Walt Disney World cancels reservations and adds dining plans

Guests at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Changes coming to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Prompted by guest feedback, the company said Monday, Disney is updating some park policies to better accommodate both domestic and overseas visitors.

To start, Disney World will remove theme park reservation requirements for date-based tickets beginning January 9, 2024. This reverses a pandemic-era policy that required guests to plan visits before arriving at the parks by going through a two-step process, which involved purchasing a ticket and then selecting a reservation date. .

Now, there will only be one step: buying a ticket for a specific date.

Annual pass holders will be required to make reservations on most visits. However, Disney plans to roll out Good Days, which will not require park reservations.

The change adds to the recently adopted rule that pass holders can visit any of Disney’s theme parks in Orlando after 2 p.m. without a reservation. The only exception is entry to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday.

Disney’s latest series of operational updates is part of its broader strategy to reduce friction points for guests. The company’s parks division is one of the most lucrative segments of its overall business, and it attributes its success to strong customer experiences.

The House of Mouse is looking for ways to improve the guest experience, with new rides and attractions, better dining options, magical moments with characters or updates to its resorts. The company aimed to adapt to customer feedback — including some guests’ concerns that the park’s reservation system was confusing or inconvenient.

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As part of the changes announced Monday, Disney also said it is restoring dining plans for those who stay at resort hotels after Jan. 9, 2024. Disney also announced that it is extending early admission to theme parks for hotel guests through 2024.

The company said Monday that it could make more changes in the future. Disney is looking to address concerns about its Genie and Genie+ itinerary programs, which were launched during the pandemic.

These digital offerings are designed to improve guest experiences at the parks, allowing them to schedule their days more effectively, with access to estimated wait times and restaurant reservations. Along with Lightning Lane, guests also have the option to pay for a shorter wait for Disney’s top attractions.

Currently, guests only have access to their Genie and Genie+ itineraries on the day of their visit. Disney said it’s working on ways that guests can make their choices before they visit, so they can spend less time planning and more time enjoying the park.

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