Whether you are planning a vacation to Florida's Walt Disney World or a visit to California's Disneyland, there is one thing you absolutely must not do on your Disney trip.
So what is that? To show up at a Disney theme park without a park reservation.
Sure, long-time Theme Park Insider readers and Disney fans are probably sick of hearing this advice by now. But plenty of Disney visitors - especially in California - continue to arrive at the parks without having made a reservation that allows them to use their Disney tickets for the day.
Ever since the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts reopened after their pandemic closures, their parks have required guests to make a reservation to visit, whether they have a ticket, an annual pass, or Disneyland's new Magic Key pass. Many other theme parks ditched their reservation requirements once they were no longer required by their local governments to limit the number of people visiting the parks. Those restrictions are gone now in Orlando and Anaheim, too, but Disney has kept its reservation requirement.
Why? As I explained in my newspaper column, Why does Disneyland seem so crowded if capacity is limited?, Disney is using its reservation system on both coasts to drive guests from visiting on traditionally over-crowded days to coming on less-busy ones. The idea is smooth out the attendance peak and valleys so that every day at a Disney theme park is equally crowded - but not too crowded.
Some annual pass and Magic Key holders have complained that Disney also is using the reservation system to limit the number of passholders allowed into the park on any given date, creating more space for "regular" ticket buyers.
Disney's theme park reservations are park-specific. You can't show up to the turnstiles at Disneyland in the morning with a Disney California Adventure reservation for that date and expect to get in. Disney's cast members will direct you across the esplanade to enter the park you reserved, instead. Even if you have a Park Hopper ticket, you will not be allowed to visit other theme parks until after 1pm at Disneyland and after 2pm at Walt Disney World. That's another change that the Disney theme parks have implemented since their reopening.
So remember this - or spread the word to anyone you know who is planning a Disney visit - be sure you make a park reservation in addition to buying a Disney theme park ticket or annual pass. Here are the links to do that:
If you are looking for tickets to Disneyland, here is a reminder that Theme Park Insider's travel partner offers those at a discount on its Disneyland tickets page.
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Update: The Disneyland Resort on Tuesday cut off sales of its Magic Key annual passes.Tweet
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