Did We Get Our Park Passes?
Over the weekend, I posted my party’s plans for booking our next Disney vacation.
Like many of you, we started hitting refresh on DisneyWorld.com at 6:55 a.m. yesterday morning, trying to earn admission to the parks on each day of our upcoming trip.
Here’s a blow by blow description of how our park reservations booking process went, along with a few tips to help you with the process.
After I posted that article, I spent about two hours on the phone, as our potential traveling party decided whether to go.
The reality is that Disney has added a new layer of overhead to process during the pandemic.
Everyone must book Disney Park Pass System reservations for each day of the trip.
Otherwise, we’re cruelly at Walt Disney World but unable to enter the parks.
Since none of us was sure how well the process would go, we each debated canceling the trip.
Amusingly, all three parties came to the same conclusion. Right now, we all need the fantasy of a Disney escape.
Later on, the universe may stomp this dream out of us – it’s 2020, after all – but we want to keep hope alive.
So, three different parties tried to book park passes. Long story short, it was quite the adventure.
An Early Start and Several Hiccups
The purpose of these two articles is to show that we’re all in this together (apologies for the earworm) while trying to learn the new system.
By all accounts, Disney will keep Park Passes in place through at least September of 2021.
Now, Disney could always change this decision later if the pandemic subsides, but it’s the current plan.
The fallout from this decision struck early yesterday morning. Hundreds of thousands of Disney fans overwhelmed the system just before 7 a.m. EST.
Disney tried to split the reservation process into three parts.
On June 22nd, anyone with valid admission tickets and a confirmed Disney hotel reservation could book.
Everyone else must wait until June 26th or later. So, the people the furthest along in the vacation process got dibs.
Mathematically, that’s still a lot of people, though.
Also, Disney Vacation Club members could book hotel reservations after Disney announced the process.
So, they (well, we) had an unfair advantage. Nobody else could reserve a hotel room after Disney’s announcement.
Everyone who owns admission tickets but not hotel reservations is on hold until Friday.
In a way, they’re the lucky ones, because yesterday morning was kind of a mess.
Disney indicated that the system would open at 7 a.m.
Apparently, the IT department didn’t know this, as nobody could get in to book a park reservation for 90 frustrating minutes.
Disney gets a bad rap whenever anything goes wrong, so I’m not going to dwell on this other than to say that the system strains under the weight of such high-volume usage.
As a Fortune 50 company (depending on the day), the company should have better tech.
This issue’s an action point as an area for improvement that new CEO Bob Chapek should prioritize.
Starting the Process
After more than an hour of struggling, the tide started to turn. Disney fans reported that they were no longer having issues.
At the start of the day, the system would continuously loop users to a log-in screen, which – I won’t lie – caused me to say some decidedly un-Disney words.
The belief is that the Disney Park Pass System didn’t go online until around 8:30. No one reported a successful booking before then.
Hopeful bookers noticed a change around this time. When people accessed the page, an image of Space Mountain appeared. It also showed a countdown timer.
This timer worked in a Doctor Who timey-wimey way, as it didn’t always go down. More than one person indicated that their clock reset to 15 minutes.
However, anyone who saw the Space Mountain page was in good shape. They’d advanced into the later queue, the one that was two steps before booking.
After the Space Mountain page, guests would go straight to the Park Pass page or see a picture of a familiar pink castle.
I had that castle on my screen for so long that I took a shower in the middle. It was that kind of morning.
The funniest part of the attempt had occurred about 20 minutes before then.
One of the other traveling parties contacted me. She relayed that they’d successfully booked their Park Passes for each day of the trip.
She also indicated that she had the opportunity to add us as well but didn’t want to cause problems.
As near as I can tell, they were among the first successful reservation makers, as this happened just after 8:30.
We wouldn’t get into the reservation system for another hour. It was a LOT of pink castle staring.
The Actual Booking
I’m not one to vent as a rule. So, let’s focus on the crucial part.
Around 9:30 a.m., we finally reached the official Disney Park Pass System page and started to book our reservations.
In the last article, I had listed our hopeful itinerary as:
- Day one – Magic Kingdom
- Day two – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Day three – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Day four – EPCOT
- Day five – Magic Kingdom or EPCOT
Other members of my party correctly deduced that we should flip Hollywood Studios and EPCOT to eliminate the possibility of two straight days at EPCOT.
So, these days were the ones I targeted once I got into the system.
To my delight, the system is incredibly efficient and intuitive. After doing nothing for hours, we booked all five parks we wanted in less than five minutes.
Sarah Phillips thoughtfully posted a full step-by-step guide, including pictures, for the new system.
Since she did such an excellent job, I’ve trimmed my notes here. All I’ll describe is the user experience.
You pull up the calendar for 2020 and then advance to the month when you want to travel to Disney (and you can keep going into 2021 if needed).
Then, you select an exact date. After a moment, logos of all four Walt Disney World theme parks will display.
Click on the picture of the one you want. A screen will appear that lists the park hours. You must select this box to proceed.
So, click on the park hours, and then you’ll get to review and confirm your selection on the next page. As long as everything looks right, finalize your reservation!
Folks, I was blown away by how simple the process was during my first experience. All Disney tech should work so efficiently.
The developers have streamlined the Disney Park Pass System so that anyone can use it correctly on the first try.
Now, the caveat is that getting to the actual Park Pass page requires some dedication.
One member of our traveling party worked until 9 p.m. trying to book a January 2021 trip. She had a 12-hour interval between the completion of her Park Passes.
Another member still hasn’t completed hers yet. She waited indefinitely on the wrong page and had to start over again.
So, I don’t want to mislead you about the process. It can be extremely aggravating.
However, the number of users should drop dramatically after June 28th, the day when anyone with park admission can book Park Passes.
The concern is that some dates may begin to sell out. Thankfully, you can check the status here:
Remember to click the Disney Resort Guests tab. Otherwise, you won’t see any availability.
At the time I submitted this article for publication, all dates after opening weekend show park availability, even Christmas week.
As long as you prioritize booking over the next few days, you should get the dates that you want. Our party certainly did.
Still, I stress that the best strategy is to contact a MickeyTravels agent to handle all your booking needs.
These Disney experts provide their services for free to you, and they already know all the tricks for booking a 2020/2021 Disney trip.