There are lots of different options when it comes to buying Disney World park tickets and one of those options is to add on a Park Hopper feature which allows you to come and go from the 4 theme parks as many times per day as you wish.
This option costs $59/person regardless of the length of your trip so the longer you will be there, the less it costs per day to have the option to hop.
Should you park hop? What’s the best way to do it if you do?
Let’s dive in…
People who should park hop
People traveling during slow season who want to see night shows.
This isn’t as big of an issue now as it used to be but if you’re traveling during a less busy time, the nighttime entertainment available at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios may not be scheduled everyday.
If you check the park hours and that’s the case for your trip, it makes a lot of sense to start your day at one park and then hop to the park where you want to see the nighttime entertainment.
Why not start the day at the park with the nighttime entertainment? Because they are usually busier on those days so you’ll find lower crowds by visiting another park in the first part of the day.
Visitors who want to do all 4 parks in less than 4 days.
When my son and I had just 3 days at Disney World, we spent a whole day at Magic Kingdom, a whole day at EPCOT and then 1 day that began with Hollywood Studios and ended with Animal Kingdom. Obviously if you’re going to combine 2 parks in 1 day, you’ll need to be able to park hop.
Guests staying at an EPCOT-area resort.
When you stay at 1 of the resorts in the EPCOT area (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Swan or Dolphin), you’re within a 5-15 minute walk of the World Showcase section of EPCOT. The World Showcase is full of amazing restaurants and is fun to visit in the evenings.
It can be a good flow to begin your day at one park, return to your resort in the afternoon and spend the evening at EPCOT, including dinner at 1 of the many restaurants. We visit about 3 countries at a time in our evenings in the World Showcase to keep it in manageable chunks.
People who want to do Extra Magic Hours.
My general advice is to avoid parks that are having Extra Magic Hours because those parks are the busiest parks of the day. However, you can get the most out of the Extra Magic Hours if you are there just during the extra hours and spend the rest of the day elsewhere.
What about people who should not hop?
Travelers who have budget as a top priority.
It does cost an extra $59/person so if keeping a budget down is the top priority, that’s an extra expense that isn’t necessarily required.
People who made their daily plan and don’t need to hop.
I’ve often used Park Hoppers on our trips, but occasionally I’ve made a daily plan and realized it wasn’t even necessary so I didn’t bother to purchase them.
The thing I get asked the most is “I have little kids, should I park hop?” and the answer to that is that the demographic of your group doesn’t really matter that much.
I think the real point of this question is about taking mid-day breaks that require you to leave the park. Even if you do that, you can return to the same park that you were visiting earlier in the day so a Park Hopper ticket option wouldn’t be required.
Mid-day breaks can be taken whether you have Park Hopper tickets or not.
How to tour if you park hop
If you plan to park hop, you should begin your day just like you would any other day: arrive early to your first park and have a good touring plan.
When you hop to your second park, you’ll need to make good use of FastPasses for the busy rides. You can use the custom maps to see which rides are good anytime of day and which should only be visited with a FastPass.
How will FastPass+ affect park hopping?
Significantly. (Don’t know what FastPass+ is? Please read my article on it for more info.)
FastPass+ reservations will only be available at 1 park per day so you’ll most likely want to use it for your second park of the day.
You’ll want to begin your day at Park 1 and tour but without the benefit of any FastPasses. Later in the day, you can hop to Park 2 with all of your FastPass+ reservations in place.
If you were to make all of your FastPass+ reservations in Park 1, you’d have to adjust your expectations for Park 2 because you wouldn’t be able to visit any of the most popular attractions without a line.
So, are you planning to hop parks during your trip? Do you have a different reason than the ones I listed? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
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