by Disney Magic Diva
So which kind of family are you? When visiting Walt Disney World Resort, do you hop or not? My family almost always park hops throughout the day. It’s just what generally works for us. But the great thing about a Walt Disney World vacation is that there is no one “right” way to enjoy your trip. Many families prefer to just visit one park each day. And there are undoubtedly advantages to that approach.
During most of 2020, park hopping has not been allowed so the parks can better control capacity and keep everyone healthy and safe. But beginning January 1, 2021 guests who purchased a ticket or annual pass with Park Hopper benefits will be able to visit more than one park per day! So, here’s the question – will you hop?
Since it’s been awhile since park hopping was allowed, let’s review how it works. In order to park hop, you must have a ticket that allows park hopping. Since the parks reopened in the summer of 2020, you must also have a Park Pass reservation in addition to your ticket to enter a park. (Pixie Dusted Diva has tips for making your Park Pass reservation!)
How will this work with park hopping? Once you have a park hopper ticket, you can make a Park Pass reservation for the first park you plan to visit that day. Then, from 2:00 pm until park closing time, you can enter a second park (subject to capacity limitations) without needing a Park Pass reservation. You should note, though, that this “no Park Pass needed for the second park of the day” policy is subject to change. Be sure to check the “Know Before You Go” page on Disney’s website.
So is park hopping right for you? Here are some things to consider:
A park hopper ticket costs just slightly more per day than a base ticket (which allows entry to 1 park per day), but if you have several days of tickets the price difference can really add up, especially when you consider you need to buy the ticket for each member of your party. (Remember, if you book a vacation package everyone in your party must have the same type of ticket.)
For instance, a 4-day base ticket for late January 2020 is about $454 with tax. To add the park hopper benefit, the price increases to about $545, a difference of $91. For a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) that would amount to $2,141 vs. $1779, or an additional $362.
Diva Tip: Even though ticket prices fluctuate depending on the time of year, the additional cost to add the park hopper benefit does not increase during peak times. So, while the hypothetical family of four would pay more for tickets in July than they would in January, the additional park hopper charge would stay constant at $362. You could kinda look at park hopping as a better value during peak times!
We’re a rise-and-shine family. We get up early and are usually at the parks before or within minutes of opening. We’ve found this allows us to take advantage of lower crowds and enjoy several attractions before wait-times increase significantly. When we are able to have FastPass reservations, we typically book them for a different park than we visit at opening, then hop to our second park for the afternoon to utilize our FastPasses. We’ve found this allows us to experience attractions early at one park, then make the best use of our FastPasses at a different park when crowds are heavier and wait-times have increased.
If you are early-risers too, this is a strategy that may work well for you. However, if you enjoy sleeping-in while on vacation, you may not get to a park until mid-morning. No judgment! It’s YOUR vacation! But, in that case, it may not be worth it for you to park-hop. This, of course, depends on when parks close for the day. If parks are open late, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy one park, then hop to another.
Another issue to consider is whether you spend the entire day at the parks or go back to your resort for a mid-day respite. It’s still possible to park hop with either strategy, but it may impact whether the extra expense of park hopping is of value to your family.
We utilize both touring strategies. If we are traveling with our young grandkids, we try to schedule some down time each day. They love the pools, and sometimes even benefit from a short nap. If it’s just adults on the trip, we usually just go all day. (But we have been known to return to the resort for a break even when we don’t have the little ones!) One of our favorite touring plans is to head to one park for rope drop, go back to the resort for a swim and nap, then head out again for dinner and nighttime fun at a different park.
Do You Value Flexibility?
I think one of the biggest advantages of park hopping is the ability to change plans at a moment’s notice. If a park gets to feel too crowded, or several attractions are suddenly not operating, we are able to just hop to a new park. Or if we’ve used our FastPasses for the day and want to make another at a different park, we can. If we had planned on visiting one park and even have dining reservations there but suddenly decide we would rather visit a different park, we can – and still keep our dining reservation. Of course while Covid restrictions are in place we can’t take advantage of all of these options, but hopefully things will change in 2021.
Do You Use Disney Transportation?
Let’s face it. Park Hopping takes time. This is especially true if you use Disney transportation. While busses supposedly run about every 20 minutes, things don’t always go as planned. We generally plan on at least an hour from the time we leave one park until we’re arriving and through security at another. But it has the potential to take significantly longer.
If you have your own transportation, park hopping is even easier. No need to wait for busses, and you can be at the next park in just minutes. We’ve only very rarely had a car at Disney, so we don’t really get to enjoy fast hopping, but if you do use a car park hopping is even easier!
So what do you prefer? Do you hop or not? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. And if you’d like more input on the pros and cons of park hopping, be sure to check out Soarin’ Diva’s article.
If you’re ready to book your next (or first!) Disney vacation, be sure to contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel. She can answer all your park hopping and other questions, and her services are FREE!!!