Disney World Park Pass System Now Favors Annual Passholders Over Resort Guests and Others, Passholders with Resort Reservations Facing Issues

Since Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopened back in July, the Park Pass reservation system has become an effective way to manage crowds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That doesn’t mean it isn’t without its flaws.

As WDWNT recently learned, the reservation system prioritizes certain group categories over others, with availability now favoring Annual Passholders. As we reported earlier today, the parks are completely booked March 13th-19th, with only select parks available for the rest of the month. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom are completely unavailable for resort guests and those with theme park tickets for the remainder of March.

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Compared with the calendar for Annual Passholders, who, as of the writing of this article, have full availability March 22nd and 24th-31st.

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This runs counter to the early days of the system, which mostly favored resort guests and ticketholders, offering them way more availability.

This change especially affects Annual Passholders staying at select resort hotels. A WDWNT staff member who is a Passholder recently had to cancel a hotel reservation Disney’s All Star Movies Resort in order to make a Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The system prioritizes their resort stay over their Annual Pass, not allowing them to book a Park Pass Reservation since it is only available to Annual Passholders and not to resort guests. The room reservation was in fact stopping the Passholder from acquiring a reservation that would be available to them otherwise.

Of course, there have been small indicators that things could change the further out guests book. The Annual Passholder “bucket” was the first to be completely unavailable at EPCOT for guests on October 1st, the opening day of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, while reservations for the park on that day for the other two categories remain available. So far, this seems to prove that this is a constantly developing system, adjusting and re-prioritizing when needed.

Keep reading WDWNT for more on changes to the Park Pass reservation system.

For more information on booking your next trip with our official travel agent sponsor, the Vacationeer, visit wdwnt.travel.

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Chris C.
Chris C.
4 months ago

You have to figure in blackout dates approaching (Mar. 25 – April 9) for any tier below platinum also creating more availability under the Passholder bucket as it excludes large swaths of passholders from booking. Just saying.

Tom Corless
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris C.

Well, the passholder availability is before that, a time when there’s availability for no one else. Next week.

Rich
Rich
4 months ago

Is this rather obvious ? Most APs blocked out 2 weeks around Easter

mis
mis
4 months ago

thanks for the information but what about dvc members? after all, we are the folks financing their resorts keeping them up to date and their new building. i have noticed during this time disney seems to be taking dvc owners for granted and never mentioning dvc owners in any of their plans. i wonder why?

John De
John De
4 months ago
Reply to  mis

DVC members are a captive group and because of that they are taken advantage of, and many of the older members don’t go to the parks!

May
May
4 months ago
Reply to  mis

I thought DVC owners have always been taken for granted. They don’t get housekeeping or nothing.

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

More resort rooms are open now and more people are coming. Makes sense to me. Also, AP holders are probably holding 10/1 and possibly other date(s), so they can only hold 1 or 2 reservations now.

Steve S.
Steve S.
4 months ago

Wow, I certainly miss going to WDW, but I gotta say, I would not enjoy a vacation that requires this much work/juggling/Type-A behaviors to enjoy.

We almost went fall of 2019, and while hindsight is always 20/20, even then I thought it was ridiculous how rigidly pre-planned our vacation would have needed to be. But this is a whole new level of nonsense.

It’s good to have articles like this to remind me that staying away at this time is the right choice for our family.

Sara D.
Sara D.
4 months ago

If you see it change preferences from month to month, my guess is nothing has actually changed. That the parks plan their capacity for a certain percentage of that 35% capacity to come from the resort and a certain percentage from Passholders. It is completely possible with Spring Break, that the resorts are busier than they usually are so they have used up their allotment with that group making plans weeks in advance. I understand why it may look like preferential treatment; but it may be the plan is actually controlled chaos.

Patrick
Patrick
4 months ago

I thought season passes were over with?

Tom Corless
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

No, you can’t buy them, but renewals still happen.

May
May
4 months ago

My next trip is going to be a hotels only stay. The parks are expensive and getting to be a pain in the neck.

JOHN Q PASSHOLDER
JOHN Q PASSHOLDER
4 months ago

Passholders should have priority. We are the backbone of Disney. The revenue stream from passholders will always be consistent. It’s about time they made passholders a priority. Yes, I understand guest staying at hotels should also be a priority but that is seasonal revenue.

Brandon
Brandon
4 months ago

I went back in October 2020 and I would have to say out of the other three times visiting, this was horrible. It was the worst Disney experience I’ve ever had and the system they are using is bogus. The parks were more crowded than I’ve ever seen them. There was no way that it was at 25% capacity. My advice is to cancel your trips it was a waste of money. The meal plans were removed and they wanted everyone to pay for their food on the app instead of cash. The resorts would question you when you go… Read more »

Penny Hinson
Penny Hinson
4 months ago

I don’t have the money, young age, or close proximity to buy a pass holder pass. So, if I get this right, me coming to Disney and staying at my favorite resort, and buying my tickets at all 4 parks won’t mean I’ll be able to get those tickets cuz the pass holders have 1st priority to availability. THIS IS NOT SO NICE TO DO TO LOYAL INDIVIDUALS, AND FAMILIES NOT WITH LOTS OF $$$$$$.