When the parks reopened, there were a number of changes made including limiting capacity, requiring masks, and social distancing. But, one of the biggest changes was the introduction of the Disney World Park Pass Theme Park Reservation System.
If you’re heading to Disney World soon, it’s HUGELY important that you know how to use this system, understand the different levels of eligibility, and know the basics of this new part of the Disney experience. But, you might also be wondering how long Park Passes will be sticking around. We’ve got some thoughts on that too. And now we’re sharing it ALL with you!
What is Park Pass?
The Park Pass system is an online tool that lets guests make reservations to visit the Disney World theme parks. In order to enter a Disney theme park now, you need BOTH a valid ticket AND a valid park pass for the day you want to visit and the park you want to visit on that date.
So, in the “before times,” all you needed to get into Magic Kingdom was a valid ticket for the day you wanted to visit. Now, if you want to visit Magic Kingdom on say April 2nd — you (and everyone in your party) will need a valid ticket to visit Magic Kingdom on April 2nd AND you (and everyone in your party) will ALSO need a valid Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom for April 2nd.
You’ll need to make these Park Passes for every member of your party for every day of your trip that you’re going to visit a park. You can only make 1 park pass reservation for each day of your trip.
If you later want to change the Park Passes you have, you’ll have to cancel your existing Park Pass reservation and make a new reservation. SO, before you make ANY changes, it’s important that you triple check the Park Pass availability calendar and make sure that another park has space available before you cancel your spot.
Park Pass Eligibility
You can only make a Park Pass if you have valid theme park admission. Depending on what type of guest you are, the number of park passes you can hold at any one time for future trips can vary.
- Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests (with valid theme park admission): Can make reservations for their length of stay.
- Annual Passholders: Can make reservations for up to 3 days at a time. Also, APs can make Park Pass reservations for the length of their stay if they have booked a reservation at a Disney Resort or select hotel.
- Theme Park Ticket Holders: Can make reservations for the number of days for which they have valid admission.
Keep in mind that you can view park pass availability BEFORE buying a ticket. You’ll want to check availability BEFORE buying your ticket so that you can make sure that Park Passes for the parks you want to visit are available on the days you want to buy tickets for.
In terms of the Disney World Resorts and select other hotels group, Disney has recently clarified which hotels fall into this “resort” category.
Click here to see what hotels fall in the “resort” category for Park Pass availability and eligibility.
Park Pass Availability
You can check Park Pass availability through the My Disney Experience app and by checking Disney World’s Park Pass availability calendar. Park Pass availability can vary depending on whether you fall into the “Annual Passholder,” “Select Resort Guest,” or “Ticket Guest” category. For example, the calendar below shows Park Pass availability for April 2021 for guests in the “Select Resort Hotels” category.
All of the spots on the calendar that are in GREEN have full availability — meaning you could book a park pass at any of the 4 theme parks for that day. Days on the calendar marked in YELLOW have partial availability — meaning that 1 or more parks are already fully booked for that day, but other parks will be available. Days marked in GRAY are completely full. That means, if you hadn’t already booked your Park Pass for that day, you will NOT be able to book a Park Pass at any of the 4 theme parks for that day now.
Again, you’ll want to check park pass availability BEFORE buying a ticket so you can make sure that the parks you want to visit are available during the days you intend to buy tickets for.
Park Pass availability can vary A LOT. Sometimes Park Passes fill up for some categories of guests but not others. Sometimes Park Passes fill up for a specific period of time, and then they are later replenished.
So, if you can’t get a Park Pass for the park you want to visit, our recommendation is to book a pass for another park — that way you’ve reserved your spot to get into one of the parks. If nothing changes later, then at least you’ve reserved your spot and you don’t have to worry that everything will fill up and you’ll be out of luck. Then, you can hopefully hop to the park you were hoping to visit at 2.
But, you should also continuously check back with us here at DFB and on the Park Pass calendar to see if availability changes. Park Passes for a park that previously appeared to be fully booked might become available later and you’ll be able to change your plans and make new park reservations!
Also, because Park Passes can fill up — particularly for popular times of the year, big holidays, etc. — we do recommend that you make your Park Passes as far in advance as you’re able to.
Park Pass Basics
How do you make a Park Pass? Well, we’ve got a FULL step-by-step guide with more details and photos, but we’ll go through a basic version here. Generally, what you need to do first is set up your My Disney Experience account (if you haven’t already) and link your park admission to your account. Everyone will need to make sure they link their admission (and Disney Resort hotel booking, if applicable) to their respective accounts.
Then, you’ll create your party in the My Disney Experience app of everyone traveling with you. After that, you’ll select the date you want to make the Park Pass for, the theme park you want to visit, and your arrival time. You’ll confirm your plans and then get a confirmation screen.
You’ll then repeat this process for every day of your trip.
Park Hopping and Park Pass
Park Hopping is the ability to visit more than 1 Disney World theme park per day. In order to Park Hop, you need to purchase a ticket that has a Park Hopper option on it. Park Hopping returned on January 1st, 2021 in a modified way. If you can visit more than 1 park per day, you might wonder how that interacts with Park Passes.
Well, if you have a Park Hopper ticket and plan on hopping, here’s what you need to know. You will still need to make a Park Pass reservation for the FIRST PARK you want to visit each day of your trip. You also MUST visit your FIRST PARK (a.k.a. the one you made the Park Pass for).
Then, when Park Hopper Hours start (which has been 2PM each day for now, but that is subject to change) you can hop from your first park to another park, as long as that other park has availability for you to hop. You do NOT need a Park Pass for the second park you want to visit at this time. That could change in the future though.
That, of course, is subject to change.
How Long Will Park Passes Be Sticking Around?
Okay, so you know how to make your Park Pass and the basics, but the next question you might have is — how long will we have to make Park Pass reservations for? There’s still a lot that Disney hasn’t announced there, but we have seen some things that might give us a few indications of what the future could look like.
At the moment, Park Passes are available to book through part of 2023. Does that mean Park Passes will be required through 2023? It might. It could also just mean that Disney is preparing for it to potentially stay that long. But, things change a lot in Disney World and this is certainly subject to change. The fact that Park Passes can be booked all the way through part of 2023 though could be an indication that they’ll be sticking around for a while.
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has also made some statements that could indicate Park Passes will be sticking around for a while. In a recent interview, Chapek was asked if he would use the reservation system more and/or what technology might stick around post-pandemic. Chapek didn’t provide exact information about how long these measures will be in the parks. But, he did say, “We’re also going to be introducing a new reservation system that’s going to enable our guests to have a great time no matter when they choose to come to Disney.”
The “new reservation system” that Chapek mentioned could be a reference to the upcoming system that is going to be used when Disneyland reopens. Still, the fact that he specifically brought up this “new reservation system” is potentially a sign that park reservation systems, in general, will be sticking around for a while.
Park Passes help Disney maintain their capacity limits, which in turn help ensure that there’s sufficient social distancing between guests at the park. Chapek has already noted that the expectation is to have some level of mask wearing and social distancing through the end of this year. If social distancing continues, and capacity restrictions also continue in order to ensure that there is an appropriate distance between guests in the park, then Park Passes — which help Disney in their control of capacity — may continue as well.
Hopefully, this post has helped you get a sense of the basics of the Park Pass system and how important it will be for your upcoming Disney World trips. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more information on the Park Pass system and any future changes that might arise. Stay tuned for all the latest!
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