3 Nasty Truths About Disney World Park Passes

If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, there’s one thing you can’t forget to do.

Animal Kingdom

Book your hotel? Nope. Buy your tickets? That’s a good one, but it’s not what we’re talking about here. Plan your meals? It’s a great idea but not what we’re going for. You absolutely CANNOT forget to make your Disney Park Pass reservations!

Ever since the parks reopened from the COVID-19 closure, Disney World has been operating on a reservation system. This means that everyone who wants to enter a theme park will need to have reserved that theme park in advance. (Things get a bit more complicated if you’re Park Hopping, but that’s the basic rule.)

Hollywood Studios

But unfortunately, there are some nasty truths about the Park Pass reservation system. And today, we’re sharing the three big ones!

They Sometimes Fill Up FAST

The whole point of Disney Park Passes is that they’re limited in availability and Disney can control how many people they let into the parks. Because of that, sometimes Park Passes will fill up really far in advance.

Hollywood Studios

This is often the case for big holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. It can also be challenging to get specific parks on opening dates — for instance, we noticed a lot of difficulty with EPCOT passes on the day that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Sometimes Disney will refill passes for those big dates, or there’s the chance that other guests could cancel. That’s why it’s important to keep checking back if the date you want is “sold out.” But in the end, it’s probably just best to make your reservations as far in advance as possible!

They Make Park Hopping Complicated

If you Park Hopped in Disney World before 2020, then you know that things used to be a lot simpler than they are now. Previously, you could come and go at will, as long as you had a ticket with Park Hopper capabilities. However, now you can’t even go INTO a second park for the day until 2PM. (1:47PM if Disney is being generous.)

Scanning a park ticket

If you’re planning on Park Hopping nowadays, you’ll need to make a reservation for the FIRST park you plan to visit that day. In order to hop, you’ll have to first scan in at that park before going to a second one. And if you don’t follow that pattern, you won’t be able to get in.

Magic Kingdom

For example, let’s say you make a Park Pass for Magic Kingdom, intending to hop to EPCOT in the evening. But maybe you wake up late or you’re feeling pretty tired and so you decide to skip Magic Kingdom that morning. Well now, your only options will be to go to Magic Kingdom first, scan in at the entrance, and THEN hop….or you can change your Park Pass to EPCOT if there’s availability.

If you try to go straight to EPCOT without scanning in at Magic Kingdom first, you’ll be turned away at the gate.

There Are Limits for Annual Passholders

Finally, we’ve got to talk about Annual Passholders for a second. It can be tricky to visit the parks as an AP right now because even though there’s a dedicated section of passes available for Passholders, those guests are limited as to the number they can book at a time.

Annual Passholder cards for the 50th Anniversary

Each level of annual pass has an allotted number that can be booked at a time, whether that’s 3, 4, or 5. And that means that if you’re planning a longer trip, you might not be able to book all of your park passes in advance if you’re not staying onsite.

Pandora: World of Avatar

This can also be an issue if you want to book your park passes for important dates in advance. Holding a Park Pass in your account for Christmas Day or a new ride opening means that it will be one less pass that you get to book freely. And for some, that can be very frustrating to pay for an annual pass that has those limitations.

Christmas season crowds in Disney World

Disney did announce that Annual Passholders will no longer need Park Passes if they want to visit after 2PM (with the exception of Magic Kingdom on Saturdays and Sundays). There is currently no date for when this change will be made, but if you’re a Passholder, you may not need to worry about Park Passes soon!

So those are some of the “nasty truths” about Disney Park Passes. These are difficulties that guests have been upset about in the past, but there’s no telling what might change in the future. We’re interested to see how the system changes and evolves going forward.

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What’s the biggest problem you’ve experienced with the Park Pass system? Tell us in the comments!

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