Walt Disney World (FL)

Park Reservation Availability Abnormality

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Last week I wrote a blog post on the availability of Theme Park Reservations at Walt Disney World. One thing I wanted to visualize was how availability changes over time. So as a data geek and an amateur programmer, I started playing around with interactive Google Calendar Charts. After a few hours days,  I came up with what you see below. These charts show Park Pass availability for dates in 2021 as of any date December 1, 2020, and later. You can adjust the charts to display different combinations of parks and ticket types. Days that are gray mean that Park Passes are/were available. Days with a solid color indicate the number of days in advance that park reservations are/were no longer available.

If the tool is not displaying below, click here.

While playing around with my tool I saw some strange results, mainly that the “Select Resort Hotels” and “Theme Park Tickets” groups for the same park were showing the same charts. My first thought was that I mixed something up, so I spent a few hours digging into the code and data trying to find the problem. Once I could not find any problems on my side, I decided to go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/availability-calendar and compare the availability of the “Select Resort Hotels” and “Theme Park Tickets” groups. They were a perfect match. I also looked at our Crowd Calendar page that shows park reservation availability by color-coding “RPT” for each date and park. Sure enough, the “R” (for Select Resort Hotels) and the “T” (for Theme Park Tickets) were always the same color.

Can you find any difference?

There is only one “As of Date” for one park where “Select Resort Hotels” and “Theme Park Tickets” groups don’t match perfectly.

Why no difference?

I don’t know. This cannot be a random coincidence. I went and looked at the 2020 data and, for the most part, “Select Resort Hotels” and “Theme Park Tickets” groups’ availability matches on all days. There were only 14 park dates where the final availability was different. I always assumed that “Select Resort Hotels” guests had the easiest access to park reservations. I truly believe that there is a bug in the Disney system. If Disney gave resort guests better access to park reservations, that would be a “free” perk that gives guests a reason to book a Disney hotel over off-site options that are generally cheaper. It would be unusual for Disney not to use this to their advantage to drive bookings.

Do you have any theories about why Theme Park Reservations for “Select Resort Hotels” and “Theme Park Tickets” seem to be getting pulled from the same pool? Let us know what you think in the comments.


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Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

4 thoughts on “Park Reservation Availability Abnormality

  • This is very interesting, and exactly in line with what I have recently noted w/ my upcoming trip in May. when I first bought tickets(about a month and half before our arrival date), we were unable to make a park pass for HS, being an onsite guest did not change the availability of this theme park ticket/resort guest were always exactly the same. I checked the website everyday and was able to snag a reservation but I had to be very tenacious, it was likely they suddenly released a lot of spots but they were gone within a half an hour. This COVID stuff makes everything super complicated!

  • This “abnormality” has also been observed and reported on by some other Disney blogs. It appears that there are really only two park pass buckets now:

    1) APs *without* a Disney resort reservation
    2) Everyone else

    I assume that Disney is maintaining the illusion of three separate buckets for marketing’s sake; it’s the *appearance* of a perk. If you tell prospective guests that “you should stay in a Disney resort because there is a dedicated park pass availability CALENDAR for resort guests,” people will just assume (as we all have) that this means there is dedicated park pass inventory for resort guests. Only the truly diligent will learn that it’s (now? always was?) a meaningless distinction.

    • My guess is that they are maintaining the three buckets because its a lot easier to make changes with the buckets in place, than it is to add a new bucket. I suspect at some time in the future there may be a differentiation (2022 when Magical Express ends?) when Disney decides that they need to incentivize on site stays. As supply of rooms is limited now, they probably have no issues filling them up, and don’t need to provide differentiation in availability. That may change as more resorts open, and site stays normalize.

  • Here’s my reverse argument: rather than these coming out of the same pool (maybe unlikely IMO due to the 14 discrepancies, unless Disney was adjusting their programming around those days) – what if the takeaway here is these two types of guests just want to visit on the same days? Perhaps there are two demand lines, one for passholders and one for resort guests/day ticket guests. Availability is determined by both supply of passes and demand of guests. The trend you identified signals that most days, resort guests’ and ticket guests’ demand for tickets match up when it comes to exceeding the supply of passes. But of course Disney manipulates the supply when they want, so we’re kinda flying blind here. Thanks for reading what I remember from my econ classes 10 years ago. 🙂


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