Disneyland Adds Ability to Modify Park Reservations
Disney has announced the addition of a modify button for theme park reservations at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that should reduce stress for those who want to change their date or starting park. This post shares details of the modification feature, how it works, plus the feedback on the good, bad, and “ugly” of this.
For those who haven’t visited Disneyland Resort since reopening, Disney Park Pass is the advance theme park reservations system for booking entry to both parks. It offers separate “buckets” of reservations for 1-park per day ticket holders, Park Hoppers, and Magic Key Annual Passholders. In actuality, those first two buckets now pull from the same pool and APs are further broken down by tier.
This reservation system was originally introduced due to the parks operating at significantly reduced capacity when the parks reopened. Attendance was capped below normal levels at that time, but even since then, Disneyland Resort has been operating well below 100% due to ongoing staffing shortages. Nevertheless, many fans have been wondering when the theme park reservation system would be retired.
Thus far, that has not happened and there’s no sign of it occurring anytime soon. This is unlike Walt Disney World, which already eliminated reservations for single-day tickets and recently announced what’s effectively the End of Park Pass Reservations for Regular Ticket Holders in 2024. On the Annual Passholder front, Walt Disney World APs are now able to enter the parks starting at 2 pm without needing a Disney Park Pass reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom.
Again, no dice on any of those fronts at Disneyland. The biggest change in California was made a couple of months ago, when Disneyland Resort moved the Park Hopper time forward by two hours; that now allows guests with a Magic Key pass or a Park Hopper ticket to begin crossing over between the parks starting at 11 a.m. Pacific.
With all of that in mind, here’s the latest change for Disneyland Resort…
As of today (May 17, 2023), Disneyland Resort has introduced a new feature that will allow guests to modify the date and/or park of their theme park reservations on Disneyland.com without having to cancel the reservation first, subject to park reservation availability and applicable block out dates. Guests using the Disneyland app will be redirected to the website for modifications.
Guests with regular single or multi-day tickets will be able to make modifications to their theme park reservations up to the day of their reservation before they enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. However, Magic Key holders will continue to have a one-day modification window.”
In practice, this works pretty much exactly how you’d expect.
As you can see from the screenshots above, there’s now a modify button and/or link in the reservation booking flow and on your ‘My Theme Park Reservations’ page. Click modify, and it brings you back into the normal booking process, just like you were making a new reservation.
In our view, this is a positive.
If you don’t know why, that’s probably because you always book park reservations well in advance, and never change them. For those of us who “stalk” the reservations calendar for last-minute cancellations or inventory refills, you know it can be a stressful process–and you often settle for “good enough” rather than precisely what you want.
Then when precisely what you want does become available after you’ve already booked good enough, you probably have been apprehensive about cancelling and rebooking, worried that someone else would swoop in and snag both the perfect and good reservations, leaving you with nothing at all. This is a very real scenario that has played out time and time again. It’s incredibly frustrating.
This is also a lot like the addition of the modify button with the Genie+ service.
We called that an ‘unequivocal upgrade’ and a big leap forward on the ‘quality of life’ front that makes the process more intuitive and user-friendly. Like that, this eliminates all of the frustrations that flowed from cancelling and (attempting to) rebook reservations, eliminating one of the more common complaints and sources of friction.
However, (you hopefully sensed a “but” coming, right?!) this is also a feature that should’ve been present from day one.
It’s really difficult to pat Disney on the back for introducing features that were very obvious omissions to anyone, and that includes Disney! Modify buttons have been standard UI for a while, and that includes with the MaxPass and Advance Dining Reservation systems, among other things.
The fact that it wasn’t present to begin with and then took roughly two more years to be fixed–especially given the cost of admission and widespread complaints from Magic Key Passholders about this–should be embarrassing. Yes, this is an improvement and a step in the right direction…but outright praise for Disney correcting its own unresolved blunder has some Stockholm syndrome vibes.
So that’s the good and the bad. The ugly, if you want to consider it that, is that ongoing “improvements” and maintenance to the Disney Park Pass system at Disneyland Resort suggests that it’s sticking around. Nothing Disney does is cheap, and this ‘obvious’ feature did come with a price tag attached.
We mention this only because we’ve heard from many Disneyland locals and Annual Passholders hoping that the relaxations made at Walt Disney World would make their way out west, or better yet, that the reservation system would be dropped completely. In our view, it’s hard to consider this addition “ugly” since dropping reservations entirely wasn’t on the table in the first place, so this doesn’t really change anything one way or the other. Magic Keyholders hoping for the removal of reservations have unrealistic expectations–that was (and is) wishful thinking.
As we’ve indicated repeatedly, the most likely long-term scenario is that Disney Park Pass is here to stay for Cast Members and Annual Passholders in some capacity, but will be eliminated entirely or at least integrated into tickets for everyone else at some point. Keep in mind that this system, at least in part, pre-dates the closure–the Disney Flex Pass was introduced back in 2019 and had reservation days plus ‘good-to-go’ open access days.
Given the Flex Pass, overall increases in attendance in early 2020, and huge local population Los Angeles and Orange Counties, more (not less) park reservations were an inevitability for Disneyland APs. Even if the closure and everything else never happened, it’s highly likely that at least some tiers of Annual Passes would be required to make park reservations in 2023. It probably wouldn’t look like the current system–or be as restrictive–but it wouldn’t be like 2019, either.
There’s also the reality that reservation availability still isn’t as wide open at Disneyland Resort as it is at Walt Disney World. Above is a current look at the calendar for the rest of this month–notice how many weekdays are gone? Last night, this was even worse–a few days ago, it was much better.
It seems to us like Disneyland tinkers around with reservations much more than Walt Disney World, reallocating inventory from Magic Keys to regular park tickets (or vice-versa) as demand dictates. In the case above, it’s almost certainly a matter of the Southern California Resident Ticket Discount coming to an end, and people scrambling to use their remaining days. That always happens in the last couple weeks those are valid.
Between that and entering the heart of Grad Nite season, it’s likely that attendance is starting to increase at Disneyland. Anecdotally, we’ve noticed far worse ‘feels like’ crowds during afternoons and evenings in the last week-plus than in the couple of weeks right after the heart of spring break season. It certainly appears that Disneyland is not experiencing the same slowdown as Walt Disney World, and a big driver of that is locals.
Ultimately, there’s a longer conversation about possible improvements to the park reservations system at Disneyland in light of guest demographics, demand, and the company’s desire to manipulate the ‘guest mix’ in attendance. Those are all topics for another day, though. For now, this is a small step forward…but it’d be nice if Disneyland took this a step further, and relaxed other rules. Two years after its initial implementation, the circumstances have improved dramatically, and there’s no good reason for some of these policies (like the no-show rule!) to be as stringent as they were in 2021. Here’s hoping that this is the first of many other changes on the horizon!
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!
What do you think of this change at Disneyland? Will the addition of a modification button positively impact your view of the reservation system, or do you think it needs to go completely? Even if this will not benefit you, personally, do you applaud incremental steps in the right direction? Or do you think it’s ridiculous a modify button wasn’t a day one feature? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? 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!
It’s good news. But come on, it’s 2023. You would think that would have been a thing from the get go. Sometimes it amazes me how Disney can be so late to the party..
Being honest, I was hoping for reservations to go away all together at Disneyland lol
what about Disney World? Is this already possible on the app? Also, Tom, what other changes or updated do you see upcoming in 2023 for Disney World? ALl of the announcements have been for 2024. Why are they ignoring the guests booked for 2023? I hope they drop the park hopping time for onsite guests. As well as dropping the park reservations for 2023.
I’m glad to finally added this feature. Now I wish they would let single-day, one-park ticket holders upgrade to a park hopper via the website. It’s crazy that you have to do this in person.
Sounds like generally a good change. I want to change I think at least one of my park days to a park hopper so will likely need to call for that.
Also Tom- do the ADR’s at Disneyland follow the same practice as Disneyworld?