Did You Read That Disney Is Getting Rid Of Park Reservations?

by SharonKurheg

Thanks to the Covid pandemic, both Disneyland (DL) Walt Disney World (WDW) closed in March 2020 for an unprecedented extended period of time. DL was closed for a long while but WD reopened in July of that year with lots of changes in the name of virus-related safety precautions.

With the pandemic now transitioning to endemic status, many of the safety precautions Disney incorporated in those early months of re-opening have gone away. However one of them, having to make a reservation to enter the parks, has remained a constant.

To enter a theme park, you will need a park reservation and valid admission for that park—for each day you’d like to visit.

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek had spoken extensively about the benefits of park reservations, both at WDW and DL. He claimed reservations, “protect the guest experience so that when you get into the park, you can have confidence it’s not going to be overcrowded.

“In a world where we don’t control demand, we’re left with one of two situations,” Chapek continued at the Wall Street Journal tech conference. “You either let way too many people into the park, where they don’t have a great experience, or you manage it by turning people away at the gate.”

That all sounds very altruistic of Disney, but we also know that Disney never does anything for the good of its fans – it’s ALWAYS for themselves in some way, shape or form. To whit, long term Disney fans who have watched the highs and lows of WDW have thoughts of why park reservations continue, and it’s very different form the company line. They think it’s a way to better manage how many cast members (Disneyspeak for employees) to assign to work on any given day.

Think about it for a second – let’s say Magic Kingdom at WDW has a potential capacity of 85,00 to 100,000 (that’s the approximate maximum amount quoted by most media outlets; WDW itself has never said what its official parks’ capacities are). They usually don’t reach the top end of those numbers except maybe during the week between Christmas and New Years Day. But the rest of the year, depending on season, weather, etc. they wouldn’t know if they’re going to have 30,000 guests on a given day, or 75,000. If there are more people, it would mean needing more restaurants open, maybe running more boats in Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. The requires more cast members. Or if there were less people than they anticipated, they could wind up spending too much on hourly pay for people they didn’t need to work, or would have to send some workers home.

But if they know how many people are scheduled to enter the park, they can plan for “that” many people. Especially when they’re still suffering from not enough cast members to work all shifts needed.

That being said, many guests think that having to make reservations to go Disney parks is a pain. It’s an extra step. It’s even more steps if you decide to change what park you want to go to. And it’s even worse if their system is down (which happens All. The. Time.). Having to make a reservation also removes any sense of spontaneity and being able to decide last-minute what you want to do that day (this is especially true for locals with annual passes who would sometimes literally decide to go to Disney on the way home from work).

So yeah…reservations to get into Disney parks have not been super popular.

Then, of course, Bob Chapek was ceremoniously booted out at CEO of Disney a few days before Thanksgiving. It was a surprise move that left both fans and cast members shocked and elated. That elation grew when it was announced Bob Iger, who had retired as Disney’s CEO when Chapek took the position, was going to come back as the head honcho.

Iger has his own issues, but he’s shown he’s a much better leader than Chapek. He understands the company. It will do better under his leadership.

Meanwhile, Disney park fans are looking forward to whatever announcements are made regarding the parks. Maybe they’ll start selling annual passes again. Maybe they’ll go back to Fast Passes (no they won’t, but that’s another blog post). And maybe, just maybe, they’ll stop with the stupid reservation system.

So when this started showing up all over the internets, die-hard Disney fans went bananas:

Except, guess what? It’s a fake. Let’s go through the ways:

  • Disney’s Guest Relations is the area at the front of each park where guests can go to get assistance with different issues within the park. An announcement such as this would not come from their Guest Relations department
  • Theme Park Reservations would not be capitalized if it was coming from Disney – just the T in “theme” would be, because it’s at the beginning of a sentence
  • WDW is not in Orlando; it’s in Lake Buena Vista. Orlando is about 16 miles northeast of WDW
  • The sentence structure of the entire announcement is just “off” and not how Disney would typically word something like that.
  • Most importantly, there is nothing on Disney’s official announcement site that mentions this upcoming change

So where did this come from? Meh, who knows? There are several “rag mag” Disney blogs that aren’t above spread misinformation. There are also a couple of Disney “satire” sites that like to make things up as they go along. Or maybe it was just one person who felt like playing a joke on a bunch of people. Whatever the case, we know it was not well made, and that there are a lot of naive people out there, huh?

So WILL Disney get rid of its reservation system? Several Disney blogs tend to think so, at least in the capacity they’re in right now. As we go into 2023 and beyond, we’ll eventually see.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


JohnB December 5, 2022 - 3:55 pm

We have given up any thoughts of visiting DisneyWorld. Pricing was always high to visit a Disney park. But now it is outrageously high, to the point of price gouging! I own stock in Disney and I hated Bob Chapek. He was in charge of Disney parks originally and he was not well liked in that position either. When Chapek took over the CEO position, I knew he was bad news! It may take Disney 10+ years to overcome the damage that Chapek did to the Disney brand.

So the need for reservations is just another reason for us to not visit! Disney Genie+ and Lightening Lanes are just two examples of excessive greed that Chapek put into place. As of right now, we see no reason to support this price gouging. That should be shocking for stockholder to say! Pricing for Disney is so high that many middle class Americans cannot afford a Disney vacation! That is so wrong! If it wasn’t for the middle class supporting Disney for the last 70 years, Disney as a company would not have the assets they now have.

Our next Orlando trip will be for the Universal expansion. We may go to Disney Springs, but buying park passes is out of the question!

Christian December 5, 2022 - 5:53 pm

“ you can have confidence it’s not going to be overcrowded” I would have spit out my beer through my nose except I sadly don’t have any beer. Then again, maybe it’s not so bad because of the nose thing.

I enjoy your writing about Disney because I’ve been over 30 times from when I lived in Florida and have some very fond memories but overall I agree with JOHNB. I loathe being gouged and nowadays it seems that that’s all Disney does.


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