The Disney parks changed a LOT when they reopened in 2020, so what still remains of those pandemic-era adjustments?
Face mask requirements have been relaxed somewhat in the parks, many buffets have returned in full force, and the social distancing markers and language are almost entirely gone. But there’s one BIG change that has stuck around: Park Pass Reservations. And from a recent interview with the president of Disneyland, it sounds like they could be here for a while.
When Disneyland and Disney World reopened, they instituted a new Park Pass Reservation system that requires guests to have reservations for the park they are going to attend each day (in addition to park tickets). The reservations are free, but you cannot enter a park without them.
Guests who are not Annual Passholders can hold reservations for any days that they have park tickets for, and Annual Passholders have a limit to the number of reservations they can hold at a given time. We do see reservations run out, especially for holidays or other Disney event times. Usually, Magic Kingdom is the first park to sell out on any given day, but that sometimes changes if there are major events in other parks (such as a festival in EPCOT).
You can see the reservation availability on Disney World’s website. Because these passes sell out, we recommend reserving your passes as soon as you book your tickets (or plan your vacation, for Annual Passholders). So how long are these passes going to remain a thing? A recent interview with Disneyland President Ken Potrock gave us a hint.
The Orange County Register recently conducted an interview with Potrock about several pandemic-era changes at Disneyland as well as some upcoming plans for the park. They asked about the Park Pass Reservations, which Potrock responded were “a really important opportunity for [Disney] to be able to manage the demand more effectively than we ever could.”
Basically, the reservations allow Disney to monitor capacity and crowd levels in the park, which was important when the parks reopened and continues to be helpful in tracking and controlling demand.
When asked if the passes will ever go away, Potrock responded, “I don’t think so.” He said that “the objective here is to spread that demand, whether it’s a Tuesday or a Saturday,” meaning Disney wants to disperse the crowds so that the parks aren’t super busy one day and then much emptier the next.
This is helpful to Disney in two ways, according to Potrock: “One, it’s a better experience for all. Two, we can better manage the labor scenario in a more efficient way.” Disney has been having some problems with staffing shortages, so maybe the Park Pass Reservations will help them better decide where Cast Members are needed on any given day.
So it looks like Park Passes are here to stay for a while, and maybe even indefinitely! We’ll keep you updated with all the latest Disney news, so stay tuned with DFB.
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What do you think of Disney’s Park Pass Reservation system? Let us know in the comments.