AP park reservations - staying off-site

Hi everyone! Long time reader (lurker?), first time poster here. I can’t seem to find the answer to my question in past posts, but happy to have someone point me in the right direction if it’s already been discussed.

My family and I are finally returning to WDW in July, after rescheduling our highly anticipated trip for last June. We are staying off-site, having been gifted the use of a family time-share (making it virtually free for us, otherwise we’d be staying on property. Very tough to talk my husband out of $0 vs many many more dollars). Knowing that we were staying off property, I purchased an AP for myself and 7 day park hoppers for the rest of my family, thinking that I could try to compensate/save a little with other special add ons (more character dining, fireworks dessert parties, Early Morning Magic, free parking, etc). Now, most of those extras are gone for the time being, but I still have an (inactivated) AP.

Since my family holds regular tickets, I was able to make park reservations for the duration of our trip; obviously, since AP’s only get three days of reservations at a time, I only have three days booked. Initially, I didn’t think much of this - I figured that I’d just book more days once we get there and start using the reservations. As time goes on, though, I am becoming more and more nervous that there won’t be any availability and I won’t be able to get into a park on the fourth day of my trip.

Other than booking a room on property, what are my options? Do I have any? All I keep picturing is me sadly waving goodbye to my family as they enter the Magic Kingdom as I’m stuck at the front gates :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Not really. It is a limitation of the AP. You can’t have more than 3 park reservations booked UNLESS you have an on-site reservation.

In some ways, I think this is wrong of Disney. It put a restriction onto the AP that wasn’t there before…meaning, it was sold with one set of rules, and later they changed the rules. But I also understand why they have such a rule, so I try not to let it bother me.

Anyhow, based on when you go, if you stay off site, you should book the parks most likely to fill up, and then “fill in” the park reservations as you go along for the parks you are likely to not have trouble with. That is to say, book HS and MK as your 3 park reservations, but EP you can generally secure up to the day of.

After your first MK or HS, then book your next AK or EP day, etc.

You still risk having a day you can’t go, but they can. In such a case it MIGHT be possible to book EP, go to EP by yourself, and then at 2, park-hop to the same park your family is at. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.


Great idea, thanks! I hadn’t thought of that - I will definitely do that.

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Another thing you could consider is buying yourself a 7 day park hopper and saving the AP for the future when it might be more useful and park reservations may no longer be needed? Since you were asking what options might be. (Is there an expiration on activating the AP?)


If you know you’ll be making another trip or two in the future, then I’d consider holding onto the AP. It’s good for 9 more years and will be worth a lot more in the future. You might even be able to sell it to someone for what you paid if you don’t want to be out that extra cash. There are a ton of people wanting to buy an AP and you have something that Disney isn’t currently selling.

I would not show up for a summer vacation at Disney this summer without park reservations (assuming you want to enter a park).


Another idea would be for you to book a campsite for the 4 days that you don’t have a reservation for, and just never actually use it. That would cost you about $400 so probably not worth it, but it’s an option.

Edit: If you wanted to be really sneaky, after you used your first AP reservation, you could check to see if there is AP availability for any of your campsite days. If there is, you could modify your reservation (if still more than 6 days before that day) to remove that day. It might only save you one day or maybe 2 because of the 6-day cancellation window for onsite stays.

Then penalty for cancelling within 6 days is your first night’s room rate, so it’s possible you could pull this maneuver off only paying for one night, but I’m not positive.

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All good ideas I hadn’t thought of!! Thanks, everyone!!!


I agree with saving the AP for a later date. You’re not staying onsite, so its not like you’re using the AP to get discounted hotel rooms or other amenities.