Well, the news cycle appears to be in high gear for Disney World’s reopening. Last night we got news bout Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Food & Wine Festival. Today Disney World introduced the new Disney Park Pass System. We’ve known for a while that Disney World would require guests to make a reservation for entry into a theme park. This is above and beyond buying your actual admission ticket. Now we have some more details. However, the system isn’t live quite yet. In this post, we’ll cover when you can start making reservations, what you should do before trying to reserve access and more.
If you want to see any of the official Disney World material published today, you can check out the Disney Parks Blog post and the Disney World Park Pass Page. However, you don’t have to do that, as we’ll summarize it all here for you!
When Will the New Disney Park Pass System Be Available?
Okay, so first things first. The new Disney Park Pass System will come online for guests in phases. Disney World has said all along they are going to prioritize guests with existing tickets and resort reservations. The schedule they published holds true to that statement. Below is the system availability schedule that Disney announced today:
- Beginning June 22, 2020, Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations.
- Beginning June 26, 2020, Annual Passholders without a Resort stay can make reservations.
- Beginning June 28, 2020, existing ticket holders can make reservations.
Park reservations will be available through September 26, 2021, based on your Resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window.
This last part is important, as guests with existing tickets or hotel reservations can start booking their park reservations for busy times like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It’s also interesting to note that the reservation window will open for guests of “other select hotels.” The post from Disney World doesn’t specify what these other select hotels are, but if past practice is any indication, we would guess they are the Swan & Dolphin, Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Bonnet Creek Resorts, and Shades of Green Resort. But to be clear, this is just our speculation.
What Do I Need To Do Before the Disney Park Pass System Becomes Available?
As a reminder, Disney World is using the Disney Park Pass System to track, manage, and ultimately limit how many guests that can enter a park on any given day. You can follow this link to get to the Disney Park Pass System.
Because of the limited availability of for park guests, we’re guessing there will likely be a mad scramble to make reservations as the phased opening begins. However, we do expect that the rush will quickly taper off as many people are canceling their plans to visit Disney World. To be safe, if you plan on going to the parks, you should book your park reservations sooner rather than later.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t remind people that we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, and unemployment is over 15%. The odds of Disney World being jam-packed feels pretty low, in our opinion. Will some select dates possibly book up? No question. Will that be the norm? We doubt it. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the first week or two after the parks open are the times we think will be most challenging to get a park reservation. With the cancelation of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we believe that will depress attendance even further in the fall.
To make booking park reservations as “pleasant” an experience as possible, there are things you should do beforehand. These are as follows:
- You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
- You’ll also need a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that’s linked to your My Disney Experience account.
- If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your My Disney Experience account beforehand, as well.
If you already bought tickets, but they are not linked to your My Disney Experience account, make sure you do that now. Don’t wait until you are trying to make your Disney Park Pass reservation. You should also make sure that your Disney World Resort reservation is linked to your account.
If you are planning park days for friends that have different tickets and My Disney Experience account, you will be able to book a reservation on the Disney Park Pass System for everyone. Make sure that your friends are linked to your account.
Once you’ve logged into your My Disney Experience account and linked your ticket, you’ll have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit. Families and friends can link their tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time.
If we are reading the Disney World release correctly, this tool is only going to be available on the Disney World website. It will not be on the My Disney Experience app, at least to start. At least there was no mention of being able to do it on the app. We’ll check the app for updates.
Some more not so fine print from Disney World:
- Reservations are limited and subject to availability and are not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
- At this time, Guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.
- A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit.
- We highly recommend that you make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized.
That second bullet tells you that there will be no park hopping. Disney says in the parks blog post that “Guests with existing tickets that include the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option have options available to them for ticket modifications and cancellations, and can visit DisneyWorld.com/Updates for more information. We hope to bring back the ability to visit more than one park per day soon and will continue to offer these add-ons for 2021 ticket purchases.”
Interestingly, they are allowing 2021 tickets to purchase the park hopper option still. Take it as a sign of how quickly they expect things to return to normal or for IT to be able to make all of these massive programming changes. Maybe a bit of both.
What If I’m an Existing Ticket Holder or Annual Passholder?
Beginning this week, Disney World will reach out to existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders with more information on when they will be able to check availability to make their park reservations. As laid out in the dates earlier in this post, Disney will open the Disney Park Pass system to these guests in phases, beginning with those with future Disney Resort and other select hotel stays.
What If I Want to Book a New Vacation?
By June 28, all Guests will be able to purchase new Disney Resort hotel packages and theme park tickets and make their park reservations for arrivals starting in 2021 as the phased reopening continues. Guests will be able to view park reservation availability online prior to purchasing their tickets.
Later this summer, Disney World will resume sales of 2020 tickets and Disney Resort hotel arrivals, based on the availability of park reservations, while they continue to provide Guests with existing tickets and Annual Passholders the opportunity to make park reservations for 2020 dates.
So, for now, no new ticket sales for 2020. Interestingly though, Disney is going to resume ticket sales for 2021 arrival dates. Disney says that “by June 28, all guests will be able to purchase new Disney Resort hotel packages and theme park tickets and make their park reservations for arrivals starting in 2021 as our phased reopening continues. Guests will be able to view park reservation availability on DisneyWorld.com prior to purchasing their tickets.”
Complimentary MagicBands Going Away
Oddly, Disney World buried some big news in their release today. They are doing away with complimentary MagicBands!
In 2021, Disney World plans to unveil an innovative new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart devices, building on the app’s existing digital key feature. With this new offering on the horizon, they will be retiring the complimentary MagicBand distribution to Disney Resort hotel guests for new reservations with arrivals beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
Disney Resort hotel guests will continue to have the option to purchase new MagicBands at a discount, and we’ll be introducing even more colors and designs featuring favorite Disney characters in the future. Guests who prefer not to purchase a discounted MagicBand will be able to use the My Disney Experience app or a Key to the World card during their visit. Disney will still offer MagicBands in retail locations and on shopDisney.com, and guests will be able to continue using the wearables throughout Walt Disney World Resort.
This is pretty surprising to us, as the MagicBands are an excellent method of contactless transacting. This is a hard one to figure out. In some ways, it feels like cost-cutting to us.
Okay, so that’s a lot of news for a day. We’ll be testing the new Disney Park Pass System on June 22 when it opens up for reservations. We’ll be back with a full report on how it goes and how it works!