Is the New Park Reservation System Effective?
Now that we've had a few days with the new parks reservation system for Walt Disney World, with the complaints and kudos that come along with it, the question begs asking about the effectiveness of it.
The truth is, maybe.
The purpose of the system is to manage guest flow to the parks and manage capacity across the resort. This is critical to the safe re-opening of Walt Disney World. And in that sense, it's a success. Guest patterns can now be predictably managed and guests are able to return to the parks.
The challenge will be to manage the high volume of requests to the full-day of attraction parks (Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) against the less than a full-day of attraction parks (EPCOT and Animal Kingdom). Clearly, if ticket prices are the same to full-day and half-day parks, people are going to prefer going to the ones where they maximize time there.
Before, you start questioning that logic, hear me out.
There are going to clearly be fewer crowds which, based on what Disney is saying, means no need for the virtual queue or FastPass system. We know that some attractions (such Rise of the Resistance, Test Track, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage) will have longer queues but many others will be virtual walk on attractions. For Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, that will allow for a full day of fun. For EPCOT with 8 attractions and Animal Kingdom with about the same, and shows either "paused" or altered, there isn't going to be much to do once you've hit the attractions, unless you pay additional money to participate in the Taste of EPCOT or go shopping.
If you're a DVC member there for a week, you aren't going to want to spend your days in those 1/2 day parks. Even if you're a local Annual Passholder, you will grow tired of the Taste of EPCOT once you've ate what you've wanted and aren't going to want to see Pandora time after time.
There are a few things that Disney can do to improve this.
First, they could allow timed park hopping between Animal Kingdom and EPCOT, with you given a morning time slot for one and an afternoon time slot for the other, controlled by wrist bands similar to after hours parties. That would make it more appealing since you'd get a full day's worth of a ticket.
Second, they could offer incentives to visit Animal Kingdom or EPCOT to attract more interest. For instance, a collectible magnet, poster, or similar item that changes each month could be offered to Animal Kingdom guests and a free sample plate from the Taste of EPCOT.
Third, limit the number of times a guest can book a park to 2 times a week and those holding a valid Annual Passport for local residents can only pick one of those parks each week. That reduces the number of times the same person can book the same park and opens up reservations for others.
As with everything, this is going to be a work in progress and guests need to understand that these are exceptional times. At the end of the day, there will likely be compliments and complaints regardless of the system implemented. If you're planning to go, you either need to pack your patience and accept the framework for getting in.