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Disney Extends “Frustrating” Park System Into 2024

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida may be “The Most Magical Place on Earth”, but recently, new systems and services have left Guests feeling a little “frustrated” with the magic.

Across Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Guests have seen numerous changes to their theme park visits since Walt Disney World’s reopening to the public back in July 2020.

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, it seems Disney Guests will have to get used to this Park reservation system, as Disney has extended the calendar through January 2024.

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Credit: Disney

Anyone who has visited a Disney Park recently at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California would be familiar with the new Park reservation system that forces advanced planning and ticket purchasing.

This new system requires those who wish to visit a Walt Disney World theme park to have both a valid ticket as well as a reservation for the Park you 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. At the moment, Walt Disney World’s Annual Pass sales are on hold, with no indication on when these will become available again.

Many Guests were hoping that as the pandemic thankfully nears its end, Disney would bring back the sense of spontaneity and fun that came with deciding which of the four theme parks to visit on the day.

The availability calendar, however, now ends on January 18, 2024, which of course is almost two years from now.

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Credit: Screenshot via Disney

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.

Some Guests argued that it helps with planning their trip and knowing what Park they are doing each day of their vacation, but the adjective “frustrating” was used too many times to count. This frustration seemed to stem mainly from trips made during the busy season, in which theme park reservations often fill up weeks in advance.

In 2020, Chairman of Parks, Experiences, and Products Josh D’Amaro indicated that the newly implemented Park Pass system is a “new normal” that isn’t going away anytime soon, if ever.

D’Amaro explained in interviews 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. 

The Park Chairman noted that the Disney Park Pass reservation system, Mobile Order process, contactless payment, and virtual queues are all part of this technology push.

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Credit: Disney

Furthermore, Omicron has lately caused a spike in positive cases nationwide, and so this planning tool from Disney looks set to remain until our pre-pandemic “normal” can be maintained again. The Park Pass system data enables Disney to plan for capacity, manage Cast Member shifts, and streamline Park operations on any specific day.

A Walt Disney World vacation is slowly becoming more complicated to plan, overwhelming to manage in advance, and has a less “all-inclusive” approach due to the recent removal of Disney’s Magical Express, free FastPass, and many entertainment options.

Originally, the Park Pass system was going to end the week before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, but with COVID-19 still ongoing, this system looks like it is here to stay – for now.

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Credit: Disney Tips

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

  • You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your 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.

Visit the official Walt Disney World website for more information.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband. Find her children's book at @thebearandthehug_book