Disney World FINALLY Announces Plans to End Theme Park Reservations

Disney Reservations

Walt Disney World’s pandemic-era health and safety restrictions may be a part of history, but several other updates that came about during the Resort’s 2020 reopening have continued to stick around. Most notable of these changes, and perhaps the most-loathed by theme park fans, has been Disney’s Park reservation requirements.

Prior to March 2020, Guests at Walt Disney World would simply select the first date that they planned to use their theme park tickets at the time of purchase. (And years before this update, tickets required no start-date at all. While unrelated to the pandemic, Disney World has been operating on date-specific pricing for its theme park tickets for some time now.)

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Credit: Brittany DiCologero

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When the Resort reopened in the summer of 2020, capacity limitations were put in place as part of a phased reopening plan recommended by both the CDC and state and local restrictions on crowds. Since masking, social distancing, and other pandemic-era updates have been removed, however, the theme park reservation system has stayed.

The only exception to the system has been for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders, who can now visit Disney Parks without making a reservation after 2:00 p.m. with the exception of the Magic Kingdom on Saturdays and Sundays, when they would either still need a reservation or could Park hop from a different Park (with a morning reservation) in the afternoon.

But in Disney’s latest update, the reservation system is finally set to come to an end. Here’s what we know so far.

Spaceship Earth, EPCOT

Credit: Disney

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The Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that theme park reservation requirements will be removed for date-based ticket purchases beginning on January 9, 2024.

Disney’s official announcement notes:

When getting your ticket, you will simply select a start date for Jan. 9, 2024 or later, complete your purchase and then you will be all set! For reference, date-based tickets are the standard ticket option we offer to guests.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

Credit: Disney

What you need to know about theme park reservations in 2024

The removal of theme park reservation requirements is exciting news indeed, but there are a couple of catches we want to make sure you know ahead of your 2024 Walt Disney World vacation.

One is that this update only applies to date-based ticket purchases, which depending on your unique situation, may or may not apply to you. Disney World’s date-based tickets are the standard tickets all Guests who are not Annual Passholders or Cast Members will purchase when visiting the theme parks.

Annual Passholders and Cast Members (or their Guests) are still subject to the reservation system, though Annual Passholders will continue to enjoy entry into the theme parks after 2:00 p.m. (with that one Magic Kingdom weekend exception). And, Disney’s latest update on 2024 visits also includes “good-to-go” days for Passholders and Cast to help even out the news that date-based tickets will no longer require reservations.

Not sure what tickets you have? You can always view all of the tickets linked to your account in the My Disney Experience app. Happy planning!

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."