The reservation system at Disneyland and Walt Disney World sucks. I’m not giving that any caveats, it just sucks. Having said that, every indication is that the system isn’t going anywhere. Knowing that, all we can hope for is that the system finds ways to suck less, and now, at least it has done that, as guests at Walt Disney World finally have the ability to change reservations without canceling them.
The reservation system was originally created when the Disney parks first opened after the pandemic when capacity was severely limited. It made sense then, since leaving things open meant thousands of guests showing up and not being able to get in. But Disney quickly made it clear that even when capacity returned to normal the reservation system would stay.
Previously, if you had made a park reservation at Walt Disney World, but then your plans changed and you needed to change the park you had a reservation for, or change the date of the reservation, the only way to do that was to cancel your existing reservation entirely and then book a new one. Now, most reservations can be modified, this removes steps from the process, and just makes things easier.
The one remaining exception is Annual Passholders staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. Those reservations pull from a different set of available reservations than other ticket/AP reservations, and guests who book with that option will still need to cancel and rebook a reservation, but all others will now be able to change a reservation without canceling.
This is nice because sometimes you might not want to actually cancel your existing reservation until you’re sure you can get the other one. It would suck to cancel your reservation, discover there’s a problem with the new plan, then be unable to get your old reservation back. This should make the system easier to use, which at this point is all we can ask.
On paper the reservation system is designed to help Disney manage capacity. Previously, when you bought a ticket, Disney gave you a lot of freedom as to when and how you used that ticket. Now, you must have a reservation when you go for at least the first park you will visit. This way the resorts know how many people will be in each park on a given day, allowing for proper staffing and potentially, less crowding.
Even if it does these things, the system is still an extra hurdle that has proven to be confusing for the casual guest. It also results in other consequences, like limited park hopping, which is especially frustrating at Disneyland. It also has meant that some guests, like annual pass holders, lose the ability to get into the park when reservations are “sold out” while regular ticket holders can still make reservations, a situation that has resulted in a lawsuit against Disneyland Resort.
If changes and improvements continue to be made, perhaps the reservation system can be made less frustrating.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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