If you’re not familiar with the park pass reservations — it’s a new step in the planning process for your Disney World trip. Now, each guest needs to have both a valid park ticket and a park pass reservation for the park that they’ll be visiting each day. This system was introduced in July 2020 when the parks reopened as a way to manage capacity limits and reservations can be booked YEARS in advance. So, if you’re planning your next vacation, we’ve got the details on what dates you’ll want to book sooner than later!
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that not all parks are created equal when it comes to making reservations. A park’s popularity will have a huge impact on how easy it is to get a reservation.
For example, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios tend to be the first parks to run out of reservations during busy seasons, though reservations for EPCOT can fill up quickly around big dates like grand openings for new attractions and festivals. So, you’ll want to take into account both the date that you’re planning to visit AND the park when you’re planning!
The first thing that comes to mind when we say “busy seasons” in Disney World is probably the holidays. And, if you want to be part of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that we usually see around these times, you’ll need to make your park pass reservations well in advance — basically, as soon as you purchase your tickets.
Crowds can get pretty overwhelming around all of the major holidays, not just Christmas and New Year’s. So, if you plan on going around Halloween, the 4th of July, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other major holiday, you’ll need to be on your a-game when it comes to planning ahead.
It’s also important to note that the week surrounding holidays can often fill up quickly as well — and no holiday is too small for Disney World. Even President’s Day weekend can draw a huge crowd and cause park passes to book up!
School breaks are another thing to watch for when it comes to making Disney World reservations! The parks historically fill up for the Spring Break and Summer Break periods — after all, it’s one of the most convenient times for families to visit. But, that just means that you’ll be competing with all the other spring and summer vacationers for park passes.
When it comes to Spring Break, you can usually expect park passes to sell out on select days throughout the month of March…
…and while Summer Break can be a bit more difficult to gauge, June and July tend to be the busiest months for the Disney parks.
The important thing to note during these times is that there will usually be at least one park still available (that’s what the yellow indicates on the calendar!), but, you’ll have less flexibility in where you go and whether you can change your mind closer to the date.
On top of normal holidays, there are also tons of events going on within the Disney Parks at any given time that can make your vacation day a hot spot for guests. For example, runDisney race weekends happen four times a year and you might be surprised by the crowds (and lack of park passes) if you’re not paying attention to these dates when planning your trip.
The weekends usually take place in January, February, April, and November — you can check the runDisney website for the exact dates!
EPCOT Festival dates are also important to note when it comes to making your park plans! EPCOT holds several festivals throughout the year including the Flower and Garden Festival, the Food & Wine Festival, the Festival of the Arts, and the Festival of the Holidays. This can make getting park pass reservations specifically more difficult — especially on weekends.
Now, these festivals run for MONTHS at a time, so you won’t have difficulty getting a park pass reservation every single day. But, you’ll want to keep this in mind if your trip falls on the first day of the festival or on a weekend (or even a holiday weekend!) as these tend to be busier.
Restaurant and Attraction Opening Dates
Since reopening, Disney has been having some BIG events with hotel, restaurant, and entertainment reopenings. PLUS, we’ve even seen some new restaurants and rides open — and more are coming soon! And, while these events are exciting, they can draw HUGE crowds to one specific park making it much more difficult to get a park pass reservation.
For example, when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and La Creperie de Paris opened in EPCOT on October 1st, park reservations sold out months in advance. This was also when Disney World’s 50th Anniversary kicked off, so Magic Kingdom was booked up too.
And, we’re already starting to see the same thing happen for the grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in May 2022.
Disney has yet to announce opening dates for quite a few more new and returning offerings in the parks and resorts, so be sure to keep an eye out for those and snag your park pass ASAP when they’re announced!
So, that’s it for when you’re going to have the hardest time getting a park pass reservation for your Disney World vacation! The easiest way to avoid park pass struggles is to plan your trip well in advance when you know you’ll be visiting during one of these busy times — all you need is a ticket to make your park reservation!
And, while these dates do fill up fast, park pass availability is constantly changing. If you don’t get a reservation for the park you want at first, keep trying! We suggest booking a park that does have availability and then checking back often to see if anything opens up.
And, worst-case scenario, you can upgrade your ticket to a park hopper and head to the park that you want to visit after 2PM that day (just keep in mind that you need to scan into the park that you do have a reservation for first and park hopping is subject to capacity limits).
Of course, we’re always keeping an eye on the park pass calendar too, so be sure to stay tuned to AllEars to be the first to know about any big updates!
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