Well, magical friends, we are right smack in the middle of the holiday season, my favorite time of year!  With this festive season upon us, the parks are brimming with cheer, sparkle and crowds.  Big ones.  As we inch closer to the busiest week of the year for Walt Disney World, here’s the lowdown on park capacity closures, which can and do happen between Christmas and New Year’s.  Note that Disney policy may change at any time, and these closures are based on experience rather than an official, available-to-the-public guide.

Phase 1

Phases start at the parking plazas, as this is where guests not allowed to enter the actual park will be told.  Guests without tickets, with single-day, single-park tickets and cast member passes are not admitted to the parking lot.  Note that if you’re arriving via Disney transportation, you may not be subject to this stipulation if you hold one of the mentioned ticket media.

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Phase 2

In phase 2, they’ll get you at the touchpoints, as well as the parking plaza.  This time you’re only getting in if you’re a Disney resort guest, annual passholder, returning to the park from earlier in the day, hopping from another park or have dining, recreation, etc. reservations in the park.  If you’re coming in via Disney transport, again, you may be able to sidestep some of this, as the number of guests in the park changes minute-by-minute.

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Get Park Wise: Park closures only affect a single park, so if Magic Kingdom is closed to additional guests, you are more than welcome to hit one of the other three major parks.  This is why it’s an extremely good idea to invest in the park hoppers if you’re traveling during these typically very busy days.

Phase 3

We’re getting close to meltdown phase…at least for your five year old who had her heart set on Christmas with the castle.  Annual passholders, Disney resort guests and those with in-park reservations can come in, and that’s it.  No sneaking by via Disney transportation.

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Get Park Wise: If you’re a guest staying at a non-Disney hotel on Disney property such as the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, Downtown Disney are hotels, etc., check with guest services about whether or not you are able to take advantage of the “Disney resort guest” title.  These perks can and do change.

Phase 4

Do not pass go!  No one’s getting in, it’s locked down tight!  Nothing, not even a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table, is getting you beyond the gates during a phase 4.  Luckily, the parks don’t typically reach this stage, but if you’re traveling during high season with coveted dining for the aforementioned royal restaurant with a hefty cancellation fee, it’s a good idea to arrive at rope drop in the morning and settle in until your reservation.

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Remember, park closures can be lifted due to guest numbers changing as crowds come and go. Ask where you can queue up to wait for the next available spot into the park if you get locked out.

Have you ever experienced Walt Disney World park capacity closures? How do you handle extreme crowding and park closures on your holiday trips to the parks?

 

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