Walt Disney World Annual Passholders have been eagerly waiting. Earlier this year, we reported that Guests with a Disney Annual Pass would be allowed to visit any Park they liked without a reservation after 2:00 p.m. At the time of the announcement, no date was given for when that change would take place. Disney only said it would happen “soon.” Now, the change has happened!
Currently, reservations are required in order to visit Disney Parks in Florida. The Park Pass Reservation system requirement came after the phased re-opening of Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom in 2020 after the pandemic closure. At the time, Disney said it was to accommodate the reduced capacity requirements. However, the reservations stuck around long after Disney World resumed normal operations.
The reservations are the source of much debate for Disney fans. You won’t find many park-goers who like the system, but some do see its benefit. Those people say it allows Disney to staff itself adequately since they’ll know exactly how many people will be in a given Park on a particular day. Others, however, hate the system saying that it limits them and overly complicates what is supposed to be a day of fun at Disney Parks.
In an effort to mend fences with Passholders, who have long felt unappreciated and disenfranchised from Disney, they are now allowed to visit without reservations. There are some stipulations to this relaxing of the rules. Passholders must wait until 2:00 p.m. if they wish to visit without a reservation. They are able to visit anytime with a reservation. 9n Saturdays, Magic Kingdom is excluded from this new relaxation of the rules.
This relaxation of the rules is different from the current Park Hopping rules. For quite some time, Guests with Park Hopper tickets (or Disney Annual Pass) could “hop” to any Park they wished without a reservation after 2:00 p.m. However, they must have previously had a Park Pass reservation to a Park and must have visited that Park earlier in the day. The new Passholder perk does away with that first step. No “first Park reservation” is required for Passholders Beginning today.
This is an added benefit for Passholders that they have been asking for since the theme parks reopened after the Pandemic closure. In fact, the reservation system has also been the source of lawsuits, with some passholders saying it is a breach of contract. They assert that when they bought their passes, it was with the understanding that they could visit any Park at any time and that reservations prevented that.
The new perk comes just at the perfect time. Those hoping to snag a Disney Annual Pass can do so when they go on sale in just two days. The new influx of Passholders taking to the Parks will benefit from the new policy. The timing is good (and likely on purpose) as Easter and Spring break crowds have come and gone. Some parks are seeing their least crowded days in years currently.
We are interested to see reactions from Passholders who will take to Disney World theme parks this afternoon. For the first time in three years, they’ll be able to visit on a whim like in old times. We hope this is the first step to relaxing the rules further for all Guests. For now, though, this benefit is afforded only to Disney’s most loyal patrons.