Ahh the Disney Park Pass reservation system…many fans love to hate it!
The system was first introduced to help manage attendance in 2020 when Disney World reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, guests are required to “reserve” the park that they want to visit in advance, and if that park is already filled up for the day? Well, you might be out of luck. But is there a chance that Disney World could nix the controversial system in 2023? We’re looking at the evidence.
Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out in defense of the system and praised its benefits multiple times during his time leading the company, but now that we’ve got Bob Iger back in office, could things change?
Well, Bob Iger has been vocal with fans about his desire to exceed their expectations for the parks. In his holiday message to Disney World Annual Passholders, Iger even explicitly stated as such. This seems to be in contrast to Chapek’s focus on non-local families and non-Passholders.
But with the control that the Park Pass system gives Disney, it’s unlikely that they would give it up. It allows them to predict and control the number of guests in the park each day and monitor vacation trends more closely.
So if they don’t get RID of the system, could there be Passholder-friendly modifications? Right now the Park Pass calendar and availability is split up into three categories — ticket holders, resort guests, and Annual Passholders. If they threw all the availability together and everyone made reservations from the same “pot,” would it benefit Passholders?
In that case, it might open up more availability for Passholders, but then the problem that we would encounter is that there’s a Park Pass limit for each of the Annual Passes. Depending on your tier of pass, you can only make 3, 4, or 5 reservations at a time, so dates further in advance might fill up before Passholders even get a chance to reserve them.
The alternate option is to get rid of the Park Pass limit for Annual Passholders, but then those with passes could simply hoard all the reservations.
Basically, each solution to the Park Pass system “problem” presents its own set of issues. Even though it might be inconvenient to reserve your visit in advance, changing the system might cause chaos. If Disney wants to update it at all in 2023, they’ll really have to think through all the consequences.
All in all, it’s possible that 2023 could hold some changes for the Park Pass system, but they might not be the changes that people are asking for. As with any change Disney makes, Park Pass updates would probably be controversial to at least one group of people.
Either way, we’ll keep you updated and let you know all the details to plan a successful trip!
UPDATE: On January 10th, 2023, Disney World announced that Park Pass Reservation requirements were changing for Annual Passholders. Passholders will soon no longer need a Park Pass after 2PM with the exception of Magic Kingdom on Saturdays and Sundays. There is currently no exact date for when this change will go into effect, but we can expect it in the coming months.
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What do you think of the Park Pass reservation system? Tell us in the comments!
Kim J Kinzer says
I can see how this benefits the the logistic management. Big swell :open all gates, more shuttles, more cast member, maybe more parades to lessen ride wait times. Quiet times, reduce the sources to fit the need. I can also see how it would manage the amount of park “tickets” the pass holders can reserve and blackout dates. But, either waive it as a requirement for entrance or up the limitation.
This is what they have done with APs at Disneyland Paris since the pandemic – you can only book 3 days at a time, so even on an unlimited pass, it’s not unlimited & you could be there for a week & not be able to book all of the days as the slots fill up. It’s made the passes less worth it, I really hope they don’t do this for WDW.
I would Disney to post the number of reservations available for each day. I understand the value to Disney to forecast the number of people planning to come to each park each day, (food, cast members transportation needs etc), but it would be helpful to know how crowded the park is before I make my reservation. Let’s say they allow 50,000 people into MK for the day and 30,000 into Epcot. If MK is nearly full, but still showing availability, but Epcot 25,000 available, I would go there for the day instead and maybe MK another day.
Tom K says
IMO, the worst problem with the reservation system is the requirement to check in to the original park that was reserved even after 2 PM. Yes, having to plan days or weeks ahead for which park to attend 1st is annoying. It is clear that quite a few people tap into MK or EPCOT without ever entering the parks just to be able to go elsewhere later in the day.
What is happening to Disney?
It seems that everything is going downhill for visitors.
As the wealthy ones are getting more privileges, the ordinary ones are having more and more walls.
It’s so sad all these happenings.
It used to be more fun to go go to Disney. Now it causes anxiety!
Jim S says
Bob, please dump the park passes and properly staff up maintenance and hospitality. Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.
We are planning our annual Disney World trip for this April. It’s my husbands 70th birthday. I’d like to surprise him with a small cake delivered to our resort. We are DVC members since 2008. Can you please tell me how I can accomplish this?
Joe cosentino says
They survived for 48 years without a reservation system, even on New Year’s Eve 1999, the parks were at capacity at 10am we watched fireworks from the swan back then, had a nice day around the resorts with smaller crowds.
The thing is it worked so it’s time to drop the reservation system and get on with life.
We are coming in tomorrow and it is the first time since 1972 I am not doing a park, there are reservations open, but the ticket prices are out of control. We have 2 dinner reservations and everything else will be off property. It’s a shame that greed and gouging has come to this
I, for one, love the park pass system. I hate the possibility of a park being full when you walk up to the turnstiles, especially during busy times. Knowing my family has a guaranteed spot in the park is such a relief and I love that it means that the parks are well-controlled and organized. I will never EVER travel without park hopper and there is a phone number to call to make sure that the parks are available for hopping. My only wish is that park hopping would start a little earlier. Getting to rope drop at 730 am and not being able to hop until after 2 can be a bit frustrating, especially for families like mine who do not do the “go back to the hotel to swim and be lazy” concept.
Having to check into the first park of the day makes absolute sense for anyone who actually thinks about this in a logical way rather than just throwing a fit. Checking into the first park counts the actual visitors against reservations rather than just people going through turnstiles. It’s not a hard concept. I hope they never do away with them.
I just can’t wait for them to start selling Annual Passes again so I can fulfill my dream!
Elaine Vogel says
I don’t mind the reservation system but at the very least open park hopping earlier in the day
the parks are not well controlled or organized with this bad system, its much worse.
I cant believe someone would think that. And they operated just fine for nearly 50 years without the mess. Its restricting, takes too much time, too many clicks, the whole thing is ridiculous. Its nothing but big brother disney wanting to be in control and nickel and dime staff, which has done nothing but lower the quality and standards and made crowds unbearable because of less freedom, less help, less maintenance and crews. All other parks and themeparks across the country do just fine without this. Disney is getting too Geeky and putting geeks in control not to mention money pinchers.
janet winslow says
I thought Disney received information from Hotel bookings in order to plan park attendance. I want to be able to purchase a annual pass and go to the parks several times a year. I would book my hotel dining and fast psses as soon as the window opened and would plan for early opening days go early leave by 11 or so and go to another park for shows etc. I can plan months in advance. Now you cannot make a character dining lets say in the Magic Kingdom and not be able to have entrance park guest or not. Very frustrating. I cannot work that way not knowing which park I will be able to get to after flying in from Michigan and planning on dining experiences and not be able to get a park reservation for the day . Why plan ahead when you cant be guaranteed entry or rides. Very backwards we are getting nothing .
Well for us out of towners, we’ve decided not to go to WDW as long as the reservation system is in place. Universal will be winning out especially with the building of their new park. Vacation is hard enough to plan, we don’t need more obstacles.
Randi Briggs says
I would truly like them to increase the number of days that can be reserved. We try to plan out our year at the beginning of the year, and last year I had to really manipulate the system since we were taking two trips close together that came to 8 days. So, I had to do six and then hope I could get the other two I needed when the time came. It was a bit stressing.
We are from Washington State but have a house in central Florida. In December we had people coming to stay with us. They wanted to go do Disney. I said no. Not only is is too busy to take 2 people in EVC’s to Disney for their very first time, but having to find park passes for 4 people might prove to be impossible. There is no spontaneity and our annual passes went up but in reality are not worth as much.
My problem is with the hopper option. i can live with reserving the park I have to start with and entering that park first.
I do not like that I must stay in that park until 2 pm. It’s an inefficient way to spend my time in the parks. That’s why you buy the hopper option in the first place.
I want to be able to switch parks earlier so I can catch a show or a meal reservation elsewhere. Disney can still limit entry into a park with capacity limits.
At current Disney prices they need to offer more value for my money not restrictions.
Disappointed customer says
ITS DISNEYWORLD STILL..RIGHT? SO WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS MAGICAL VACATION A NIGHTMARE! FROM PRICES TO REGISTERING TO ATTEND PARKS WHEN EVERYONE HAS PRETTY MUCH MOVED ON…I THINK ITS DISGRACEFUL WHEN YOU LABLE PEOPLE AS TO WHAT TIER THEY ARE..OH YOU CAN’T ATTEND MK TODAY BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ON THE HIGHER TIER!!! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?? DISNEY NEEDS TO GO OLD SCHOOL WAYS…..THATS WHEN IT WAS TRULY THE ” HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH” STOP WITH ALL THE BS ALREADY!
Maybe Iger should have thought of the attendance in the parks before he started to build so many DVC ‘S . OHHH, yes, the money. So, let’s pack the resorts and the people have longer lines but hey, buy the Genie plus so you won’t wait as long. Disney has failed in so many ways.
My family and I have been going to Disney World since 1984, most recently in 2019 and 2022. Both years, the crowds were THE SAME. In 2019 we went on all of the rides every day in all of the parks. The only difference was in 2019 we all had the FRE FAST PASS (three rides). Disney has created a problem that DID NOT exist as early as 2019. The problem is the expensive Genie Plus and Individual Attraction. The waiting times are SO MUCH HIGHER now because for every 10 people on the standby line that are allowed on the ride, 50 people from Genie Plus Line are allowed to go on the ride. It’s obvious to me that if you cannot afford Genie Plus and Individual Attractions, you will be forced to WAIT ON LINE. These longer waits do not mean more people are in the park. It means that if you cannot afford to pay, you will wait 2-3-4 hours to go on a ride. IS THAT FAIR. It did not exist when we had the Free Fast Pass
Cinda M says
I know Disney’s priorities have changed over the years. They have gone from people oriented to rich guest and investor oriented. Rather than being theme parks that treat everyone equally they are now discriminating on what your resort and park experience is going to be based on money. It used to be easy and relaxing to go to Disney now we have to stress every moment. The less “extras” you buy, even though you spend a fortune on the tickets, the less you can enjoy the parks. I am very disappointed in Disney’s jump on the band wagon attitude of gouging vacationers for the experiences which should be included for all.
Sadly, we see all the vacation related businesses doing this in one way or another. From the airline tickets, hotel stays and the vacation destination. It becomes so stressful to plan and go on vacation for that much needed getaway or family experience. It is supposed to be Fun and Enjoyable but the industry is brow-beating the average or less than average income families to death of making vacation plans. If you pay for Fast lane or the Deluxe resorts you can get a better experience. If you have Extra Cash you can have more leg room in your airplane seat and bring luggage to your destination! These things used to be all inclusive but not now! I recently tried to find airfare for a trip but needed to put in all my personal information and fellow travelers before I could find out how much the carry-on or checked bag would cost or any other “add ons”. Why does the airline need that info to quote luggage prices? They just want you to be invested in entering all that information before you can get a final cost of the flight(s).
We need industry standards that are fair and transparent!
Louise hogg says
Disney should remove park reservations. I as a cast member have not made reservations since it started. As I have been shut out so many times. System worked before reservations why mess up a good thing. Disney has goofed on things that were changed and not for better. Including. Fireworks
And now they are selling tickets specific to a park? That is pure craziness. I have always hated the park reservation system and since we buy tickets each time we go, we don’t spend the extra money on park hopper so haven’t had to deal with that issue. But I agree that Disney is not going to do away with this system. Think about it – the virtual queue for Guardians is based on your park reservation and I am sure Tron will be the same way. I think they had issues with this with RoR and having the park reservation system has helped. Also, Genie Plus is tied into this system as well. But I do think they are going to try to make it more user friendly.
Juan Navedo says
“It allows them to predict and control the number of guests in the park each day and monitor vacation trends more closely.”
It’s cute that many believe that. No. The lawsuit couldn’t be anymore clear as to why Disney paused the APs. They’ll tell you that its not the lawsuit but it is, 100% if not 90%. Another article stated that the Pixies Dust Pass is proof that it’s not about the lawsuit but when you read it, it’s just Disney delving into Chapek’s corporate greed strategy that every corporation since the pandemic has been screwing people over with; Price hikes with nothing new to show for it. Plus, and REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, put the pieces together, Pixies Dust Pass is for Mon.-Fri. access only with no weekends or holidays for AP holders to “, so keeping that up for sale won’t hurt their bottom line, every other tier will.
Many people will argue with me about this, defending the business side and practices of Disney, and THAT’S the problem. You’re what Disney counts on for massive, undeserved profits. Sad part, it works, every time. How did you go to war with mindless drones? You can’t.
At the end of the day, Disney is a corporation but I honestly thought they would rise above the greed, something ALL other corporations just can’t resist. Silly me for thinking that they would be different. There is no reprieve from greed and it’s such a sad thing…well…not ALL corporations…
See, not only does Universal Studio cater to ALL customers EQUALLY (passholders and regular guest), they have recently announced that they’re giving their employees a very fair wage increase, whereas Disney is squabbling over A SINGULAR DOLLAR RAISE. $1.00!! So I do take a bit of what I said back; Not ALL corporations…just Universal Studios, and that’s where ALLLLLL that money that was suppose to be coming from excited AP owners, will be and has been going instead. I have read SOOO many posts of, now, former AP members switching to Universal Studios. With Mario World AND the opening of Epic Universe, yeah, many forsaken former AP owners have been, and will be going to instead. Me and my family of 20, who were planning a family reunion at Disney, are now going to Universal instead.
And as hard as it is to walk away from Disney, THAT is the moment where everyone needs to nut up and just go. It won’t make a dent if you’re looking at it in the perspective of crowd numbers, but it will for Disney’s bottom-line if large families, in unison, would go to Universal instead, like my family and I. It’s not impossible to teach corporations a lesson by hitting them where it hurts. Look at the backlash Starbucks received when it was revealed how horribly they’ve treated their employees. My family and I just stopped getting coffee from them. Period. Easy.
If anything, it should be even easier to hit Disney where it hurts. See with coffee it’s $5.00 here and there. So you have the money to get coffee everyday, that’s the temptation. With Disney, full blown vacation is in the thousands. That’s a huge amount of money that will be noticeably gone from your account. And for what? Crowded parks? Half the experience because some ride went down…again? Extraordinarily long lines even for the simplest of rides? Yeah, no thanks. I’ve been once, I loved it, and I will cherish my first ever Disney vacation (April 2021), would love to go back but Disney has made it very clear that they do not want me, or people like me who are interested in APs, to go. At least not until they have sucked the rest of the non-AP visitors dry. THEN that’s when they’ll start crawling back, to…well, who? In a perfect united world, there would be no one left standing in line for APs. That’s how Disney will learn; Pain. Well deserved too if it ever happens.