Major theme parks offer a variety of ways to buy tickets, book hotel rooms and make restaurant reservations. (Soon, you'll even be making ride-time reservations with certain packages at the Walt Disney World Resort.) But how do you prefer to do all of that - online, over the phone or by email? Or, if you just love waiting in lines, how about in person?
Since we're asking you this question online, I suppose it's reasonable to assume that our vote will skew in favor of the online option. But let's look at some of the pluses and minuses of all the options first.
On the Web, you've got immediacy. But it's up to you to wade through the available options. If you've got questions about potential alternatives, or can't find the exact option you're wanting, you might be out of luck. (For links to various parks' online reservation systems, please visit our How to get the best deals on theme park tickets page.)
Over the phone, you've got a couple more possibilities. You could speak with a live operator, or work your way through an automated voice menu. (Walt Disney World's automated voice menu has, uh, acquired a bit of a reputation over the years….) Operators are great for flexibility, answering questions and guiding you through options you might not have considered. But you could be on hold for a while waiting for one. And if you're not interested in exploring all those upsells - and just want to book your ressie - well, you might be in for a bit of conflict. Automated systems can frustrate, too, but at least they're almost always instantly available.
You can use email to book at some parks, too, though you'll have to wait for a response to be certain you got what you wanted. Disneyland uses email for its online restaurant reservations. And you probably shouldn't send credit card numbers via email unless you're doing so via secure connections, which I don't know that any parks use for this sort of thing.
Finally, there's just showing up and doing things in person. That's a terrible call for buying tickets on the morning of a busy summer day. But for a spur of the moment visit on a slow day? What the heck.
Please tell us some of your success and/or horror stories with making reservations at theme parks, in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading and being part of the Theme Park Insider community. Have a great weekend!
The operators on Universal's passholder hotline are always extremely friendly and helpful, so I've never had any complaints.
Get to skip the fine print! I know I need to,have tickets to get into the park to eat
I love speaking with Disney phone reservation specialists and will call from time to time if I have any questions, but booking online is much better all around.
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Last week I spent a few days at the Disneyland Resort and booked reservations by phone through Disney Dining for the Blue Bayou, Golden Vine Winery, and the Carthay Circle Restaurant. I booked these reservations separately yet at each restaurant my reservation wasn't found. Luckily each restaurant was able to honor my missing reservation. I can understand one mistake, but to have 3 separate phone operators fail to properly book a reservation makes me believe there are big problems with their system. At each restaurant the host riffled through a box of paper reservations trying to find mine. I'm astonished that Disney appears to have such a low-tech reservation system.
Has anyone else had similar issues? Has anyone tried the email reservation program?