As big as Walt Disney World is, they do have their limits. Certain days of the year are so popular that Disney has a plan on how to deal with attendance. If you decide to take the chance and attend on those busy days, this is important information for you to read.
Phase 1 Park Closure: The following will be turned away at the parking lot booth:
- Hold a “Magic Your Way” ticket
- Non-Magic Kingdom one-day ticket
- Cast Member passes
- Have not purchased any ticket, yet
The attendants will have you turn around and head the other way. You are able to drive to another Disney theme park to see if they will let you in, because those parks may not have hit capacity, yet.
Phase 2 Park Closure: In addition to Phase 1, everyone is stopped from entering except the people in the list below. If the parking lots are full for anyone on the list below, that merely stops their car from entering and parking during this phase. Those people could park in another theme park lot and take transportation to the desired theme park during this phase as long as you fall under one of the following:
- Disney Resort guests
- Swan and Dolphin resort guests
- Annual Passholders
- Guests with Park Hopper tickets coming from another park
- Guests who are re-entering the park
- Guests who have dining reservations inside a park
- Guests who have reservations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/Pirates League
- Guests who pre-purchased one-day Magic Kingdom tickets
- Guests who have used Walt Disney World Transportation from their resort and guests riding on a bus from Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels by Disney Springs
Phase 3 Park Closure: The list of people allowed into the parks is shrinking! At this point, only the following are allowed in the park.
- Disney resort guests
- Annual Passholders
- Guests with dining reservations (proof of reservation required to enter)
- Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/Pirates League.
Phase 4 Park Closure: The Park is now closed to EVERYONE until a significant number of people leave the Park.
Just because a park is closed, does not mean the other 3 parks are closed. It's important to be flexible during the busy times knowing you could be turned away. The Magic Kingdom tends to fill up first. If you can't get into the Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning, plan on going to one of the other parks.
Christmas Week through New Year's Day tend to be the days that have the most probability of hitting capacity. On New Year's Eve in 2014, the Magic Kingdom was in Phase 2 by 9:40 am. Shortly after 11 am, the Magic Kingdom was in Phase 3. It wasn't long before they were in Phase 4 for several hours.
In my opinion, it appears to me that staying in a Disney hotel and using Disney's transportation are the smoothest ways to gain entry to all parks.