It’s happened! What we’ve all been waiting for for YEARS has finally happened — park passes are no longer required for most tickets to Disney World.
To be clear, all date-based tickets no longer require park pass reservations in Disney World, but Annual Passholders and other non-date-based tickets do still require park passes for the time being. So how has Disney World changed since park passes are no longer required? Let’s break it down.
Before park passes went away, Disney World crowds were still very intense the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which was to be expected. January has historically been a low-crowd month for Disney World (with the exception of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Weekend), so we were curious to see how this change would affect crowd levels.
While in the parks on January 9th, we noticed very low crowds. We visited all four parks and each them we much slower than the previous weeks.
EPCOT and Magic Kingdom also had lower amounts of people following the busy marathon week.
We were pleasantly surprised to see these lower amounts of visitors and with that some lower wait times. Perhaps people were able to be more spread out now that they could park hop all throughout the day.
Genie+ reservations can also sell out on super popular days in Disney World. Not only that, but park pass reservations could help you feel out how busy a day was going to be in a Disney park (if it’s sold out, get ready for a wild day), but the price of Genie+ per park can do that too. The higher the price, the more crowded it is. But how is Genie+ now?
Genie+ was on the lower priced side today. We were up right at 7AM to get some virtual queues for TRON Lightcycle / Run and Guardians of the Galaxy and noticed the prices weren’t too bad.
- Multiple Parks — $23
- Magic Kingdom — $23
- EPCOT — $17
- Hollywood Studios — $21
- Animal Kingdom — $15
We did notice getting Lightning Lanes for Annual Passholders was a little more complicated than normal. Even though the park hopping rules have changed, we could not select a Lightning Lane or Individual Lightning Lane before 2PM outside of the current park we were in.
Otherwise, Genie+ seemed to be operating as normal even without needing park pass reservations.
Not only have park passes gone away for most guests, but park hopping has now returned to normal as well! Yes, you can park hop from park to park whenever you’d like as long as you have a Park Hopper ticket. Previously, you couldn’t park hop until 2PM and you only had to have a park pass reservation for your first park, BUT you had to tap into that first park before you could park hop to any other. But has the removal of park passes affected park hopping at all?
When we park hopped on January 9th, we had no issues getting into any of the parks. As we said, the crowds were low, so none of the parks were too busy to let us in right away. But this may not always be the case. On busier days, the parks could fill up — though this is only common on a few days a year.
The only issue we had with park hopping was the Lightning Lane problem we shared above. We were able to park hop all 4 parks in 63 minutes, so that was a highlight of our day!
One of the main complaints with park passes was that it made it difficult for spontaneous trips to a Disney World park. This was especially the case for Orlando locals with annual passes, and while they will still need park passes (since annual passes aren’t date-based tickets), it also affected those coming in for a weekend. You had to plan out which park you were going to first, and then make sure you tapped in there before park hopping anywhere.
While you now don’t have to plan what park you need to be in at any specific time, you will want to keep in mind during busy seasons that the parks still can fill up! That means if you bought your park hopper ticket, you may have trouble getting into a park if it’s totally full.
The exception to the rule that Annual Passholders still need to make reservations are the “good to go” days. These are random days that Disney will have on the calendar during which you won’t need a reservation, you can simply show up! There are several important details to know about these “good to go” days that you can read about here!
If you’re planning a 2024 Disney World trip, we’re here to help you with your trip planning! However, you can also reach out to our friends at Small World Vacations to get a quote for your trip, and help with booking your tickets, hotels, dining plan, and more.
As always, stay tuned to DFB for all the latest Disney news!
How do you feel about the removal of park passes? Tell us in the comments!