups that are sold out.
Disney essentially combines inventory and make passes available to anyone. This has been done multiple times so far for Annual Passholders since they are the group selling out reservations the quickest. We’ll have see how Disney continues to adjust in the future when more Resort guests start showing up.
The Calendar Sometimes Lies
I’m sure it wouldn’t do that to you on purpose, but at times we’ve noticed that certain dates are unavailable on the calendar, but then when we actually go into the system and try to book a pass, there is availability left.
For that reason, if the park isn’t available on the calendar, ALWAYS double-check by trying to book the date as you might get lucky.
This happens more often now that Park Hopping is back in Disney World. In fact, same-day park pass reservations can now be made, even at times when the reservation availability calendar says there are none available.
Make sure to read the Disney Park Pass System page on the Disney World website. Here you will find all the updates, availability, and any important information.
Who Can Make Reservations and When?
One of the most important details with the new reservation is who can make reservations. Not everyone who wants to go to the Disney World theme parks will be able to get a reservation, at least not right away.
Disney is separating guests into groups depending on if they are staying at a Disney World hotel and what kind of ticket they have. Each group will be given a specific date they start making park reservations.
Guests with existing Disney World hotel reservations, get priority over annual passholders and the regular public.
When Can I Make a Reservation?
All Walt Disney World Guests with a valid park admission can make a Park Pass reservation at this time.
Can I Make a Same-Day Reservation?
Yes. If there is availability, park pass reservations can be made on the same day you want to go to the park.
What if I Don’t Have a Park Ticket Right Now?
That’s ok. Park tickets are now on sale. Once you buy a ticket, you can then make your reservation.
If you have a multi-day ticket, you will need a reservation for each day of your ticket.