Will We Ever See the End of Disney World’s Park Reservations?

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You make reservations to go to a restaurant or to stay in a hotel. Now you need a reservation to enter a Disney World theme park.

Since reopening from closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, park reservations have been required for ticket holders entering any of Disney World’s 4 main theme parks. The park reservation system was implemented to ensure the parks did not exceed attendance caps and to ensure social distancing, but the much-argued park reservation system isn’t likely to be going away anytime soon.

Here’s why.

Park Reservations Simplify Crowd Control

Making a park reservation is simple. Just log onto the website, sign into your My Disney Experience account, and opt to view the park reservation calendar.

It’s one of the least complicated of Disney’s technology rollouts and has worked pretty seamlessly since its inception, allowing guests to book their spot in one of the parks and have it linked directly to their theme park ticket.

The system is also working well for Disney too. Even as the parks see a return to full capacity, knowing how many people will be visiting each day is important to Disney execs who want to help ensure a more positive guest experience.

In recent years, crowds have been a major complaint from visitors to Disney World. As the number of onsite resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club properties continues to rise, so the do the number of vacationers visiting the parks.

While Disney World used to see seasonality changes in attendance trends, there seems to be no quiet time across the Florida mecca now. Guests visit throughout the year, making it harder to manage the guest experience.

Disney World’s Park reservations allow the company to view exactly how many guests will attend each park on any given day. With this snapshot, Disney can adjust improve the guest experience, such as extending park hours or opening seasonal attractions and restaurants to better absorb crowds.

Adding Greater Visibility to Park Attendance with Park Reservations

Screenshot of Disney World park reservations composed over Expedition Everest
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Disney World offers over 25 resort hotels located on Disney property. In addition, they partner with over 50 Good Neighbor Hotels. With a view into the reservation bookings of so many properties, it would seem that Disney Park execs should have a fair idea of how many people will be visiting each day.

However, a couple of factors complicate their view. First, is the vast number of accommodations not included in the categories above. These include private homes for rent and other hotels that may lie outside the Disney system.

Second, is the impact of the local population. If you live near a Disney resort, you might buy a season pass and attend one of the parks when you have a free day or evening.

When guests are required to book a Disney World Park reservation, Disney has a complete view of how many people will be pushing through the turnstiles across the 4 theme parks each day.

A better understanding of park crowds, including those coming in from outside the Disney ecosystem, will also make it easier to time the release of special offers designed to draw attendance.

Disney World Park Reservations Improve Staffing

Opening screenshot of the Disney World park reservation system.
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If you’re running a multi-theme park conglomerate such as Disney World, staffing can be a significant challenge. Knowing how many cast members will be needed on a given day within any of the parks used to require an analysis of factors such as hotel reservations, how many tickets were sold and historical trends.

When guests are required to make a Disney World Park reservation, Disney receives real-time information on attendance. This insight is invaluable when it comes to scheduling cast members, allowing executives to shift workers between parks when needed or add additional staffing to more crowded parks.

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The Bottom Line on Disney’s Park Reservations

As guests make park reservations at Disney World, the company receives valuable insight into real-time and future attendance trends. This added information allows the company to paint a more accurate economic picture for shareholders, an important consideration for a publicly traded company.

Understanding future fiscal performance is also a great way for the company to rollout new changes. The parks currently have several renovations, improvements and even new experiences underway, including the much-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind.

Accurately predicting future financials makes it easier for executives to plan for new experiences like these. It also allows Disney to invest in new technology and other enhancements designed to extend the magic of Disney for each and every guest.

With so many advantages, it’s hard to see Disney doing away with the park reservation system any time soon. Would you agree? Let us know in the comments.

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Kathleen Hesketh and Ali Patton, mother daughter travel bloggers

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother daughter travel bloggers sharing our knowledge and experience from multiple years of Disney travel with other Disney lovers and first-time visitors, hoping to simplify your vacation experience and help you enjoy all of the magic of a visit to Disney World. As Disney vacation planners, we can now book vacations through Mickey World travel, at no additional charge, and help you realize all of the magic of a trip to Disney.

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Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughter, Ali.

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