Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? If you are, the number one thing that you must be aware of is that a Park Pass is required for every day you visit Disney World. In order to book a park pass, you will use the Disney Park Pass system. It’s really easy, but there are a few things you should know.
Let’s explore the new park pass system and how to reserve your park passes for your upcoming trip!
- What is a Park Pass?
- Benefits of a Park Pass Reservation
- Do some parks fill up faster than others?
- When do new Park Passes become available?
- Is the Park Pass calendar reliable?
- Are there Park Pass restrictions for Annual Passholders?
- Does Park Pass availability ever increase?
- What are the current crowd levels?
- Do you need a Park Pass to park hop?
- How do you make a Park Pass Reservation?
What is a Park Pass?
The Disney Park Pass System is an online tool that allows guests to make reservations to visit the four Walt Disney World theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
A Park Pass isn’t a regular park ticket, (you still need one of those too), rather it’s a reservation to hold your spot in the parks. A guarantee of sorts. No matter how many people enter the park on the day you have reserved, you are guaranteed entry no matter what.
Introduced initially to manage park restrictions and the lower capacity crowds at the parks upon re-opening in July 2020, Disney recently shared that this process is here to stay, even beyond the COVID years.
Benefits of a Park Pass Reservation
While this new step of reserving a park pass is just that, an extra step in the planning process, this feature is nice because you are always guaranteed entry into the park. In the past if the parks filled to capacity, you were turned away at the gate if you weren’t there early enough to get in. With this new system, you can show up right before closing if you choose, and know you have your spot saved to get in.
The downside to this is that park passes do fill up quickly, especially during high peak times. Passes are scheduled accordingly based on people who stay at a Disney Resort, people who have an Annual Pass, and people who are just using a park day ticket (without staying in a Disney resort with a ticket/room package). Sometimes some of these categories run out of passes, especially during busy times like when schools are on break. At times, this has created some challenges with passes filling up and people not being able to get into the parks on some of their vacation days.
Do some parks fill up faster than others?
Yes, some parks fill up faster than others. Depending on the time of year, holiday activities, new attractions or entertainment, park passes at some parks may fill up more quickly than others. Currently, most parks are regularly available and it’s a bit easier to make a reservation. There will be times where park passes are at a premium, so it’s best to plan ahead and grab them while you can. In most cases, Epcot and Animal Kingdom are much easier to get the night before or the same day, and they’re easier to reserve at the last minute or if your plans change and you need to switch reservations.
When do new Park Passes become available?
New Park Passes become available all the time. If you check the availability for the park and day you want to visit and it’s full, don’t give up! People change their plans all the time. Again, similar to FastPasses, Park Passes have a rolling roulette of availability as people cancel and move plans around. Persistence and patience are your friends; keep checking! Place the bookmark to park passes on your phone screen so you can check it several times each day. Refresh continuously. It’s very likely you’ll get lucky and be able to snatch some up.
Is the Park Pass calendar reliable?
No, unfortunately you can’t always rely on the calendar to see what’s available. Use this calendar to select which type of ticket you have, and see what park passes are available each day.
This calendar is handy when choosing dates to visit and confirm park availability. However, if you already know what dates you are traveling to Walt Disney World, and those dates are fully booked for the park you want, don’t keep checking that particular calendar page to see if any reservations have opened up. It’s not updated in real time.
As people quickly give up passes, new people are snatching those up too quickly to update on this calendar. There have been numerous times I’ve been able to grab a park pass on days where the calendar shows those parks are booked. Use the Park Pass page instead. Remember, check often for days to become open, skip the calendar and go straight to the Park Pass page.
Are there Park Pass restrictions for Annual Passholders?
Yes, there are. Annual Passholders (APs) are in a bit of a different situation, as they are limited to only three to five park passes at a time (depending on the type of AP ticket you hold).
New Annual Pass Program
Annual Passholders who purchased their Pass under the NEW Annual Pass program (which debuted on September 8, 2021) may hold the following number of reservations:
- Incredi-Passholders may hold up to 5 reservations at a time
- Sorcerer Passholders may hold up to 5 reservations at a time
- Pirate Passholders may hold up to 4 reservations at a time
- Pixie Dust Passholders may hold up to 3 reservations at a time
Previous Annual Pass Program
Annual Passholders who purchased or renewed their Pass under the PREVIOUS Annual Pass program (by September 7, 2021) may hold the following number of reservations:
- Platinum Plus Passholders may hold up to 5 reservations at a time
- Platinum Passholders may hold up to 5 reservations at a time
- Gold Passholders may hold up to 5 reservations at a time
- Silver Passholders may hold up to 4 reservations at a time
- Theme Park Select Passholders may hold up to 3 reservations at a time
- Weekday Select Passholders may hold up to 3 reservations at a time
- EPCOT After 4 Passholders may hold up to 3 reservations at a time
It is worth noting that as soon as you scan into a park on one of the days reserved, you can immediately reserve another park pass. But remember that you can only hold three – five park passes at one time.
There is a bit of a work around if you want to stretch those park passes into more than the allotted amount. If you book a room at a Disney Resort, the passes you book during that stay do not count against your entitled three to five passes. For example, an AP can book a room at Pop Century during a more crowded time like Spring Break or summer and can reserve passes both for the day they arrive and check out, so two days for the cost of one night’s stay. And those two park passes don’t count against the three to five allowed for AP’s. It’s a bit of a more pricey workaround, but an option worth mentioning if you want to visit the parks more frequently.
Does Park Pass availability ever increase?
Yes, additional park passes are being added often. As Disney continues to look at resort bookings and capacity guidelines, they are always tweaking the Park Pass system. Often as a result, additional Park Passes are released or passes are reallocated into different categories. For example, perhaps the resort rooms didn’t have as many bookings, but passes are sold out for Annual Passholders, Disney has the ability to pull passes from the resort bucket and put them in the AP one. This allows other ticket holders to successfully score park passes.
Keep in mind that as the year progresses, park capacity will increase and so will the availability of park passes. So the further away your trip is, the less likely you need to stress about any of this. The availability you view today is based on current capacity restrictions, and as they increase, more passes will be added.
All that said, if you book a vacation package or room only reservation through Disney, it would be a good idea to go ahead and get some park passes lined up while they’re available. You can always adjust them later. But it doesn’t hurt to have them booked.
What are the current crowd levels?
Currently, Florida locals are the largest percentage of guests visiting the parks. This continues to change over time as things progress back to some level of normalcy. With fewer people traveling the parks tend to be filled with more locals, or those near enough, that they can visit for the day. This means that weekends and school holidays are harder to secure park passes, because locals reserve passes on the weekends. Therefore, Friday, Saturday and Sunday book up the fastest and are the hardest to get. You’ll typically find it easiest to get park passes for Monday-Thursday. Be flexible with your park days; if you are looking to book passes, I’d suggest Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as your top choices for park passes (and for lower crowds overall).
Do you need a Park Pass to park hop?
No, you don’t need a Park Pass to park hop. Remember you can hop to different parks during the day (after 2pm), you only need a park pass for the first park of the day.
Let’s review Park Hopping rules:
- You can park hop (meaning going to more than one Disney park on the same day) as long as your pass or park ticket has the park hopper option.
- A park reservation is required for the first park you visit; but you do not need one for any of the parks you hop to after the first.
- Park hopping doesn’t begin until 2:00 pm each day.
- There are no limits on how many parks you can hop to. You can visit all four, or even return to the original park you started in on that day.
- The only limitation to park hopping would be if a park reaches capacity after 2:00 pm. This has only happened once so far (on October 1st – the kickoff to the 50 year celebration).
- Just because park passes are at capacity doesn’t mean you won’t be able to park hop.
- Pop-up notifications will be sent to your phone to those inside the parks alerting them of park hopping changes.
- If you want to check before you park hop, you can call the park hopping phone line at (407) 560-5000. This is an automated service to alert you if a park is at capacity.
TIP: If you aren’t able to book the desired park for the day, you can park hop later any time after 2pm. If for example you are trying to get a pass for Hollywood Studios and it’s unavailable, you could instead get one for Epcot (an easier park to book) and start your day there. At 2:00 pm, you can hop on the Skyliner (Skyliner Station between the United Kingdom and France Pavilions in World Showcase), and head over to Hollywood Studios.
How do you make a Park Pass reservation?
1.Link your park ticket or AP to your My Disney Experience account
2.Using your mobile device, click the “+” sign at the bottom of the page in the My Disney Experience app
3.Tap on Make a Park Reservation and Click Theme Park Tickets, Annual Passes or Resort Hotels
4.Tap on Book Park Reservations
5.Select a Date
6.Select a Park
7.Review and Confirm
You have successfully reserved a park day. Repeat these steps until you have schedule park reservations for each day you will be visiting the parks.