Disney World, Planning

WDW Park Closure Phases

CLOSED

It’s almost that time of year again!  The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is considered the busiest week at Walt Disney World, and carries the greatest chance of a park reaching guest capacity and having to close their gates to incoming guests.  It is important to understand exactly how Disney treats park capacity situations before you begin changing your plans.  Often times, guests will hear that a park is closed due to capacity and will change their plans without fully being aware that there are different phases of closure where admittance is only closed for certain guests.

The park most likely to reach capacity is the Magic Kingdom.  The next parks to close would be Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, mostly because their park capacities are the smallest.  Epcot is the largest park, and therefore the least likely to reach capacity.

If you are going to be visiting Walt Disney World during a time when parks are likely to reach capacity, the first thing you want to do is book your room at a Disney resort.  Staying off site puts you at risk of being shut out of a park closure phase, as Disney resort guests will receive priority. Below is an outline of the different phases of Disney park capacity closures:

Phase 1 Closure

Guests with one day base tickets, cast member passes, or without a ticket (planning to purchase at the gate) will be turned away at the parking booths.  The following guests may still enter the park:

  • Disney resort guests
  • Guests with multi-day or park hopper tickets
  • Annual pass holders (blackout dates apply for certain pass types)
  • Guests that are re-entering that park from earlier the same day
  • Guests that are park hopping from another park
  • Guests with reservations such as dining or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (FastPass+ reservations do not count)

Phase 2 Closure

During a Phase 2 closure, the same guests will be turned away at the parking booths as the Phase 1 closure, with the addition of off site guests with multi day or park hopper tickets.  The only guests permitted in the parks will be:

  • Disney resort guests
  • Annual pass holders (blackout dates apply for certain pass types)
  • Guests that are re-entering that park from earlier the same day
  • Guests that are park hopping from another park
  • Guests with reservations such as dining or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (FastPass+ reservations do not count)

Phase 3 Closure

At this point, it becomes easier to just list those that can enter the parks:

  • Disney resort guests
  • Annual pass holders (blackout dates apply for certain pass types)
  • Guests with reservations such as dining or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (FastPass+ reservations do not count)

Phase 4 Closure

Once a park reaches this level of capacity, it will close to all guests.

Technically, you could still enter the park at a Phase 3 closure with a dining reservation as a day or off-site guest.  With that in mind, remember that if you cancel your dining reservation at the last minute or are a no-show, you are charged $10 per person on the reservation.  If a park reaches a Phase 3 closure and your family decides to go to a different park or just relax at your resort to avoid the crowds, you will be stuck with the cancelation fee.  Even the most detailed plans can change from day-to-day, so it’s important to keep that in mind if you want to use that tactic to ensure your admittance to the parks.

If you are thinking of visiting a Disney park during a busy time, please take advantage of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to assist you with your planning!

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