Being an Annual Passholder for Walt Disney World grants the holder many perks: discounts, (mostly) year-round park access, and special events. It also results in a frenetic, email morning surprise for holders eager to ride one of Disney’s most-anticipated new attractions.
I know what you’re thinking—what could be so hard about enjoying early access to a new attraction themed to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most audacious troupe? Well, that requires some explanation into attractions previews, virtual queues for popular rides, and the fact that Disney memberships, regardless of price, don’t guarantee access to events.
As mentioned in my article, What We Know About Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, certain people get to preview the ride before it opens to the general population on May 27. Those people are D23 Members, DVC members, and Annual Passholders (AP holders). If you want my full breakdown of what we know about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind so far, check out my podcast—the Defacto Dad podcast.
Importantly, none of the above mentioned are guaranteed access to previews; instead, access is given on a first come, first serve registration process. None of this impacts early access for media outlets, popular Disney YouTubers, or TikTok stars cherry-picked by Disney.
Previews are highly sought-after, perhaps more so now that the internet has pulled the curtain back on the Disney-universe. In addition to the ability to enjoy a brand new attraction before others, a preview is attractive because people want to avoid the anticipated wait times on opening day and beyond. Additionally, Disney has implemented a “virtual queue” system in recent years upon the opening of new attractions, which has resulted in varying levels of guest satisfaction.
For example, when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened in 2019, guests were required to use their My Disney Experience App at specified times to attempt to secure a time slot to return and ride the attraction. That’s right—guests with park tickets (in a world before the park pass reservation system) were not guaranteed a ride on what is still one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World—even if they had a ticket to Hollywood Studios. Further, there were only two time periods a day when guests could attempt to secure a spot in the virtual queue (7 AM and 1 PM) and guests had to be inside Hollywood Studios to make those reservations at 1PM. Though this was likely intended to curb lengthy wait times, it led to large crowds when guests were attempting to enter the park, or join the virtual queue in-person.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure over at EPCOT also opened with a virtual queue requirement last year. Both rides no longer require the virtual queue process, but each is considered a “Individual Lightning Lane” attraction. This means guests have the option to purchase access to the Lightning Lane to skip the long lines for each of these rides, respectively. It’s worth noting that the Lightning Lane options tend to sell out very quickly each day. Obviously, the topic of Individual Lightning Lanes and Genie+ could warrant its own article series—let me know if you would like to read that—so I will stop short of writing an entire novel on the subject.
I mention all that because we don’t know what method of securing access to the attraction Walt Disney World will require next month. If there is a virtual queue, we don’t know how long it will be in-place. We also don’t know whether it will be a Lightning Lane option, or, if so, how much it will cost. So, savvy Walt Disney World Fans wanting to avoid the long lines and virtual queues have been checking their inboxes with watchful eyes for any sign of previews. And, Disney, in quick fashion, this week opened up access to D23 Members, DVC Members, and AP holders.
Here is a quick breakdown of what happened, and my experience trying to get early access to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind:
D23 Member Preview. This event is on May 15, and looks to be a hybrid media event. And it was a steal! For $35, guests could enter EPCOT after 4PM, partake in park fun, receive a $20 voucher to purchase food (during the International Flower & Garden Festival, no less), and enjoy reserved viewing for Harmonious, the nighttime firework show. According to the D23 press release, after the show, guests are to head over to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and enjoy the ride. Guests are also guaranteed some sort of commemorative gift.
Access to purchase these preview tickets started at 1 PM EST this past Monday. At that time, we were required to join the queue, wait for access, enter our D23 password, select tickets, then checkout. My wife and I planned for this event and were ready when the queue opened. I refreshed the page right on time, and was instantly placed in a queue with a 6 minute wait. After those agonizing minutes I logged in to see my fate: the event was sold out. Yes, six minutes after it was made available. My wife for some reason decided to film our reactions and they are as funny as you are imagining. Based on others’ reactions online, we were not alone in our failure. Dejected, we accepted our fate.
DVC Members. I am not a DVC member, but I’ve learned that members received an email with a link to register for their previews. The email with this information was sent one day before registration opened, and it explained that registration would open at 9 AM. It was revealed that DVC member previews are limited to May 9 and May 18. Apparently, the registration process was also popular, resulting in the event filling up quickly.
AP Holders. Perhaps the most avid of the groups, AP holders were left in the dark during the last few weeks. That was until this morning when Disney pulled a Beyoncé and surprise dropped an email with the registration link at 9 AM. After clicking the registration link in the email, it led me to a virtual queue, of course. After a few minutes, I was asked to sign in to My Disney Experience, and select an available date and time. And somehow I managed to secure a preview date!
In what is now typical Disney fashion, this AP experience requires some clarification. There are four types of Disney APs, each with differing costs and “blackout dates”—dates the AP holder cannot attend the parks. The more expensive the tier of AP, the more days that are not blacked out—i.e, the more dates available for the AP holder to visit the parks. The email with the registration link to the preview stated that though a park pass reservation is not required with a preview confirmation, a valid park admission is required. Meaning, an AP holder would need to ensure that the preview date fell on a date that their AP was not blocked out. The verbiage in the email—and around the park pass versus park admission situation—is confusing, and needlessly convoluted. But, from what I am gathering, Walt Disney World essentially wants to ensure AP holders attend previews on dates their passes would normally permit their entry.
This was my first brush with attempting to attend an attraction preview, and I can now say it was not for the faint of heart. After the D23 event sold out within minutes, I didn’t have much hope for the AP holder preview—and I may have questioned the value of the D23 membership, if only momentarily.
While I am glad I happened to be checking my email at 9 AM this morning, I understand other AP holders may be frustrated.
So what’s next? Look forward to another Disney trip for me and related articles about traveling to Disney with kids, planning around preview events, our resort, food, and OF COURSE my first impressions of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind!
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