Disney Park Pass is the new advance theme park reservations system for booking entry to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. If you are planning to visit Walt Disney World between July 11, 2020 and September 26, 2021, a reservation is required to enter the parks. In this how-to guide, we cover the steps for how to make a Disney Park Pass entry reservation, offer troubleshooting advice, and make predictions about the popularity of WDW’s new reserved admission system. (Updated June 22, 2020 at 10 am.)
For starters, the Disney Park Pass system was just introduced and goes live beginning at 7 am Eastern on June 22 (see more details here) only on DisneyWorld.com–not the My Disney Experience app. We’re offering this as a preview so you can get familiar with the process ahead of your booking window opening. This is key because Disney IT doesn’t exactly have the best reputation for working smoothly and problem-free.
To that end, you should absolutely start by making sure your tickets and resort reservation are linked in My Disney Experience, and your family and friends list is properly populated. If you really want to double-check all of this, a good dry run is the MagicBand Upgrade process (our how-to guide for that is here); go through the motions but don’t complete check-out (unless you want to buy MagicBands).
Before getting started, we want to stress patience before delving into how to make the online reservations. Even if everything appears flawless, you might have issues getting DisneyWorld.com to work. Keep trying and maintain your composure.
In terms of troubleshooting, our #1 solution is always to use private browsing or incognito mode on your desktop browser to access DisneyWorld.com. This won’t always resolve your problem, but often it will. It’s at least worth a shot. In any case, hopefully that preemptively answers some reader questions we’d otherwise receive and saves some of you some headaches.
June 22, 2020 – 7:10 am Update: The Disney Park Pass system was supposed to go live this morning at 7 am Eastern (so, 10 minutes ago), but that has yet to occur. Pretty par for the course with Walt Disney World ‘drop days.’ Things either launch 2 hours and 44 minutes before they’re supposed to, or over an hour late.
You might be seeing a (very pink) Cinderella Castle “just a moment” or Seven Dwarfs “we’re working on it” or the classic Stitch Ate the Page. Or, you might be able to sign-in and access My Disney Experience. Either way, the system is not yet working. We’ll update once we’re able to make reservations, so stay tuned.
June 22, 2020 – 10 am Update: WE ARE IN! After many (many!) delays and much frustration, we finally were able to book our Disney Park Pass reservations.
These warnings/advice/practice might seem like overkill, but anyone who has experience with “opening day” for new discounts, preview days, etc., at Walt Disney World has likely run into various problems or the dreaded Stitch eating something near and dear to their hearts.
On with the details of Disney Park Pass, and making advance online reservations for the theme parks at Walt Disney World!
Step 1: Link Your Admission to Your Disney Account
To get started, you’ll need valid park admission that’s linked to your Disney account.
First, you’ll need a Disney account, which is where your Walt Disney World plans are stored and managed. Create an account or sign in to your existing account.
Then, link your valid admission to your Disney account. All Guests in your party must also have valid park admission linked to their profile. Note: At this time, new ticket sales are temporarily paused, and sales will resume at a later date.
If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your Disney account as well.
Once your admission is linked to your account, you can begin to make a park reservation…
Step 2: Create Your Party
When you begin to make a reservation, you’ll be prompted to create your party from your Family & Friends list.
Simply select the family and friends you’d like to include, then hit the Continue button.
Don’t see someone in your travel party? Select “Add a Guest” to include them.
You may need to make more than one Disney Park Pass reservation for your party depending on your admission type. Please make sure your party consists of Annual Passholders or theme park ticket holders.
Staying in a Disney Resort or other select hotel with a package that includes tickets? Everyone in your party must also have a hotel reservation. If this varies, you will need to make separate Disney Park Pass reservations.
Step 3: Select a Date and Park
Choose the date and the theme park that you’d like to visit from the available reservations. Please note that dates and theme park selections are limited and subject to availability.
After creating your party in the Disney Park Pass system, you’ll be prompted to:
Select a Date: View a calendar and choose one of the available dates for your visit.
Select a Theme Park: Park hours will be displayed for your convenience.
Select a Time: This is the time that you can visit the park.
NOTE: From what we’ve seen in practice, selecting a time is simply “confirming” the park hours, not an actual arrival window. It’s possible this system was simultaneously developed for Walt Disney World and DLR, and the latter will have morning/afternoon/evening arrival windows. Or, it’s possible Walt Disney World will have arrive windows and what we’ve seen is incorrect.
After selecting your date and park, you can confirm your reservation.
Step 4: Review and Confirm Your Plans
Carefully review and confirm your selected park and date.
If you need to make any changes, select “Back” to revise your selections.
Before confirming, you’ll need to agree to the Terms & Conditions, including the health certification and liability disclaimer waiver. (For this reason, it’s unlikely that travel agents will book Disney Park Pass reservations like they do/did for FastPass+ or ADRs.)
Then, select “Confirm” to complete your park reservation. Once confirmed, your reservation will appear in My Plans on My Disney Experience or DisneyWorld.com.
Want to make another park reservation? Select “Make Another Reservation” to continue planning. As a reminder, if you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit. If you need to cancel a reservation, view your daily itinerary in My Plans, then select “Reservation Details”.
Park Hopping will not be available when the Disney Park Pass system launches, but we’re told it’s Walt Disney World’s goal to reintroduce it as soon as possible. (Guests will park tickets for fall and later are encouraged not to cancel/request refunds on their Park Hoppers yet.)
After seeing the process in practice, the initial steps strike us as very similar to the FastPass+ system interface. It’s also a lot like Disney Flex Pass, the Annual Passport with both open admission and reservation-only days released at Disneyland Resort about a year ago. With the Disney Flex AP, reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance. Passholders can hold 2 simultaneous reservations, and make more on a rolling basis once the first reservation date has passed or is canceled.
The Disney Flex Pass has exploded in popularity because it works really well for locals and offers good value for money (it also gives Disney insight into attendance forecasting). Booking over 20 days in advance and Annual Passholders typically have zero issue scoring the dates they want. Even the night before, there’s often one park available. Among locals, the feedback for the Flex AP has been incredibly positive–many of our friends have downgraded to this Annual Pass.
In fairness, many if not most locals “plan” (air quotes) their visits to Disneyland on very short notice, deciding to visit the night beforehand or even day-of. The parks are much more laid back, and there’s virtually no culture around advance planning. There’s much more spontaneity.
Of course, Florida is a very different beast. Planning is most definitely a thing, and many Annual Passholders live out of state. Moreover, reservations will be available for all dates between July 2020 and September 2021–which is over one year from now. (Our expectation is that’s the planned end date for Disney Park Pass, with the system being abandoned earlier if it’s deemed unnecessary. Better to start with a remote date and cut it short rather than aim lower and have to extend.)
Nevertheless, the comparison to the Disney Flex Pass and its relaxed and easy booking process is worthwhile. For one, many get a ton of mileage out of the Flex AP reservation system, despite being limited to “only” two simultaneous reservations. For another, there are a ton of Disneyland Annual Passholders in California–far more than in Florida–meaning higher demand.
We feel like a broken record at this point, but organic demand is going to be low at Walt Disney World for the next couple years. We would not expect the parks to hit their reduced capacity (~30% of normal at first, scaling up from there) on most days for the remainder of the year. And this is if/when Disney opens the “floodgates” (air quotes, again) on new hotel reservations and ticket sales.
Our prediction that demand will plummet is predicated upon a variety of factors, including but not limited to health & safety concerns, mandatory mask opposition, unemployment levels, economic uncertainty, high heat & humidity, general travel trepidation, Annual Pass cancellations, and guests feeling that the value proposition simply isn’t there with shorter park hours, reduced entertainment, and more.
It’s also worth remembering that, for now, Walt Disney World is not reopening resort or ticket sales. The only people eligible to book Disney Park Pass reservations until “later this summer” are locals with tickets or Annual Passes, and out of state visitors with some form of tickets and a resort booked.
This is not a ton of people. To put the number into perspective, all of Walt Disney World’s on-site hotels combined normally account for less than half of guest attendance in the parks. Disney Vacation Club villas make up just over 15% of Walt Disney World’s on-site room inventory, and those are the only resorts slated to reopen right now.
At present, every single Disney Vacation Club resort has availability for reopening weekend. Beyond that, there’s a ton of availability for July and August (way more than normal) and a lot of availability for September, too. (See above screenshot, taken today.)
That availability means that, at worst, current resort occupancy represents 10% of normal park attendance. (My guess is that it’s probably more like 5%.) This leaves a lot of surplus capacity for Annual Passholders and existing ticket holders. Probably much more than is necessary most dates.
Ultimately, that’s our prediction and it could very well be wrong, but at least we’ve “shown our work” and offered a basis for it. On top of that, take a look at what has happened thus far at Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and other Florida theme parks. After busy AP previews or opening days, all of those have been ghost towns during the week and moderately busier on weekends, but none have hit capacity. Walt Disney World could be the “rising tide that lifts all boats” attendance-wise by drawing tourists to Florida–or it could further dilute the local audience across more theme parks.
While we’re currently seeing a lot of Disney fans stressing out about the Disney Park Pass reservation process, just think about the comments section on this blog and elsewhere in the last month or so from diehard Walt Disney World vacation planners. Have you seen more “I’m out–we’re cancelling” comments or more enthusiastic “I can’t wait to book a trip” feedback? From the feedback we’ve observed, the cancellation comments outnumber the excited to go back ones by about 20 to 1. That’s among diehard Disney fans–the demographic most likely to visit, even if in the presence of obstacles–now imagine sentiment among the general public.
We shall see what happens next week, but our salient point with all of this is that you shouldn’t worry too much about the Disney Park Pass. It likely won’t be nearly as bad/difficult/stressful as many of you are anticipating. At least, once we get past those typical Disney IT drop day hiccups!
What do you think about the Disney Park Pass reservation system? Think these policies seem fair in light of the ongoing global pandemic and reduced capacity of the parks? Think that many days will sell out, or that most will be available on short notice? Will you be attempting to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or are you waiting until after September 2021 when this (presumably) goes away? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!