Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California may be full of magic, but new systems and policies have left Guests feeling a little “frustrated” lately.
Across Disney’s theme parks, Guests have seen numerous changes to their Park experience since Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disneyland Park reopened to the public after the pandemic.
Disney implemented many new health protocols in order to operate safely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing, mask mandates, and the new Disney Park Pass system.
Now, a controversial new policy is adding more levels of frustration to the Park Pass reservation system – one that is, again, removing any spontaneity in theme park visits.
Disney fans were aghast recently when Disney extended the Park reservation calendar through January 2024. The system forces Guests to commit to advanced planning, requiring those who wish to visit a Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort theme park to have both a valid ticket as well as a reservation for the Park they wish to visit that day.
Now, Disney is threatening to penalize Guests who make a reservation to visit a Park but don’t show up for their day of magic.
For those in Florida and not familiar with Disneyland’s Magic Key Annual Pass program, the least expensive Magic Key tier allows Guests to hold 2 Park day reservations at a time, while the most expensive Magic Key tier allows as many as 6 park day reservations.
Now, if a Guest has a Magic Key, makes a reservation, then doesn’t show up for three of these reserved days in a 90-day period of time, Disney will restrict that Magic Key holder from making any Park day reservations for 30 days.
That’s right, just like in baseball, “three strikes, and you’re out” for Magic Key holders who suddenly cannot make their coveted Park Pass reservations.
The new policy has been controversial, with some commenting on how this is fairer for those trying to get reservations when people keep not showing up, while others think it punishes Guests for no-show reasons outside of their control.
Of course, Disneyland Resort is much smaller than the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, so this policy will aid Disney in managing capacity in a more limited space.
The full explanation of the new Disney policy can be found on Disneyland’s website:
The ability of Magic Key holders to make and hold park reservations will be impacted by the “no show” policy. Magic Key holders who are a “no show” for 3 reservations in a 90-day window will be unable to make new park reservations for 30 days. Existing park reservations at that time will not be canceled. The 30-day period begins the day after the third “no-show,” and will continue even if the pass is upgraded to another pass during that time.
A Magic Key holder who enters the designated park any time before closing on the day of the reservation is not considered a “no-show.” If the reservation is for both parks, only one park needs to be entered to avoid being a “no-show.” Magic Key holders who timely cancel a reservation are also not considered a “no-show.” Cancellation of a reservation must be done by 11:59 PM PT on the day before the reserved date.
Many Disney Guests we spoke to at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom expressed their dissatisfaction with the system, as it removes the chance of being impulsive when wishing to visit the theme parks.
Chairman of Parks, Experiences, and Products Josh D’Amaro explained that Walt Disney World is “choreographing” the Guest experience, using technology to enhance the Guest experience and help Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s 2022 goal for innovation. D’Amaro stated that the Disney Park Pass reservation system, Mobile Order process, contactless payment, and virtual queues are all part of this technology push.
Originally, the Park Pass system was going to end ready for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, but with COVID-19 still ongoing, this system looks like it is here to stay – for now.
We’ll have to see if this policy extends to Walt Disney World’s Annual Pass system, but for now, rest assured that “no-shows” will not be penalized in the Florida Resort – for now.