Is Park Hopping a Good Idea?

We often hear people who are planning a Disney vacation ask if it is worth it to add the park hopper option to their ticket. They want to experience as much as possible in the parks during their vacation, but don’t want to feel rushed. So, how do you know if park hopping is the best option for you? Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons.

As locals, we have the luxury of visiting the parks whenever we want. A trip to WDW isn’t something that we necessarily need to plan ahead for, and it isn’t uncommon for us to only visit one park for a couple of hours, before either heading home for the day, or moving on to another park.

When you visit WDW on your vacation, however, you are much more likely to try to spend every possible second in the parks. With limited time to explore the parks and experience as much as possible, it is tempting to add the park hopper option to your ticket. But, is park hopping the best option for you? The answer is, it depends.

First of all, for those of you who may not know what park hopping is, it is an optional add-on to your WDW theme park ticket that allows you to visit more than one park in a single day. Without adding this option (for an additional price), you will only be able to visit one of the theme parks per day.

A major determining factor when deciding whether or not to add the park hopper option to your ticket is how often you visit WDW.

If you are visiting for the first time, you will want to take your time in each park and experience as much as possible. Unless you only have one day to spend at WDW, you will not want to rush through the parks and risk missing out on something that you would regret not experiencing.

All four of the Walt Disney World theme parks could very easily take a full day to experience. In fact, just one day in a park may not be enough to get the full experience.

Your personal interests and preferences for rides, shows, parades, shopping, dining, etc., will all play a role in determining how much time you will need to fully experience each park.

For example, if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars or Toy Story, then you may be satisfied with only spending half of a day at Hollywood Studios.

On the other hand, if you are a big fan of classic Disney attractions, meeting Disney characters, and exploring different foods and cultures, then you may need to spend multiple days in both Magic Kingdom and Epcot to fully experience both parks.

Not everyone who visits WDW enjoys going on the rides. If you are more interested in the shows, character meet and greets, and parades, then you are more likely to find that you don’t need a full day in each park. In this case, you may want to consider adding the park hopper option to your ticket, which would allow you to enjoy more of these experiences throughout your day.

Perhaps you would like to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom in the afternoon, and then take the monorail to Epcot to meet some of your favorite characters around World Showcase, before watching the fireworks to end your night. The park hopper would allow you to do this.

Guests are allowed to reserve three FastPasses per day, in advance, but all three must be for attractions in the same park. Once those FastPasses are used, you may add additional FastPasses, one at a time, in any of the parks. If you are able to reserve all three of your desired FastPasses for a specific park early in the day, then the park hopper would allow you the option of getting an additional FastPass in another park on that same day, if FastPasses are still available at that time.

Here is a great example of a situation in which the park hopper would be beneficial. Let’s say you have early morning FastPasses for Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom. After riding all three attractions, you check the available FastPasses in each of the parks on the MyDisneyExperience app, and find out that a FastPass for Flight of Passage has suddenly become available for later that day at Animal Kingdom. The park hopper would allow you to schedule that nearly impossible to find FastPass and head to Animal Kingdom to enjoy that ride. While it is highly unlikely for certain FastPasses to become available last minute, it is also entirely possible.

If you are traveling with a large group of people, or with children, then park hopping may become more difficult. Since everyone has different preferences and interests, you may be better off just enjoying one park per day, in order to make sure everyone fully enjoys their experience in the park. If you are traveling with a small group, or doing a solo trip, then you may enjoy the freedom of being able to go from park to park at any time throughout the day.

A common rookie mistake made by first-time visitors to WDW is underestimating the amount of time it takes to travel from one park to another. Disney World is huge. The parks are spread out over an area of several miles. While the freedom of park hopping does allow for more flexibility in your daily schedule, possibly, the amount of time required to travel from one park to the next will cut into the total amount of time you will have to spend in the parks. You will have to consider whether or not it makes sense to sacrifice time in the parks in order to visit more than one park in a day.

While many more factors are involved in deciding whether or not to park hop during your vacation, we hope the things we’ve discussed will help make your decision a bit easier. We can’t say for sure that park hopping is either a good idea or a bad idea for everyone. You will have to weigh the pros and cons to determine whether or not this add-on makes sense for you while you plan your trip.

We hope you found this to be useful, and hope it helps to make your trip planning process a bit simpler. Do you like park hopping, or do you prefer to just enjoy one park per day? Let us know in the comments.

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XOXO, Halie and Danny

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