Epcot entrance

Though Walt Disney World has rolled back a majority of its pandemic-related policies, including capacity limits, social distancing, and of course mandatory masks, one change that was implemented during the COVID-19 reopening that is still around is the Disney Parks Pass system, which requires guests to reserve their spot at a theme park in advance before visiting them on a given day.

And though many guests may have been hoping that this system would be going away alongside the capacity limits at the resort, it looks like Disney will be keeping mandatory reservations for the long haul as it allows Disney to easily predict crowd levels, which is very valuable data for upper management. 

Image: Disney

Not only does seeing guest level data help Disney plan in advance for labor and supply needs, which can help cut costs, but it also allows Disney to maximize capacity across its theme parks, as guests can take up slots at less popular parks if their preferred park isn't immediately available, helping boost attendance at parks like Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom, which have been less popular since the resort's reopening last year.

The parks pass system also more tightly regulates the mix of different types of guests in the theme parks, as there is different availability for theme park ticket holders, resort guests, and annual passholders, allowing Disney to prioritize guests who are more likely to spend more, which has been a key tenet of CEO Bob Chapek's theme park strategy. 

The Disney Parks Pass system has not exactly been popular with guests. However, for Disney upper management, the benefits of continuing to use this system can not be ignored. And while we could be surprised in the future, it seems reasonably safe to assume that park passes will be sticking around long term, not only just for Walt Disney World, but Disneyland as well.

Image: Disney

How do you feel about the Disney Parks Pass system? Do you like being able to reserve your spot at theme parks in advance, or were you more comfortable being able to decide on the fly which Disney theme parks to visit?



I have brought three generations of my family to Disney over the past forty years, been a vacation club owner for 20 years, annual pass holder for 15 years, spent well over $500,000 over this time , even built a house six miles from the parks , to be able to take advantage of our platinum annual pass, bringing my daughter and family in November , last time for me . Did enjoy the resorts and sometimes just spending the day walking around the parks, Now too many rules, I am fortunate I can afford to spend my money anywhere , doubtful it will be at a Disney Park or resort . Also, did not renew our annual passes and sold our home in Clermont

A big reason is that Park Pass ensures that guests on existing tickets agree to the COVID-19 liability waiver. Existing tickets were extended to September 26, 2021. I could expect Park Pass to be phased out (at least for resort guests) after that.
The terms & conditions for new tickets contain the waiver which will probably be permanent.

My wife and I have AP's we're planning to activate in December. We can only make three park reservations in advance, and we usually visit in several two week trips during an AP year. We're planning to buy USO AP's for the coming year to hedge our bets. So we'll be spending money at Universal that we'd rather be spending at Disney.

If I am staying onsite and paying premium prices I should get to go where I want and when without a reservation. This is bad for guests.

If I’m paying for the highest level Platinum Annual Pass, I’d better be allowed to go into whichever park I want, whenever I want without making a reservation and without blackout days! The whole reason I got the top level was to avoid blackout days altogether. Having to make a reservation is just another form of blackout. Not a fan of Mr. Chapek. Will he lower the price of the top passes to compensate us for the reduced benefits? Pfft, I’m guessing not. 😠

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