In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system. We’ll talk about what it is, why it’s the most important reservation you’ll make at Walt Disney World, and even some strategy on how to secure a Disney Park Pass reservation. (UPDATED 3/15/2022)
What is the Disney Park Pass Reservation System?
The Disney Park Pass reservation system is a brand new reservation system that has been put in place to manage Walt Disney World theme park capacity in the wake of an unprecedented closure and new safety measures put in place.
In short, the Disney Park Pass reservation system is one half of the equation to get into a Walt Disney World theme park. In order to enter a Walt Disney World theme park, all guests ages 3 and older must have valid admission in the form of tickets or an Annual Pass, AND each guest must have a Disney Park Pass reservation for the day that they want to visit. If you do not have valid admission or if you do not have a Disney Park Pass reservation, you will not be allowed to enter the theme park.
The number of Disney Park Pass reservation days you can hold at one time varies based on your plans:
- Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations for their length of stay.
- Annual Passholders can make theme park reservations for between 3 and 5 days at a time, based on your Annual Pass type (learn more) and for their length of stay if staying at a Disney Resort or other select hotel.
- Existing ticket holders can make reservations for the number of days of valid theme park admission.
Park reservations are available through January 18, 2024, based on your Resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window.
Disney Park Pass “Buckets”
As you can see above, there are three different ticket types recognized by the Disney Park Pass reservation system. These different “buckets” have individual and different allocation sizes.
The first bucket type is the Annual Passholder bucket. When the Disney Park Pass system was first introduced, Annual Passholders found reduced availability compared to other ticket types, but that has changed. Now, more Annual Passholders are finding better availability, especially during busier times of the year. Of course, that could be because there are fewer Annual Passholders.
If you’re an Annual Passholder, there is little debate that your pass has been devalued. As a matter of fact, when the Disney Park Pass system was introduced, Disney gave Annual Passholders the opportunity to cancel their passes outright given the restrictive Disney Park Pass reservation system.
One of the things that we’ve found interesting so far is the lack of repercussions for a missed Disney Park Pass reservation. So far, Disney has not put out a public policy on any repercussions for a missed Disney Park Pass reservation at Walt Disney World. We’d like to see a lock on the ability to make new theme park reservations for a period of time, maybe 15 or 30 days if x number of reservations are missed over a certain amount of time. That would ensure that Annual Passholders are actually using the Disney Park Pass reservations they made, but also allow for the potential of releasing reservations that someone might not use back into the pool to avoid any repercussions.
Disney Resort Guests
The next two buckets are trending more hand-in-hand now than they did when the theme parks first reopened. The Disney Resort Guest bucket is for guests who have a Disney Resort reservation, including for Annual Passholders with a resort reservation.
Regular ticket holders must also make Disney Park Pass reservations, even if they simply purchase a single ticket for a single day.
Disney Park Pass Reservation Strategy
Ok, so what is the secret to booking a Disney Park Pass theme park reservation? We have a couple of tips for you to help you try to secure a Disney Park Pass reservation for your upcoming visit.
The calendar isn’t always accurate. As much as we’ve been relying on the calendar to report what theme parks are sold out, it’s not always accurate. We’ve seen the reintroduction of reservation availability as Disney has deemed necessary, and the calendar doesn’t always reflect that. So while it is true to say that the calendar represents trends, it might only represent the actual availability 98% of the time and the other 2% of the time you might get lucky by refreshing a theme park and date you really want to try and get.
Secure Magic Kingdom first. When Disney World was operating under a more restrictive capacity, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the toughest reservation to secure – that has changed. Now, if a date shows yellow on the Disney Park Pass availability calendar, it’s usually Magic Kingdom. If you’re debating on which theme parks to do on which days for your upcoming vacation, we suggest locking down Magic Kingdom as soon as possible.
Holidays and Weekends are the toughest days to secure. Just like we’ve watched trends that indicate Magic Kingdom is the most difficult theme park to secure, we suggest double-checking your dates to make sure that if you’re visiting on a holiday, no matter how big or small, you book early. Weekends and special event dates such as the kickoff of EPCOT festivals can also be popular.
Annual Passholders can double-dip, sort of. When availability for the Disney Park Pass reservation system opened up for Annual Passholders, many were noticing that they couldn’t hold any reservations for their resort stay and the three days that Disney had said that they would be able to make. As it turns out, this was by design. Disney has since reversed its policy that Annual Passholders couldn’t hold reservation days for an upcoming resort stay and any non-resort dates. Annual Passholders are now able to book their three days allocated to all Passholders AND any days that they might be booked at a Disney resort hotel.
So what, if any, strategy can be applied to the Disney Park Pass reservation system? Well, if you’re an Annual Passholder, target the weekends because those are selling out first. For all guests, you should be targeting Magic Kingdom first, and then making other park reservations second.
How to Make a Disney Park Pass Reservation
Now, how do you make a Disney Park Pass reservation? Follow the steps below and check out the video from Disney for a rundown of how to use the system. Keep in mind that you can NOT make a Disney Park Pass reservation from the My Disney Experience app.
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 select “Continue”.
Don’t see someone in your travel party? Select “Add a Guest” to include them.
Note: 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.
After selecting your date, park and time, 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 COVID-19 liability waiver. Then, select “Confirm” to complete your park reservation.
Once confirmed, your reservation will appear in My Plans.
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.
Your new reservation(s) will appear in My Plans—both online and in the My Disney Experience app.
If you have any questions about the Disney Park Pass reservation system, comment below or on social media!