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by Darlin’ Diva

To hop or not to hop?  Tough question!  A lot of Walt Disney World vacation planning boils down to how long you want to spend in the parks each day (and what time you want to arrive), where you’d like to eat, and how much rest and relaxation you want at your resort or outside the parks.  I’ve put together a few Park-Hopper pros and cons for your consideration that will hopefully allow you to make the best park ticket decision for your Walt Disney World vacation.RM-Fantasyland-Wall

PRO:  Flexibility – I plan obsessively and know exactly where and when I’m going to be in one of Disney World’s four parks on nearly every day of our vacation, but I do leave a free day or at least one or two afternoons completely unplanned.  Knowing we can fill in those openings anyway we choose is great!

CON:  More expensive – The Park-Hopper add-on is currently $64 per ticket (regardless of length of stay), which can add up pretty quickly for big families.

PRO:  Starting early (at park-opening) and staying late is your style – Your day could look like this:  Arrive at park-opening for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, ride Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Star Tours – all before lunch.  Hop to Magic Kingdom where you’ve booked lunch at Be Our Guest and FastPasses for Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  Catch the Festival of Fantasy Parade between attractions, then hop over to Epcot for dinner at Le Celier (Canada Pavilion) before watching Illuminations to end the day.RM-Epcot-After-Hours

CON:  Hopping takes time – It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it might take to get from one park to another.  If you plan to use FastPasses later in the day at a different park than where you started the day, you’ll need to build in travel time and research how you plan to get from parks A to B.

PRO:  Advance Dining Reservations don’t have to dictate which park you visit on a particular day – Love Epcot’s World Showcase table service restaurants?  Eat at a different one every day of your vacation!  Hop from Animal Kingdom to Epcot for dinner at the Rose and Crown.  Take a Magic Kingdom mid-day break for lunch at Biergarten in the Germany pavilion.  Whatever international fare you crave, park-hopping will make dining in Epcot easy.RM-New-Tree-of-Life-Roots

CON:  Added pressure might cause you to miss some magic – I am guilty of this!  Rope-dropping, speeding through as many attractions as possible before hopping to another park for FastPass+ times can cause you to loose sight of details.  Disney details are the most special kind!  You also might feel pressure to get your money’s worth from the cost of the park-hopper add-on.  Lots of families, especially ones with small children, find starting and ending the day in the same park, with a big afternoon break at their resort for napping and/or swimming works very well and is a better touring pace for little ones.

PRO:  If you love a challenge or have older children – It’s fun to see how much you can pack into a single day!  On the last day of vacation, have everyone pick the ONE thing they must do or see before you go home and hop all over the World to hit each person’s item.

CON:  May take more strategy to use successfully – If you care about getting the most bang for your park-hopping buck, you might need to be a little less go-with-the-flow and take a more structured planning approach.  For us, this usually means having a good idea about how long we intend to stay in each park and where and when we’ll be eating our quick-service meals.RM-Echo-Lake2

PRO:  You don’t know which park you’ll love the most – This is a pretty big deal if you’re going to be at Walt Disney World for several days.  You might discover that your kids absolutely love a particular attraction or park area and want to experience it multiple times.  This happened to us with our daughter and Festival of the Lion King.  We hopped to Animal Kingdom a couple of unplanned times just to see this spectacular show again and again.

At the end of the day – you and only you can decide what touring style is right for your family.  Hopefully, these Park-hopping pros and cons will help make your decision a bit easier.

Until next time…Darlin’ Diva.