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You now need a reservation to visit Disney World — here’s how the system works

June 19 2020
6 min read
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After being closed since mid-March, the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is set to reopen in just 22 days on July 11 with capped attendance capacity and a plethora of changes related to how the park operates. These changes are being made to reduce the risks surrounding the novel coronavirus.

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With just more than three weeks to go until reopening day, we now have greater insight into how you'll be able to secure a spot to enter the park and when ticket and hotel bookings will go back on sale.

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Related: How Disney theme parks will change when they reopen

New Disney Park Pass system will manage park reservations

Book your entry into the theme park beginning June 22

According to the official Disney Parks Blog, if you currently hold both a Disney resort hotel booking and a valid theme park ticket, you will be able to make a reservation to enter the Disney theme parks beginning on June 22.

At first, you'll be limited to booking one theme park per day, as park hopping will be temporarily paused upon reopening. If you have a multiday ticket, you'll need to make a park reservation for each day you want to visit. Families and friends can link tickets together to arrange theme park entry bookings at the same time.

Related: 9 changes to expect when Disney hotel resorts reopen

Annual passholders without hotel bookings can make reservation beginning June 26

Those with a Disney World annual pass, but without a hotel booking, can make a reservation to enter the Disney World theme parks beginning on June 26.

If you're a passholder, you're invited to preview days at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 9 and 10.

Existing ticket holders can make entry reservations beginning on June 28

Those holding Disney World tickets without resort hotel bookings can make reservations to enter the park beginning on June 28.

Related: How to use points for Disney theme park tickets

Free MagicBands end on Jan. 1

For many years now, those staying at a Disney resort hotel have received free MagicBands for each stay. These MagicBands are used to open hotel room doors, charge purchases to the room, act as your theme park ticket, etc. While MagicBands will continue to work and be available for purchase (at a discount for resort guests), Disney is going to cease the free distribution of these brightly colored MagicBands and lean into the functionality of the My Disney Experience app, building on the app's existing digital key feature.

Related: These are the best Disney resort hotels

(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)
(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)

When will Disney tickets and hotels be available for new bookings?

Right now, only those with Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points at the ready can make a new Disney resort booking at a DVC property. However, by June 28, Disney will put new resort hotel packages and theme park tickets back on sale for arrivals beginning in 2021. You will be able to view theme park reservation availability before purchasing tickets.

We don't yet know for sure when Disney will put resorts and tickets on sale for 2020 visits, though Disney released a statement that said, "later this summer."

Related: How to stay at Disney resorts for less by renting DVC points

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween is out, modified Food and Wine is in

Yesterday, Disney World announced that the annual Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party won't happen this year. This is no surprise since Disney is pausing shows, parades and character meet-and-greets as we knew them upon reopening, and those are the things that make the Halloween party special.

(Edward Pizzarello/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Edward Pizzarello/The Points Guy)

However, Disney will operate a modified Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, beginning when the park reopens on July 15. Details are light, but there will be "over 20 signature global marketplaces like Hawaii, Hops & Barley and Islands of the Caribbean spaced out around the park."

Disney said that decisions about the annual Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and other seasonal holiday offerings in the parks have not been made yet.

There are things we still don't know

While Disney is now making progress releasing information about what will -- and won't be available -- when the parks reopen, how the reservation system will work, and more, big questions remain.

For example, we don't know when those with existing Disney hotel bookings, but who don't yet have theme park tickets, will be able to add those onto their package.

We also don't know how hard it will be to make a booking to enter the theme parks. Will it be as hard as it used to be to snag a Flight of Passage FastPass+ (extremely hard) or more of a formality you just need to take care of in advance? We simply don't know what the intersection of demand and availability will look like.

Another key detail is how a potential expanded virtual queuing ride pass system will work. Disney has used a virtual line system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance since that attraction opened in December 2019, but using it for one ride is very different than potentially using it across the parks in a new way. At Universal Orlando's reopening, this expanded virtual ride system was not clearly announced ahead of time and led to some day-of confusion and disappointment.

Related: I was at Universal Orlando's reopening day -- here's how it went

Bottom line

If you want to walk down Main Street U.S.A. as soon as it reopens, now is the time to be sure that your resort reservations, annual pass or tickets are all properly linked to your My Disney Experience account for your whole party. For those with existing Disney hotel reservations and valid tickets, the day to start reserving your slot to enter the parks is Monday, June 22.

Featured photo by (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
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  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
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