Walt Disney World has introduced the “Disney Park Pass” system, which will be the method of booking Advance Theme Park Reservations. In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know for reserving access, reservation windows, and how to make online plans to enter Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.
The release of Disney Park Pass to make advance theme park reservations should come as a huge relief for anyone who is a Walt Disney World planner. There have been a lot of complaints about Walt Disney World’s lack of communications since the Know Before You Go Resort & Restaurant Info pages nearly two weeks ago.
With Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom reopening on July 11, and Epcot plus Disney’s Hollywood Studios resuming operations on July 15, 2020, the new Disney Park Pass system is coming less than a month in advance. For many tourists preparing for their summer vacations, this is significantly shorter notice from Walt Disney World than normal…
New vacation package and ticket sales are still on hold (and still no update since Walt Disney World Cancelled All Reservations—Free Dining, Restaurants, FastPass+ & Dining Plan). It’s likely that Disney IT is still scrambling behind the scenes to make this all work, but at least we now have some clarity.
Here’s what we know about Disney Park Pass, which will be rolling out for advance theme park entry reservations…
During the reopening period, Walt Disney World will be using the Park Pass system to manage and limit attendance, all guests with a ticket or Annual Pass will be required to make a reservation in advance for each park entry, using the New Park Reservations Tool on DisneyWorld.com (this is the important link for booking Disney Park Pass).
Here are a few important details to know about this new system:
- You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
- You’ll also need a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that’s linked to your My Disney Experience account.
- If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your My Disney Experience account beforehand, as well.
Once you’ve logged into your My Disney Experience account and linked your ticket, you’ll have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park.
If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit. Families and friends can link their tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time.
Booking Dates for Park Reservations
The Disney Park Pass system will be available soon to select guests. Booking dates vary based on your plans, with each opening at 7 am Eastern on their respective dates.
- Beginning June 22, 2020, Walt Disney World resort hotel and other select partner hotel guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations.
- Beginning June 26, 2020, Annual Passholders without a Resort stay can make reservations.
- Beginning June 28, 2020, existing ticket holders can make reservations.
Park reservations will be available through September 26, 2021, based on your Walt Disney World resort hotel stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window.
As for which hotels will qualify as “partner” resorts, our guess is the list will be the same as Extra Magic Hours or expanded FastPass+ access: Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Bonnet Creek Resorts, Swan & Dolphin, and Shades of Green Resort. (We might be missing one or two–you get the idea.)
If you have a room-only reservation at a Disney Resort or other select hotel for a stay in 2021, please call the Walt Disney World Reservation Center or call your travel agent beginning on June 24 to upgrade to a vacation package with tickets–and then make your theme park reservations.
Park reservations are limited in number and subject to availability. Availability can change until the reservation is finalized. At this time, guests will be able to select one park per day; Park Hopping (visiting more than one park per day) will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of Walt Disney World’s theme parks due to attendance limitations.
Guests with existing tickets that include the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option have options available to them for ticket modifications and cancellations, and can visit DisneyWorld.com/Updates for more information. Walt Disney World hopes to bring back the ability to visit more than one park per day soon and will continue to offer these add-ons for 2021 ticket purchases.
For Existing Ticket Holders and Annual Passholders: Beginning this week, Walt Disney World will reach out to existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders with more information on when they will be able to check availability to make their park reservations. Disney will open the Disney Park Pass system to these guests in phases, beginning with those with future Disney Resort and other select hotel stays.
Later this summer, Walt Disney World will resume sales of 2020 tickets and Disney Resort hotel arrivals, based on availability of park reservations, while continuing to provide guests with existing tickets and Annual Passholders the opportunity to make park reservations for 2020 dates.
Planning a New Trip for Next Year: By June 28, all guests will be able to purchase new Disney Resort hotel packages and theme park tickets and make their park reservations for arrivals starting in 2021 as Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues.
Guests will be able to view park reservation availability on DisneyWorld.com prior to purchasing their tickets.
In 2021, Walt Disney World will unveil an innovative new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart devices, building on the app’s existing digital key feature.
With this new offering on the horizon, Walt Disney World will be retiring complimentary MagicBand distribution to Disney Resort hotel guests for new reservations with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021. (MagicBands will still be available to purchase at a discount, via the MagicBand Upgrade Program.) This seems like a minor bombshell buried in the announcement.
Finally, for some predictions about Disney Park Pass. By and large, we do not anticipate organic demand for park entry reservations exceeding supply. Even with a fraction of the normal park capacity, we’d be shocked if Walt Disney World is running out of registration availability on a regular basis.
As we recently discussed in greater depth here, this feels eerily similar to the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Many fans really freaked out, worried that they’d need to arrive at the park hours before park opening just for a chance to enter the new land. Some vowed to avoid Disney’s Hollywood Studios entirely during their trips.
Then Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Walt Disney World, and the virtual queue for land entry was only used for a grand total of like 2 hours ever. The mechanics behind this system (registering in advance v. day-of) are different, but the idea is the same.
As for why we expect this to be a repeat of the opening months of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, look no further than the chorus of cancellation comments, and then consider the current state of the economy, unemployment, travel restrictions, temporary health rules, and more—all of which will further depress demand.
While there’s a lot of interest in Walt Disney World among diehard fans, the vast majority of the general public is not interested in traveling from out of state to visit a theme park right now. (In any case, people cannot even book new trips right now.)
Locals are a different story. The first couple weeks the parks reopen will likely see a modest amount of pent-up demand, which will outweigh any ‘early-bird’ advantage it offers. If any dates do ‘sell out’ of advance theme park reservations, it’ll likely be opening days for each of the parks, as there’s a strong desire among bloggers, vloggers, and just Disney-obsessed locals to be first.
If recent precedent at Disney Springs, Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld Orlando is any indication, the first day each of the Walt Disney World theme parks will be far busier than the second day. Following that, weekdays will see relatively low crowds with spikes on weekends. Resort guests will change the equation slightly, but at this point, Walt Disney World will have a fraction of its normal hotels operating, so that shouldn’t make a huge difference.
It also wouldn’t be surprising if Disney’s online system crashes on June 22, 26, and 28. While Disney has gotten better about virtual queues with its online systems, they still have “hiccups” from time to time…
In general, our expectation is that demand will usually be well below even reduced capacity throughout the rest of the year. If you’re thinking about a Walt Disney World trip, we’d recommend taking a wait and see approach to judge how things go with the July and August guinea pigs, making tentative plans for the end of September or beginning of October.
We’ve long recommended visiting in the last week of September, which is one of our three favorite weeks of the year. This year, October should be better than normal crowd-wise, as conventions, events, and school breaks that pumped up attendance in recent years might be cancelled. (We’d still avoid the week of October 12, 2020.) October also has better weather, making masks more tolerable–and the chances of hurricanes are lower than September.
If you’re looking for more specific predictions and recommendations with regard to crowds, see our Dawn of a Temporary Disney Era – Crowds & Discounts post for specific recommendations about when to visit and when to avoid. Our How Bad Will Crowds Be at Walt Disney World After Reopening? post from a few months covers why we think crowds will naturally be low for the remainder of the year.
Beyond all of that, Walt Disney World not even selling tickets and new hotel reservations again until a nebulous time “later this summer” suggests that they’re focusing on locals, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club for the remainder of the year. Even once people can book new vacations, it’s unlikely that many will be doing so for the fall or holiday season, as there’s typically a 5-6 month lag between booking a trip and actually traveling.
Ultimately, it’s just nice to finally have some clarity on how the Disney Park Pass will work to make advance theme park reservations. We know many of you have been (understandably) stressed out about this, and while it doesn’t provide every single answer or complete certainty, it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Hopefully next week everyone is able to get the theme park reservations they’re after, and with that out of the way, we have even more certainty about how Walt Disney World will operate for the next several months in this era of temporary abnormal. We’ll keep you posted on new developments, and update this post accordingly if/when we learn more.
If you have questions about the closure, including policy changes and what we know thus far, please consult our Walt Disney World Reopening FAQ & Info, which should answer most inquiries. See our other WDW Closure & Reopening Updates for the latest news. If you’re planning a Walt Disney World trip, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know.
Have you received an email from Walt Disney World about the Disney Park Pass system for making advance theme park reservations? Worried about availability for your travel dates? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or will you hold off until 2021 or beyond? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!