You can’t just buy a ticket and walk into a Disney Park anymore. Disney’s Park Pass System requires guests to schedule which Disney Park they’re visiting each day, and without a reservation, you can’t get into a park (even if you have a ticket). We asked DFB readers how the Park Pass System has affected their Disney planning — and there were a LOT of responses. Find out how the Park Pass system has changed Disney planning here!
We reached out to our readers on Facebook (go ahead and give us a follow if you want to share your opinion in the future!) and lots of readers shared how the Disney Park Pass System has changed how they plan a Disney trip. Do these responses resonate with you?
Spontaneity and Flexibility
Although some of our readers like the Park Pass system, not everyone does, and many people mentioned how it has affected spontaneity and flexibility. As one reader put it, “All the spontaneity is gone. A Disney vacation is like sticking to a work schedule. Much too regulated.”
A lot of readers mentioned that it’s difficult to change your plans or let your mood help you choose a park that day. “You definitely have to ‘pick your park’ now. I miss being able to just change up a plan to a different park and be done with it.” Because park reservations can “sell out,” you can’t always wait until the day of your visit to schedule a reservation.
If you’re more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person, the Park Pass System is not necessarily to your benefit, and you might resent the way it impacts your spontaneous nature.
Extended Evening Hours
If you’re staying in a deluxe hotel and want to plan your parks based on the Extended Evening Hours schedule, you might not be able to wait until the parks and dates are released. Extended Evening Hours are only available to guests staying in deluxe hotels, and the schedule designates select nights when qualifying guests can stay in certain Disney Parks after park closing.
One reader said, “I [used] to wait to plan out what park I would be in what day based on [Extra] Magic Hours to maximize my time in the parks. Now you can’t really do that because a park may be reserved before they announce extended hours. So, you just have to go ahead and reserve and hope you are able to change them after the fact.”
Extended Evening Hours replaced Extra Magic Hours, which were previously available to all Disney World hotel guests. You can generally expect to be able to Park Hop for Extended Evening Hours, but there’s no guarantee that a park might hit capacity, and if you wanted to spend the entire day in one park, you might prefer to wait for the schedule to be released.
More Planning Stress
Another common response was about the added planning stress, as it’s another task you need to check off your list before your visit. Now on top of getting your tickets and transportation, making hotel and dining reservations, and researching Genie+, you must also schedule all your park reservations. It’s a lot of work!
One reader commented, “The entire way the park is operated now [has] changed how I feel about a Disney Vacation. Going on vacation shouldn’t require so much work or screen-time once you’re there.”
Plus, you may need to coordinate your restaurant reservations with your park passes, which is another planning puzzle piece to solve. As one reader put it, “It was hard enough getting a dining reservation at the park you want, but then to make sure you have that park reserved. [Hollywood Studios] and [Magic Kingdom] were the hardest to reserve when we went this last trip.”
Park Hopping Complications
Although Park Hopping is still a thing after 2PM, you must still have a park reservation in order to park hop, and you must also first enter the park you’ve reserved before you can visit another park. That means that even if you get to Disney World after 2PM, you must first visit your reserved park before you can Park Hop to a different Disney Park.
Many readers mentioned how the structure of the Park Pass System and 2PM Park Hopping impacted their day-to-day plans. One reader commented, “No more last-minute decisions when Park Hopping. Back in the day, we bounced around depending on what we felt like that day. We once walked into [Hollywood Studios] and saw the crowd and turned around immediately and went to a different park.” If you want to leave the park you reserved for another Disney Park, you have to wait until 2PM to do so.
No Last-Minute Changes
Not everyone hates the new reservation system though! Some readers noted that it helps aid the planning process and that it helps prevent any last-minute changes. One reader commented, “No more last-minute decisions or changes of plan, and I actually like that. I find Park Hopper to be a waste, personally, so planning where I will be spending my park day helps me decide on things like meals, more easily.”
If you’re the type of person who already prefers planning out your Disney World itinerary to every detail, the Park Pass System may not be as inconvenient as it feels to others, and it’s just one other detail to take care of during your planning process.
Disney’s Park Pass System has changed how we visit Disney World, and it’s true that your planning process might be a bit more complicated now. But depending on YOUR personal preferences, it can either aid or hinder your experience! Regardless of how you feel, it seems like park reservations are here to stay, so make sure you don’t forget to get yours scheduled!
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What do you think of the Park Pass System? Tell us in the comments!