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    Phased Closures Due to Capacity Constraints

Disney Parks are designed to handle massive crowds. The Magic Kingdom can allegedly hold more than 100,000 guests, but through phased closures Disney limits park attendance to levels more conducive to guest safety and enjoyment.

How to Beat the Crowds

The most crowded times of year are typically around Easter and between Christmas and New Year's Eve, but July 4 and other days are occasionally very busy. If avoiding these days where the parks may close to some guests is important, consider joining Touring Plans and utilizing our Crowd Calendar, which recommends the best parks for every day of the year.

For those braving some of the year’s busiest days, showing up at park opening and having a Touring Plan are critical for successful touring (and, we'd argue, for your sanity). Finally, note that those staying at Disney Resorts are guaranteed access to a Disney World theme park, but this does not mean that you will be able to get into the park of your choice, nor does it mean that you will enjoy yourself in an extremely crowded park.

Likelihood of Park Closure

All four Disney World theme parks have reached some level of closure in the past. As the most visited theme park in the world, Magic Kingdom is the park most likely to experience capacity-based closures during busy times of year. Due to its size, Epcot is the least likely to close, and has not done so in recent memory. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom rarely close, but their smaller capacities still make them more likely to close than Epcot.

To be specific, Magic Kingdom closes, on average, around 6 days per year. New Year’s Eve is commonly one of them, often getting up to a Phase 3 closure (see below). Two to four other days during Christmas week can be expected each year as well, although those rarely go above Phase 2. The years where Easter week falls during late-March or early-April can also see closures due to the Easter break/Spring Break overlap.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have each only closed twice in the past 10 years. Both hit a Phase 2 closure on December 28, 2011, and each reached that same level during Christmas week of 2009.

The two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) are also capable of reaching capacity. Of the two, Typhoon Lagoon is less likely to close for crowds. Generally, Typhoon Lagoon is much more likely to close for thunderstorms, cold weather, or technical issues than crowds.

Blizzard Beach closes for heavy crowds quite a bit more often than its sister waterpark, but closures at Blizzard Beach have been rarer over the past few years. For both water parks, if there are closure they will come during the Easter break or July.

Parking

Typically parking lots close for capacity-related reasons before the theme parks do, even if the park itself is not at a phased closure yet. When this happens, Disney may divert cars to an alternate parking lot and provide bus transportation to the park whose lot is closed. For example, sometimes the Hollywood Studios lot fills and guests are diverted to the gigantic Epcot parking lot. When this happens, follow posted signs and instructions carefully.

Closure Phases

Disney uses different closure "phases" to gradually restrict the types of guests allowed into a theme park. Maddeningly, closures start with Phase A and B before switching to a numeric scale ranging from Phase 1 through Phase 4. Phase 4 is the only one that is a strict closure, where no additional guests of any sort are allowed into the park. Phased closures do not necessarily last all day: for example, if Magic Kingdom is under a Phase 4 closure at 10:00 a.m. on Christmas, sufficient guests might leave by 7:00 p.m. that all restrictions on park entry are lifted.

Note that what is below is what we believe to be true; however, Disney does not publish its park closure procedures and may change its practices at any time. Even we're not sure when a "Phase A" or "Phase B" closure is used versus a "Phase 1."

Phase A Closure

No admission of guests with one day tickets, and no admission of guests even with FastPass+ reservations unless they have one of the following:

  • Those with multi-day or multi-park tickets
  • Those staying at a Disney Resort
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those re-entering the park that day.
  • Those "hopping" from another park.
  • Those with in-park reservations or appointments.

Phase B Closure

No admission of guests with one day tickets, and no re-entering or hopping from another park unless they have one of the following:

  • Those with multi-day or multi-park tickets
  • Those staying at a Disney Resort with FastPass+ reservations
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those re-entering the park that day.
  • Those "hopping" from another park.
  • Those with in-park reservations or appointments.

Phase 1 Closure

Casual visitors are turned away at the automobile toll plazas. This means that people without tickets, those with one-day, single-park tickets, and those intending to use cast member passes will not be allowed to park.

Other guests may enter such as:

  • Those with multi-day or multi-park tickets
  • Those staying at a Disney Resort
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those re-entering the park that day.
  • Those "hopping" from another park.
  • Those with in-park reservations or appointments.
  • Those arriving via Disney transportation

Phase 1 is the most common closure level over the past 10 years and frequently happens during busy times like the Christmas and Easter periods.

Phase 2 Closure

The only guests allowed through the turnstiles and into the parking lots are:

  • Those staying at a Disney Resort
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those re-entering the park that day.
  • Those "hopping" from another park.
  • Those with in-park reservations or appointments.
  • Those arriving via Disney transportation

Phase 3 Closure

The only guests allowed through the turnstiles and into the parking lots are:

  • Those staying at a Disney Resort
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those with in-park reservations or appointments.

Phase 4 Closure

The park and parking lot are closed to all arriving guests. It is very rare that any of the parks get to Phase 4 and has only happened a few times in the past 15 years.

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