After a temporary closure last year due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort reopened its theme parks with new procedures in place, including a park reservation system to manage daily attendance and no park hopping initially. Disney recently extended the ticket reservation window to Jan. 14, 2023, so the park reservation system is sticking around for a while. And in hopping good news (literally!), park hopping benefits returned to the resort as of Jan. 1, 2021. During our first Disney World trip of 2021, we were able to hop to ALL of the parks in a day! The process is a little different now, but this post will walk you through all of the details.
If you wish to visit the parks before Jan. 14, 2023, you will need valid admission AND a Disney Park Pass reservation for the same park on the same day. Even people with a resort hotel reservation will still need to make a theme park reservation. If you're looking to park hop, you'll only need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you will be visiting. As more people are now hopping back to the parks, it's especially important to make park reservations ASAP. The first step is to purchase tickets. This post will walk you through all of the specifics so you can reserve your spot at Walt Disney World Resort!
All of the Details on Disney's Park Pass Reservation System
As mentioned above, Disney limited capacity in its parks when it reopened, initially capped at 25 percent. As more people are returning to the parks, capacity has increased to 35 percent. While capacity remains open at most parks most days, Disney's Hollywood Studios has been the most likely to hit its limits. Magic Kingdom was a hoppin' destination for the holidays, where guests were eager to take in the park's festivities — and we expect some of that excitement to carry over into 2021 as Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary. What this means is that we highly recommend you purchase your tickets AND make your park reservations as soon as you purchase. (Though falling in line with the usual crowd trends, we are already seeing lower crowds and higher availability in January and February.)
We've made it easy to do both of those things on Undercover Tourist, and you can feel confident buying through us because …
- You can see current park availability when purchasing.
- You can choose between physical or E-ticket delivery.
- Once you receive your E-ticket or physical ticket IDs, you can link your ticket immediately on My Disney Experience and make your theme park reservation. (If you prefer physical tickets, we will provide your ticket numbers in advance of shipping.)
Who Needs to Make Disney Park Pass Reservations?
Short answer: everyone!
Disney has set aside a limited number of Park Pass reservations for three separate groups: guests with Disney Resort hotel reservations, guests with theme park tickets and annual passholders.
Park reservations will be available through Jan. 14, 2023, based on your resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window. If you've booked a vacation package through Disney, your ticket eligibility is tied to your package's travel dates. To make a park reservation for a different date, you'll have to modify your vacation package dates. All guests are now able to book new Disney Resort hotels and Walt Disney World theme park tickets, and make their park reservations as Disney World's phased reopening continues.
What to Know Before You Make Your Disney World Reservation
With safety a top priority, you'll find some new policies in place at Walt Disney World. Disney will require masks and temperature checks, among other new health and safety measures, including limiting capacity in parks, on attractions, on transportation and in restaurants. (Here are full details about health and safety policies for Disney World's reopening.) Before you make your Disney World reservation, there are a few important things to remember:
- Linking your tickets to My Disney Experience does not void Undercover Tourist's return policy.
- Reservations are limited and subject to availability, and not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
- If your ticket or pass includes the Park Hopper option, you will only need a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you wish to enter. Once you've entered the first park for the day, you are able to hop to another park at 2 p.m. (though entry is still subject to capacity limits). More on this below!
- A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you must make a park reservation for each day of your visit.
- If you have previously linked your theme park tickets or hotel information in My Disney Experience, we recommend that you log in and double-check that the information looks correct in the system.
- If you have not already linked your hotel reservation or tickets in My Disney Experience, you'll want to make sure they are linked ASAP. They are required before you can make a reservation in the new system.
- Annual passholders without a hotel reservation are limited to three park passes at a time. Once you use a park pass, you may obtain a new one. (In other words, it's a rolling pass count — three park reservations at any given time.)
- Guests ages 2 and under do not need a Park Pass.
- You can view a Disney Park Pass Availability calendar here.
- If you are looking to reserve in-park dining, you will also need a Disney Park Pass reservation for the same park, on the same day; a dining reservation does not guarantee you entry to the park. (If, for example, you'd like to dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you'd also need a valid ticket and Disney Park Pass, all for the same day as your dining reservation.) Dining reservations can be made 60 days in advance. If you're planning to park hop to your dining reservation, note that it still does not guarantee you entry into the park — and that you won't need a Disney Park Pass to enter.
Step-by-Step Guide to Using the Disney Park Pass System
1. Register or sign in to StartYourDisneyExperience.com and link your admission.
If you haven't already, you will need to register for an account at StartYourDisneyExperience.com and then link your park admission. (If you've already linked your tickets in My Disney Experience, you'll just need to log in to My Disney Experience and navigate to Disney Park Pass System.)
2. Create your party.
Then, create your Family and Friends list for your travel party. You’ll need this to assign tickets to them and to make theme park reservations a little later. (If you've used My Disney Experience in the past to make FastPass+ parties and reservations, you'll find the process very similar.)
3. Select a date and park.
Choose the date and the theme park that you'd like to visit. Right now, you'll be shown an "arrive between" window, which are the park's operating hours for the day.
4. Review and confirm your plans.
That's it! You'll be able to see your Park Passes in My Plans in My Disney Experience at any time.
How Does Park Hopping Work with the Disney Park Pass Reservation System?
As of Jan. 1, 2021, the Park Hopper option is back, with some slight modifications. Guests with passes or tickets that include the Park Hopper option must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit and enter that first park prior to visiting another. At this time, a park reservation is not required after the first park (but this is subject to change, so stay tuned!) Additionally, there are specific Park Hopper hours. Park Hopper hours start at 2 p.m. each day and end at the park's scheduled close time. Be sure to check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours, as they could start earlier at a later date depending on the day and park. Entry will still be subject to capacity limits, as well.
If you're using Disney bus transportation to hop from park to park, cast members will scan your MagicBand to ensure that you're eligible to hop, and also let you know if the park you're looking to visit has reached capacity. If you are not using Disney bus transportation, you can call the Disney World capacity hotline at (407) 560-5000 or My Disney Experience to check in on a park's availability for hopping. Be sure to update to the latest version of the app, as it now shows Park Hopper hours and the status of park hopping availability will change if a park is at capacity.
We are so excited that we're able to park hop again! If you've spent your day hopping around Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland, but want to cap off your day with a drink or dinner at EPCOT, a Park Hopper ticket allows you to do so! Perhaps you weren't able to snag a park reservation for Disney's Hollywood Studios — the return of the Park Hopper gives you the option to travel to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge later in the day, after you've visited your first park. (However, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance's final distribution time for its virtual queue is 1 p.m. This means that you will need a Disney Park Pass reservation in order to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Park Hoppers will be unable to join the virtual queue.) More options, more magic — count us in!
On our first day at Disney World in 2021, we started out at EPCOT, where we saw the new entrance fountain in person for the first time. At 1:45 p.m., we hopped on Disney Skyliner, which doesn't require that cast members scan your MagicBand, to head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. We anticipated a potential line to get into the park at 2 p.m., but we were able to get through the temperature screening and security immediately. After eating a late lunch and waving to Chewbacca and Rey, we used a Disney bus to hop over to Disney's Animal Kingdom.
That process went just as smoothly — a cast member scanned our MagicBands and asked us which park we were headed to. Park Hopper bus service begins at 1:30 p.m. (but you cannot enter any park before 2 p.m.) and ends an hour after each park closes. If you're leaving your car behind at your initial park, be aware of when that park closes, so you can come back to it in time. We also used Disney bus transportation to hop over to Magic Kingdom and then return to EPCOT, where we left our car. The buses come and go every 10 minutes, so we never had to wait very long!
Overall, park hopping felt normal, aside from the cast members scanning MagicBands at each bus station. We successfully hopped to three parks within five hours! While we were inside the parks, we didn't notice a huge shift in crowd levels or attraction wait times once Park Hopper hours started. However, since the parks haven’t hit full capacity yet, there are some specific scenarios with protocols that have yet to be determined. For instance, we aren’t sure what hoppens if you try to hop back to your initial park and it’s full. Cast members weren’t either. Additionally, if you have a dining reservation at a park that you're trying to hop to but it's at capacity, our best advice is to stop by Guest Relations. They will try to help out as much as possible, but at the very least, they can make sure that you won't get charged for canceling last minute. As crowds change and parks reach capacity, we’ll keep this guide updated with the latest info and advice!
Related: Status of Major U.S, Theme Parks