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Planning a Disney vacation may soon get easier, and for that you can thank the pandemic and the influencers — really

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Long article worth reading, but I'm just posting some snips




Disney has been rumored to be looking at a reservation-style system for years. In late 2015, Orlando Weekly’s Seth Kubersky noted that the (new at that time) security checkpoints found at the entrance of Orlando-based theme parks was just the start of a multi-step process to better handle safety and crowd levels. Those comments have proven prophetic, as Disney introduced a very similar system when the Orlando theme parks reopened in July. The system is currently in use due to social distancing required decreases in-park capacity. Similar approaches have been used at other attractions, such as the Louvre, for years as a way to better predict crowd levels.

The move to eliminate annual passes, at least in their previous form, may help address the self-entitlement that cast members have complained about for years. It may also help limit abuses to the system. Disney has played a game of cat and mouse with passholders abusing the system for years.



As with all admission tickets, the terms and conditions of annual passes strictly prohibit commercial uses, but that hasn’t slowed a steady stream of content creators and resellers from making covering the parks their sole source of income. Entire websites and YouTube channels are now dedicated to tracking the drama between Disney influencers. Even as some influencers are now questioning their symbiotic relationship with the massive corporation, there seems to be an endless supply of new fans willing to replace them.


Early in the pandemic, many content creators were panicking. On his website, Pirates and Princesses, Thom Pratt, who notes that covering Disney is just a “part-time income” for his family, acknowledges the days of full-time influencers filling Disney parks every hour that they’re open may be coming to an end.

“I do think the influencer bubble might burst because many people simply will have to find another career path as covering Disney parks as a full-time job simply isn’t viable right now,” Pratt says. He adds he’s thankful for his other sources of income: “As someone who used to literally cover Disney for a living, I am incredibly thankful I don’t rely on that as my primary income right now.”



In the August Q3 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek made it clear that the company was looking to go after higher-spending vacationers over 'less valuable' annual passholders when he said, "Different guests, depending on where they're coming from, have different relative values in terms of their contribution as a guest to the park. And typically, someone who travels and stays for five to seven days is marginally more valuable to the business than someone who comes in on an annual pass and stays a day or two and consumes less, you know, merchandise and food and beverage."



The park reservation system also seems to have limited the number of influencers in the parks as witnessed with the debut of new additions, like the recently opened bathrooms in the France pavilion, where crowds were seen but nowhere near the levels that such an event would've caused prior to the pandemic. The same can’t be true for Disney Springs, where no ticket or reservation is required. When local cookie bakery Gideon’s Bakehouse recently held its grand opening, influencers flocked to the event, causing an 11-hour long wait at the cookie bakery.

D'Amaro spoke to Roger Dow, the president of the U.S. Travel Association, in August indicating the current Disney World style reservation system is likely here to stay, stating that the system leads to a better experience for casts and guests alike.



Disney World’s digital FastPass system required weeks of planning before visiting, with the most popular attractions often filling up nearly two months early. At Disneyland, MaxPass seemed to merge the paperless FastPass system's benefits while keeping what made the original day-of FastPass system work. It allows guests to skip the lines but doesn’t require months of planning to get on rides. Once FastPass returns to Disney World, the system may resemble MaxPass more than the previous FastPass+ system.

Disney World may also look to its older sister in California for another big move. Prior to closing, Disneyland allowed for dining reservations just 60 days in advance, while Walt Disney World had pushed out the reservations to a full six months. For Disney World visitors, having to decide when and where they were going to eat half a year before visiting, followed by having to book their ride reservations two months before visiting, proved confusing and stressful.

When Walt Disney World reopened in July, the dining reservation window had shrunk to the same 60-day format used in California. There’s no indication that this will change post-pandemic. Instead, Disney looks to be using this once-in-a-lifetime slowdown to address out-of-control reservation and annual pass systems that made parks on both coasts far less enjoyable than they once were.


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As much as we like Disney we were getting a bit annoyed on having to book almost everything well before we got there as by the time we got there things or just what we wanted to do could change We would prefer the old paper fast passes even if we had to hustle early to try to get what we wanted then add on as we could. I am even at the point where selling our DVC would not bother me at all.

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I liked the old reservations and FP+ systems.  I don't park hop, so planning my park way in advance was fine, and having the dining reservations and FP+ done before I went to the parks, made the days in the parks much more enjoyable for me.  If they change it, I'll adapt like usual, but I do hope they keep early combo dinner reservations and a spot for the special events, like Candlelight Processional or Fantasmic.  Those made planning easier, too. 

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21 hours ago, bhall said:

Am I the only one that likes to wing it?  who knows what I'll be in the mood for to eat or what ride I want to try 3 months or more ahead of time let alone that very morning.

We know which rides are our favorites or which restaurants we either really want to eat at again or try for the first time. This guarantees we get those specific things. We pretty much wing the rest. 

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On 1/22/2021 at 9:24 PM, bhall said:

Am I the only one that likes to wing it?  who knows what I'll be in the mood for to eat or what ride I want to try 3 months or more ahead of time let alone that very morning.

We are Team Wing It all the way.  We kind of plan park days around what's open latest and isn't likely to be the most crowded, and mostly wander around.  If something we want to ride has too long a wait, we skip it and come back another time.

But that said, we're usually there for a few weeks at a whack and try not to go during super busy times, so it's not usually a problem getting out "must do" list knocked out.

We will also snag FPs on the fly through the app.  Again, got to be flexible, but if we're headed in a particular direction I'll check and it pans out more often than you might think.

One exception... TSMM.  I will snag all the FPs I can for that. I once lucked out near park close and managed to ride it 3 times in a row with a FP, a 15 minute wait, and the last time was essentially a walk on. My arm was jello by the time we left the park.

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