The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in so many ways that many of us are still adapting to our new “normal.” For Disney lovers, this new normal temporarily took away many of the things we loved so much about visiting the parks: fireworks, character meet-and-greets, parades.
One of the biggest changes to come out of the park’s revised reopening is park passes. While in the past, you could book a hotel reservation and grab your tickets at a later date, Disney World now requires guests to make a park reservation to visit any of the parks. While this isn’t required at the time of ticket purchase, failing to do so could mean failure to get into the park you want on your preferred day.
As fireworks, Disney World resort hotels, and stage shows are starting to return, one thing that has remained are park passes, which leads to the question: can you still visit Walt Disney World if park passes are sold out?
What Exactly ARE Disney World Park Passes?
When Walt Disney World reopened in July 2020, they introduced the Disney Park Pass Reservation System. This reservation system was introduced mainly because the parks were operating at a reduced capacity. As of May 2021, the parks were operating at 35% capacity (though, here at WDW Vacation Tips, we believe the number is a little bit higher than that).
Guests looking to purchase park tickets will have to look at each park’s availability on their preferred day. This is what the calendar looks like on Disney World’s website:
It’s recommended that guests reference this calendar before making their ticket purchase. However, as soon as tickets are confirmed, go back and make these reservations as they can fill up pretty quickly. When I was trying to make a park pass reservation in December 2020, I lost out on Magic Kingdom on the day I wanted within a couple of minutes.
There is no confirmation as to when Disney World will get rid of this reservation system, but as long as they are operating under CDC Guidelines, I think we can expect it to stay at least throughout the remainder of 2021 if not well into 2022.
Options for Obtaining Park Passes Even if They’re Sold Out
While it’s certainly a bummer to miss out on park passes, don’t lose hope just yet. You have a couple of options.
Keep Checking Availability
Life is always in a state of flux, which means guests cancel and postpone their Disney World trips all the time. I did that just the other week, having to push back my travel dates by a month. When this happens, the previously booked park passes become available on Disney’s website.
Furthermore, since reopening, Disney has released park passes that aren’t linked to an existing ticket reservation, so this is another reason why Epcot might be sold out one day but available the next.
One of the best ways to snag sold-out park passes is to keep checking Disney’s park availability throughout the day to see if something becomes available. While this isn’t a guarantee 100% of the time, we’ve successfully been able to snag last-minute park passes through this method on more than one occasion.
Read more: What is New at Disney World in 2021
Unfortunately, right now is not the optimal time to take a spur-of-the-moment Disney trip because of this reservation system. That being said, park passes aren’t as limited as you think. While Disney hasn’t officially confirmed exactly how many park passes get released per day, they have added on additional tickets for specially-ticketed events such as Boo Bash and as they gradually increased park capacity.
This leads us to believe that there are a number of passes Disney holds back, although the exact reason is just speculation at this point.
If you want to visit a specific park on a specific day, always take a look at what special events are coming up. For example, as of publication, Magic Kingdom is completely sold out on October 1, 2021, due to the park’s 50th Anniversary. However, Epcot is available, which is the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France Pavilion. This kind of information can help you rearrange your trip itinerary, especially since Magic Kingdom is available October 2nd, but not Epcot (again, as of writing this).
Read more: Disney After Hours BOO BASH
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all method of securing sold-out park passes at Disney World except to keep checking Disney’s website. Like I mentioned above, our team has been able to snag park passes for the same day or our preferred date, but it requires keeping a lot of tabs on the website. Our best advice is to do your research beforehand to know when the parks may be a bit busier than normal, be flexible about which parks you want to visit on which dates, and check, check, check the website.
Getting sold-out park passes at Disney World can be hard, but it’s certainly not impossible. As Walt used to say, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Just keep checking Disney’s website!
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Have you been able to snag last-minute Disney World park passes? What was your experience like? We’d love to know!
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.