Despite the Crowds, Disney World Continues to Operate Under Capacity Restrictions

Walt Disney World Capacity

Crowds have been ramping up at Walt Disney World theme parks since the holiday season, and they have continued right through spring break. With multiple days selling out on the Disney Park Pass reservation system and Guests reporting longer wait times and more crowded areas, many fans have been wondering what the current state of capacity restrictions is like at Walt Disney World.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney

Chief Financial Officer for the Walt Disney Company, Christine McCarthy recently shed some light on the subject:

“We don’t want to have the Parks bursting at the seams. We know how many people are going to the parks on a given day.” According to the CFO, being able to track how many Guests are in the park at any given time thanks to the Disney Park Pass Reservation system, gives Disney the ability to control crowds and support the best possible Guest experience.

Crowds at EPCOT

Source: Jennifer K via Inside the Magic

Of course, thoughts on current park capacity restrictions are mixed among Guests who must use the park reservation system. Anyone who visited immediately after the Disney World parks reopened in 2020 remembers those early pandemic days when capacity was severely decreased due to COVID-19 requirements for social distancing at the time, and especially compared to those days, the Disney experience in each theme park seems incredibly crowded now, even for Guests who opt to plan their days using Disney Genie and Lightning Lane.

Capacity has certainly increased since the reservation system was put in place. And now, with restrictions no longer dictated by local or state mandates related to COVID-19, Disney has full control over if and by how much capacity for the parks is increased.

Crowds at EPCOT

Credit: TK Bosacki/DisneyFanatic

Why do the parks feel so crowded if capacity limits are still in place then? There are a couple of reasons, but let’s unpack this a bit. While the majority of areas at Walt Disney World have reopened by now a number are still closed (this is most noticeable with the shops that are still closed around EPCOT’s World Showcase.)

And, with some entertainment options still waiting to return, and a couple of dining locations closed, all combined with continued staffing challenges, it makes sense that the parks might feel more crowded. We can’t forget about the impact of COVID-19 on us as Guests, too. For most Guests visiting the parks right now, crowds in a theme park will comprise the most other people they have been around in well, years.

About that Park Pass Reservation System? It looks like it’s here to stay much to the dismay of Guests who are tired of using it. Reservations are currently available through 2024, and with no-show consequences in effect, and figures from the Walt Disney Company now pointing out the benefits of the system on multiple occasions, it does not look like the Disney Park Pass Reservation System will be leaving anytime soon.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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