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Walt Disney World park reservation system slammed on opening day

People who already had hotel reservations encountered a day of glitches, including messages that 2020 is fully booked.

Walt Disney World’s new theme park reservation system was slammed by fans when it went live for select guests on Monday —and some days are already sold out at the theme parks that will reopen next month.

Disney opened its system first for people who already had a Walt Disney World hotel reservation. It goes live to annual passholders on Friday and to the general public on Sunday, but they may find days already booked. A Disney spokeswoman said Monday that there is still availability for most parks on most days throughout the year.

Parkgoers were met with a number of glitches on the new system’s opening day, but that didn’t keep fans from selling out the opening days of Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15 and 16.

Hollywood Studios was the first of Disney’s four theme parks to reach capacity, according to the availability calendar published by Walt Disney World. The park’s new attraction Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been a big upgrade for Hollywood Studios. Its new ride, Rise of the Resistance, was often fully booked within a half-hour of the park’s opening, back before the coronavirus pandemic.

When the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom open on July 11, followed by Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15, guests will have to secure a spot in advance for their day at the theme parks. Visitors will longer be able to “park hop” between Disney’s four theme parks as the company attempts to contain crowds by limiting park capacity.

Guests will also be required to wear face masks and get their temperatures checked when visiting, and they will find that features such as parades and fireworks will be missing in an effort to prevent crowds from gathering.

But that isn’t stopping Disney fans.

On Monday morning, those who already had a Disney hotel reservation used a My Disney Experience account and a valid theme park ticket or annual pass to reserve a day at one of the four theme parks.

Related: No park hopping or Fast Passes and other big changes coming when Disney World reopens

Many people on social media reported problems, with long wait times and trouble getting through to the reservation page. By midday, many were reporting there was limited availability or that they were getting a message saying reservations were full for the rest of 2020.

That was likely a glitch, said Len Testa, president of travel website Touring Plans, which uses data and high-tech analysis to predict crowd levels at theme parks.

“To say that the reservation system had glitches is like saying the Titanic had a little trouble,” Testa said.

Testa secured three days of park reservations for himself, but it took a few hours, he said. One hack his team found was to make a dining reservation first, which has a separate log-in from the park pass system, and then get a park reservation from there.

The next big test will be Friday, when annual passholders will be able to get a park pass, and on Sunday when the system opens to the general public to buy park tickets or make hotel reservations for arrivals in 2021.

To visit a park, guests will have to first register with the Disney Park Pass System at disneyworld.com. Those who have a park ticket or annual pass will also need a My Disney Experience account to secure reservations. Once registered, visitors will find a calendar with available dates for each Disney World theme park. Tickets between family members and friends can be tied together. Those with multi-day tickets must make reservations for each day of the visit.

Among the other major changes tied to the coronavirus pandemic is the cancellation of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, an after-hours, extra-ticket event in Magic Kingdom. Also, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will have an early July start date, but the Eat to the Beat concert series of pop and rock acts has been canceled. Both measures are aimed at reducing clusters of crowds in the theme parks.

Related: Disney announces big changes to Halloween party, Epcot food fest

New hotel packages and park tickets for 2021 will be available starting Sunday. Visitors will be able to see park reservation availability on disneyworld.com before buying tickets.

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