Disney World closure phases – when they occur and what they mean

Disney World parks can hold a lot of people, but certain times of year are so busy that they have to throttle the crowds coming into the parks as they approach full capacity.

Here's a list of what the closures mean, when they usually occur, and some tips for dealing with it if you're traveling during a busy time of year.

Closure phases

Disney World has used different nomenclature for the closure phases over the years. It used to be phase 1, 2, 3, and 4, but they have recently also started using A and B. It seems they often jump from A and B to phase 2 closure, so it may be that phase 1 has just been replaced by A and B.

Generally, the idea is that as they move through the phases, fewer and fewer people are allowed in to the parks. Details on each phase are in the chart at the bottom of this post.

These phases can change throughout the day as crowd levels in the parks change. For instance, Magic Kingdom may be in a closure phase mid-day and then have the closure lifted later in the day as guests leave.

When and what closures occur

There are a few times throughout the year that closures are often seen:

  • Easter week - usually just Magic Kingdom
  • July 4 - Magic Kingdom
  • Christmas through New Year's - definitely at Magic Kingdom, and occasionally at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom as well

If you're going during 1 of those times and want to avoid the crowds, here are my suggestions:

  • Choose a park other than Magic Kingdom. Animal Kingdom is my favorite choice on a busy day since it's the least popular of the 4 parks, but Epcot's large capacity makes it a good choice as well.
  • Consider watching July 4 fireworks from 1 of the Magic Kingdom-area resorts, but know that they often will scan MagicBands for people on the beach to see if you're a resort guest. The best way to do this would be to have a reservation at 1 of the restaurants in the resorts.
  • Take advantage of early Extra Magic Hours and then leave once the park starts to get busy.
  • Of course, you could always avoid the parks on busy days, but that's often difficult to do during Christmas week when closures occur often.

Who gets in

Except for phase 4 (which is rarely ever seen), these people will always be allowed in the parks during a closure phase:

  • Disney World resort guests
  • Walt Disney World Premier, Annual and Premium Passholders
  • Guests with dining reservations in the parks
  • Magic Kingdom guests w/reservations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Harmony Barber Shop or The Pirates League

Park phase closure chart

Here's a chart summarizing the phases, when they occur, and who is allowed in during each phase.

wdwclosures2 - Disney World closure phases - when they occur and what they mean


Any questions or additional thoughts on park closures? Feel free to share in the comments.

Ready to book a trip for 2018?

The handpicked team of agents at Prep School Travel can help you out. Fill out the info below to get started.

Leave a Reply

3 Comments on "Disney World closure phases – when they occur and what they mean"

newest oldest most voted

Hi. We are going the day after Christmas to Magic Kingdom. We are staying off property with family but have reservations for Breakfast at Be Our Guest, another reservation at The Pirates League and dinner at Tony’s after the parade. It looks we are okay for entry since we have dining and Pirates League reservations. What time would you recommend we arrive for an 8:40 breakfast reservation? I thought we were set until the EMH were added

So what your saying is that we should make sure that during these times we should get to the parks early so we get in? We will be there over Christmas and of course we are going to Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve.

ABSOLUTELY! My daughter worked there a few years ago. MK maxed out attendance, and closed the entrance before 10am on Christmas day that year. Don’t expect to actually do a whole lot, other than enjoy the Christmas magic 🙂 This is when you stake out very early for shows, and have ways of keeping occupied while waiting. Take turns with the family waiting. Don’t leave your perfect spot; and lay down bags and jackets to help preserve your space. A good Christmas Spirit is the best way to survive with happy memories 🙂

Animal Kingdom Epcot Hollywood Studios Magic Kingdom Water Parks
Overview of Epcot's Flower and Garden festival
Flower and Garden Festival officially underway! Here’s an overview.
Be Our Guest restaurant at Disney World | WDW Prep School
Fixed price dinner coming to Be Our Guest! Here’s tips for dining there.
Toy Story Land
Toy Story Land opening June 30, 2018! Here’s everything we know.
Planning Process Overview Step 1: Pick a Date Step 2: Lodging Step 3: Make a Daily Plan Step 4: Dining Step 5: Park Touring Step 6: Extra Magic
Celebrating birthdays at Disney World
Our favorite ideas for celebrating a birthday at Disney World
Guide to dining at Disney World
Disney World food (everything you need to know)
Be Our Guest restaurant at Disney World | WDW Prep School
Fixed price dinner coming to Be Our Guest! Here’s tips for dining there.
Babies and Toddlers Characters General Reference Group Travel Luxury Saving Money Special Needs Technology Transportation
How to handle the crowds at Disney World
How to handle the crowds at Disney World
When to tip at Disney World square
When to tip at Disney World
Toddler trip plan for Disney World
A trip plan for doing Disney World with toddlers