Introduced when the parks reopened in summer 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the system requires guests to make reservations for a specific Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort theme park. Guests must have valid theme park admission to make a reservation, which allows for planning ahead but also potentially limits guests who buy last-minute.
Chapek claims that the park passes “guarantee a great experience” for all guests. He referenced the past system where the parks would close for capacity on particularly busy days, such as Christmas Day. If a “family from Seattle” visited Disneyland for a two-three day visit and arrived at 10 a.m., they may have been turned away at the gate due to capacity limitations, he cited. Now, the pass system requires advance reservations that guarantee admission for the date of the reservation (with valid ticket media).
According to Chapek, this creates the same “magical” experience for a guest who visits on Thanksgiving and a guest who visits on the second Tuesday of September.
This system, he noted, is the same as other fixed-capacity businesses such as airlines, hotels, and cruise lines. It gives guests “confidence” that the parks won’t be “overcrowded.” He also mentioned that it has the added benefit of maximizing shareholder value.
Chapek and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro have continuously reiterated that the park pass system is here to stay. Other reasons given have cited the ability to plan staffing and supply needs based on the expected amount of guests per day.
The park pass reservations apply to the first theme park of the day that guests can visit. Guests with Park Hopper tickets or Annual Passes can move to another park after 2:00 p.m. without a reservation, though there have been rumors that secondary parks may require reservations in the future.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders are currently suing the company over the park pass system, alleging that it violates the “no blockout dates” benefit of the top-tier Annual Pass.
Do you feel the park pass system guarantees you a great experience? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.