Park Hopper tickets are a popular upgrade to the base tickets you can purchase for Walt Disney World but are they always necessary?
For some trips we definitely think they are a good idea, but not always.
How Park Hopper tickets work
If you're just beginning your Disney World planning you're probably discovering that you'll have several different ticket options to choose from, with the most popular choices being 1 Park Per Day base tickets, Park Hopper tickets, Park Hopper Plus tickets, and the Water Parks and Sports option .
Here's what those mean:
1 Park Per Day (also called Base tickets)
These tickets get you into 1 park/day. They are generally the least expensive option, however, like with all tickets, their price depends upon the length of the ticket as well as the initial use date.
Park Hopper tickets
Park Hopper tickets are an add on you can get for your base tickets. They are a set price (regardless of ticket length) and allow you to enter multiple parks each day.
Park Hopper Plus tickets
Park Hopper Plus tickets take park hopping one step further by also allowing you entries into the water parks (both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) plus other "Plus" options like vouchers for mini golf, regular golf and FootGolf at Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course, and entrance into the NBA Experience at Disney Springs.
The number of entrances to these "Plus" locations is equal to the length of your ticket. So, for example, if you have a 4 day Park Hopper Plus ticket you get 4 days worth of entries into the main parks PLUS 4 entries into one of the "plus" locations (like the water parks).
Water Park and Sports
If you are interested in the "Plus" options of the Park Hopper Plus ticket but you do not plan to hop to a different park, this might be a better deal for you.
With this ticket you can visit only one theme park each day of your ticket.
In addition to the theme parks, based on the length of your ticket, you can also enjoy a certain number of visits to a water park or other Disney World sports-related experience, including:
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
- NBA Experience (available for purchases after Feb. 11, 2020; this also is now part of the Park Hopper Plus add-on)
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf and Golfing
- Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course
(There's a bit more to learn about tickets - including how long each one is valid for. You can find all of that info in our Complete Guide to Disney World Park Tickets.)
Is it worth the cost to upgrade a base ticket?
One nice things about Disney World tickets is that in many instances you can upgrade them in the parks.
That means you don't have to decide before your trip if you will hop or not; you can wait until you are there.
The bad part about that, however, is that no matter when in your trip you decide to upgrade you'll pay the full price.
The cost to upgrade isn't less if you wait until the last day of your trip to add the Park Hopper option vs. doing it on the first day so there is an advantage to upgrading earlier (rather than later) so that you can get the maximum value back out of your ticket.
We are firm believers that you don't have to buy anything "extra" to have a magical vacation at Disney World.
Sometimes it may feel like the only way to have a good time is if you dine at every character meal, go to every dessert party, and purchase every other extra or premium event that Disney offers.
But the truth is that you don't HAVE to do any of those things and even if you choose not to, you'll still have a magical time. Do we like everything we just listed? Yep. They are all fun "extras" but they are just that - extras - and they aren't mandatory.
In addition to all the parties and desserts and princess makeovers, Park Hopper tickets are another extra that you might be considering. For most trips that span 4 or more days they really aren't absolutely necessary. But, depending on your situation they *might* be one splurge that makes sense.
When should you get a Park Hopper ticket?
Here are some of the top reasons when we think you should consider buying Park Hopper tickets:
- If your trip is short and you want to still visit all 4 parks
- If you are traveling during the holidays (or other super busy time of the year) when you might need to escape to a less busy park
- If you know you'll want to stay out later so you'll be leaving a park that closes early and heading over to one that is closing later
- If you are staying at an Epcot area resort (since it is so easy to "hop" over there for dinner or drinks in the evening)
We're sure there are other reasons that somebody might consider buying Park Hopper tickets but in most instances they definitely aren't a necessity. They are a nice "perk" but not something that should make or break your trip. In fact, we think that if you are in doubt, skip them and save that extra money for something else.