The Pros and Cons of Disney’s Park Pass Reservation System

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Although Disney has not made an official statement on the matter, Disney’s Park Pass Reservation System now runs through January 2023. The realization of this yesterday caused quite a reaction online. So myself and our team got to thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of this news. Everything has its pros and cons, so what are the pros and cons of the Disney Park Pass System?

Pros of Disney Park Pass System

  • Guaranteed entry into the reserved park / No risk of capacity closure
  • Gives more structure to trip planning
  • Generally more committed guests who’ve done some research

It is nice knowing that the park you’ve reserved is waiting for you. New Year’s Eve in 2020 was the first time in recent memory that Disney fans could head to the parks, namely EPCOT, and not risk there being a capacity closure. However, we do not know what the capacity levels will be in the future and how the park pass reservations will be affected by it.

Disney Park Pass Reservations Through MyDisneyExperience app

 

Some people love planning their trips. Some people love spontaneity. To get the most out of your money at Disney it is good to research and plan, and that’s partly why we’re here. Having park reservations on certain days gives you a framework. Once you have your parks selected on certain days, now you can plan dining, transportation, even shopping if you wish, based on the park that you will be at that day. Of course, if plans change there is less flexibility.

In theory, and in my own personal opinion and not necessarily that of anyone else at TouringPlans, requiring a reservation can lead to some guests doing more research ahead of time. Not everyone will. But based on my observations of the past year, I believe at least some small percent of guests who would normally visit without much forethought are now spending some time researching their visit since they need to make a reservation.

Spaceship Earth Crowds 11-23-20
Castle Hub 9am – December 20, 2020

Cons of Disney Park Pass System

  • Less perceived freedom and flexibility
  • Checking availability is difficult
  • Less spontaneity
  • Takes more time to plan

On the flip side of the joys of planning, are the drawbacks when plans change. If you made dining reservations and then you need to change which park you want to go to in the reservation system, you’ve got less flexibility. What if the park you want to go to is available but now your dining options are limited. Tools like our Reservation Finder can help with that.

Checking the availability of the park of your choice is not easy. And if you select a park that is already booked up you have to back out of the screen your on and “gamble” if you’re going to choose a different available park, or if that one will be booked too.

For some guests, a Park Reservation is just one more thing on their long planning checklist, and planning just isn’t fun. Our Travel Team can help, by the way. They love planning and love making things stress-free.

International Gateway Entrance January 2021
Cinderella’s Royal Table Dining Room

As a reminder, the Disney Park Pass System requires that all Guests with a ticket or Annual Pass to make a reservation in advance for each park entry. The ability to make these reservations can be found here. You can also pull it up in the MyDisneyExperience app, but it just takes you to the reservation website.

In order to use Disney Park Pass System, Guests will need:

  • A My Disney Experience account
  • Valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that’s linked to their My Disney Experience account
  • For those with a Disney Resort hotel reservation, you will also need to be sure to link your reservation to your My Disney Experience account

There’s been some discussion as to if the Park Pass Reservation System helps distribute attendance. This may have been true when the parks first reopened in July 2020 and guests were just happy to go to any park. But now wait time data would suggest that if a guest’s desired park does not have any existing reservations left they may indeed reserve a different park, but the minute park hopper hours begin they will hop to their originally preferred park.

Annual passholders have additional pros and cons to consider. Since passholders can only hold 3 reservations at a time, unless they have a confirmed hotel stay, we’ve got to be smart about our selections. And if we don’t think ahead and want to pop into the parks at the last minute, or even with just a few days notice, the ability to snag our desired park becomes tricky.

It is also interesting to note that on the recent Earnings Call, Disney stated they intend to maintain mask requirements and physical distancing requirements through 2021. Yet, the Disney Park Pass Reservation system is currently open through January 2023.

What are your thoughts on the Disney Park Pass Reservation System? Let us know in the comments!

Dani

Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

2 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Disney’s Park Pass Reservation System

  • February 17, 2021 at 7:54 pm
    Permalink

    You placed this under pro:

    “ But based on my observations of the past year, I believe at least some small percent of guests who would normally visit without much forethought are now spending some time researching their visit since they need to make a reservation.”

    I consider that a con! If more people are researching, then us Liners won’t have as big of an advantage as we have had in the past!

    Reply
  • February 18, 2021 at 7:34 am
    Permalink

    We need both fast pass and disney park reservation. Stupid idea to not have both. So you get into a park and stand six feet apart for an hour. NOT!!!!

    Reply

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