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How Disney World’s new reservation system works


UPDATE (5:32 pm, 07.14): Disney has added even more reservation availability for Walt Disney World Resort annual passholders. Please note that these additional slots will only be for select dates in July and August (for now, at least), and that they will only be valid for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom.

There are actually some other pieces of fine print that also need to be addressed: up to three days at a time, on a rolling basis, will be made available; hotel bookings will no longer be required for APs to snag one of these additional Disney Parks Pass reservations; you can make additional reservations once you’ve used up a previous one; and, finally, according to Disney, these additional reservation slots won’t reflect an increase in overall park attendance.

The original article follows below.

We’ve discussed before how Walt Disney World Resort is starting to rumble back to life: Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, along with the various Disney Vacation Club properties, will open on Monday, June 22, with half of the theme parks following on Saturday, July 11 (that’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom) and the other half arriving on Tuesday, July 15 (EPCOT and Hollywood Studios).

But, of course, all of these venues will look and feel very different once they’ve reopened (we’re keeping a running record right here, in fact) – and the biggest difference of all will be the requirement of a special reservation alongside your theme-park ticket or annual pass. In preparation for this weekend’s developments, the company has today revealed how those reservations, officially called the Disney Park Pass system, will work. Here’s everything you need to know.

Previous reservations have been completely cleared

Since there will be new limitations on capacity for all parks, attractions, and restaurants across the entire resort, Disney has decided to take the highly unusual step of erasing all previous reservations. Yes, that’s right – everything from FastPass+ times to hotel room bookings to dining packages have been undone, with refunds automatically being applied in those instances where guests had to put money down. (It’s also important to point out that, in addition to FastPasses, Extra Magic Hours have been temporarily suspended.)

How do I get into the parks?

Everyone will now need a special reservation on top of tickets in order to get into Disney World’s theme parks (again, that’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom starting on July 11, and EPCOT and Hollywood Studios starting on July 15). The Mouse House has already stopped selling general admission in order to get the Disney Park Pass system up and running; once all those individuals with existing tickets, along with the resort’s annual passholders, have been taken care of, sales will start back up again. (Update: admission is back on sale as of today, July 9!)

Here’s a more exact calendar of when guests can hop into the Disney Park Pass system:

  • June 22 – those with resort reservations and pre-existing tickets can make reservations for the entire length of their stay
  • June 26 – annual passholders (without a room booking) can make reservations for up to three days at a time
  • June 28 – existing ticket holders can make reservations

How do I get a reservation?

You’ll take care of everything online, at Disney’s site. Before you can hop on over there, though, you’ll first need to make sure you have a My Disney Experience account set up, and ensure that your theme-park ticket is linked to it (along with your hotel booking, too, if you have one).

Once at the website, you’ll have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each park that you plan on visiting. There are a few items to keep in mind when selecting those days, however:

  • Multi-day tickets – you’ll have to make a reservation for each day that your admission is good for.
  • Park Hopping – as of right now, Disney will only allow you to visit one theme park per day (due to attendance limitations).
  • Travel party – if you’ll be visiting with friends and/or family, you’ll want to link all of your tickets together so that you can enter the park together.
  • Availability can change – until your reservation is finalized, it’s not guaranteed – so don’t be surprised if your date becomes ineligible while you’re checking out.

(What if you already have a Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus pass? Disney says that you should contact them to see what options are available for modifications, cancellations, and/or refunds.)

There’s just one last item: you’ll need to agree to the terms and conditions, including a COVID-19 liability waiver. Once you’ve reviewed and confirmed your plans, you’re good to go!

What if I’m an annual passholder?

It “may be difficult,” according to the company, for its annual passholders to obtain theme-park reservations on certain dates. Furthermore, you should be aware that general APs can make reservations for up to three days at a time, while those with a hotel reservation can reserve their entire length of stay in one fell swoop. (Yes, blockout dates are still applicable, so keep that in mind, too.)

The last word of warning we have here from Disney is that not all annual-pass benefits or privileges will be available at all times – it really depends upon capacity. On the plus side, however, two days are being reserved for a special passholder preview: those will take place on Thursday and Friday, July 9 and 10, and will occur at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Email invitations with registration details will be “sent out soon.”

(Do you wish to bring a guest with you to the AP preview days? He or she will also need to have an annual pass, be listed on your “Family & Friends” list in My Disney Experience, and have opted to share “All My Plans” with you.)

How do I arrange a hotel stay?

Just like with the theme-park tickets, Disney has temporarily stopped taking new hotel bookings, as well. When admission sales resume, so, too, will resort reservations.

How do I make a dining reservation?

All previous reservations, whether standalone or as part of a Disney Dining Plan, have been undone (and, again, refunds have already started to be deposited, where applicable). At some point in time that’s still ahead of the mid-July reopening dates, Disney will open this process back up, but please note that the usual 180-day booking window will be truncated to a 60-day one (and this is for experience reservations, as well).

What about FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours?

Really underscoring just how unprecedented of a time this is for Disney World, the Mouse House has completely suspended both FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours systems. (Then again, given how limited-capacity everything will be, neither is necessarily needed for the immediate future, either.)

What about 2021?

Now, of course, no one can say for sure what the future will hold, but Disney has communicated its intention to open up hotel bookings and theme-park-ticket sales for 2021 by Sunday, June 28, at the latest. Yes, the plan is to still make use of the Disney Park Pass system for next year, but the company also expects to resume selling its Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus passes, as well.

Also notable is what Disney wishes to do with its MagicBands in ’21:  move some of the wearable device’s features over to smart phones and My Disney Experience, building “on the app’s existing digital key feature.”  This means that the Mouse will no longer be offering complimentary MagicBands to hotel guests starting on January 1 (though those customers will be able to purchase new wristbands at a discounted price).

Not to worry, though – if you don’t want to use a MagicBand at all, you won’t have to, as My Disney Experience and/or a Key to the World card will be suitable replacements.

I’d like more theme-park COVID info, please!

Sure! We’d be happy to help.

Here are the articles that we’ve been consistently maintaining during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak:

Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND first shut down

The theme-park resorts start to open back up

How to visit CityWalk during COVID-19

How to visit Disney Springs during COVID-19

How to visit Universal Orlando’s parks during COVID-19

How to visit Universal Orlando’s hotels during COVID-19

How to visit SeaWorld Orlando during COVID-19

How the Shanghai Disney reopening could influence its Stateside counterparts

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About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the former editor of Orlando Informer.