Disney’s Park Pass System
Updated July 9, 2020.
Since we’ll likely be referencing the Disney Park Pass System for a while, given Disney currently has it slated for use through September 26th of next year, I thought it would make some sense to offer a single post about how it works. You can always pull up a live chart of Disney Park Pass availability at DisneyWorld.com here.
Currently, Disney resort guests with valid tickets are in good shape. From August 2020 through the end of September 2021, every Park is available, every day.
Disney has resumed selling theme park tickets and packages for 2020 dates, so it’s likely that these calendars will begin to fill.
Disney is also selling tickets and packages for 2021 dates. They evidently have not sold so many that any theme park is unavailable via the Park Pass system next year. That’s good news if you’re looking at visiting after the third week in July through September 26th of next year. Whatever Parks you want to reserve are currently available. That’s less true in the near term:
Note that there are three “buckets” of availability for the Park Pass system. The three ticket types run across the screen above the calendar and you can quickly click on each to see its current availability. A specific number of Theme Park Tickets Guests, Disney Resort Guests, and Annual Passholders will be admitted to each theme park each day. The total number of guests allowed in is not made up of one large pool. You’ll remember that only Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom open on the 11th, which is why you see the yellow indicating that “Some Parks (are) Available” on those dates. Already, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has sold out of Park Pass spots over the first weekend that it’s open for Theme Park Tickets Guests and Annual Passholders.
Park Pass capacity for a given Park on a given date can and will change. On Sunday, July 5th, 2020, Disney added more capacity for Disney Resort Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios over opening weekend, now making the Park available for resort guests to book on the 17th, 18th, and 19th. It has since sold out on a couple of those dates.
It’s hard to say whether Disney took some of the capacity from the Theme Park Tickets Guests bucket and transferred it over to Disney Resort guests or if Disney raised overall capacity and decided to give that to its resort guests. Considering that Hollywood Studios is now unavailable for Disney Theme Park Tickets Guests on the same dates, I’m guessing that Disney took from one bucket and placed it in another. There just were’nt that many people who had already bought tickets for a July trip without a resort stay at that time, when tickets sales were “paused.” If Disney didn’t move the Studios’ capacity to another “bucket,” those spots would simply not be filled.
As you may recall, there was a roll up to the Park Pass booking process and who was eligible to book when:
- June 22, 2020: Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations for the length of their stay. This includes Swan and Dolphin and participating Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels.
- June 26, 2020: Annual Passholders without a Resort stay can make reservations.
- June 28, 2020: Those with existing tickets may make Park Pass reservations
Since it’s now July, anyone holding tickets attached to their My Disney Experience account is eligible to book Park Pass reservations. Initially, there were a number of technical glitches keeping people from being able to book their Park Passes. Fortunately, Disney IT has plugged many of those holes. Certainly, new ones will develop as things move along. My entire business model is based around that fact.
To make a Park Pass reservation, you’ll need to do so in a browser window. It’s not possible to make a Park Pass reservation in the My Disney Experience mobile app. My guess is that will change in a forthcoming update. The direct link to make a Park Pass reservation on DisneyWorld.com is located here. Disney basically walks you through the process of making a Park Pass reservation themselves here.
So What Do You Need to Make A Park Pass Reservation?
- You’ll need valid tickets or a valid Annual Pass. If you don’t already have one of these, they’re now on sale for 2020 and 2021 dates. Disney is selling them for those dates. Unlike dining reservations or the old FastPass+ system, you can book your Park Passes through September 26th, 2021, regardless of today’s date. So if you’re booking for a year or more away, you can still lock in your choices and have the flexibility of changing your mind.
- As before, you’ll need to make sure everything is properly linked up on My Disney Experience. If you need to add tickets, resort stays, etc., the direct link to do that at DisneyWorld.com is here. If you booked your stay online, while logged into your account, most of these things should be added to your account by Disney automatically. Like all things Disney IT, nothing is a given. Just make sure everything looks linked up correctly as far as your resort reservation here. As you scroll down, it should show you your resort, dining, and eventually, Park Pass reservations.
- Currently, you can only choose to visit one theme park per day, with no official ability to park hop. Without park hopper, you can still leave and return to the same theme park on the same day. Disney is selling park hopper tickets for 2021, and they must hope that capacity will be high enough by then to make it possible. If your tickets already include one of the park hopper options, you can call Disney to extend the tickets or modify them by calling 407-934-7639. That phone number is available publicly at DisneyWorld.com here. To cancel your tickets or package, 407-566-4985 is the best number to call. That number is for Ticket Inquiries, with their phone number on DisneyWorld.com here.
You can then pull up the Park Pass system on this drop down menu on DisneyWorld.com. This is the direct link:
The process is then pretty straightforward:
Making a Park Pass reservation is basically like booking a FastPass+ experience. Only instead of choosing specific attractions at a specific Park, you just choose the Park that you’d like to visit. You can book everyone who is properly connected in your group at once, which also makes things easier. For guests booking 2021 dates, there is very little pressure to make reservations quickly. You can book through September 26th, 2021, at your convenience, right now. Park Pass reservations will fill more quickly for 2020 dates.
If you’re a Disney World Annual Passholder, you’ll want to book your Park Pass reservations as soon as possible:
For passholders, virtually every Park is at capacity for the rest of July. At the time of this writing, there is “literally” no available for Passholders to visit a Park in July. If an annual passholder cancels their Park Pass plans on July 20th, their spot(s) should become available for someone else to book. I have not seen a lot of cancellations so far.
August isn’t looking too much better for passholders:
Passholders have few options on the weekends in August, with over 25% of dates in August already showing no Parks available. That is certain to frustrate the local passholder crowd. Disney has tried to stymie some of that anger by adding an extra month to the expiration date of some annual passes for some passholders. If things continue as they are, with all of July completely unavailable, and August filling quickly, they’ll likely have to make bigger concessions. My ticket costs about $1,400. In past years, I could visit at my convenience every day. Now, I may not be able to make any more reservations in July or on most weekends in August. It would be like paying full price for your Costco membership only to be able to shop on a Wednesday two months from now. It’s not exactly what anyone signed up for.
Universal is currently adding an extra three months to all Annual Passes, in effect making them 15-month passes. Crowds there are incredibly low most days, with no official attendance caps. Last year, when times were good, Universal added up to an extra six months to some annual passes. My 12-month premier annual pass became an 18-month premier annual pass at no extra cost to me. Disney has changed the passholder game significantly and conceded virtually nothing.
Online, there’s a long running joke that passholders are always on the brink of cancelling and swearing off Disney World forever. Inevitably, they renew. Now, if we can’t even get into the Parks, Disney may actually have a problem on their hands.
Things are much more open in September. Even passholders can book every park on every day beginning on September 13th. Still, you’ll note that the Studios is already sold out on a couple of weekend dates already.
Annual Passholders may hold up to three Park Pass reservations at a time without a resort stay attached to their accounts. With a resort stay attached, they should be able to make as many Park Pass reservations as they have days staying at the resort, in addition to three more Park Pass reservations. If I have a four-night stay at Pop Century booked, I can book on those four days as a Disney resort guest, and still have my three annual passholder days. That’s a change from the initial rollout.
As far as Park Pass priority is concerned, the Parks typically fill from fastest to slowest in this order:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios (by far)
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Figure out which day(s) you’d like to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios first and book those Park Passes first. Then book your Magic Kingdom day(s), followed by Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
The priority makes a lot of sense. Hollywood Studios likely has the lowest overall capacity, and demand for Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land remains high. Magic Kingdom Park is the world’s most-visited theme park, so it checks out that people would want to go there. Animal Kingdom follows with less capacity than Epcot, and continued interest in Pandora. Epcot, with what is likely one of the largest capacities, and among the lowest demand, is the most likely Park to be available. That could potentially change with the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. But even then, the Disneyland Paris clone is not going to dethrone the joy that is Hollywood Studios.
For specific advice on visiting the Parks this summer, see this series of posts:
The main keys are that you have your tickets and/or resort reservations attached to your account in My Disney Experience. You’ll also want everyone in your party connected via My Disney Experience, so one person can book Park Pass system reservations for the entire group at the same time. You’ll then want to use Disney’s direct link to create your party and make Park Pass reservations here.
Currently, I think I would recommend booking the following reservations for a 6-day trip:
- Two days at Magic Kingdom
- Two days at Hollywood Studios
- One day at Animal Kingdom
- One day at Epcot
Obviously, we’re a few days away from knowing just what wait times will look like and what will be possible from a touring perspective. With so many closures, Epcot “feels” like one day will be sufficient there, but the late 11am open may make it difficult to hit many attractions with short waits, even given relatively few people in the Park. Opening times and capacity reductions are going to play a big part in what we’re able to do moving forward. If Epcot looks to be problematic, it should be easier to change one of your Park Pass reservations to Epcot than Hollywood Studios, since Epcot is the easiest to secure. Booking Hollywood Studios now makes more sense, even if you’re likely going to change it.
For a longer trip, you’ll add additional flexibility, and be able to book more Park Pass reservations. I’d likely book a second day at Animal Kingdom first, and continue to wait on what Epcot actually ends up looking like.
The good news is that those booking for 2021 are in the green. “Literally” as they say. Disney resort guests are also looking good for 2020 for the moment. Just Hollywood Studios is showing as unavailable on a handful of dates. Come September, annual passholders also have their choice of Parks at the moment. That will change as passholders inevitably begin using the three reservations that they’re able to book at one time, and then begin booking more for future dates. All of my Park Pass reservations are for the first week that the Parks are open, but you can be sure that I’ll be aggressive about adding more. Many passholders are probably in the same boat.
Never let them tell you that there’s nothing exciting going on in the Park Pass world.