One of the newer additions to the Walt Disney World Resort, after Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened has been that Disney Park Passes are now needed to enter a Park. Gone are the days of purchasing a Disney Park ticket and strolling into the Park of your choice, now, reservations must be made on your My Disney Experience.
When the Parks reopened in 2020 we saw a lull in Guests as there were very few who were traveling as well as Disney has a very small capacity limit. Since that point in time, we have seen borders reopen and travel become a more “normal” part of life for many. Along with that, we have seen Disney open their capacity more, remove mask mandates, bring back a lot of entertainment, and head towards an operational schedule that reminds us of a pre-pandemic Disney.
Although the Parks are crowded, the Parks are still operating under a reduced capacity. At the moment, Disney will not release what that number is, but it is likely in the higher range as shoulder-to-shoulder crowds are back. Guests must still collect and obtain a Disney Park Pass to enter a theme park, and as we noted, those do not seem to be going anywhere soon as you can currently make Park Passes through to 2024.
Disney CFO Christine McCarthy participated in a Q&A session at the Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. At the conference. McCarthy noted a few things that piqued the interest of many Disney fans. Aside from stating that character meet and greets would be returning soon, she also stated that Park’s capacity would never return to normal.
It seems that Disney is “managing things differently now” as they can track how many Guests are expected to be in each Park which assists with crowd management as well as staffing and demand for each day. It seems Disney is doing so to think of the Guest experience as they do “not want to have the parks bursting at the seams”, and by having reduced capacity, Guests can have a more enjoyable time.
The downfall to this is that before, Guests rarely had to deal with an “at capacity” Park, especially if it was not a holiday, but now, Disney Park Passes are flying off the shelves! We recently reported that during one week in March when many students are out of school, Disney is nearly already at full capacity which eliminates the option to visit pretty quickly.
The issue with any new system that comes in place, like Disney Genie+ and the new Lightning Lane option, is that there is a learning curve that new come Guests will not be aware of. Recently, we reported that an elderly couple was seen being turned away from Disney World because they bought tickets without making a reservation. Now, another family has undergone the same issue during their very first Disney World vacation.
One family took to Reddit to give a trip report of their latest Disney World vacation, the family noted that they were sadly not aware of the Disney Parks Reservations and ended up losing multiple Park days due to Park Passes being gone. They did bring up an interesting point that after 2:00 p.m., Park Hopping was allowed, and if Guests were being let into Parks which were clearly not at capacity, why could they not open more Park Pass Reservations to other Guests?
My family and I didnt get into Disney. We came here for the first time on March break and bought tickets but when we went to the gate we weren’t allowed in. We didn’t know about needing to make a reservation because this was our first time. All of them were booked up for a bunch of the days of our stay. Our kids were so depressed. I heard later people were park hopping into different parks later in the day, if they had room for them, why not let in paying guests like my family. Felt really tragic for the kids.
Tickets for a family with multiple kids can easily cost over $500.00 per day, and if this lasted for multiple days, that means this family may have been out thousands, depending on how Disney was able to offer a potential refund for the tickets.
In our previous article, Raychell posed a solution in the comments section that Disneyland Resort already does. Our reader said, “Seems a simple solution would be for the system to automatically make the required reservation at the time of ticket purchase. It’s a Disney issue, not the consumer.” At Disneyland, when you purchase a ticket, you purchase it for the day you want to go to the Park, and then, choose which Park it is for. This eliminates any possibility of being rejected at the gate. Although Walt Disney World’s ticket system offers more flexibility on when you will use your ticket, it also does not guarantee entry on your desired date which, as we have seen, can result in an unexpected turn of events.
Many of our readers were siding with Raychell, and noted that if this is not the way that reservations are made, they should be gone altogether. I personally have shown up at Disney World without having hit the “confirm” button on my Disney Park Reservation for the day, but luckily, there were still reservations open so a Cast Member made it for me when I scanned in, but as the summer months approach, we are likely to see Park Passes become harder to obtain.
At Disney World, Park Passes can be made as far as 2024, so it seems that the system will be in place for quite some time.
More on Walt Disney World
While you are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can enjoy Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith on Sunset Boulevard. By the Chinese Theater, Guests prepare to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. In Toy Story Land, Slinky Dog Dash always boasts a long line with others shooting their shot on Midway Mania or spinning their brains out on Alien Swirling Saucers. Of course, you have to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for some blue milk, or green milk, and ride Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run!
If you want to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is a ton to see and do! You can head over to Expedition Everest in Asia (when it is not under refurbishment) to visit the terrifying Yeti. Pandora will bring your Avatar dreams to life with Flight of Passage bringing Guests into the world of the Na’vi. DINOSAUR is still filled with giant dinos at every turn, and over at Kilimanjaro Safaris, you can take a ride on a real safari, and if you are lucky, a giraffe might even step in your way! A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King is now running, and the show is not one you should miss.
At Magic Kingdom there is so much to see and do! Cinderella Castle is decked out for the 50th anniversary and soon Festival of Fantasy and Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire will return. You can ride the three big mountains: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, or calm things down on Peter Pan’s Flight. Rope drop the Park to get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then enjoy a mid-day snack with some Dole Whip. Be sure to meet Mickey Mouse and enjoy the firework show, Disney Enchantment!
At the moment, EPCOT is now celebrating the International Flower and Garden Festival, and tons of construction is going on! Spaceship Earth now has the new Beacon of Magic lights illuminating the sphere and Future World is on the road to completion. Club Cool and the new Creations Shop is open to Guests as well as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France Pavilion! Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will also debut this year! Plus, you can enjoy the stunning Harmonious show each evening!
What do you think of Disney’s Park Pass system? Do you like it?
Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!