Walt Disney World Updates Theme Park Reservation Process for Select Guests

Magic Kingdom Entrance with Disney100 decor
Credit: Disney

Many Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort have loathed the theme park reservation system since it debuted in 2020, but one recent update could bring back some flexibility in Park visits.

The theme park reservation system debuted at Walt Disney World when the Resort first opened after its closure at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. At the time, nearly every business across most industries was subject to capacity restrictions, and as such, Disney World (and many other attractions) launched reservation systems for Guests.

While all other pandemic-era restrictions have now been lifted around the Parks and Resorts, the theme park reservation system remains. Thankfully, the Parks have only filled to capacity lately with few exceptions like peak school vacation weeks and holidays, though blockout dates remain in effect for some Annual Passholders.


Credit: Disney

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Along with the theme park reservation system, Disney World post-pandemic continues to operate with restrictions on Park Hopping. Currently, Guests who purchase Park Hopper tickets must make a reservation at the first Park they plan to visit on a given day. Then, they will be able to Park Hop beginning at 2:00 p.m.

At the Disneyland Resort, Disney modified the Park Hopping restriction so that Guests are able to enter the other Park beginning at 11:00 a.m.; however, this update has not made its way to Walt Disney World.

With the theme park reservation system and Park Hopping restrictions remaining in place at “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” there remains some exciting news, as the latest update will make visits to Disney Parks much more flexible. The change will only affect select Guests, though, so here’s what you need to know before you next trip.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Credit: Disney Tips

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Beginning today, April 18, 2023, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will effectively have the theme park reservation process removed (most days) in the afternoon.

Annual Passholders will now be able to enter Disney Parks without making a reservation after 2:00 p.m. except for Saturdays and Sundays at the Magic Kingdom. For weekends at the Magic Kingdom, Annual Passholders will either still need to make a theme park reservation for this Park. Alternatively, they could make a reservation at a different Park in the morning then Park Hop to the Magic Kingdom after 2:00 p.m.

As with nearly any Annual Passholder update, the latest change is subject to blockout dates. As such, if you have an Annual Pass that blocks you from making reservations at any of the Parks on a given day, the 2:00 p.m. rule will not work– It would need to be a day where Passholders are not blocked out to begin with.

annual pass

Credit: Inside the Magic

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Sales of new Walt Disney World Annual Passes have been paused since the onset of the pandemic, but they are resuming this week. (Renewals have continued to be offered for current Passholders since March 2020.)

Disney Vacation Club members had early access to purchasing the Sorcerer Pass earlier this week, and sales of all tiers of Annual Passes will resume for all Guests beginning this Thursday, April 20, 2023.

Along with the latest 2:00 p.m. Park entry update, Annual Passholders enjoy merchandise and dining discounts, savings on Disney Resort stays, and more.

As for whether or not we will see a similar change to the reservation system launch for more Guests remains to be seen, but we will continue to monitor new information from Disney and will keep you updated as we learn more here on Disney Tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."