We’re back with a ‘PSA’ update on Walt Disney World Park Pass availability for late Spring and early Summer 2022. Reservations are already going fast for Annual Passholders, on-site resort guests, and regular theme park ticket holders–you might want to book now if you haven’t already for the coming months.
This post will cover the why of that, and we’ll take a look at the latest ‘sold out’ days, speculate as to why some are gone already, and offer additional strategy that will potentially improve your chances of success in riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
We actively monitor Disney Park Pass reservation availability, and the situation has getting progressively worse since the start of spring break season. In fact, I’m not sure the last time it was this bad for such a long stretch–even during the holiday season last year, Epcot or Animal Kingdom usually had availability after Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were long gone.
Timing-wise, this comes as Walt Disney World continues to extend park hours. Over the weekend, the parks once again added early opening times, which has been happening on a consistent basis since the beginning of last month. At present, here are the daily operating hours through April 30, 2022:
Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 11 pm
Epcot: 8:30 am to 9 pm
Hollywood Studios: 8 am to 9 pm
Animal Kingdom: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
These are several hours longer than the boiler plate hours, especially the opening times. Early risers can really make out like bandits everywhere except Magic Kingdom, which is still opening at 9 am daily.
We mention this because, in the past, extensions of park hours were accompanied by Disney Park Pass reservations being replenished. However, that has not been happening for several months now, and there are no signs of that changing. Our guess is that these longer park hours are “baked in” to the reservation inventory before they’re actually extended.
With that said, we would expect Disney Park Pass reservation refills once more capacity is added to the parks. The return of traditional character meet & greets will be one such development (although those are typically low capacity), but the bigger thing will be more entertainment and shows. In particular, Fantasmic. Not only do a lot of guests watch this, but it also keeps people in Disney’s Hollywood Studios later, which should help redistribute crowds over the course of the day, and allow for a higher cap.
We’ll keep you posted on whether entertainment and characters returning impacts Disney Park Pass availability (or doesn’t). For now, here’s a current look at reservation options…
Above is a look at the calendar for resort guests and theme park ticket holders for the remainder of April 2022. As a reminder, these two buckets pull from the exact same inventory, and have for a while.
As you can see, the next couple of weeks are mostly “No Parks Available” with only Epcot having availability next Friday before some expanded options after that. This is really nothing new–since April 4, the calendar has been all grey for the next ~2 weeks on a rolling basis.
For resort guests and theme park ticket holders, there’s still a lot of green in May 2022. However, it’s worth noting that it would be relatively unprecedented for a non-holiday period to book up more than 3 weeks in advance in the current capacity environment.
Historically, May has been ‘shoulder season’ at Walt Disney World, with low to moderate crowds after the spring break rush has subsided. Crowds could still drop in the coming weeks, but we’re no longer predicting that. To the contrary, our expectation is that remote work and ongoing pent-up demand will keep the month somewhat elevated. Not as bad as spring break, but worse than a normal May.
June 2022 and beyond is a sea of green. Literally not a single date for regular ticket holders or resort guests that’s unavailable.
Again, this is utterly meaningless at this point. Although word is getting out into the mainstream about Walt Disney World requiring reservation, the vast majority of guests still don’t plan this far in advance. Booking theme park reservations months in advance is the domain of hardcore super fans, not the general public. Thankfully, people like us are not representative of most park guests.
Annual Passholders continue to have the best availability of all on the Park Pass calendars.
There are likely a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s still possibly a holdover from a reallocation ‘formula change’ that occurred last fall when it was mostly APs visiting, and yet the other two calendars were seas of green. Second, most Annual Passes had their sales paused last holiday season and still haven’t resumed. Consequently, the pool of APs is being artificially limited at this point.
We aren’t going to complain too loudly about this tourist v. locals reservation imbalance since it now benefits us, but it’s surprising. It stands to reason that one of the reasons Walt Disney World suspended AP sales was to reallocate Park Pass inventory to regular guests, but we haven’t seen (visible) evidence of that happening on these calendars.
Probably an unpopular opinion, but we hope Walt Disney World “recalibrates” again and moves more Park Passes over to the resort guest side of the ledger. First-timers and on-site resort guests should have better availability than APs. There aren’t many on-site advantages right now, but this should absolutely be one of them. Giving resort front desks a special pool of reservations for guest recovery would be smart.
Anyway, there is one interesting quirk with the Annual Passholder reservation calendars, and that’s at Epcot. Aside from May Fourth at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (think about it), the only park that has any fully booked days for APs in May 2022 is Epcot. That literally never happens–Epcot is always the last park to fill up.
The logical and obvious conclusion is that those days are being pulled from the inventory for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind preview days. For Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure previews, APs and DVC members were not required to make Disney Park Pass reservations. The same is likely true for Cosmic Rewind. It would thus make sense for Walt Disney World to remove inventory from the system ahead of that to prevent overcrowding.
For me, the only surprise here is that some days are missing. My expectation was 2+ solid weeks of previews, pretty much every single day starting the second week of May. Perhaps that is the plan, and even after removing the requisite capacity from the reservation inventory, those other dates are still green.
On a related note, it makes sense that May 27, 2022 is already unavailable at Epcot. That’s the opening day for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. If you’re a tourist and are freaking out about visiting Epcot that day, don’t. While it will be busy, so will the entire summer. The Marvelous new E-Ticket is going to draw locals like a magnet, and the rest of the park actually shouldn’t be terrible. (The weekend will end up being just as bad, since most locals aren’t off work on Friday. Those Saturday and Sunday reservations will fill up in due time.)
Finally, a couple of tips. If you’re visiting soon and haven’t been able to book Park Pass reservations, we recommend checking the actual reservation booking system in My Disney Experience, not just the Theme Park Reservation Availability Calendar.
We’ve found that there’s often a lag between what’s shown on the calendar and what’s actually available in MDX. At the very least, the color-coded calendar is not updated in real-time. On several occasions, we’ve been able to book Park Passes when the calendar shows no availability.
Next, a recommendation if you’re visiting May 27, 2022 and beyond–while there’s still a sea of green on the Disney Park Pass calendar. If you don’t mind monitoring this for availability (because you might want to switch if summer starts going grey), consider booking at least a couple of days at Epcot. Do so on all days when you’re planning on visiting Animal Kingdom, in addition to your dedicated Epcot day.
This essentially “flips the script” on our recommendation last year, which was to reserve a disproportionate number of DHS days. The reasoning here is the same, with the difference being that Walt Disney World’s shiny new toy is now at Epcot rather than Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The reason for this is because we still don’t yet know whether Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will use a traditional standby line or a virtual queue. Our lengthy post about Cosmic Rewind’s opening weighs the pros & cons of both, and ultimately predicts a virtual queue. Personally, I don’t think Walt Disney World will have any other choice.
Anyway, reserving multiple Epcot days gives you more chances for success with such a virtual queue “sweepstakes.” If Cosmic Rewind uses the virtual queue, it’ll be possible to attempt to score boarding groups from outside the park before you start your day. If you’re unsuccessful, you can change your Disney Park Pass reservations day-of to Animal Kingdom or wherever else, pending availability.
That’s a wrap on this Disney Park Pass reservation update. While there’s not a ton of news with regard to availability or refills, we thought it was worth covering this before summer tourist season kicked into high gear and your options were more limited.
While we hope availability gets better over time, the opposite could actually happen. More grey or yellow in the coming weeks could lead to a “run” on reservations, making the parks booking up early something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hard to say how it’ll all play out, but you might as well hedge your bets if your Walt Disney World vacation dates are set and you’ve already bought park tickets!
Have any issues scoring Disney Park Pass reservations in the last couple of months? What’s your take on the ‘why’ behind AP v. regular guest availability? If you’ve visited in April 2022, what has your experience been with actual wait times and “feels like” crowds? Do you agree with our suggestions for multiple days in Epcot once Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens? Do you agree or disagree with any of our other commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!