Disney World Holidays Planning Tips

Park Capacity and Closing Phases Explained

Closing Phases at Disney World

What happens when the Parks are full?





It doesn’t happen often But occasionally the Parks do reach their maximum capacity. Especially during this is the time of year when massive amounts of people flock to Walt Disney World to celebrate the holiday season and ring in the New Year. Easter and the Fourth of July are also potentially high crowd times where the Parks may fill up. When that happens you may hear certain words that may not be familiar. “Capacity” and “closing phases” in particular. “Capacity” is most likely self-explanatory. The Park has reached its capacity and is too full for anyone else to enter. As for closing phases… that is a bit more nuanced. Let’s break it down phase by phase.

Phase A:





When a Park is  nearly at their limit, Disney will initiate Phase A.  During this Phase it is still possible to be admitted into the Park if you fall under catagories:

-Those with Park Hopper Tickets and are re-entering or hopping from another park.





-Walt Disney Resort Hotel Guests (also includes Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green)

-Those staying at select Good Neighbor Hotels

-Golden Oak Residents
Walt Disney World Annual and Premium Passholders or Premier Passholders

-Guests with Advanced Dining Reservations including dessert parties.

-Guests to Magic Kingdom with appointments at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, The Pirates League and Harmony Barber Shop

-Guests who purchased Memory Maker

No admission to guests with single-day non-hopper ticket (even with FP+ reservations), so if you plan on just going for the day, it may be wise to avoid holidays.

Phase B:

If Phase A has been enacted and crowd levels are still high, Disney may go to Phase B.  This means that walk-ups will still be turned away as well as those staying off-site with single day ticket. Guests hopping parks will also not be allowed in unless they meet the following criteria:

-Guest of a Walt Disney World Resort (including Swan, Dolphin and Shades of Green)

-Those staying at Select Good Neighbor Hotels

-Residents of Golden Oak

-Walt Disney World Annual and Premium Passholders or Premier Passholders

-Guests with Advanced Dining Reservations including dessert parties.

-Guests to Magic Kingdom with appointments at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, The Pirates League and Harmony Barber ShopGuests who purchased Memory Maker

Past this stage their are numerous subcatagories of a Phase B shut down. They are:

Phase 1: During this stage, guests with single-day tickets or walk-ups will be turned away at the parking lots. The same goes for Cast Members with Main Gate and Silver Passes.  Guests that may still enter includes:

-Guests with multi-day park ticketsGuest of a Walt Disney World Resort (including Swan, Dolphin and Shades of Green)

-Those staying at Select Good Neighbor Hotels

-Walt Disney World Annual and Premium Passholders or Premier Passholders

-Guests that are Park Hopping

-Guests relying on Disney Transporation (buses, boats and monorail)

-Guests with Advanced Dining Reservations including dessert parties.

Phase 2: This is when things are really getting uncomfortable.  At this stage admission is limited to:

-Guests that have purchased 1-day Magic Kingdom Park Tickets in advance

-Guest of a Walt Disney World Resort (including Swan, Dolphin and Shades of Green)

-Those staying at select Good Neighbor Hotels

-Walt Disney World Annual and Premium Passholders or Premier Passports

-Guests with Hopper Tickets coming from another park

-Guests re-entering the park guests with Advanced Dining Reservations including dessert parties.

-Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League

Phase 3:  At this point, the park is at a nearly complete shutdown. Some guests are still permitted entry though.  Those sill allowed entry are as follows:

-Guest of a Walt Disney World Resort (including Swan, Dolphin, and Shades of Green)

-Those staying at select Good Neighbor Hotels

-Walt Disney World Annual and Premium Passholders or Premier Passports

-Guests with Advanced Dining Reservations including dessert parties.Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League

Phase 4: At this stage, the Disney theme park is a wall to wall sea of people. Phase 4 is pretty much completely closed.  The park will no longer allow guests entry.  It doesn’t matter if you are staying on site or off or whether or not you have reservations.  Though Disney doesn’t reach a Phase 4 very often, if the Magic Kingdom were to reach this on Christmas Day, any guests not in the park before Disney declares the Phase 4 would need to make alternate plans.

How will I know?  Guests traveling the week before Christmas or the week between Christmas and New Year’s are advised to check My Disney Experience and disneyworld.com for any possible closures before heading to the parks. The My Disney Experience App will give an  alerts if closures happen.  If you are staying on-site at the front desk and concierge will also be able to provide these details for you.

Any parting words of advice? 

If you find yourself at the Parks during a capacity closure we have just 6 words for you: may the force be with you. In all seriousness though, it is totally possible to be at Walt Disney World during high crowd times, even on days where the parks reach capactiy, and still have a great time! For a full list of our ideas for managing the crowds click here!

 




Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins is a lifelong Disney fan and mom to a precocious three year old son. Her first visit to Walt Disney World was in 1987 (when she was two) and she has made well over a dozen trips since. When Jill isn't at Disney, she's eitherplanning her next trip or scheming up ways to convince her husband to agree to go to Disney.


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