Updated February 21, 2023
Booking a Disney trip is in some ways, more complex than ever. While you no longer need to worry about booking Lightning Lanes (or Fastpasses) in advance, the limited park capacity means that dining reservations and even more crucial, park reservations, are difficult to come by. If you’re anything like us, you may be booking a trip “last minute” (aka within a month or two), meaning that park pass availability could easily be limited to full. So how do you get a park pass reservation when they’re unavailable for your dates of travel?
How To Get A Park Pass Reservation When They’re Unavailable
First of all, don’t call or chat with the internet help desk, cast members, etc. Sadly, they can’t help you any more than the online portal. Instead, your most important tactic is going to be persistence. Park passes can become available in one of two ways: a. Disney opens additional availability for that day or b. someone cancels a pass for that day.
Your best option is to check back often and refresh the page constantly in hopes of a cancellation. As stressful as it may be, this is unfortunately going to be more fruitful in the weeks/days leading up to your trip – people are much more likely to be rearranging plans and therefore cancelling existing reservations at that time.
Something important to note regarding the reservation availability calendar – this shows which park are available at any given moment. However, it does NOT take into account cancellations that cause availability to momentarily pop up. In order to see this, you need to be trying to book and happen to come across something that someone just cancelled. From personal experience – we’ve been able to get SOMETHING many, many times, but it does take persistence!
Disney Opening Additional Availability
We recommend following Walt Disney World News Today (WDWNT) on Instagram or Twitter in order to stay abreast of new park pass availability – they generally will post immediately when something drops. Disney sporadically adds new availability so there’s no guarantee, especially if your dates are coming up soon.
A few tips for this – we’ve heard (by word of mouth from our friends and followers only, this is in absolutely no way verified or even tested by us) that Disney potentially opens passes at: midnight, 4 AM, 7 AM, and 1 PM. We’ve also heard that two weeks prior to a date, Disney will add more availability when they move some of the annual Passholder reservation availability into the general theme park/resort guest availability. We’ve also seen them drop large batches at the beginning of one month for the following or next (so at the beginning of May, opening more availability for June/July).
Refresh, Refresh, Refresh
Some other tips – if you don’t want to refresh the page over and over yourself, install a Chrome extension, such as Easy Auto Refresh, that you can set to refresh the page periodically (like, every two seconds). Set it aside in a smaller window and keep an eye on it while you work.
However, as a note – we’ve seen better success NOT using an automated refresher. It’s possible that this doesn’t actually re-check the system for cancellations. Rather, it’s better to go back, click to a different day, and then click back to the day you want and re-check the parks in order to make sure that it’s truly re-checking the database.
A very unfortunate part of the park pass reservation system is that for NON-Annual Passholders, you cannot modify an existing park pass reservation. That means that if you happen to find availability for one park, but it wasn’t the exact park that you wanted to go to that day, you’ll have to decide if you want to take it and just accept the change in plans, or if you’d prefer to keep looking. Ideally, you’d be able to hold onto your pass until you can modify it to a different one, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.