The “Dumbest” Disney Ticket Rule You Need to Watch Out For


A Disney vacation has become a very different experience recently.

From the new Disney Genie and Lightning Lane systems to the frustrating Park Pass Reservation service, it’s become “a whole new world” for Guests trying to master their day in Disney’s theme parks. Guests need to have done some serious planning ahead of their time enjoying Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, or Disney California Adventure Parks.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort’s new ticket rules make the process even more complicated, and there’s one particular rule that has other Guests warning those counting down towards their Disney trips.


Credit: Disney

Disney implemented many new health and safety protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing, mask mandates, and the new Disney Park Pass system.

The system was recently extended through January 2024, and requires those who wish to visit a Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme park to have both a valid ticket as well as a reservation for the Park they wish to visit on that day. It offers three separate tiers for reservations: single or multi-day ticket holders, onsite Resort Guests, and Annual Passholders / Magic Key Passholders. At the moment, Walt Disney World’s Annual Pass sales are on hold, with no indication of when these will become available again.

And though Disney Park Guests have been dealing with the Park Pass service for over a year now, there is still confusion as to how the process works. Now, a caveat rule to the theme park reservation system has come to light that left some Guests losing their Park reservations.


Credit: Disney Tips

Dubbed “Disney’s dumbest rule” when it comes to theme park reservations and tickets, the rule affects those wishing to upgrade their tickets to Annual Passes — or Magic Keys as they are called at Disneyland Resort.

One Guest shared their story on Reddit, explaining how they bought a Park Hopper ticket, entered the Disneyland Park, and converted their ticket to a Magic Key Annual Pass. When they went to hop to Disney California Adventure, their ticket was now a blocked-out Magic Key rather than the original Park Hopper assigned to their original Park Pass reservation:

Guys quick heads up about the dumbest rule we bought regular Disney park hopper tickets and then when we got to Disneyland decided to upgrade. Well later in the day we went over to California adventure and they stopped us at the gate to tell us that since we upgraded our passes and that day is blocked off they needed to get the manager. She comes and kinda gives us a hard time about it but I explained I didn’t know and she said as a courtesy she would let us in but that we couldn’t go back to Disneyland anymore:/ kinda sucks but I guess we’re coming back another day anyway. So just a heads up wait until the end of your trip to upgrade.

Disney California Adventure

Credit: Disney

Essentially, the Guests’ ticket reservations became null and void once they upgraded to a Magic Key. This new ticket was not digitally attached to any reservations, so Cast Members did not recognize their original reservations. Other Guests noted that Cast Members told them to wait until after they Park Hopped to upgrade, or they might lose their reservations.

So, next time you’re wishing to upgrade your regular Disney Park ticket to a Disney World Annual Pass or a Disneyland Magic Key, remember that Disney does not transfer your theme park reservations over. If you upgrade your Park ticket at the beginning of your trip, all of your future reservations will be deleted, and you will have to remake them with your Annual Pass.

The best Disney ticket tip to avoid this situation is to upgrade your ticket at the end of your Disney vacation. The Pass will expire one year from the first day you used the ticket. Disney backdates the expiration date, so if you enter the park on May 1, but then upgrade to a Magic Key or Annual Pass on May 4, your Pass will expire on May 1 since that was the first day you used your ticket


Credit: Disney

Complicated, right? Just ensure before any upgrade, change, or modification to your Disney Park tickets that you question the Cast Member about how this will affect other things on your account for your trip.

We must note that discounted Military Salute Tickets can be upgraded to Annual Passes at Walt Disney World Guest Relations, with Disney putting the cost of the tickets toward the price of the Florida Resident Annual Pass.

Remember, if you want to visit a Walt Disney World theme park, such as Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Disneyland theme parks in Anaheim, you will need a Park Pass along with a valid ticket. At this time, there is no reservation required for Downtown Disney or Disney Springs —  Disney’s shopping and dining districts.

  • You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
  • You’ll also need a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that’s linked to your My Disney Experience account.
  • If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your My Disney Experience account beforehand, as well.

For more information regarding Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort tickets, visit Disney’s official ticket website. 

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at