Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Park Pass Availability at WDW

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What Is Disney’s Park Pass Reservation System?

When it reopened in July 2020, Walt Disney World set capacity limits on the number of people that could be in each theme park each day. To keep track of that, Walt Disney World requires guests to obtain a Park Pass reservation.

Disney hasn’t said how many Park Passes are available for each day and park. Disney says they are (still) operating at 35% of capacity, but hasn’t defined what each park’s capacity is. With each park having different offerings and being different in size, we don’t know the absolute number of Park Passes per park. We’re pretty sure it’s based on these factors at least:

  • The hourly capacity of the rides and shows that are open
  • The size of the guest-accessible areas in the park
  • Overall dining capacity

Based on our observations, EPCOT has more capacity than the Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom has more capacity than Hollywood Studios.

Disney tracks each park’s reservation inventory by splitting the available reservations into three groups:

  • Select resort guests
  • Date-specific ticket holders
  • Annual passholders

Annual passholders can hold 3 Park Pass reservations at any time. The other two groups can make Park Reservations for as many days as they have tickets for.

Disney hasn’t said how it distributes Park Passes between the three groups.  Also, Disney is not selling new Annual Passes, so the population of Annual Passholders is shrinking. With fewer Passholders able to hold the limit of 3 reservations per Passholder, this why it is getting easier for Passholders to make Park Pass reservations.

To help you plan your trip, our Crowd Calendar page now displays whether Park Pass reservations are available for each day of your trip. For each park and day, there is a box with the letters “RPT”. The letters are color coded: Red means that Park Pass reservations are not available, and green means that they are available.

We use these abbreviations for Resort Guests, Annual Passholders, and Date-Specific Ticket Holders:

  • R for Select Resort Hotel
  • P for Annual Passholder
  • T for Date-Specific Ticket Holders

On the daily Crowd Level pages, the date when Park Pass reservation availability last changed is listed for each park.

Does Disney Park Pass Availability Change?

Park Pass availability can change at any time. We check availability about once an hour. (You can check it yourself here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/availability-calendar.)

Sometimes, a park that shows no availability one day will have availability the next day.  This can happen for multiple reasons:

  • We’re reasonably sure that on some days (if not all days), Disney holds back some number of reservations to be distributed on an as-needed basis shortly before that day arrives.
  • Disney can re-distribute unused park reservations from one group to another.
  • If guests cancel their park reservations, those slots will become available as well.

The table below shows the percentage of days between January 1, 2021, and April 21, 2021, where a park’s passes showed as “unavailable” at some point, then switched back to “available” later:

So, for example, for all days in 2021 where the Magic Kingdom showed no park pass availability, reservations were later available for those parks about 43% of the time.

Here’s an example of 5 changes to Hollywood Studios’ Park Pass reservation availability for March 15, 2021, and the dates on which they changed:

2021 Park Pass Reservation Data

The charts below show the number of days in advance that Park Passes reservations were unavailable for the last time. For the example above, Hollywood Studios Park Passes were not available as of February 24, 2021, nineteen days prior to March 15, 2021.

In the charts, days before April 22, 2021, that are gray means that Park Passes were available. Days after April 22, 2021, with a solid color, are currently unavailable.



The Rest of 2021: Never Give Up

If you’re waiting for reservations to open up for your trip dates, keep checking!  Disney’s constantly adjusting park availability, and it’s entirely possible that park capacity will increase this summer. While no one can say for sure that a Park Pass will become available for your desired date and park, odds are better than average that availability will change leading up to a future trip. On the other hand, if you have an upcoming trip and haven’t secured your Park Pass reservations, it is in your best interest to do so, that way you have one less thing to worry about on your vacation checklist.

Have any questions about Park Pass availability? Let us know 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.

3 thoughts on “Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Park Pass Availability at WDW

  • April 24, 2021 at 5:03 pm
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    We are going May 16-21, we weren’t able to get a park res for HS… but it looks like it’s still open for AP holders… at what point do they allow day guests to take these spots?

    Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 11:02 am
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    Steve, thank you for your reliable data-driven insights!

    Looking back at your article from 9/11/2020 on Park Pass Availability, I noticed a trend in the “Reallocated Park Pass Availability” section. Out of the 20 changes from Unavailable to Available on the two charts, 16 of the changes were observed between 18:18 and 19:11. Have you observed this trend continuing since last September? If not, at what time of day have you noticed most of the changes from Unavailable to Available? I would be very interested in seeing an analysis of that data.

    As someone who is trying to get a Hollywood Studios park reservation for a currently unavailable date, I’m trying to figure out the best times to check park availability so I don’t waste time daily checking at times when availability is unlikely to change. Basically, if I could only check once a day, what would be the best time to check? I imagine this would be valuable information to any of your readers seeking a reservation on a currently unavailable day.

    Thank you!

    Reply

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