Park Closings at Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
WALT DISNEY WORLD PARK CLOSINGS
When Walt Disney World theme parks become, in Disney’s judgment, too crowded, it begins to close them to new guests.
- Disney World park closures happens most commonly during the Christmas-New Year’s periods, Easter Week, and the Fourth of July.
- The theme park most commonly closed is the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot is the least commonly closed.
Some visitor types are more at risk to Disney World park closures than others.
WHO HAS THE MOST AND LEAST RISK OF BEING TURNED AWAY FROM A DISNEY THEME PARK
Disney has several levels of theme park closure–ranging from turning away only those who are driving their own car to its theme park parking lots to closing a park to all new visitors.
You will be most at risk to park closure if you are not staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, have not yet purchased your tickets when you arrive at the park, and are driving or using something other than Walt Disney World transportation to arrive at the parks.
You will be least at risk if you are a Walt Disney World resort hotel guest, already have your tickets, and use Disney transportation to get to the park.
These varying risks come from the sequence of procedures Disney uses to limit access to a Disney World theme park that is becoming crowded.
- First it closes the park’s parking lot, excluding new car-based arrivals
- Second, it excludes all other transportation except that from the Walt Disney World resort hotels. That is, the park will be closed to taxis, buses from off-site hotels, etc.
- Third, it stops selling tickets
- Finally, it closes the park entirely to everyone
Walt Disney World resort hotel guests who have tickets and use Disney transportation (Disney buses, boats and monorails) are affected only by the last closing stage.
Other visitor types can be affected by any of the stages.
SOME SUBTLETIES ABOUT PARK CLOSINGS
Parks that fully close can re-open later that day, which makes resorts within walking distance–the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower at the Magic Kingdom, and the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club at Epcot–particularly valuable.
From the Epcot resorts you can walk not only to Epcot but also to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which makes these resorts particularly flexible at times of the year with horrible crowds.
Disney World resort hotel guests are guaranteed access to “a” park–which means that not more than three parks will ever be entirely closed.
The open parks may not include the one you wish, so on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, Easter Sunday, and the Fourth of July, it’s good to plan to be at Epcot anyway–the park least likely to close.
If a park is fully closed, no circumstance will get you in until it re-opens–not the fact that you were there earlier in the day and don’t have a park hopper, nor even that you have a dining reservation in it.
Fully closed is fully closed.